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County amends Futures program

Island County’s Conservation Futures program will see a few changes due to ordinance amendments approved by the commissioners Monday.

The changes followed new state regulations stating how Conservation Futures tax proceeds should be handled. The money comes from a property tax of 6 cents per thousand levied to buy and preserve open spaces.

The amended ordinance allows 15 percent of Conservation Futures proceeds to be used for maintenance and operation of properties purchased through the program. In the past, the county had to use its own funds to maintain such properties as Ala Spit and Double Bluff.

The amendments also require the county to consider any impacts on growth before additional property can be purchased. Possible land purchases must first be screened to make sure they don’t take away from growth areas. “It brings the Planning Department into the mix to see if we violate countywide planning,” said Commissioner Mike Shelton. If it does, then the county should take “reasonable measures to increase planned development capacity when it is lost by Conservation Futures program acquisitions,” according to the amendments.

The amendments also encourages the use of Conservation Futures money for salmon preservation purposes.

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