Island County is accepting applications for a grant program that has helped to protect 3,800 acres of county property since 1992.
Those eligible for grants from the Conservation Futures Fund include county departments, municipalities, special purpose districts, nonprofit conservancy organizations and nonprofit historic preservation organizations.
Conservation Futures is a county land preservation program that protects, maintains, restores threatened areas of open space, timberlands, habitat areas, culturally significant sites and farmland.
The Conservation Futures program is funded by a small property tax levy that raised $780,000 for use in 2023. Under state law, 25% of the amount collected, or $195,000, can be used for new maintenance and operations projects, such as the maintenance of parks.
At a meeting last week, commissioners talked about doing outreach to other organizations, noting that the Whidbey Camano Land Trust has received much of past years’ awards.
Application and funding information is available on the Conservation Futures website www.islandcountywa.gov/Health/DNR/Pages/cff.aspx. Completed applications for projects must be emailed to ConservationFutures@islandcountywa.gov by the end of day Feb. 28.
In the past, millions of dollars have been spent on conservation easements — which prevents development in perpetuity — as well as the purchase of property. Last year, the county commissioners approved a $790,000 grant to Whidbey Camano Land Trust to purchase a conservation easement on 37 acres bordering the southern shoreline of Lone Lake on South Whidbey.
Other recent projects Conservation Futures has helped include the purchase of an easement on Kristoferson Farm and Forest; the purchase of property headwaters of Glendale Creek to protect wetland areas and salmon; the purchase and preservation of the 54-acre waterfront Pearson property on South Whidbey for public access; and expansion of the Strawberry Point Preserve on North Whidbey and the addition of parking and trail access.