The Kettles trails were acquired by Island County in 1996 using funds from the conservation futures program. The county is now accepting applications for the 2018 award cycle, but a low fund balance may limit the acceptance of new projects. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

The Kettles trails were acquired by Island County in 1996 using funds from the conservation futures program. The county is now accepting applications for the 2018 award cycle, but a low fund balance may limit the acceptance of new projects. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

No guarantees for awarding of conservation futures funds

The Island County Conservation Futures Program is now accepting applications from eligible organizations for acquisition projects or maintenance and operations projects. However, Island County commissioners Rick Hannold and Jill Johnson have made it clear it may be difficult for new organizations to secure this funding.

The commissioners discussed if there would be a 2018 award cycle for the program at a work session meeting Wednesday.

“I have no problem with people applying, I just reserve the right to vote no,” said Hannold at the meeting.

Johnson said in an interview the fund balance for conservation futures is relatively low this year. The program is aimed at protecting and preserving threatened areas of open space such as timberlands, wetlands, habitat areas, culturally significant sites and agricultural farmlands within the county. The program is a competitive annual grant with proposed projects reviewed by a citizens advisory board and county staff.

The board decided against a 1 percent increase of the conservation futures property tax levy in December when it voted on the 2018 budget. The budget has an estimated fund balance of $460,409 on Jan. 1 for the program.

Only county government, cities, towns, special purpose districts, non-profit nature conservancy organizations and non-profit historic preservation organizations are eligible to apply for these funds.

This program has been used to purchase conservation easements, such as for the 140 acres of open space and fields at the Greenbank Farm, purchased in 2010 in partnership with the Whidbey Camano Land Trust and the Port of Coupeville. Island County conservation futures funds have been used to protect over 3,200 acres either through purchasing property or purchasing a conservation easement, according to a press release.

Johnson said some of the larger projects from this program have required a lot of funding, and she wants to ensure the fund balance is high enough for those type of projects in the future.

“I don’t see any reason to not have the process if the funding’s there,” she said at the meeting. “I do want to clarify expectations, though, that I’d like to see a little higher fund balance, so it might have to be pretty special for me to get excited.”

To be considered for the 2018 funding cycle, applications for acquisition projects must be submitted to Island County General Services Administration no later than 4:30 p.m, March 16 and completed applications for maintenance and operations projects by 4:30 p.m., Feb. 28.

For more information, contact Don Mason at 360-679-7378.

More in News

Prosecutor declines to charge Langley police chief with crime

The Island County prosecutor won’t charge Langley Police Chief David Marks with… Continue reading

Registration open for returning students at SVC

Registration for returning students is underway for summer and fall quarters at… Continue reading

Oak Harbor FamilyCare Physical Therapy becomes NorthSound Physical Therapy.

On June 1, Oak Harbor FamilyCare Physical Therapy officially becomes “NorthSound Physical… Continue reading

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island open house

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island will host its annual open house for… Continue reading

Whidbey Nonprofit Gifts Funds to Local Volunteer Organizations and Lighthouses

The Lighthouse Environmental Programs, or LEP, nonprofit group of Whidbey continues to… Continue reading

Art school hosting presentation by National Geographic photographer

Renowned photographer Sam Abell will give a lecture and photo presentation at… Continue reading

Oak Harbor Council creates taxing district to fund roadwork

Oak Harbor City Council adopted an ordinance that should help the city… Continue reading

Bench will be dedicated to longtime Oak Harbor leader

Kiwanis Club of Oak Harbor and the Oak Harbor School District will… Continue reading

Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News-Times
                                Janelle Solomon, 12, from the Lummi Nation’s Ultimate Warrior Canoe Club carries a canoe along with Regina Miller, who is about to participate in the Woman’s Singles races. See the story on page A9 of today’s Whidbey News-Times.
Water Fest draws up to 4,000 people

Bead by bead, three-and-a-half year old Ezra Malloy strung together a colorful… Continue reading

Most Read