The namesake for Spokane County’s 628-acre James T. Slavin Conservation Area died at the age of 86 on March 3, but he’s left a living legacy for nature.
Like most of the landowners involved in deals with public agencies, Slavin required considerable patience as he worked to preserve one of the crown jewels in the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program.
He was a retired appraiser in the late 1990s when he persevered through two years of negotiations because he wanted to leave something more memorable than a future subdivision on his land south of Spokane.
“I wanted to sell (the ranch) to someone who would maintain its character,” he told The Spokesman-Review when the deal was closed in 2000.
“It gave an opportunity to contribute something to the public that will be something our family can be proud of.
“I’m anxious to have my grandkids come down and see the James T. Slavin conservation farm.”
Since then, Ducks Unlimited has restored wetlands in the area, the Spokane Mountaineers and Backcountry Horsemen have carved trails, numerous groups have helped maintain the area while others are doing habitat work and research.
Although Slavin was paid $1.2 million, the county negotiated a wetlands easement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to cover $400,000 of the property’s cost. Ducks Unlimited was able to leverage the purchase price into hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal grants for wetlands projects.
Slavin also agreed to give $100,000 as a trust for maintaining the property.
Last week, the property was blooming with camas, balsamroot and other wildflowers and hundreds of ducks and geese were bringing off broods on the wetlands.