April 11, 2013 in City, Outdoors

Conservation fund wants to buy Mica Peak, Williams Lake sites

County expected to OK additions
By The Spokesman-Review
 
By the numbers

920: Acres on the west flank of Mica Peak are being proposed to the county commissioners for purchase.

15: Acres at a geological site between Badger and Williams lakes south of Cheney also are proposed for purchase.

$1.66 million: Cost of the Mica Peak deal.

$210,000: Amount Mica Peak property owner would grant back to pay for public access and trailhead parking.

Spokane County’s reserve of conservation land is likely to increase by nearly 1,000 acres with two new additions to the Conservation Futures program.

County commissioners are being asked to approve purchases of 920 acres on the west flank of Mica Peak and another 15 acres at a geological site between Badger and Williams lakes south of Cheney.

Both properties were ranked highly in a community evaluation of lands that could be acquired by the Conservation Futures program, which began two decades ago.

The program purchases properties with high conservation value at market prices from willing sellers.

Commissioners are expected to approve the proposed purchases on Tuesday.

Parks Director Doug Chase said the Mica Peak deal at $1.66 million includes an agreement from the owner to grant back $210,000 of the purchase price to pay for public access and trailhead parking.

The owner is identified on county records as RWD LLC, of Post Falls.

Chase said he is working on three options to create access, which could be from the end of Belmont Road. The state Department of Natural Resources has a large holding abutting the proposed acquisition.

The land would join other large county parcels in the area, including open spaces at Saltese Flats and Liberty Lake Regional Park.

The property near Williams Lake is just off Badger Lake Road and has the remnants of a waterfall that was formed during the Ice Age floods that scoured what are known as the channeled scablands of the upper Columbia Basin, including southwest Spokane County.

The county has agreed to spend $115,000 on the purchase from the Villegas Family Trust, of California.

John Bottelli, assistant parks director, said the city of Cheney has agreed to take possession of the site under the Conservation Futures program and provide any needed maintenance.

Cheney has developed ties with geology experts at Eastern Washington University, which uses the site for field tours, and with the Ice Age Floods Institute.

Commissioners are also being asked to amend county law to allow Conservation Futures maintenance money to be used by Cheney for upkeep of the site.

An earlier version of this story misidentified John Bottelli.

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