A former dairy ranch will be the newest addition to the Dishman Hills conservation area.
Spokane County Parks intends to purchase the Flying L Ranch, taking another step toward connecting conservation properties in Spokane Valley to the Iller Creek area on the edge of the Palouse.
The purchase of the Flying L Ranch should be complete by March 30, according to a news release from the Dishman Hills Conservancy.
The 179-acre plot will add a half mile to the conservation corridor, said Jeff Lambert, the executive director of Dishman Hills Conservancy. After the purchase, the Glenrose area will be within a half–mile of being connected to the Iller Creek area, Lambert said.
“It’s a pretty big piece of the puzzle and it provides a new trailhead from the Ponderosa neighborhood, which is huge,” Lambert said.
Additionally, he said the property will be easier to access, unlike other areas in the Dishman Hills.
“It’s what I call rolling hills,” Lambert said. “So when it comes to recreation access it’s easier than some of the areas which have quite steep trails up into the Dishman Hills. So it’s good for hiking and mountain biking. Great habitat and has year-round water.”
Once the sale is finalized the county will plan how to best develop the site, said county park planner Paul Knowles. Knowles emphasized that the sale is not finalized and the property is not open to the public yet.
According to county documents filed earlier this month the proposed sale price is $700,000.
“After closing what we will be doing is we will be working through a planning process with the stakeholders and the neighborhood to essentially come up with a design for that trailhead parking area,” Knowles said.
The county hopes to open bidding on the work in late 2018 with construction starting sometime in 2019.
No grazing has occurred on the land for the last 15 years, according to the Conservation Futures nomination form filed in 2016. The property was owned by the Phillips family and was a working dairy farm. The Phillips family started a dairy farm on the land in 1951, according to a 2004 Spokesman-Review article. Many of the surrounding Spokane Valley neighborhoods are built on former Phillips family ranch land.
The Phillips family will donate $30,000 back to the county to help fund trailhead development, Knowles said. The trailhead will be named the Phillips Creek Trailhead.
The Conservation Futures program is funded by a 4.67-cent tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value in Spokane County. Roughly $1.5 million in annual tax revenues is accrued for acquisitions. As of 2016, the Conservation Futures Program has acquired more than 7,700 acres in 31 acquisitions since the programs inception in 1994, according to the county.
Although the land will be owned and maintained by the county, Lambert said the conservancy group will help support development and maintenance of the land.
The original version of this story did not contain the sale price. The story has been updated.