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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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County commissioners to consider three properties for future conservation

Three properties near parks or other conservation land could be moved into top priority for acquisition by Spokane County’s Conservation Futures program, including acreage near Tuscan Ridge on the South Hill.

The properties total 343.5 acres.

County commissioners are scheduled to consider the revised list Tuesday.

The Conservation Futures program collects money through a property tax levy to buy and preserve undeveloped land in the county. Conservation Futures only buys property from willing sellers based on market appraisal.

If approved, the new top priority for the program would become 280 acres of forest land at Nine Mile Falls owned by the Trautman family. It would link a northern section of Riverside State Park on the south shore of Lake Spokane with the main body of the park to the south.

Paul Knowles, park planner for the county, said the property provides an important corridor for wildlife, plus recreational access and additional trail opportunities.

As part of a potential deal, the owners of the property have offered to put 10 percent of the purchase price toward a land maintenance endowment fund. In addition, the owner would fund removal of decrepit farm buildings on the property.

The state parks department has agreed to maintain the land as part of the adjacent state park.

County resident Larry Small has pledged a $20,000 donation toward trail improvements there, county staff said.

The No. 2 property under the proposed priority revision is 41 acres next to the 421-acre McKenzie Conservation Area on the northwest side of Newman Lake. The property includes a pond. The owner has agreed to sell it at 5 percent below the appraised price.

The No. 3 property on the proposed list is the Tuscan Ridge acreage next to other conservation holdings on the hillside above Latah Creek in the vicinity of 57th Avenue and Hatch Road. If acquired, the property would provide a widened connection between Hangman Park and High Drive Park, two large conservation holdings below the bluff.

A group of area residents formed the Friends of the Bluff organization to advocate for preservation of the undeveloped property. It’s being marketed for real estate development but has been widely used for recreation. The group has identified an anonymous donor willing to provide $100,000 for a maintenance endowment, county officials said.

The city would take ownership of that purchase.

The current top priority, a 204-acre piece of land west of Riverside State Park, would drop to the No. 4 priority.

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