photo by Jeff Larsen, see Endorsement Page under Arts and Authors
We did not think we had much chance competing with 14 other applicants including Seattle Parks and other "heavyweights". So we were stilled yesterday we were notified our application for a Land and Water grant came in second in Washington State. As long as the US Congress doesn't eliminate funding next Spring we will be able to apply this grant to a 6 acre parcel in the forest. We are a bit stunned and grinning.
The reason we scored so high is the forest itself. All we do is show it to people. The forest is worthy of conservation of the highest form.
The United States Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is funded primarily by a fee on offshore oil drilling. It was created in 1964 and has funded conservation and development in and around Yellowstone National Park, Big Sur and other national treasures. At the State level LWCF is administered by the office of Recreation and Conservation and applications are for local projects like North Creek Forest. You can view the actual presentation on our Presentation Page.
EASY DOES IT -- OCTOBER 4th
The city council will not vote to purchase the 35 acre Boy Scout Property on October 4th as previously reported. Instead they have a regular session scheduled to approve 3 Inter-Local Agreements so three different grants can be used for the purchase. They are also expected to authorize staff to create a Purchase and Sales Agreement. So this is not the big meeting yet.... but soon.
If you still want to come to the City Council meeting October 4th we will enjoy seeing you. But all we will be doing is updating the Council on our progress (new grant, restoration) and making ourselves available to answer questions.
Once the Purchase and Sales Agreement (PSA) is drafted it will go to the Boy Scouts Council for review and and approval. When the papers are signed, the City Council will vote to execute the PSA and buy the property. The executed PSA is the key. The Legislature must cut another $ 1.2 Billion in November. According to Department of Commerce staff, they have never cancelled an active contract (executed PSA). An active contract means one that is approved and money due to the seller.
So the critical item is an active contract. The City Council and Boy Scouts Council must have this before the Legislature makes their cuts in November. We are nervously optimistic "our baby" will be fine.
In some places all we could do was make tunnels!
Some of us learned about our LWCF score while we were in the middle of cutting student access trails into blackberries. Cutting blackberries and smiling... imagine that. The mound in the background is an old apple tree, buried under a mountain of vines up to 30 feet long.
UW Seniors will soon visit the site and then create a restoration proposal for our approval. They will implement removal of invasive species in the Winter and plant native vegetation in the Spring.
One of the reasons we are winning grants is because there are only a few degraded places like this around the edge of the forest. Thanks to University of Washington Restoration Ecology Network the worst spots are being restored first.
It's been a great week!
Friends of North Creek Forest
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SAVE THE DATE
On October 4th the Bothell City Council will vote on a counter offer to purchase 35 acres of North Creek Forest. This is the vote we have been waiting for. Please join us.
Bothell Municipal Court
10116 NE 183rd St.
BEHIND THE DEAL
Simple appearances don't show all of the background. A lot of effort and commitment paved the way to this purchase.
The City's Responsibility
For Bothell, this purchase means taking on a large property and supporting it's "care and feeding". This includes issues like the "hillside slump" at the end of 112th which recently threatened to break a major water line. The city fixed the problem but it cost money. Erosion in another area, while currently stabilized, will require more work in the future. These incidental costs are over and above the annual cost to the city for things like insurance, signs, security, restoration, and trail maintenance (once trails are established).
The staff time that went into preparing this purchase has also been substantial. These included many meetings, preparation of three inter-local agreements between Washington State, Snohomish and King Counties dealing with each of the purchase grants plus the time it took for negotiations. After the vote there is more work to do. One of the grants (State) require the city to spend $200,000 and then get reimbursed. More paperwork and more deadlines.
The days when parks are improved and maintained by government alone are gone. It take a public/private partnership to create a park land like North Creek Forest. We were asked a simple question, "What will you do to help?" We consulted with may groups before answering this question. The result is our Commitment to Stewardship (link to full document).
Our commitments include recruitment and supervision of volunteers; assistance in material purchase and delivery; controlling invasive plants and restoring native vegetation; trail design, building and maintenance; grant writing for erosion control; assistance with security; and promotion of forest education, supporting the development of formal programs, as well as providing a communication "hub" for educators.
An Opportunity to help
Over 2000 hours of volunteer time have been pledged by individuals who are willing to work in the forest. Most of these are annual, not one time, commitments. This is a good time to add your name to our list by pledging a few hours per year. You will be working with experts and doing a great and lasting service. All you need to do is email and tell us how much time you can offer, 10 hours a year, 40 hours... Most work will be on a Saturday.
THE OCTOBER 4 VOTE
The Governor has asked our Legislature to convene in November to look for more cuts in state spending. On October 4th the City Council must not only vote to make this purchase but face a real possibility that after all the work is done the state could eliminate our unspent grant and crash the whole deal. This is a real threat. But this is a time for faith, not fear.
The city has a professional staff and they are able to determine absolutely when the deal must be final and the threat avoided. We can't tell you if it's when the purchase and sales agreement is approved, the deal closes, when the final paper work is submitted to the state for reimbursement, or when the state's check is cashed. The staff will do the research so Council will not have to guess on this issue. By October 4th the City Council will know what must happen and when.
A special thanks to Steve Anderson for soothing our anxieties.... Erin Leonhart who (we hope) will be adding 35 more acres to her inventory of parks and city facilities and manage all of it.... and Clark Meek who is doing all of the negotiations, research and paperwork.
So we ask you to attend on October 4th. The city put a lot of work into this and it's our chance to thank them and also their chance to thank you.... a Friend of North Creek Forest.
You can download our latest grant presentation (Land and Water Grant) from our Presentation Page if you want to see it. NOTE: do not be alarmed by the Conceptual Site Plan in the presentation. We had to submit a "Concept" as a requirement. It's just that. Any trails, forest access points, etc, will be designed by experts in biology, geology, hydrology and zoology. In the end we want people to visit this rich habitat safely but not disrupt it.
Representative Louis Moscoso with Friends at Riverfest.
Bothell Riverfest, Sunday August 28th, 2011:
Friends of North Creek Forest were busy all day at Bothell's 2011 Riverfest. We were seldom without at least one or two of us engaged in conversation with interested visitors and visiting supporters. 41 new people offered signed endorsements and others offered a total of 100 additional hours of assistance with stewardship.
First District Representative Louis Moscoso, a supporter from the beginning, stopped by and spent close to half an hour updating himself on this conservation effort. He is very interested in a balance of economic growth and North Creek Forest preservation. Louis thinks in large patterns and is likely to reflect on small business concerns and forest park lands in a unified way.
Derek Stanford interviewing with DR. David Bain in North Creek Forest.
One mile away, and a week earlier, Representative Derek Stanford did and interview at a location in North Creek Forest. You might recall the forest is not just of passing interest to Derek. He sponsored the Commerce Grant awarded to Bothell this spring. Added to other grants this opened up the opportunity to negotiate for 35 acres of North Creek Forest park land. (ongoing)
Derek also visited us at Riverfest, again spending a good half hour catching up on details and just "hanging out". Derek has an easy manner and a strong analytical background. His questions clearly show how efficient he is at understanding complicated issues.
Thank You Bothell:
This was a great venue for us to raise public awareness and meet new volunteers. Bothell did a fantastic job of organizing this event complete with all day live music and members of the Bothell Cougar's football team ready to assist us from the moment we arrived until days end. Bravo Bothell!
The most frequent question asked at Riverfest was, "Why is this taking so long?" The short answer is, "It's not." We have documented this closely and the process will someday be a story in itself. While "fast moving" does fit this project compared to many others there have been delays. Right now we are looking at the time between grant awards (April) and steps in negotiating the first purchase. There might be ways to make that process more efficient. Maybe not, but we are going to look closely at that and will let you know what we find.