Illahee Update 1/7/12 Missing Kids Found, Settlement Papers Signed, January TE Property Auction, GPC Clarification, GPC Supportive, Importance of 15 Acres

Missing Kids Found. We were asked about the the pictures posted on signs in Illahee on Friday.  We took a picture of one of the posts which is shown below.  We also called the NCIS duty officer this morning and found out the kids have been found.

Papers Signed for 21 Acre Settlement Agreement. We heard the Port of Illahee and the Illahee Community Club have signed the Settlement Agreement by which 21 acres of open space land along Illahee Creek have been conveyed to the Port of Illahee (to eventually be added to the Illahee Preserve).  Thank you Jim James and Beach Drive Developers!  And also the Port of Illahee and the Illahee Community Club, and attorneys Ron Templeton and Ryan Vancil for following through with the paper work.

TE Property Auction Scheduled for January 20th. We heard that the Timbers Edge property auction that was originally scheduled for 12/16/11 is now scheduled for 1/20/12.  Since some of these properties have been affected by the gifting of the open space portions to the Port, we are waiting to see how they will be described in the reported upcoming posting of the sale in the paper.

GPC Clarification. We sent a copy of the last update where we talked about the GPC and the TPL not being able to help the community with the TE property purchases.  They felt we did not correctly state their position, so we have copied portions of their email below.

Thank you for sharing a copy of your recent newsletter with me.  Unfortunately, your brief summary is an inaccurate summary of Great Peninsula Conservancy’s position on the Timbers Edge properties.

Great Peninsula Conservancy decided not to be an active participant in the potential acquisition of the Timbers Edge properties because we felt that with the transfer of the 21 acres out of the total of 36 acres that the lion’s share of conservation of critical habitat had been accomplished.  Further, the remaining 15 acres appear to have limited capacity for attracting grant funding due to lack of significant habitat or trails.  In our estimation, financing for the purchase of the remaining 15 acres will need to come from private donations and/or public financing.  We felt that the community and/or Port were in the best position to provide that funding.

In addition to private donations which you already are pursuing, we suggested that the Port of Illahee might consider a levy or some other funding mechanism.  We pointed you to a successful model for a local levy supported by private donations in Anacortes that was used to acquire a community forest.  This might be particularly attractive as you indicated only 5 of the 15 acres were suitable for addition to the Preserve and the remaining 10 acres might be suitable for low impact development.  Perhaps the Port could use its bonding authority to purchase the land and use a levy and/or income from developing the 10 acres to pay back the bond.

Like Trust for Public Land, this project is too small for GPC  to consider.  The capacity issue I mentioned has to do with how Great Peninsula Conservancy prioritizes projects we take on, and this project did not rank highly in our estimation for the reasons described above.  Nonetheless, we recognize the community’s interest in acquiring the land and provided guidance to assist you in achieving your goal.

GPC Supportive. The Great Peninsula Conservancy spent considerable time investigating the TE project, researching the project area, looking for grants, making numerous calls, which included bridge financing resources, and providing suggestions such as those mentioned above.  We appreciate their time and effort and realize as they stated in an email “We simply cannot take on every conservation project that is brought to our attention.”

Importance of the 15 Acres. While the GPC found the 15 acres less important from the aspect of significant habitat and trails (and therefore less eligible for grants), many in the community feel the critical issues are with aquifers, the base flows in Illahee Creek, and storm water impacts.  It appears if anything is going to happen now it is up to the local Illahee community and the Port of Illahee.

What Next? There are many wondering what will happen next, including this update scribe.  Let us know your thoughts.

Jim Aho