QUILCENE, Wash. — Washington state officials want to expand two conservation areas with financial assistance from the U.S. Navy, which has concerns about development hampering underwater research.
The state Department of Natural Resources tells the Kitsap Sun (http://bit.ly/2djO6Nq) that it wants to triple the size of 2,770-acre (1,121-hectare) Dabob Bay Natural Area and quadruple the 80-acre (32-hectare) Devil’s Lake Conservation Area in northwest Washington.
Natural Resources spokeswoman Janet Pearce says the Navy has pledged matching funds to buy private land to expand the conservation areas.
“They’ve had interest and have always been involved,” Pearce said.
Officials say most of that is land on the Toandos Peninsula and owned by a timber company. State lawmakers would have to approve the expansions that involve the state using recreation and conservation grants.
If approved, the state would place restrictions on state-owned timberlands within the new boundaries and start negotiations to buy private property.
The Navy is also seeking shoreline easements along the Hood Canal’s west and east sides. The Hood Canal is a natural waterway and one of the basins of Puget Sound.
About 2,700 acres (1,093 hectares) of private land would have to be purchased from private land owners to expand the Dabob Bay Natural Area, a plan backed by the Olympic Forest Coalition and the Northwest Watershed Institute.
“We’re very excited about it,” coalition president Connie Gallant said. “It’s something that’s been a long time coming. It’s nothing but good.”
Experts say the Dabob expansion would preserve Thorndyke Bay, a salt marsh in Puget Sound. The Devil’s Lake expansion would preserve a type of old growth forest the Northwest Watershed Institute said is increasingly rare in lowlands around Puget Sound.
Pope Resources, a logging and development company, owns about 75 percent of the private lands in the Dabob expansion area.
“We expect we could be supportive of the expansion area once we understand all the details,” Pope Vice President Jon Rose told the newspaper in an email.
Information from: Kitsap Sun, http://www.kitsapsun.com/