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House appropriates $500,000 to protect Ebey’s Landing

Press release from Nature Conservancy | July 13, 2007

http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/washington/press/press3049.html?src=rss



Seattle, Washington, USA - The U.S. House of Representatives took action that will both protect lands at the heart of Ebey's Landing Historical Reserve on Whidbey Island for all time, and also provide for the long-term stewardship of this significant area.
"The people of Washington are fortunate to have leaders in Washington, D.C. who understand the importance of our natural and cultural heritage, and act to protect it."
- David Weekes, NC chapter director


The appropriation, which is included in the House Interior Appropriations bill and is supported by The Nature Conservancy, allocates $500,000 from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to the National Park Service for the long-term protection of 35 acres surrounding the 150-year-old Ferry House at Ebey’s Landing. The bill was passed by the House today. The companion bill in the U.S. Senate, which includes a similar appropriation for Ebey's Landing, has been approved by the Appropriations Committee and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate. After the House and Senate agree on a final version of the bill it will go to President Bush for his signature.

The funds will enable the Park Service to purchase the 35-acre easement from the Conservancy to maintain the property's current rural use, thus serving the Park Service goal of preserving the historic working landscapes in the reserve. The Conservancy, as seller of the easement, will use all the funds it receives to establish an endowment for long-term ecological and historic stewardship at the reserve. The Conservancy has already dedicated $100,000 to this fund.

The Conservancy praised U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Lake Stevens) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), as well as U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Tacoma) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) for their strong support of this effort.


"The people of Washington are fortunate to have leaders in Washington, D.C. who understand the importance of our natural and cultural heritage, and act to protect it," said David Weekes, director of the Conservancy's Washington Chapter. "The support of these senators and representatives has been crucial for creating and sustaining this historical reserve."

"This funding will help preserve land at the heart of Ebey's Landing, one of Washington state's natural and historic treasures," said Larsen. "I applaud Senator Murray, Representative Dicks, and the great team of local residents and leaders, including The Nature Conservancy, for their work to protect this unique community for generations to come."

"Ebey's Landing brings together the federal government, local residents, private donors, and The Nature Conservancy in an innovative partnership to preserve this significant landscape, Murray said. "Together, we are protecting the land for future generations."

Reserve Manager Mark Preiss noted that Ebey's Landing was the first historic reserve established as part of the National Park System. "Today, through the leadership of Washington's congressional delegation, Congress has reinvested in preserving that history for the next generation, by providing support to preserve the rural character at the heart of the reserve," he said.

This congressional appropriation is the last step of a multi-year campaign to protect a keystone area of Ebey's Landing Historical Reserve. The campaign began with a generous bequest by Robert Pratt in 1999. He specified in his will that a nonprofit land conservation group receive 147 acres of his land, including the famous bluff at Ebey's Landing, a privately held but publicly loved headland laced by one of the Northwest's most popular coastal trails. The estate selected The Nature Conservancy as the recipient.

Another 407 acres of the Pratt Estate, however, were going to be sold on the open market if the Conservancy did not step in. The bulk of that land includes a mature coastal forest that flanks the bluff and commands dramatic views of Admiralty Inlet. Development would have destroyed the bluff's lonely, windswept feel and harmed its ecological value. The Conservancy raised more than $2 million and borrowed additional funds to purchase the $5 million property.

Of those 554 acres, 411 acres have been sold, donated, or transferred at below-market value to the National Park Service. The Conservancy has made no net profit in any of these transactions, and has donated land or easements valued at more than $2 million to the National Park Service.

To date, Congress has protected over 1,750 acres at Ebey's Landing using proceeds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF, created in 1965, allocates royalties paid by private companies for the privilege of developing offshore oil and gas resources to protect land and water for recreational uses, open space and wildlife habitat.



Article has been adapted from a news release issued by Nature Conservancy.

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