Kittitas County flip-flops on its commitment to wildlife, potentially squandering tens of millions of public investments
Conservation Northwest / Dec 15, 2022 / Connecting Habitat, Wildlife Crossings
For more than two decades, state and federal governments and private nonprofit organizations have spent tens of millions of dollars acquiring tens of thousands of acres in the area of Snoqualmie Pass to benefit wildlife. The Washington State Department of Transportation responded by spending millions more on wildlife crossings, including the critical underpass at Gold Creek that has allowed for the movement of nearly 8,000 animals since its completion in 2015.
Kittitas County has been supportive of and active in all of this. Former Kittitas County Commissioner Perry Huston even spent days in Washington D.C. with Conservation Northwest lobbying for these funds.
Now the county commissioners have voted to rezone a key 150-acre tract just north of the Gold Creek underpass that could allow the development of recreational cabins that would undermine the wildlife objectives of all that effort!
The Commissioners were dismissive of the concerns presented by appellants (CNW and a local community member) and a broad range of well-informed local supporters of the appeal. Certain members behaved as though this critical public issue was not worthy of their time, and that the rights of the property owner were the only consideration.
Due to the ecological significance of this site, we maintain that the State Environmental Policy Act Decision of Non-Significance and subsequent rezone approval was found in error. As such, we will continue to engage with the county and landowner regarding conservation protections including, but certainly not limited to, appealing the rezoning decision.