Buckley purchases land along White River

The city of Buckley finalized the purchase of 154 acres of undeveloped property along the White River during a March 30 signing ceremony.

The total transaction including the transfer of two additional portions of land, consisting of a 31.74 acre parcel and a 28.65 acre parcel, both from Puget Sound Energy to the city, encompass a total of 214.55 acres. The project is the largest property acquisition in Buckley’s history and aims to protect the corridor adjacent to the White River for endangered species and other wildlife; preserve of the city’s existing sewer outfall; and provide both an area for a future well site and create a link along the White River to the Foothills Trail system.

“This acquisition will provide access to hundreds of miles of trails connecting Buckley by foot, bicycle and horse to the region,” Mayor Pat Johnson said. “It will also protect habitat for endangered wildlife and will be an incredible asset to the community for future generations.”

Endangered Chinook and threatened coho and chum salmon populate this part of the river. Elk, deer, bears, cougars, bald eagles, great blue herons and wood ducks also frequent the property’s forests, wetlands, canyons and meadows.

“Many generations of families in Buckley have roamed these trails and woods,” Johnson added. “Kids claim the area to learn about the outdoors, fishing and building childhood memories.”

The purchase price was $300,000 with funding from the city’s utility funds.

“This acquisition has taken years to come to fruition and we are thrilled to finally announce success to the community,” Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said. “I know the county’s Public Works and Utilities staff have been helpful in finding funding and moving this along with Buckley. This will be a wonderful enhancement to the quality of life in Buckley and the region.”

Passive recreation is now available on the property. Future plans depend upon city finances and the mayor and City Council will evaluate opportunities to further enhance the property with educational signage, better trails, improved fencing and possibly other amenities for the public.

“We’re pleased to have reached this agreement to turn over these lands to the city of Buckley,” said Gary Nomensen, PSE manager of local government and community relations. He said putting the land in city hands is one of the final steps in PSE’s sale of Lake Tapps and the lands associated with the White River Hydroelectric Project following its shutdown in 2004.

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