Open spaces around Black Diamond receiving $10 million to expand

The goal is to keep natural spaces natural and slow urban sprawl around King County.

Four open spaces around Black Diamond will be receiving more than almost $10 million in 2023 Conservation Futures and King County Park Levy funds for various projects.

King County Executive Dow Constantine made the announcement via press release on Jan. 25. In total, more than $52 million will be going toward 36 different projects around the county to preserve open spaces and halt the growth of urban sprawl.

“We’re investing to protect greenspace, restore habitat, conserve tree canopy and expand access to fresh, local food,” Constantine said in the press release. “Thanks to King County voters, we’re able to expand the Conservation Futures program and fund more open space preservation projects like these, contributing to healthier, more resilient communities.”

Locally, the three areas receiving grant funds include the Black Diamond Open Space, Hyde Lake Park, and the Green River/Newakum Creek area, and Keevie Lake.

Keevie Lake will be receiving $385,000 to buy 170 acres of forest area, currently owned by a single family.

“The acquisition would preserve a beautiful forest complex surrounding a lake, west of the City of Black Diamond and adjacent to the new Ten Trails development,” the project application reads.

The Black Diamond Open Space, which consists of 1,240 acres of forest area and 17 miles of trails, is looking to use its $2.89 million in grant funds to purchase an additional 71 acres of undeveloped, forested open space to expand the area. The land, currently owned by a private forester, already has some social trails that can be used by the public.

“… if King County is able to acquire [these parcels, they] will permanently preserve the forest on site and halt any further spread of development or the urban line,” the project application reads. “Adding these 50+ acres to King County Parks’ open space system would be a huge benefit to the community and would protect the natural resources on site from any further development.”

Hyde Lake Park, of which the Green/Duwamish River runs through, will be receiving $2 million in grants.

According to the project application, the river has been rated by America’s Rivers as No. 5 of country’s top 10 most endangered rivers due to to “decades of pollution, floodplain development…have taken their toll on the river and its salmon and steelhead runs.”

The project originally asked for $3.7 million to purchase 10 parcels of land, approximately 91 acres total, to “contribute to protecting fish and wildlife habitat, groundwater, and surface water quality, and will help create the establishment of one of the largest low-elevation old-growth forests in the state.”

However, as the money the project will receive is less than their ask, the project may have to shrink in scope.

Finally, more than $4.6 million will be going to aid the Green River/Newakum Creek open areas.

The project originally requested $5.4 million to purchase eight parcels, about 174 acres in all, scattered around the open area.

Again, a reduced budget could again mean shifting priorities.