Update January 2014 – by Ann Darlington
Friends of Heybrook Ridge (FOHR) is pleased to report ongoing and steady progress this winter regarding property acquisition for Heybrook Ridge County Park (HRCP). We have completed the purchase of 9.9 acres of property on the south side of the Ridge from John Fernald (featured in Bob Hubbard’s article published in the December 2013 Index Wall) and offered it as a donation to Snohomish County for inclusion in HRCP. Our pro bono lawyer friends at the Seattle firm, Van Ness Feldman, helped us craft protective covenants for this property similar to those we put in place in 2008 for the rest of the Park. These included language restricting Park use to “passive recreation” (e.g., no motorized vehicles), disallowing tree clearance other than for trail and road maintenance and view enhancement (we want to open and maintain views of Canyon Falls), and naming FOHR a “Third-Party Beneficiary.” Specifically, the covenants state that “FOHR shall have the right to enforce the terms of this Declaration in a court of competent jurisdiction, and this Declaration may not be amended or terminated without the written consent of FOHR.” This last bit of legalese is especially valuable to local folks and other friends of the Park: no significant changes can happen to how the Park is developed or managed without FOHR approval. It gives credence, power and responsibility to us as “local stewards” to the Park. These covenants and the rest of the 18-page agreement have been readily accepted by the property managers at SnoCo Parks & Recreation.
Next steps for the “Fernald 9.9” are in progress too: the donation paperwork now moves up the chain to the Snohomish County Council, who must approve all property acquisitions. We expect that the Council will accept the donation and make it an official part of HRCP by the end of February.
As reported previously, we are also working with Snohomish County Parks on their purchase or lease of three properties on the town-side of the Park. These purchases will be financed by the Conservation Futures Grant awarded (largely as a result of FOHR’s advocacy) to the County early in 2013. Tax assessments and two independent property appraisals have been completed and reviewed by the County. Their offer for the smallest of the 3 parcels (bordering the Park but not the Index-Galena Road) has been accepted; closing on this piece should also be complete by early March. This is a sweet, flat wetland section with a seasonal beaver pond that drains into a year-round creek. Offers on the other two larger parcels that do border the Index Galena Road will be made in early January. If accepted, either of these would work well to site a trailhead and possibly a parking area.
Speaking of trails: after the holidays are behind us, trail planning by the County, the Washington Trails Association, and FOHR can finally take off. If all goes as anticipated, we will be putting out the Call for Help on actual trail building this spring. We’ll keep you posted.
**Remember, FOHR board meetings are open to the public. They are usually held on the 3rd Monday of the month at 7:00 pm at the Fire Station. BUT this month it will be held on January 27th.