Vote Yes on King County Proposition 1 to Create a Climate-resilient Future
What is the price of a pine forest, a salmon-bearing stream, or a tree-lined park in a city? Many of these places have a dollar amount attached to them, but when you compare this to the price of rising temperatures, these areas are priceless in the value they bring to future generations. Our heritage is tied to the creek-side habitats that nurture salmon, the parks and trails that re-connect us to nature, as well as the grand tree stands that bury carbon. As temperatures and populations rise, our need for these spaces will only grow.
Over the past 40 years, King County’s Conservation Futures Program has conserved more than 100,000 acres of green space to promote life in our area, including treasured places in the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area such as Rattlesnake Mountain, the Issaquah Alps, the Middle Fork Snoqualmie, and many more.When the program was created 50 years ago, the state attached its revenue to property taxes.
Unfortunately, this connection has created funding shortfalls due to separate state legislation that limits annual property tax increases to one percent. This means that the original $6.25 per $1,000 of assessed property value that the program once received has been dwindling over the years. The result? The Conservation Futures tax rate has declined by almost 50 percent, leaving the program with about half as much revenue as was originally intended. The program is facing this ongoing challenge while property values continue to skyrocket, meaning that Conservation Futures can no longer keep the pace to conserve these last, best open spaces.
The Pacific Northwest, and the world at large, will need all the trees and habitat it can get to sequester carbon as climate change brings more environmental challenges into our lives. King County has worked with cities, farmers, businesses, and environmental leaders to identify the last places to protect before they are lost to development. Altogether, these lands make up 65,000 acres of open space that can be saved if funds are restored.
King County voters should vote yes on King County Proposition 1 in order to bring the Conservation Futures Program to its original rate – at a cost of less than $2 more per month for the average homeowner. This alone could double the program’s ability to protect and restore the most important open spaces within a single generation. As this election season nears, imagine a future where equitable access to green spaces is guaranteed and protected in public ownership. Vote yes on KC Prop 1 for all who depend on these natural spaces to survive and thrive for generations to come.