Public comment on the purchase of 17 acres adjacent to Hoko River State Park is now open.

Public comment on the purchase of 17 acres adjacent to Hoko River State Park is now open.

Purchase near Hoko River open for public comment

Seventeen acres near state park

SEKIU — The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is seeking public comment on the potential purchase of 17 acres in the northwest part of the county adjacent to Hoko River State Park.

Nikki Fields, real estate program manager for the state agency, presented the potential purchase to the Clallam County commissioners at their Aug. 1 work session.

Comments can be submitted to Fields at nikki.fields@park.wa.gov. The grant number is 22-1723 and the project name is Hoko River State Park – Schultz Property. Ideally, she would like them by today prior to her next presentation but will accept them after that.

A fact sheet on the property is available at www.parks.wa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/19215/22-1723-Hoko-River-State-Park—Schultz- Property-Fact-Sheet.

The grant would be through the Washington Wildlife Recreation Program and the agency expects to hear back between April and June next year, Fields told the commissioners, adding that oftentimes a project is not funded at first but it is later on.

No grant amount or purchase price was discussed, although the online fact sheet listed a grant request of $912,811.

Fields explained in an email that the property has not been appraised, so no purchase price has been set. If the project is funded, State Parks will hire an independent appraiser to determine the fair market value, and that price will be offered to the landowner.

If the grant amount is more than the fair market value, the unused grant money will be returned for use in another project.

“If the value is higher than the estimated value, we may not be able to afford the property, so we try not to underestimate land values as we are seeking grant funding,” Fields wrote.

Fields’ email stated the property was brought to their attention by the North Olympic Salmon Coalition because the landowner had expressed interest in selling.

“Our goal is to protect and preserve river corridors. They want to protect resources and provide low-impact recreational use,” she said.

The property contains two houses, a garage and outbuildings, Fields said. The whole area is subject to flooding, so state officials want to remove the buildings, she said.

“Washington State Parks can provide water access and low-impact recreation and restoration if they can buy this property,” she said.

“It is inside the long-term park boundary. Our goal is to protect and preserve river corridors. They want to protect resources and provide low-impact recreational use.”

The property is within the long-term boundary of Hoko River State Park. It is considered ecologically critical for the protection and restoration of the Hoko River and its floodplain.

State Parks is working with the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, the Makah Tribe and others to improve salmon and wildlife habitat along the Hoko River.

Ed Bowen of Clallam Bay told the commissioners, “I am pleased the commissioners have chosen to engage the public, and that’s my No. 1 comment that I would like to make.

“I don’t believe State Parks has done its due diligence to engage the local public, the affected public, towards this acquisition of property.”

Bowen said he was concerned about small-scale agriculture and affordable housing given the proposed removal of the buildings.

He suggested seeking feedback from the heritage advisory board, the housing resources committee and the conservation futures advisory group.

“There is small-scale agriculture on this property, but it is connected, interlinked, into the whole agricultural heritage of the Cowan Ranch Heritage Site,” Bowen said.

The Cowan Ranch Heritage Area has a historic dairy farm that includes seven farm buildings and associated artifacts.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@soundpublishing.com.

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