Money contained in the 2013 budget proposed by the president would allow continued expansion of two favorite South Sound natural areas.
The proposal includes $1 million to purchase 226 acres to expand Mount Rainier National Park and $1 million to pay for a 201-acre expansion of the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
At the park, the money would be used to purchase the last parcels in the 800-acre Carbon River boundary expansion area and purchase land in Wilkeson to use as a visitor information location.
There are still about 40 acres among half a dozen landowners, each with a residence, the park needs to acquire to complete the expansion, said Rick Wagner, realty officer for the National Park Service in Seattle.
The park service also is looking at two sites in Wilkeson for the center, which would be used in conjunction with the town.
“We’re in the selection process to see which one would work best,” Wagner said.
The park is hoping to partner with the town of Wilkeson in their downtown revitalization efforts, said Bryan Bowden, the park’s community outreach planner.
“We may be able to figure out a scenario where the park service buys an acre or less that the town might be able to use for a public space that includes visitor information such as a kiosk or something like that,” Bowden said.
The Nisqually refuge currently covers 3,000 acres where the Nisqually River flows into Puget Sound. If approved by Congress, the money would allow the refuge to buy land on the south side of Interstate 5.
“That allows us to work with willing sellers to acquire more land,” refuge manager Jean Takekawa said of the money.
The refuge’s comprehensive conservation plan, approved in 2004, expanded the potential acquisition boundary by 3,479 acres.
Some of the funds would also be used to buy land in the northern half of the Black River Unit of the refuge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service currently owns about 1,000 acres along the river southwest of Olympia.
“It would be a great thing, if it’s approved, to help build for the future, especially in areas that are urbanizing,” Takekawa said.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640