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Senate budget provides Goss Lake forest money

"State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen has tossed the ball into the court of her 10th District legislative teammates in the matter of saving the Goss Lake forest.The Senate budget approved March 30 includes $4.7 million to be used to transfer the Goss Lake forest, presently owned by the Department of Natural Resources, to Island County for park purposes.If the transfer is completed, Haugen said in a news release, the property would no longer be considered for logging. The DNR has been studying the forest for possible logging, although nothing is imminent.It's now up to the 10th District's representatives, Kelly Barlean and Barry Sehlin, to see that the Goss Lake property is included in the House budget. I'll truly miss the strong leadership of former Rep. Dave Anderson on preserving Goss Lake, Haugen said, referring to her former Democratic colleague from Clinton. But I look forward to continuing those discussions with my new Republican seatmates once this budget reaches the House of Representatives. Barlean and newly-elected Sehlin are Republicans.Barlean was in his first term last year when he helped in the effort to provide funding to transfer the 400-plus acre Goss Lake forest to Island County. That effort fell short of the amount needed to save the forest, resulting in the need for a renewed attempt this year. Barlean said last month he would work to include the property in this year's property transfer list.The Senate budget includes other goodies for Island County:* The South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District receives $50,000 for a skateboard park.* The new Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island receives an additional $2 million in state funding.* Also funded is SB 5082, which would provide Island County its coveted rural designation. That would allow the county to keep some $400,000 annually in sales taxes that now go back to the state. That money could then be used for economic development purposes. At present, Island County's population density precludes it from being considered rural.This designation is critical for Island County's economic development, Haugen said.The Senate budget isn't final. For funding to be approved the House of Representatives must agree, and the governor must sign the final bill. "

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