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Ebey's Reserve loses promised $1.1 million

Officials at Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve are scrambling after learning money due to come from the federal government was pulled in a last minute budget cut.

"$1.1 million got yanked from us at the last minute," said Rob Harbour, manager of Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve, on Friday. "It's kind of a shocker for us."

Todd Webster, communications director for Sen. Patty Murray, said that the senator was disappointed with the turn of events. He explained that the National Park Service had to cut its land acquisition budget from $600 million to $350 million. The amount was a portion of the federal government's annual omnibus spending package.

He added that the money earmarked for Ebey's Landing was cut because it received money for land acquisition over the past four years and would get funding in the future.

"Senator Murray has been able to secure funding for the past three years and will continue to do so in the future," Webster said.

Murray did get some land preservation money for Whidbey Island out of the omnibus package, $600,000 to go toward purchasing Deer Lagoon on South Whidbey. However, that money came out of a coastal wetlands preservation fund.

Harbour has been planning the future composition of the preserve, an effort which would have been made easier by the additional funding that he learned about last year.

Those plans included purchasing development rights for several properties and possibly expanding the boundary of the reserve to include all of the wetlands near Crockett Lake.

There was a meeting held Feb. 18 to get the public's input on changes to the reserve. Now these plans all have to be changed, or at least delayed, because the reserve didn't receive the anticipated $1.1 million from the federal government.

Harbour said he is left trying to renegotiate with land owners that he was trying to purchase the development rights from.

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