King County maintains 175 miles of hiking trails, including in the popular Issaquah Alps. Money to keep up the trails, as well as the county's 200 parks and thousands of miles of open space, comes from a property tax levy. King County voters will decide whether to renew the six-year levy in the Aug. 6 primary election.
The levy would generate $810 million and would cost the owner of a $500,000 home about $7.60 a month. Eighty percent of the budget for King County Parks comes from the levy.
Jon Hoekstra, executive director of Mountains to Sound Greenway, has endorsed the measure. He says the levy triples the amount of money available to acquire natural areas for parks, and that's important.
"The time to protect these places is now,” Hoekstra said, “before they're either developed or just priced out of sight.”
He says one of the priorities is investing in greenspace for underserved communities and providing more access to hiking trails and parks.
The levy includes money to expand programs such as King County Metro's Trailhead Direct program. It takes riders from light rail stops to trailheads in the Issaquah Alps.
Levy funds also would go to the Woodland Park Zoo and the Seattle Aquarium for educational outreach. Although the institutions are in the Seattle city limits, levy advocates say both are regional resources that encourage people to connect with nature and, as such, deserve to receive levy funds.
There is no organized opposition to the measure, although some critics are concerned the county relies on levy funds for the parks budget.