Gift Parcel starts at the tall firs

Pictured here is Jim and Diane’s Christmas gift to each other and to our Brush Prairie neighbors, to the Salmon Creek watershed, to the residents and taxpayers of Clark County, to the states of Washington and Oregon . . . and to the Cosmos.

A GIFT TO EACH OTHER. Jim and Diane scraped together $75,000 to purchase Sandy Poch’s five acre parcel on the bank of Salmon Creek.  Jim spent the balance of the inheritance he had received from his parents and aunt: Charles, Evelena and Jean Hunter.  Diane raided the IRA that she and her late husband Larry King had saved.  The financing got complicated when we realized that the IRA withdrawal was taxable income,  not only pay taxes on, but that it would also throw us out of a handful of low income programs that we might have to reimburse.  Diane’s son-in-law, Troy Kotek helped us out with a loan so we could spread the withdrawals over two years.

We did it because we care about the environment, and we couldn’t bear a developer cutting down the trees that the red tail hawks, great horned owls, pileated wood peckers and many other species perch in.

Property overlooks Salmon Creek

Property overlooks Salmon Creek

A GIFT TO OUR BRUSH PRAIRIE NEIGHBORS.   Conserving Sandy Poch’s five acre parcel will benefit our neighbors by maintaining the views that they can appreciate from their homes or when driving past the property.  The thickest grove of mature douglas firs on the property stands in the only spot that would have been suitable for constructing a home.

A GIFT TO THE SALMON CREEK WATERSHED. Maintaining this five acre diverse ecological community will yield benefits to the plants and animals (including humans) that occupy the salmon creek watershed.  The mature forest provides habitat for many species.  The land is part of a greenway along the creek that allows animals to travel between different undeveloped areas along the creek.  The trees provide shade to maintain cool temperatures for aquatic species including salmon.  The unconstrained, naturally vegetated banks provide areas that slow and absorb flood waters, benefitting all living downstream from the site, reducing the risk of flood damage in those areas.

Flood Sponge on Gift Property

Flood Sponge on Gift Property

A GIFT TO THE RESIDENTS AND TAX PAYERS OF CLARK COUNTY. All who live in the county can benefit from the natural areas in the county that provide habitat for vegetation and wildlife to be appreciated and cleaner air and water to sustain us.  Tax payers benefit from not needing to provide services to another rural residence and from the cost saving of reduced flood damage to public and private property and infrastructure.  In turn these benefits also accrue to the residents of Washington State and even the state of Oregon which shares our water and air sheds.

Needless to say, Jim and Diane are overjoyed with our shared gift and proud to share its benefits with neighbors near and far. However, this is a gift that comes with costs and challenges.  As a site the county considers “buildable”, the property value reflects that opportunity.  Accordingly the tax assessment values the parcel at $185,000 resulting in a tax liability approaching $2000 per year, to be added to the two homes and lots we already own.


We have biodiversity

Programs are available to reduce the taxes in exchange for protecting the property’s public benefits, but in this time of fiscal conservatism, government officials appear to prefer revenue over longer term less pecuniary values. Signing up for programs is discouraged with high application fees and warnings that the fee is nonrefundable if the application is denied, which they deem likely.

Price tag: A load of cash and a bureaucratic nightmare. True value: Priceless.  We hope you have an opportunity to enjoy and appreciate our shared gift and may the new year inspire you to find a gift worth saving, no matter how large or small.

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