Ellensburg Daily Record – Editorial: Pragmatic approach to basin plan

Editorial Board

Ellensburg Daily Record

May 17, 2012

It is easy to get tied up in sweeping arguments about “saving the wilderness,” or, conversely, “the steady decline of the taxable land base,” but Kittitas County’s approach to the Yakima Basin water plan must be much more pragmatic: Does the plan make sense for Kittitas County?

The original intent of the plan is to improve water supply in the Yakima Basin. As a county, we would benefit from anything that improves water supply, whether it is an increase in storage or enhanced efficiencies in water delivery systems. At first glance, it seems like a no-brainer. Of course, the county supports improved water supplies in the Yakima Basin.

But, as is always the case with water, the situation is not so simple. As part of the plan, 71,000 acres of land (almost all of which would be in Kittitas County) would be transferred from private to public ownership as part of the mitigation.

It makes for an odd situation because the improved water storage would not be in Kittitas County, but the mitigation land would be in the county. This may only be odd from a Kittitas County perspective. Viewed from two miles high, county boundary lines blur and we’re all one big, happy region.

The reality on the land, though, is the transfer from private to public ownership would have a tax impact in Kittitas County.

Just as it would be wrong to embrace the plan without knowing the details, it would be a mistake to automatically dismiss the idea because of the transfer of private land to public ownership.

This county benefits from public land even if it is not generating taxes. Almost all of our outdoor recreation tourism economy is based on the use of public land. Expansion of that public resource, particularly in the scenic Teanaway basin, could be a net benefit for the county.

Continue reading the story.

Categories: News

Posted on May 23, 2012 at 10:00 pm.

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