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County dips into park fund to help build earthen dam

The Pierce County Board voted last week to use up to $10,000 from the county's $1 million Park Development Fund to help build a dam at Nugget Lake Park.

The money will pay a third of the cost of the earthen dam at the county park. The dam is one of two and will cost $25,250. Of that cost, $8,416 will come from the development fund and the rest from the land conservation department's budget.

The Park Development Fund has a balance of $1,094,902. That money was collected over the years as land in the county was sold for new houses. The county charged a flat fee for small developments and a fee equal to 10 percent of the land's raw value for larger developments.

The intent of the fee, which is no longer charged, was to pay for more parks that would presumably be needed as more people moved into the county.

"We have effectively lost our ability to collect those fees anymore. So what we have now is all we're going to get," said Land Management Administrator Andy Pichotta Monday.

He said that, as a result of state legislation passed last spring, counties can no longer require developers to make payments in lieu of park land dedication.

Park Superintendent Scott Schoepp said the dam, similar to ones on many farms throughout the county, will be upstream from the lake in "a very active dry run" in the day-use area of the park.

The intent of the dam, the second of two, is to reduce flooding and erosion and trap sediment. It will also provide some wildlife habitat, said Schoepp.

The west dam was started in 2005 and finished this year. The east dam will be started this fall.

Money in the Park Development Fund can only be used to buy, develop or expand land for parks or other recreational uses.

To help meet that requirement, "educational interpretive" signs will be installed to explain to the public the function of the dam.

Pichotta said the dam and signs will provide "a do-it-yourself kind of exhibit" regarding the use and value of earthen dams.

Schoepp said this type of dam is usually installed on private property and not accessible to the public.

"They're not that big of a deal, but it's kind of an interesting little thing," he said.