A recent move by the Richland City Council could help protect part of Little Badger Mountain from development.
The council voted this past week to declare as surplus just more than an acre north of Columbia Community Church near the intersection of Gage Boulevard and Bellerive Drive.
That will allow the city to trade the land, along with 10 acres previously classified as surplus near the intersection of Duportail Street and City View Drive in the Queensgate area, for 88 acres along the western ridgeline of Little Badger Mountain, according to city documents.
The city plans to preserve the ridgeline itself as open space and for a trail corridor, as part of the swap it is now considering, said Richland Deputy City Manager Bill King.
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It would hold a portion to see if it eventually needs more development or if it should be used as park space, as well.
“That would be some time in the future,” he said.
Milo Bauder, who owns the Little Badger Mountain property, is a member of Columbia Community Church, which wants to use the adjacent land to expand its grounds, King said.
“That’s something that they think will be useful,” he said.
Bauder already gave 15.7 acres to the city in 2012 to be used for open space. The land was between his Falconcrest development on the ridge of Little Badger Mountain and Meadow Hills Drive.
The city earlier tried to buy 150 acres of ridgetop on Little Badger. But it had to turn down $1.3 million from the state in 2009 because the money, as well as funds raised by the nonprofit Friends of Badger Mountain, would not have been enough to meet Bauder’s asking price of $5 million.
The proposed exchange was recommended by Richland’s economic development committee at its March meeting. The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission also recommended that the land near Columbia Community Church be included in a land swap.
The city will continue to maintain a trail corridor north of Columbia Community Church as part of the possible swap.
The city’s acquisition of part of Little Badger Mountain could also be part of a planned trail system that the Friends of Badger have been working on to connect to Badger Mountain, Candy Mountain and Red Mountain.
“Certainly it is our desire to have a connecting trail across the four ridges,” said Sharon Grant, Friends of Badger co-founder. “This is something that would contribute to that, no question.”