Benton County is ready to close a $1.25 million deal this week with Candy Mountain property owners that will preserve the local peak as a natural area and park.
Friends of Badger Mountain and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office are funding the deal, which will turn Candy Mountain into a twin of sorts to the popular Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve.
In a procedural step, Benton County commissioners are expected to approve a resolution giving their chairman authority to sign purchase documents for eight parcels totaling nearly 200 acres when it holds its regularly scheduled meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Prosser.
The resolution is on the consent agenda, meaning it will likely be approved without discussion. The commission previously approved a purchase and sale agreement in March.
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Establishing a park and legal access to the summit of Candy Mountain is a long-held dream for Friends of Badger Mountain, which envisions a string of trails from the Richland-Kennewick border to the Yakima River.
The nonprofit began talking with the property owners, both eager to see the land become a park, more than a decade ago. Formal negotiations began in 2011.
10th Benton County park
The deal covers five parcels controlled by Dr. Robert Margulies of Richland and three controlled by Mark Ufkes of Seattle.
Friends of Badger Mountain is contributing $695,000 to buy the land with a matching grant from the state.
The Friends group has transferred its contribution to an escrow account. The state is expected to do the same before the deal formally closes May 6.
Under the agreement, Benton County will take ownership of the property at the closing. It will manage Candy Mountain as undeveloped open space and a natural habitat preserve with trails for public, non-motorized recreation. The park agreement will be formalized at a later date.
The Candy Mountain Preserve is the next link in Friends of Badger Mountain’s dream of a 20-mile network of ridge-top trails that starts at Amon Basin on the Kennewick-Richland border and extends to the Yakima River by way of the summits of Little Badger Mountain, Badger Mountain, Candy Mountain and Red Mountain.
Badger Mountain and Candy Mountain will be linked via Dallas Road. Friends of Badger Mountain expects to work on a trailhead and parking off Dallas Road on the mountain’s south side this spring.
Trail construction will take place in the fall when conditions are more favorable and it should open to the public soon after that.
Candy Mountain will be Benton County’s 10th park.