Mark Ufkes lives in Seattle but the Candy Mountain property owner remembers growing up in the Tri-Cities, hiking Badger Mountain as a teen struggling to come to grips with his mother’s death from cancer in 1972.
On Friday, Benton County will close a $1.25 million deal with Ufkes and another property owner that will ensure future generations can create similar memories on Candy Mountain.
Friends of Badger Mountain and the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office are splitting the cost to acquire eight parcels to create a ridgetop preserve totaling nearly 200 acres. The deal includes $700,000 to secure five parcels from Dr. Robert Margulies of Richland and $550,000 to secure three parcels from Ufkes and his wife, Lois Schipper.
Everyone in the Tri-Cities should be proud of (Friends of Badger Mountain) and Tapteal Greenway for their never-ending leadership to improve the quality of life in the Tri-Cities.
Mark Ufkes and Lois Schipper
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The deal wraps up Friday following a routine vote Tuesday by the Benton County Commission authorizing Chairman Shon Small to sign the closing documents.
The deal caps a decade-long effort by Friends of Badger Mountain to add Candy Mountain to a growing chain of ridgetop parks. The network will connect Amon Basin at the Kennewick-Richland border to the Yakima River, by way of the summits of Little Badger Mountain, Badger Mountain, Candy Mountain and eventually Red Mountain.
Ufkes and his wife noted the occasion with a statement of thanks for the opportunity to establish a new public park and hiking trail in the Tri-Cities.
$1.25 million Purchase price for Candy Mountain park parcels
Ufkes grew up in the Tri-Cities, where his father, Leon Ufkes, worked as a nuclear engineer at Hanford. The elder Ufkes still lives in Pasco. Ufkes recalled taking solace in solo hikes to the summit of Badger Mountain as a teen after his mother, Iris Ufkes, died.
“When mom died, I was just trying to figure out how to survive. Hiking to the summit of Badger Mountain helped me maintain my optimism for the future,” he said.
The couple are longtime supporters of the Friends’ Ridges-to-River Trail system and have granted public access to a five-acre parcel at the summit to ensure all trails lead to the top.
Work will begin immediately to establish a trailhead and parking off Dallas Road on the mountain’s south side. Dallas Road will link Candy Mountain to the Badger Mountain Preserve, which also has a trailhead there. Trail construction should begin in the fall.