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City adds support to Amon Basin group

Richland's city council has agreed to write a letter to support a nonprofit group's efforts to acquire and protect as open space 119 acres in the south portion of Amon Basin.

The council voted 6-1, with Mayor John Fox dissenting, to write a letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife supporting the Tapteal Greenway Association's quest to buy the land between the east and west branches of Amon Creek south of Claybell Park.

"It's good news, and it allows us to go forward," said Scott Woodward, president of the Tapteal Greenway Association.

The area, which adjoins the roughly 100-acre Amon Creek Natural Preserve in south Richland, includes shrub-steppe, wetland and riparian areas -- the only urban location in the Tri-Cities that combines the three kinds of habitat. It also is home to the largest concentration in the Tri-Cities of black-tailed jack rabbits, a species of concern in Washington.

The association, Friends of Amon Basin and other supporters fear the habitat would be ruined if the 119-acre parcel is sold and transformed into a proposed housing development.

About $2 million is needed to buy the land, and supporters are pursuing grants and donations. Today, Woodward plans to make an initial pitch to a committee of the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office for an urban wildlife grant.

Woodward said his group likely won't know whether it will get a grant until spring. In the meantime, the association will keep exploring other options, he said.

Private donors have contributed about $30,000, Woodward said.

If fundraising is successful, the association would be responsible for maintaining the land, which would be owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

For more information or to donate, go to the Tapteal Greenway Association website at www.tapteal.org.

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