The Discovery Park loop trail within the King County Parks system allows city residents a nature refuge wthin city limits Photo by Jill Wasberg.

The King County Parks, Recreation, Trails, and Open Space Levy is a property tax levy that will help fund maintenance of King County Parks (and was approved by King County voters in the August Primary Election), It renews the previous levy from 2014-2019 while providing more funding for other expenditures that will continue to beautify our parks. Over the last 20 years, a significant portion of expenditures of the parks budget has come from these levies.

King County Parks provide everyone in King County with the opportunity to relax, go outside and get exercise. Some people even utilize this system as a convenient commute path! Whether you are biking down the Burke Gilman Trail, going hiking with friends and family at Cougar Mountain, or enjoying a picnic at Discovery Park, these city and regional parks provide our community with such amenities.

This levy will cost about eight dollars a month for the average King County house owner, paid for through property tax increases. The money that is collected will be spent on operations and maintenance of current parks, building or expanding parks to better suit the growing population of our region, grants to make parks more accessible and money to help finish construction of regional trails, such as EastLink.

This levy will help support the investment of repairing facilities and play areas throughout the area, including both city parks and regional parks. Play areas are important for child development as they give children the ability to exercise, hang out with others and do activities that improve upon motor coordination skills. Children deserve access to parks which allow them to be active and enjoy themselves. It is important for kids to be active as over 80% of children (and even 80% of adults) do not get the recommended amount of exercise. That statistic may be attributed to the fact that many recreation centers or parks are inaccessible to many households. Parks will provide a space for everyone to continue their healthy exercise routines and maintain healthy lifestyles.

Parks connect people from all walks of life by providing opportunities for community members to gather, host events and stay connected. It is vital that people, regardless of race, income or where you leave, are able to access these parks in order to take advantage of such benefits.

A portion of this levy (about 10%) will be dedicated to improving access to both the Seattle Aquarium and the Woodland Park Zoo and supporting their education efforts. This levy supports Woodland Park Zoo’s and Seattle Aquarium’s efforts to make the zoo more accessible to all through free admission days and support their efforts to save endangered species.

Another important investment is improving trailheads, which will continue to draw more people to the parks. Luckily, King County Parks do not charge its visitors parking fees and many parks are accessible by public transit. This makes King County Parks a popular urban escape for Seattle residents, and improving capacity will allow many more to continue to enjoy these natural gems.

The King County Parks System has allowed the Seattle region to maintain a high quality of life. With this levy, people living in urban areas can better access parks throughout the region, especially parks that are easily accessible by transit. Another way to help is through volunteering. Volunteers in King County Parks help improve wildlife habitats and improve trail quality to make the experience even greater.

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