Larsen: $6 million for San Juan Island's Mitchell Hill included in Obama's budget

President Obama's budget includes $6 million to purchase Mitchell Hill and transfer it to the San Juan Island National Historical Park, according to Rep. Rick Larsen's office.

"Today's announcement is great news for San Juan County, Northwest Washington and the over 250,000 people who visit the San Juan Island National Historical Park each year," said Larsen, who has worked for more than six years to transfer ownership of Mitchell Hill to the National Park from the state Department of Natural Resources.

"This news means that the Obama Administration has recognized the importance of this valuable natural and historic landmark and is making Mitchell Hill a priority."

Mitchell Hill is located just outside the English Camp boundaries. It includes a pristine portion of the military road that linked the British and American military camps during the joint military occupation of 1859-1872. Wagon-wheel ruts and riprap used to shore up the road are visible on a portion of the old road. Mitchell Hill also supports various native plants and Garry oaks.

Inclusion in the president's budget is an important step in the process of adding Mitchell Hill to the national park. Next, Congress must provide funding for Mitchell Hill as part of its annual Interior and Environment appropriations bill. Last month, Larsen requested that Congress provide $6 million to complete the acquisition.

Mitchell Hill is made up of 320 acres adjacent to the English Camp unit of San Juan Island National Historical Park. It encompasses a portion of the old Military Road that connected English Camp and American Camp during the joint military occupation during the 19th century.

The Mitchell Hill property is currently owned by the state Department of Natural Resources. Making Mitchell Hill a part of the San Juan Island Historical Park has a broad range of local support from local officials to local residents. Supporters include the National Park Service, San Juan County, DNR, and the San Juan Island Trails Committee.

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