The Columbia Land Trust and Clatsop Community College face a $141,000 gap in their effort to turn South Tongue Point into wildlife habitat and a living laboratory.
The land trust preserves several properties along the lower Columbia River. It secured $1 million from a national grant program run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a $332,000 match from the state Watershed Enhancement Board to buy nearly 100 acres of South Tongue Point.
The land trust plans to restore the property into salmon and wildlife habitat under the guidance of the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce. It would then transfer the land to the college for use as a living laboratory in support of its environmental sciences program.
But the land trust secured the grants before an appraisal of the property came back higher than expected, said Christopher Breitmeyer, the college president, while updating the college board Tuesday.
“There’s some concern about that amount of money and how that will be raised,” he said. “We’re in communication with them right now talking about ideas.”
Dan Roix, conservation director for the land trust, said the cost of the land purchase and other ancillary costs exceeds $1.4 million, while the group has about $1.3 million available.
"I suspect it will be individual contributions and grants filling in the gap," Roix said.
The state Land Board recently agreed to sell the college about 22 acres on the northern third of South Tongue Point for $826,500. The college leases the land for its career-technical campus, the Marine and Environmental Research and Training Station, and hopes to close on the property by the end of its fiscal year in June.
The college’s purchase is not affected by the land trust’s shortfall, but it shares the burden of bridging the gap because it will receive the land, Breitmeyer said.
The land trust needs to close on the land by the end of the year to use its grants, Breitmeyer said. Representatives from the land trust’s governing board will visit Astoria June 21 to tour the property and hold a board meeting.