Issaquah Reporter: “Cougar/Squak Corridor Park south expansion opens to the public”

June 10, 2015, Issaquah Reporter: “Cougar/Squak Corridor Park south expansion opens to the public”

 

 

Daniel Nash of the Issaquah Reporter wrote a great article about the opening of the new Cougar/Squak Corridor Park and discussed how Dave Kappler of the Issaquah Alps Trail Club and our grassroots organization, Save Squak, were instrumental in stopping the proposed logging of Squak Mountain and sparking the creation of this new park.

In November 2012, Kappler found out from others in the community that the old Issaquah Highlands Recreational Club had been purchased by Erickson Logging Inc.

Over the subsequent half-year, the company applied multiple times with the state Department of Natural Resources to harvest the land’s timber, some of which were accepted. However, the Trails Club and grassroots organization Save Squak continued to lobby King County to purchase the land.

The county didn’t have immediate funds to purchase the land, but the club and Save Squak attracted the attention of the Washington Trails Association and The Trust for Public Land.

The Trust for Public Land eventually made a deal in July 2013 to purchase the land on behalf of King County for $5 million. King County acquired the land in December 2014 after completing repayment to The Trust for Public Land.

Read the full Issaquah Reporter article by clicking here.

 

Issaquah Reporter: “County, Trust for Public Land complete Squak Mountain property deal”

January 19, 2015, Issaquah Reporter: “County, Trust for Public Land complete Squak Mountain property deal”

The Squak Mountain property should be open to hiking in the springtime. — image credit: Issaquah Reporter file photo

King County and The Trust for Public Land are taking the last few steps in a two-year-long journey to permanently preserve more than 200 acres of Cascade foothills forestland.

Coveted for its ecological value, including sheltering the headwaters of a salmon-bearing stream, 226 acres of land on Squak Mountain was purchased by the trust in 2014 for $5 million.

“Permanently preserving forestland in our Cascade foothills will pay dividends for each generation to come,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “By saving wildlife habitat and preserving recreational areas, we protect our region’s environmental health and quality of life.”

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, whose district includes the land, noted “protecting this stretch of land guarantees recreational opportunities and natural habitats will be preserved for years to come.”

“Successes like Squak Mountain are at the heart of our mission to give everyone a great park close to home,” said Paul Kundtz, Washington State Director of The Trust for Public Land. “It’s been intensely rewarding to be able to work with the great team at King County and achieve this wonderful outcome for the people of Issaquah.”

Click here to read the complete article in the Issaquah Reporter.

Issaquah Reporter: “Something to celebrate | Squak Mountain supporters come out to view part of the new land acquisition”

May 13, 2014, Issaquah Reporter: “Something to celebrate | Squak Mountain supporters come out to view part of the new land acquisition”

Excerpts from Linda Ball’s article on the May 10 celebration.

From left, Elizabeth, Esme and Jay McNally, with Ann Fletcher enjoying the hike on Squak Mountain. Peeking from behind Jay McNally is Oliver McNally. — image credit: Linda Ball/Issaquah & Sammamish Reporter

by LINDA BALL,  Issaquah Reporter Staff Writer

Outdoor enthusiasts, county officials, members of SaveSquak.com, representatives from the Trust for Public Lands and King County Parks officials gathered Saturday morning at the old lodge that was once part of the Issaquah Camping Club, to officially celebrate the acquisition of 226 acres into the King County Parks system.

Kevin Brown with King County Parks said the actual planning effort will begin later this year to improve the trails — some of which have been there over 20 years — and to figure out how to fold it into the open park space for Cougar and Tiger Mountains.

Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett was at the celebration instead of executive Dow Constantine, because Constantine and his wife had just welcomed a new baby the day before. Jarrett said the acquisition was one of Constantine’s goals.

“It’s about delivering value and adding to our public space,” Jarrett said.

Jarrett said this was brought together in record time, noting that there was a great deal of interest in preserving the land due to concerns of flooding from potential clear-cutting and development and also disturbing fish habitat and wildlife. Jarrett thanked King County’s Parks staff for making it possible for “all to enjoy for eternity.”

District 9 County Council member, Reagan Dunn, a key driver behind the acquisition, could not be present due to another obligation. Larry Phillips, who represents District 4 on the county council, said Tibbetts and May Creeks are very important salmon habitats, which they have had great success with. He said now they don’t have to worry about clear cuts filling up those streams.

The Trust for Public Lands, a national non-profit, played a key role in the acquisition. Roger Hoesterey, senior vice president and division director west, oversees the TPL’s conservation programs in every state west of the Rockies, including Alaska and Hawaii. During his time at TPL, the states he directs have conserved over a half million acres of land. TPL put up the money to buy the property from landowner Kurt Erickson. King County has repaid TPL for about half of the property, with plans to pay off the rest before the end of the year. The purchase price was $5 million.

Hoesterey thanked Erickson, who wasn’t there, saying that Erickson probably could have made more money if he’d logged and developed it. He said this property was a high priority.Hoesterey also thanked Save Squak.

“They did all the hard work,” he said. “We need the rabble-rousers.”

The final speaker was Dave Kappler, president of the Issaquah Alps Trails Club, and one of the so-called rabble-rousers. He thanked members of the King County Council.

David Kappler, president of the Issaquah Trails Club speaks, while Kevin Brown with King County Parks looks on.

“We didn’t have a lot of meetings (Save Squak), but then Reagan Dunn showed up at Issaquah City Council,” Kappler said. “Larry Phillips has his name written over everything that’s green.”

Kappler said they were sort of out of their league on the whole thing.

“The people on Save Squak were great. They knew when to cool it when we needed to cool it,” he said.

….

Click here to read the complete article in the Issaquah Reporter.

Final acquisition set for Squak Mountain forest, with King County-The Trust for Public Land accord

Public celebration May 10 of 226-acre forest acquired for recreation, habitat

A public celebration is set to commemorate preservation of 226 acres of high-quality forestland in the IssaquahSquak_Mountain_timber Alps – the result of a partnership between King County and The Trust for Public Land. This acquisition adds to King County’s Cougar-Squak Corridor parkland.

“Our partnership to protect Squak Mountain’s irreplaceable fish and wildlife habitat is cause for celebration,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “I want to thank The Trust for Public Land and the people of King County on behalf of generations who will enjoy hiking, viewing wildlife, and other recreation in this forest.”

“Our mission is saving land for people, and that’s exactly what we’ve done here,” said Paul Kundtz, State Director for The Trust for Public Land. “We’re very proud to have helped add Squak Mountain forest to King County’s publicly owned lands.”

“Preserving Squak Mountain answers the public call to save the forest from clear cutting and protects this cherished habitat and recreational area adjacent to prized County and State parks,” said King County Council Chair Larry Phillips. “I thank The Trust for Public Land for partnering with us to preserve this property.”

“This is a great victory for the residents around Squak Mountain that brought this important issue to our attention,” said King County Council member Reagan Dunn, whose district includes Squak Mountain. “Thanks to the advocacy of organizations such as “Save Squak” and the Issaquah Alps Trail Club we are saving valuable habitat while increasing recreational opportunities for King County residents.

A public celebration of the Squak Mountain forest acquisition is scheduled for May 10, when partnership leaders and environmental supporters will make brief remarks and invite everyone to take any of several short guided hikes through the forest.

This forestland is closed to the public until 2015, so the May 10 event will be an early opportunity for the public to see the property. King County Parks must prepare the site for public use before full access can be allowed, including property clean-up, removing infrastructure, establishing trail routes, and ensuring property is safe and ready for public use.

The Trust for Public Land purchased the 226–acre property in six parcels from the previous landowner. King County recently purchased about half of the total acreage from The Trust for Public Land using King County Parks Levy regional open space funds, Conservation Futures funds, and Real Estate Excise Taxes.

The Trust for Public Land will retain ownership of the remaining acreage until King County raises the additional funds to complete the purchase, when it will be added to the County’s Cougar-Squak Corridor.

Parks will open the property for hiking-only use in 2015. Parks anticipates having a public planning process in 2015 to help determine future uses for the site.

The May 10 public celebration event starts at 10 a.m. and includes options for hikes of varying lengths through the property. Access to the celebration location is at 10610 Renton-Issaquah Road SE (State Route 900) (Click here for map).

There has been significant interest in the public to see this land, trail system, and natural resources conserved. The grassroots efforts were led by the organization “Save Squak” which helped focus community energy in support of this acquisition.

“We could not have wished for or imagined a better cooperative effort between citizen groups, all levels and departments within King County and The Trust for Public Land,” said David Kappler of the Issaquah Alps Trail Club, and a primary organizer of the Save Squak citizens group.

King County has been interested in maintaining the land’s recreational opportunities and preserving its rich forest habitat which supports a variety of wildlife and birds, including black bear, cougar and possibly endangered marbled murrelets. The headwaters of May Creek, a seven-mile-long salmon stream that flows into Lake Washington, rise here.

A prominent natural feature visible from State Route 900 on the Mountains to Sound Greenway, this part of Squak Mountain has long been used as a private forest camp and is wedged between Squak Mountain State Park and King County’s Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.

About The Trust for Public Land
Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at http://www.tpl.org/.

About King County Parks

King County Parks – Your Big Backyard – offers more than 200 parks and 26,000 acres of parks and natural lands, including such regional treasures as Marymoor Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, 175 miles of regional trails, 180 miles of backcountry trails and a world-class aquatic center. By cultivating strong relationships with non-profit, corporate and community partners, King County Parks enhances park amenities while reducing costs. Learn more at http://www.kingcounty.gov/parks/.

Issaquah Press: “Agreement protects Squak from logging”

August 6, 2013, Issaquah Press: “Agreement protects Squak from logging”

Peter Clark of the Issaquah Press had a good article this week about the joint success of Trust for Public Land and King County in purchasing the Squak Mountain forest land from Erickson Logging.

Wyatt Golding at the Washington Forest Law Center, which was instrumental in providing pro bono legal services to the effort to stop the proposed logging, gave a shout-out to the Issaquah Alps Trail Club and Save Squak for the grassroots citizen effort:

“Issaquah Alps Trails Club and Save Squak made an enormous difference in this process by reviewing forestry applications and working with WFLC and the Department of Natural Resources to help ensure enforcement of state forestry laws,” Golding said. “Their members are people who live and work in the area immediately surrounding the forest. They used their local knowledge to explain the drastic environmental impacts that would result from logging. We believe those efforts ultimately helped to incentivize a sale.”

Click here to read the complete article in the Issaquah Press.

Issaquah Reporter: “Done deal — Trust for Public Land and Kurt Erickson come to terms on Squak Mountain.”

July 23, 2013, Issaquah Reporter: “Done deal | Trust for Public Land and Kurt Erickson come to terms on Squak Mountain.”

Issaquah Reporter’s Linda Ball reports the successful negotiations between Trust for Public Land and Erickson Logging to acquire the Squak Mountain forest lands for King County:

An agreement has been reached between logger Kurt Erickson and the Trust for Public Lands, for TPL to preserve 216 acres of forestland that Erickson owns, on Squak Mountain, following several months of negotiations between the parties.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced the agreement, signed July 18, to purchase the forestland for $5 million.

“This is forest that people have cherished for generations and which, thanks to the partnership of The Trust for Public Land, will no longer be threatened, forever to be enjoyed and appreciated,” Constantine said.

Erickson said he would have preferred to keep the property, but he said it was great to get this over with.

“I want people to know that I worked to cooperate,” Erickson said. “It was a big driving force to cooperate for everyone to be happy.”

He said he understood both sides of the issue. The residents of Squak Mountain wanted the property to remain as it is to avoid issues of flooding and erosion — but he said he views his work as a craft.

“TPL worked hard to get it right,” Erickson said.

Click here to read the entire article at the Issaquah Reporter.

 

SUCCESS! Issaquah Press: “Partnership reaches agreement to save Squak Mountain forestland”

July 22, 2013, Issaquah Press: “Partnership reaches agreement to save Squak Mountain forestland”

The Issaquah Press broke the long anticipated news that a deal is finally in place for King County to acquire and protect the vulnerable Squak Mountain forestland with the assistance of the Trust for Public Land:

An agreement has been finalized for permanent public ownership of 216 acres of forestland on Squak Mountain, following several months of negotiations with the landowner.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and The Trust for Public Land announced the agreement, signed July 18, to purchase the forestland for $5 million.

Click to read the complete article at the Issaquah Press.

Click to read the joint King County & Trust for Public Land news release.

 

 

Issaquah Reporter: “State disapproves of latest application to log Squak”

June 12, 2013, Issaquah Reporter: “State disapproves of latest application to log Squak”

Issaquah Reporter’s Linda Ball reports on the Washington Department of Natural Resource’s decision to deny a new logging permit clear cut Squak Mountain. Reporting on the legal ruse cooked up by Erickson Logging to pose as a small family logging operation:

The Department of Natural Resources stated in its response to logger Kurt Erickson’s most recent application to log only on the top of Squak Mountain, that it “believes the landowner/applicant is an alter ego of other persons or entities that do own 500 acres within 50 miles of saltwater. The landowner/applicant claims it owns less than 500 acres within 50 miles of saltwater and thus is not subject to the critical habitat trigger for marbled murrelets. Therefore, more information is needed to assess the potential marbled murrelets habitat at the site.”

Click here to read the full article in The Issaquah Reporter.

Issaquah Reporter: “Squak Mountain not completely out of the woods with logging concerns”

May 23, 2013, Issaquah Reporter: “Squak Mountain not completely out of the woods with logging concerns”

Issaquah Reporter’s Linda Ball reports on Erickson Logging’s legal end run to avoid forest regulatory and endangered species oversight and move to clear cut Squak Mountain by transferring ownership of the forest parcels from his industrial logging operation to a new company he labels a “small forest landowner”:

As an independent appraiser works to set a value on logger Kurt Erickson’s 216-acres on Squak Mountain, Erickson has applied for another permit to harvest timber on his land.

“I filed for the upper portion in case we don’t come to an agreement,” Erickson said.

The latest filing is for 96 acres of old forest near the top of his property. King County executive Dow Constantine and the Trust for Public Land signed a conditional agreement to purchase the property from Erickson to preserve it for public use. The purchase price will be based on an appraisal, which should be completed by June 21.

Erickson said he would still like to work out a deal with the county, but said he knows what land values are and that lthings are changing with the real estate market improving.

“I have to protect my investment,” he said.

 

Click here to read the full article in the Issaquah Reporter

NEWS RELEASE
Squak Mountain Still In Danger: Logger Files Permit Under New Name in an Apparent Attempt to Dodge Environmental Regulation

SQUAK MOUNTAIN STILL IN DANGER: LOGGER REFILES PERMIT UNDER NEW NAME IN AN APPARENT ATTEMPT TO DODGE ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION.

May 20, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On May 8th, Kurt Erickson refiled a permit application with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to clearcut 96 acres of old forest, even though a similar application was recently blocked to protect habitat for threatened wildlife. Mr. Erickson’s new application seeks to take advantage of an exception to state law that allows “small forest landowners” to log otherwise protected old forests. While that exception is intended to benefit family foresters who rely on small forest holdings for their livelihood, Mr. Erickson owns hundreds of acres of forests throughout Washington State as well as a major timber harvesting operation. Mr. Erickson previously conceded his status as an industrial forester when he recently applied for a permit to log the very same property as a large forest landowner. Since withdrawing that application, he has transferred ownership of the Squak Mountain property to a new corporate entity with no other timber holdings. Under that new name, Mr. Erickson now seeks to take advantage of the “small forest landowner” exception to log the approximately 100-year old trees on Squak Mountain. The forest at issue provides suitable habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet and is part of a wildlife corridor between the popular Cougar Mountain and Squak Mountain State Parks.

The timing for this maneuver raises further alarms, as also on May 8, King County Executive Dow Constantine held a press conference to announce a preliminary purchase agreement between King County, the Trust for Public Lands and Kurt Erickson for 216 acres of property on Squak Mountain, including the area proposed for clearcut.

If Kurt Erickson’s Forest Practice Application for this acreage is granted approval, a precedent would be set that would have statewide significance for the logging industry and environmental protection. Huge corporate forest owners could simply divide their land up into multiple corporations and claim status as small forest landowners to avoid environmental regulation. State law allows small forest landowners to log otherwise protected wildlife habitat, and also requires smaller buffers around fish-bearing streams. Reduced buffers increase water pollution and reduce protections for spawning salmon. Widespread access to small forest landowner exceptions would not only have severe impacts to wildlife, clean water, and fisheries, it would disadvantage legitimate small forest landowners.

The efforts of Issaquah Alps Trails Club and Save Squak have far reaching implications beyond Squak Mountain. We have repeatedly identified weaknesses in forest practice regulations and the permit review process related to logging near residential areas and flood prone creeks. Our work with the Washington Forest Law Center helped to ensure close scrutiny over Mr. Erickson’s first attempt to log Squak Mountain. According to WFLC staff attorney Wyatt Golding, “It is now critically important to expose attempts to circumvent environmental regulation, and to encourage DNR to use its permitting discretion to preserve the integrity of the large vs. small landowner distinction.”

While King County, the Trust for Public Lands, and Kurt Erickson continue to negotiate a sales price, which they hope to conclude by June 21st, our efforts to fight the approval of Erickson’s latest permit will continue in earnest. We will formally launch our fundraising plans to ensure the greatest level of support for the King County Park levy on the upcoming August 6th ballot.

We encourage everyone to loudly and immediately make their objections to the approval of FPA #241- 6123 part of the public record prior to the decision date of June 7th, 2013. To do so, please email Bruce McDonald, DNR Forest Practices at Bruce.McDonald@dnr.wa.gov. You should also state your objections to King County Executive Dow Constantine at Dow.Constantine@kingcounty.gov and King County Councilman and our #1 publicly elected supporter, Reagan Dunn, at Reagan.Dunn@kingcounty.gov. We also encourage everyone to question the legality of Erickson’s “small forest landowner designation” by contacting the office of Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office, which you may do by calling (360) 753-6200 or submitting an online contact form which may be found at https://fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/ContactForm.aspx?subject=Natural%20Resources.

About Issaquah Alps Trails Club

The Issaquah Alps Trails Club (IATC) formed in 1979, is an Issaquah-based not-for-profit recreation and conservation group devoted to hiking, establishing and improving trails, and advocacy for open space protection in central King County. The original focus of IATC was directed towards Cougar, Squak and Tiger Mountains, also known as the “Issaquah Alps.” In 1990, the Issaquah Alps Trails Club organized the first ‘Mountains to Sound March’, a hike from Snoqualmie Pass to Elliott Bay in Seattle, to publicize the need to preserve a scenic greenbelt connecting Seattle to the Cascade Mountains. Following this march, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust was founded by regional leaders. IATC leads over a hundred hikes a year in the Greenway and works on acquisitions and planning throughout the Greenway. However, the focus of IATC’s efforts remains directed towards conservation and the establishment of hiking trails in the “Issaquah Alps.” David Kappler is the President of IATC.

http://issaquahalps.org/

About ‘Save Squak’

Save Squak, a group of concerned neighbors and community supporters in Issaquah, May Valley, and throughout Greater Seattle, was established in November 2012, to find an alternative to the environmental impact of clear cut logging planned for 216 acres on Issaquah’s Squak Mountain. With the leadership of David Kappler, the group has focused its efforts on ways to bring this land into public ownership, working with King County and other conservation groups to acquire this pristine forest acreage and add it to King County Parks.

http://www.savesquak.com

http://www.facebook.com/SaveSquak

https://twitter.com/SaveSquak

About Washington Forest Law Center

The Washington Forest Law Center is a non-profit, public interest law firm dedicated to providing legal services to organizations that monitor and protect the Pacific Northwest’s private and state-owned forest lands.
http://wflc.org/

Media Contacts

General: David Kappler
425-652-2753
davidkappler@hotmail.com

 

Legal Issues:

Wyatt Golding
206-223-4088, x. 7
wgolding@wflc.org

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