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.

BREAKING NEWS: DNR Denies Latest Erickson Logging Permit Application

DNR Requires Adherence to Marbled Murrelet Provisions

We just received word late this afternoon that the Washington Department of Natural Resources has denied Erickson Logging’s latest permit application to clear cut Squak Mountain. Erickson’s legal ploy to transfer ownership of the parcels to a newly formed corporation posing as a small family forest operation to avoid requirements industrial logging operations are subject to seems to have failed for the moment. Here’s the word David Kappler, IATC President and Save Squak leader, received this afternoon:

Mr. Kappler,

Application 2416123 was disapproved today for the following reason:

Forest Practices is  requiring the Marbled Murrelet form to be completed for this application.

Bruce McDonald
Forest Practice District Manager
South Puget Sound Region
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
office (360) 802- 7009
cell      (206) 920-5908
bruce.mcdonald@dnr.wa.gov
www.dnr.wa.gov

Thanks to all the folks at the Washington Forest Law Center and every citizen out there who sent in comments to DNR for your hard work and support — your efforts and perseverance made the difference! Save Squak will keep you updated as we learn more.

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

WFLC Files IATC & Save Squak Comments in Opposition to Erickson Clearcut Plan

The Washington Forest Law Center (WFLC), representing the Issaquah Alps Trail Club (IATC) and grassroots citizens activist group Save Squak, on May 23, 2013 filed a comment letter with the Washington Department of Natural Resources in opposition to the newest Erickson Logging permit application. Erickson’s new application attempts to use a legal sleight-of-hand to avoid regulatory oversight by transferring ownership of the forest parcels to a newly formed limited liability corporation (LLC) that he claims is not an industrial logging operation.

This is a clear end run around the protections in the law and forest management regulations since Erickson is the sole owner of the new LLC and there is no real difference between it and his existing industrial logging operation. He now claims to be a “small forest landowner” under the guise of the this new company and thus exempt from regulatory protections of the endangered marbled murrelet habitat.

Click here to download our full comment letter along with all exhibits and maps.

(if the PDF file are not visible below, delete all the Google cookies in your browser then refresh the page.)

WFLC Comment Letter on Behalf of IATC & Save Squak

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

Click Here to Download This News Release

 

Sleight of Hand: Erickson Files for New Clear Cut Permit Under Different Name

Erickson Logging has filed new FPA for the upper triangle (see below to view or download). This was submitted by Erickson on the same day King County and Trust for Public Land’s news release about a deal being negotiated.

Of note, Erickson filed this one as a clear cut of 96 acres which was excluded from the recently granted permit due to a number of environmental issues.  He has now listed himself as a “small forest owner” which would exempt him from several restrictions, especially those that involve marbled murrelet habitat.  Erickson created a new LLC and listed this LLC as the landowner. However, he is still the signer on the FPA.

He is known to be a large forest owner and a large scale logger. It is unclear whether he will truly be exempted from certain restrictions just by creating this new LLC and submitting a new FPA as a small forest land owner for these same lands. Unfortunately, early indications are that Erickson may be able to get away with this legal sleight of hand since Bruce McDonald of the DNR has already hinted the state is probably OK with it.

We’ll have more updates as we learn more. In the meantime, please submit comments on the new FPA (#241-6123). The comments can be emailed to Bruce McDonald, DNR Forest Practices at BRUCE.McDONALD@dnr.wa.gov

Click to download a copy of this new Erickson permit application to clear cut Squak Mountain.

Issaquah Press: “Squak Mountain land saved from logging”

May 14, 2013, Issaquah Press: “Squak Mountain land saved from logging”

Trust for Public Land, King County, steps in with purchase

Issaquah Press reporter Peter Clark writes about the announcement that King County and TPL have a tentative agreement to save Squak Mountain from clear cutting:

Only four days after the state approved Erikson Logging’s application to clear-cut sections of a Squak Mountain parcel, King County announced concrete plans to purchase it from developers.

Since the announcement of the company’s intention to harvest old-growth trees in the area in January, concerted efforts have been made by King County and local group Save Squak to find a way to protect the land. On May 8, the county announced it had struck a deal with the Trust for Public Land, which agreed to buy the 220-acre parcel and accept payment from the county over time.

“I’m really pleased. This has come together very well,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a phone interview. His office and the Parks Department have been the primary driver to find a way to purchase the land. “We thought it would be better to preserve it for recreation and habitat.”

Click to read the full article in the Issaquah Press.

Issaquah Reporter: “Squak Mountain saved | Trust for Public Land to rescue Squak Mountain”

May 8, 2013, Issaquah Reporter: “Squak Mountain saved | Trust for Public Land to rescue Squak Mountain”

Issaquah Reporter’s Linda Ball covers the move by King County and TPL to save Squak Mountain from clear cutting:

Just in the nick of time, King County executive Dow Constantine and the Trust for Public Land have signed a conditional agreement to purchase the 216-acres owned by Erickson Logging, Inc. on Squak Mountain, saving the pristine forest from logging.

This news could not have come any sooner since the Washington State department of natural resources had approved the revised forest practices permit for Kurt Erickson late last week, giving him the green light to log 95 percent of the 95 acres he proposed to log in his second application.

The approval was troubling to members of the grass roots organization Save Squak, because the state DNR did not consider comments from the King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review regarding flooding in the May Creek basin. According to Bruce McDonald with the DNR, harvesting timber is not considered to cause the creation of an impervious surface.

Click to read the full article in The Issaquah Reporter.