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.

 

Celebrate the Grand Opening of the Cougar/Squak Corridor Park

Don’t Miss It This Saturday!

Join Save Squak, Issaquah Alps Trail Club, King County Parks, REI and Your Neighbors to Celebrate the Grand Opening of Cougar/Squak Corridor Park!

2015_squak_hiking

Saturday, June 6, 2015

9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
10610 Renton Issaquah Rd SE (Hwy 900)
(The old Issaquah Camping Club)
Issaquah, WA

Celebrate National Trails Day

Join the Issaquah Alps Trail Club, Save Squak, Trust for Public Land, Washington Trails Association, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, the Nature Conservancy, King County Parks, REI and other organizations for a celebration of National Trails Day, at the grand opening of Cougar/Squak Corridor Park. Festivities begin at 9:30 a.m., and include an open house, plus a guided tour of a new hiking trail.

After a grassroots effort of area residents who formed Save Squak, led by Dave Kappler of the Issaquah Alps Trail Club, the proposed logging of Squak Mountain was averted when King County purchased 226 acres in the valley between Cougar and Squak mountains in 2014, with the help of The Trust for Public Land.

The new acreage has been added to existing public lands and creates a 730-acre Cougar/Squak Corridor Park that protects the headwaters of a salmon-bearing stream, and features deep forests, hiking trails and more.

King County Parks employees and volunteers have been busy preparing the new acreage for public use, including removing unwanted invasive vegetation and building new trails.

The park is located at 10610 Renton Issaquah Rd. SE, Issaquah. The June 6 open house features representatives from Washington Trails Association (WTA), Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust (MTSGT), The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, and REI.

Visitors will be invited to explore the lower portion of the park, tour Cougar/Squak Lodge in the park, and join guides from the Issaquah Alps Trails Club on a hike along the new Margaret’s Way Trail – a new, 2-1/2-mile-long trail that connects to trails in Squak Mountain State Park.

Stop by the Issaquah Alps Trail Club table and meet the folks who led the grassroots effort to stop the proposed logging of Squak Mountain and worked with the Washington Forest Law Center to challenge the logging permits until King County Executive Dow Constantine along with Council members Reagan Dunn and Larry Philips could act.

Built by local volunteers working with WTA, Student Conservation Association, AmeriCorps NCCC – Gold 7 and a King County Parks backcountry trails crew, the new trail honors Margaret MacLeod, a park planner for numerous local, state and federal agencies, whose long career resulted in the preservation of hundreds of acres of acres of land along Issaquah Creek and the Squak and Tiger mountain uplands.

Other activities include two “Ivy Out” events to dig out invasive ivy, coordinated by MTSGT and Seattle Works, plus an opportunity for family and youth to help WTA volunteers build trails.

King County Parks has begun a community engagement process to gather ideas from the public about uses and amenities at the park. Parks employees are working with a steering group and will host two community meetings on later this spring in Issaquah.

Schedule

9:30 a.m.       Community participants arrive to explore lower park area, visit organization tables

10:00 a.m.     Speeches on the steps in front of the lodge
King County Deputy Executive Fred Jarrett
King County Council Member Reagan Dunn and/or Kathy Lambert
Issaquah Alps Trails Club President & Save Squak Leader Dave Kappler
Kelly Heintz, Trail Dedicationi & Ribbon Cutting

10:30 a.m.     Guided Hikes, Self-Guided Park Tour and Volunteer Events

2:30 p.m.       Last guided hike departs

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/.

Joint News Release from Issaquah Alps Trail Club, Save Squak & Washington Forest Law Center

July 25, 2013

“Save Squak” Deal Inked Between Logger and King County Park and Trust for Public Land. Founders of Squal Conservation Effort Push King County Voters to Fund Deal by Renewing August 6 King County Parks Levy.

We are pleased with the announcement that the Trust for Public Lands and King County signed a purchase and sale agreement with the owner on July 18th for 216 acres of forest land on Squak Mountain located in the Mountains to Sound Greenway view corridor along State Route 900 in King County’s unincorporated Issaquah. This agreement is the first official milestone in bringing this land, slated for a clear cut logging operation, into public ownership where it will be preserved as public forest, wildlife habitat, parks, recreation and open space. The 216 acres will be purchased for $5 million, with funding assistance provided to King County by the Trust for Public Lands. King County will use parks levy funds such as the King County Conservation Futures to secure this purchase. Renewal of the King County Parks levy on the August 6th primary ballot will be absolutely critical as a fundraising source to close this purchase and ensure monies are available to purchase other conservation land.

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.

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WFLC Comment Letter on Behalf of IATC & Save Squak

IATC & Save Squak Urge King County to Acquire Squak Mtn Parcels

The Issaquah Alps Trails Club and Save Squak sent a joint letter on Friday, April 19, 2013, to the King County Conservation Futures Citizens Oversight Committee encouraging it to include acquisition of the proposed logging area on Squak Mountain in its planning.

Click to download the letter here

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IATC & Save Squak Letter to King County Conservation Futures Citizens Oversight Committee

Washington Forest Law Center Represents Issaquah Alps Trails Club & Save Squak in Opposing Logging Permit

The Washington Forest Law Center, 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, has stepped forward to represent the Issaquah Alps Trails Club and grassroots citizen group, Save Squak.

On Monday, March 11, 2013, the Washington Forest Law Center sent a letter to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources strongly opposing the proposed permit by Erickson Logging to clear cut portions of Squak Mountain at the headwaters of May Creek.

We have the letter and supporting exhibits here online. Both are available in PDF format and available for reading online here.

Download WFLC’s Letter to DNR

Download Exhibits to the Letter

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WFLC Letter to DNR

WFLC Exhibits to DNR Letter