Breaking News: King County & Trust for Public Land Announce Plan to Protect Squak Mountain

TPLKCNews Release

Date: May 8, 2013

Executive Constantine and The Trust for Public Land announce plan to protect Squak Mountain

Putting 216 acres of land in public use would protect forest from clear-cutting

King County Executive Dow Constantine and The Trust for Public Land today announced the signing of a conditional agreement that seeks to purchase 216 acres of land on Squak Mountain near Issaquah – the first step in a partnership between King County and The Trust for Public Land aimed at buying and protecting the land for public use.

“This is exactly the kind of project The Trust for Public Land exists to help with,” said Mike Deller, Washington State Director. “Our mission is to help local people and organizations save places they love, keeping them open and cared for into the future.”

“This welcome and well-timed agreement helps us save this valued forestland,” said Executive Constantine. “Thanks to The Trust for Public Land we can now work to acquire the property at a fair price, and secure the funding to preserve this land in perpetuity.”

The Trust for Public Land’s initial agreement with the property owner calls for an independent appraisal and agreement on the final purchase price by June 21. During the appraisal process the property owner, who received a logging permit on May 2, has agreed to postpone logging.

King County will work to secure the funding necessary to take ownership of the land in the long term. Potential funding sources include Conservation Futures funds, and regional open space acquisition funds in the King County Parks levy, which is on the August ballot to replace the current levy that expires at the end of this year.

The plan calls for The Trust for Public Land to buy the property in February 2014, convey a portion of it to King County when the County has initial funds for a first phase of purchase, and hold the rest of the land until the County secures and the County Council approves all remaining funds to acquire it as part of the King County Parks system.

“I congratulate the Executive and The Trust for a partnership that will keep this land available to the public,” said County Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “This stretch is both a valuable habitat area and a source of recreation for people from around the region.”

“Public outcry about plans to clear cut forestlands on Squak Mountain meant swift action was necessary to preserve this cherished habitat and recreational area adjacent to prized county and state parks,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “I thank The Trust for Public Land for partnering with us to preserve this property. It was partnerships like these between open space advocates, the community, and government that ensured the Issaquah Alps are preserved in their natural beauty and open to all rather than cleared and developed.”

A prominent natural feature visible from SR 900 on the Mountains-to-Sound Greenway, this part of Squak Mountain has long been used as a private forest camp at the edge of Squak Mountain State Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.

King County is 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 7-mile-long salmon stream that flows into Lake Washington, rise there.

Bringing this land into public ownership and preventing the planned logging means protecting the headwaters of salmon-bearing streams, and providing a potential public recreation access point to existing public open space properties and trails in the area – including Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, the Cougar/Squak Corridor and Squak Mountain State Park.

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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
Celebrating its 75th Anniversary, 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/.

King County Reiterates Opposition to Erickson Application in Letter to DNR

The King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review reiterated its opposition to Erickson Logging’s application for a permit to clear cut Squak Mountain. In a letter to the Washington Department of Natural Resources on April 16, King County formally commented on the second permit application and strongly opposed DNR approval, noting the significant flooding problem currently suffered by May Valley will be exacerbated by denuding the mountain.

Click to download the King County letter to DNR.

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King County Letter to DNR Opposing Erickson Clear Cut

Issaquah Alps Trail Club & Save Squak Formally Oppose New Erickson Permit in DNR Filing by Washington Forest Law Center

The Washington Forest Law Center, which represents the Issaquah Alps Trail Club and Save Squak, filed our formal opposition to the new Erickson logging permit with the Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday. The WFLC 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.

In addition to incorporating our original letter in opposition, the latest filing with DNR outlines the significant issues still on the table that have not been addressed by Erickson Logging. These include:

  • Flooding of May Valley through excessive run-off
  • Soil instability due to road construction to access the timber
  • Erickson’s failure to conduct proper studies of stream flows and fish habitat
  • Impact on at risk and endangered wildlife including proximity to Marbled Murrelet critical habitat and possible nesting areas
  • Adverse impact to Hwy 900, a major transportation corridor that already suffers from closures to due flooding, that could also affect emergency services

In our opposition, we also note that the parcels for the proposed clear cutting should be reclassified due to a current permit pending for subdivision development and Erickson’s own statements that he may develop the property after logging. This is grounds for moving oversight of the property from DNR to King County.

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

Download WFLC’s Comment Letter on behalf of IATC & Save Squak to DNR

Read the first March 11 comment letter and exhibits in opposition here.

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WFLC Comment Letter to DNR in Opposition to New Erickson Logging Permit

Breaking News: Erickson Logging Withdraws Permit Application!

Erickson Logging has withdrawn its application with the Department of Natural Resources to clear cut Squak Mountain. This follows a citizen outcry, with hundreds of opposing comments flooding DNR, capped by the detailed letters from the Washington Forest Law Center and King County agencies filed earlier this week.

Withdrawal of the permit application does not mean Erickson Logging is prevented from refiling it, so victory here is not guaranteed.

Currently as a result  of our field inspections the landowner has agreed to withdraw the application or the Department will disapprove. Therefore we are not going to schedule an ID team at this point for FPA 2415960.

Bruce McDonald
Forest Practice District Manager
South Puget Sound Region

More details to follow as we learn more.

 

King County DDES Raises Concerns with State About Proposed Squak Mtn Logging

The King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review sent a letter on March 11, 2013, to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources expressing its concern about the environmental impact of the proposed logging of Squak Mountain.

DDES pointed out to DNR the historical flooding problems in May Creek and called for a thorough evaluation of the proposed logging project prior to granting the permit.

Download the King County Letter to DNR

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