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

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/.

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.

 

 

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/.