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.

Seattle Times: “King County proposes to buy forest on Squak Mountain”

May 8, 2013, Seattle Times: King County proposes to buy forest on Squak Mountain”

King County, with The Trust for Public Land as an intermediary, has tentatively agreed to buy 216 acres next to the Cougar Mountain/Squak Mountain Corridor.

The Seattle Times’ reporter Keith Irvine covers the proposed King County purchase, with Trust for Public Land as an intermediary, of the Squak Mountain forest parcels currently owned by Erickson Logging and slated for clear cutting.

King County, with the help of an intermediary, has tentatively agreed to buy an Issaquah-area forest that otherwise would be logged and possibly developed into mountainside estates.

Under the deal announced Wednesday, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land (TPL) would buy 216 acres on the side of Squak Mountain from Erickson Logging, and then resell it to the county.

Erickson and TPL must agree on a price next month after completion of an independent appraisal.

A coalition of environmentalists and residents of May Valley has urged King County to buy the land in order to expand an existing wildlife and recreation corridor and to prevent increased flooding along May Creek.

Click here to read the full article in The Seattle Times.

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.

# # #

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/.

A Sad Day: DNR Approves Erickson Logging Permit

On Friday morning, May 3, The Washington State Department of Natural Resources approved Erickson Logging’s permit to clear cut Squak Mountain. This is a sad day for residents of Squak Mountain and May Valley, as well as the citizens of King County as a special urban forest seems destined to be felled by chain saws.

Save Squak and the Issaquah Alps Trail Club will continue the fight to save Squak Mountain, working with King County to purchase and protect this unique area for future generations as well as head off the flooding and property destruction in May Valley that would follow a clear cut.

Click to download the DNR’s decision granting the permit.

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Forest Practices Application/Notification Notice of Decision

King County Citizens Advisory Committee & Councilman Reagan Dunn Hike Squak Mountain

Early Saturday morning, April 27, members of the King County Conservation Futures Citizen’s Committee were joined by King County Councilman Reagan Dunn for an on-site briefing of the proposed Squak Mountain logging area and a discussion of how King County might purchase the land through the parks fund to preserve it.

A representative of Trust for Public Land was also on hand to view the property and consider possible participation as an intermediary to facilitate the county purchase.

Our own Dave Kappler led Councilman Dunn on a hike through the proposed clear cut area where one couldn’t help but marvel at the grand stands of trees nestled in an urban area — a refuge for endangered wildlife and place for citizens to experience the marvel of the unspoiled outdoors.

There was considerable discussion about the head waters of May Creek and how the forest land helps control run off. The proposed clear cut would severely impact May Creek which already suffers from flooding a good bit of the year.

Councilman Dunn expressed his support of the effort to Save Squak and vowed to do whatever he could do to accomplish it.

Members of the King County Conservation Futures Citizen’s Committee are briefed on the property and proposed logging area

Members of the King County Conservation Futures Citizen’s Committee are briefed on the property and proposed logging area

Councilman Dunn is accompanied to the top of the ridge above the proposed logging area

Councilman Dunn is accompanied to the top of the ridge above the proposed logging area

Councilman Dunn views the proposed logging area

Councilman Dunn views the proposed logging area

IATC President and Save Squak leader Dave Kappler joins Councilman Dunn on the ridge to inspect the logging area

IATC President and Save Squak leader Dave Kappler joins Councilman Dunn on the ridge to inspect the logging area

Dave Kappler points out sensitive areas as he guides Councilman Dunn on a hike through the forest area

Dave Kappler points out sensitive areas as he guides Councilman Dunn on a hike through the forest area

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

Issaquah Reporter: “Erickson files for new logging permit on Squak Mountain”

Apr 8, 2013, Issaquah Reporter: “Erickson files for new logging permit on Squak Mountain”

Issaquah Reporter’s Linda Ball has a great article in Monday’s issue about Erickson Logging’s resubmission of a permit to clear cut part of Squak Mountain. She brings new information to light:

  • Erickson intends to file another permit later to clear cut the remaining parcels
  • Erickson concedes he will need to do a study to determine if the endangered Marbled Murrelet is present since a DNR review has revealed the proposed logging area is a potential nesting area
  • The DNR will extend the public comment period to 30 days from the filing of the permit application instead of the 15 days stated in the application

Save Squak’s own Helen Farrington was quoted in the article, noting that this past weekend’s heavy rains caused May Creek to rise one and a half feet, much of it due to run off from the proposed logging area.

Click here to read the full story in the Issaquah Reporter.

 

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

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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