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

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.

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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/.

Erickson Logging Files for New Permit

A New Clear Cut Permit has been filed by Erickson Logging for 95 acres on Squak Mountain. Possible habitat for the Marbled Murrelet and other land conditions seem to have spared much of the 216 acres for now. However, this new application includes 95 acres. Significant steep slopes and areas alongside streams are included in this planned harvest which would be conducted along SR 900 in Issaquah.

Our position is unchanged. These parcels are not suitable for a clear cut timber harvest based on their topography and their geology. They are not suitable due to their proximity to major population centers, major transportation routes (SR 900), key wildlife corridors, and existing State and regional park spaces. Soil erosion possibly leading to landslides after heavy rains would impact travel on State Route 900. Heavy equipment and log hauling trucks entering and exiting SR 900 (Renton Issaquah Road) would certainly congest traffic (grumble, grumble). Flooding concerns for May Valley are not diminished by this planned 95 acre clear cut.

Bottom line. The logger wants to sell this land and King County has expressed their interest in buying it for public parks. Let’s continue to raise public support and enlist conservation groups like Mountains to Sound and Forterra to get this deal done quickly. This could be a “Win Win” deal.

It doesn’t look like we have much time as the deadline for comments appears as of now to be Tuesday, April 16, 2013. Start writing now!

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

Seattle Times: “Clear-cut looms between Squak, Cougar mountains”

Mar 2, 2013, Seattle Times (Front Page): “Clear-cut looms between Squak, Cougar mountains”

“Park advocates and May Creek residents hope to prevent clear-cutting of nearly 200 acres between Squak Mountain and Cougar Mountain parks.”

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020467959_squakforestxml.html