Issaquah Reporter: “Squak Mountain not completely out of the woods with logging concerns”

May 23, 2013, Issaquah Reporter: “Squak Mountain not completely out of the woods with logging concerns”

Issaquah Reporter’s Linda Ball reports on Erickson Logging’s legal end run to avoid forest regulatory and endangered species oversight and move to clear cut Squak Mountain by transferring ownership of the forest parcels from his industrial logging operation to a new company he labels a “small forest landowner”:

As an independent appraiser works to set a value on logger Kurt Erickson’s 216-acres on Squak Mountain, Erickson has applied for another permit to harvest timber on his land.

“I filed for the upper portion in case we don’t come to an agreement,” Erickson said.

The latest filing is for 96 acres of old forest near the top of his property. King County executive Dow Constantine and the Trust for Public Land signed a conditional agreement to purchase the property from Erickson to preserve it for public use. The purchase price will be based on an appraisal, which should be completed by June 21.

Erickson said he would still like to work out a deal with the county, but said he knows what land values are and that lthings are changing with the real estate market improving.

“I have to protect my investment,” he said.

 

Click here to read the full article in the Issaquah Reporter

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

Sleight of Hand: Erickson Files for New Clear Cut Permit Under Different Name

Erickson Logging has filed new FPA for the upper triangle (see below to view or download). This was submitted by Erickson on the same day King County and Trust for Public Land’s news release about a deal being negotiated.

Of note, Erickson filed this one as a clear cut of 96 acres which was excluded from the recently granted permit due to a number of environmental issues.  He has now listed himself as a “small forest owner” which would exempt him from several restrictions, especially those that involve marbled murrelet habitat.  Erickson created a new LLC and listed this LLC as the landowner. However, he is still the signer on the FPA.

He is known to be a large forest owner and a large scale logger. It is unclear whether he will truly be exempted from certain restrictions just by creating this new LLC and submitting a new FPA as a small forest land owner for these same lands. Unfortunately, early indications are that Erickson may be able to get away with this legal sleight of hand since Bruce McDonald of the DNR has already hinted the state is probably OK with it.

We’ll have more updates as we learn more. In the meantime, please submit comments on the new FPA (#241-6123). The comments can be emailed to Bruce McDonald, DNR Forest Practices at BRUCE.McDONALD@dnr.wa.gov

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

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

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

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.

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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