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
Councilman Dunn is accompanied to the top of the ridge above 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
Dave Kappler points out sensitive areas as he guides Councilman Dunn on a hike through the forest area
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Issaquah Press’ Peter Clark has an excellent story on how King County’s recent purchase of development rights for 43,000 acres in the White River Forest may sound like bad news for proponents trying to save Squak Mountain from logging, it could be a positive sign.
Our own David Kappler was quoted extensively in the story, noting there is a place for industrial logging in King County, but not in urban areas or environmentally sensitive areas.