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.
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.
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 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.
Due to the great work by High Valley resident Francois Rouaix using Google Earth, we now have an amazing interactive map and flyover of the proposed logging area. This is something you must check out — it really hits home how extensive and destructive the clear cutting would be.