Advocate: David Kappler 425-652-2753
Grand Ridge County Park extends from I-90 to the Old Issaquah-Fall City Road. It is open to hikers, bikers, and equestrians.
Grand Ridge Park Information
GRAND RIDGE (including MITCHELL HILL and PRESTON RIDGE) is the undeveloped area ranging south to I-90, west to the Issaquah Highlands, East to the Raging River, and north to the Snoqualmie River Valley. Issues on Grand Ridge are dominated by the results of the 1990's decisions to proceed with the "Issaquah Highlands" development under terms of a "4 to 1 agreement" that provided four acres of King County park land for every one acre allowed for urban development. The result of this agreement is that 3,250 new homes are now under construction on Grand Ridge as the "Issaquah Highlands," a large new interchange and Sammamish plateau access road are under construction at Sunset interchange (Exit 18) on I-90, and approximately 1,400 acres of land was donated as park land as part of the agreement. Combined with Duthie Hill Park and Fall City Park, this acreage totals approximately 1,700-acres in King County Parks ownership. These lands currently have numerous trails running through them, many of which will be destroyed or cut short by the planned development, and all of which have become a favorite playground for mountain bikers.
King County Parks is intending to begin a Master Planning Process for these parklands to determine how they will be managed, what trails will remain open, what trails are needed, and which users will have access to various trails.
In addition to these 1,700 acres, the recent successful acquisition of the Grand Ridge-Mitchell Hill Connector parcels (475 acres) provides an east-west forested connection between the Grand Ridge Park lands to over 1,000 acres of State DNR forestland above Preston, creating a total public land acreage of over 3,000 acres between Grand Ridge and Preston.
Key Advocacy Issues/Challenges:
- Strongly advocate for proper management and use of public lands and the trail system on Grand Ridge as the master planning process begins by King County Parks
- Carefully watchdog/monitor environmental impacts from the massive development and road projects now underway.
Raging River State Forest includes the area east of SR 18, south of I-90, west of Rattlesnake Mountain and north of Taylor Mountain. This newly acquired 10,441 acre state forest will offer a variety of recreational opportunities that are in the planning stage at this time. The property has had numerous owners over time and now with a single owner both timber management and recreation can be well planned.
Description - Advocacy responsibilities for the Raging River and Preston encompass the headwaters of the Raging River between Rattlesnake and Taylor Mountains, the Raging River basin lying SE of the I-90/Hwy 18 interchange, areas surrounding Preston to the north, east, and west, and the open space initiatives undertaken by the Preston Community Club in their "Forest Gateway Vision" document.
With completion of the new, 4-lane Snoqualmie Ridge Parkway facilitating the new Snoqualmie Ridge development (2,000 homes) just to the north of the I-90/Hwy 18 interchange (Exit 25), it's clear that the future of the entire Raging River valley lying just across the freeway to south is at high risk for conversion to development. While currently zoned "Forest Production," (meaning the zoning intent is for long term forest management on the land), ownership of approximately 1,500 acres in the basin has nonetheless already been passed to the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Division for future development planning.
The entire Raging River basin is currently in a forested state and provides a critical open space linkage between the Cedar River Watershed, Rattlesnake Mountain, Taylor Mountain, and Tiger Mountain. Any development in the basin would fragment the forest and seriously and permanently impact the natural ecosystem, including the fragile Raging River itself (one of the last, best salmon streams remaining in King County). In 1998, Weyerhaeuser sold over 8,000 acres in the Raging River basin to Sunkist Grower's, which states an intent to continue to manage these lands for timber production, not development. However, the 1,500 acres nearest Hwy 18 and I-90 is owned by Weyerhaeuser Real Estate division, which is exploring development options.
In Preston, an active Preston Community Club identified several initiatives in a document called, "the Forest Gateway Vision," that were intended to preserve the rural, forested character of the Preston area in the face of escalating development pressures. With the solid backing of King County Executive Ron Sims and the County Council, King County has moved aggressively to successfully accomplish each of the elements of the Vision, including:
- Purchasing the 22-acre Preston Mill Site for use as a future County Park and environmental education center.
- Purchasing a 20-acre site doomed for industrial warehouses to instead become the future Preston Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Almost 300 additional acres are being purchased for additional arboretum lands and to protect the forested edge of I-90 from becoming a strip city of development.
- Purchasing land for the Preston Park Ballfields. 15 acres were purchased which, rather than becoming additional commercial development, will instead become ballfields for local youth.
- Completing the first-ever Transfer of Development Credits (TDC) project on a 313-acre forested parcel slated for development. Instead, this and a second parcel will serve as the Grand Ridge-Mitchell Hill Connector, providing a 475-acre forested linkage between 1,700 acres of County park land on Grand Ridge eastward to over 1,000 acres of State DNR forestland on Mitchell Hill, above Preston. This connection will support wildlife migration and future trail linkages.
Key Advocacy Issues/Challenges:
- Advocate strongly for the permanent conservation of forest lands in the Raging River basin and the north slope of Taylor Mountain, even if these lands remain in private ownership as "working forests," i.e., oppose any proposal for development south of I-90 and in the Raging basin.