posted on May 20, 2015 08:03
King County and The Trust for Public Land finalize agreement with landowner to purchase 216 acres of forestland for public use.
See the full King County Press Release.
You are winning, but you haven’t won yet. An agreement has been reached for a sale price on of 216 acres of forestland on Squak Mountain, moving one step closer to permanent public ownership. This has taken an enormous amount of time and effort from a very large number of people, but now it is your turn. King County needs the money from the Parks Levy on the Aug 6th ballot in order to fund this purchase. This area is a crucial part of Squak Mountain wilderness just 15 miles east of Seattle. Please vote in the Aug 6th election and consider approving the Parks Levy.
King County Executive Dow Constantine and The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced the agreement, signed July 18, to purchase the forestland for $5 million. Per the agreement, the TPL can close the transaction as early as 2014, and may then hold it until King County has funds to acquire the land as part of the County’s system of parks and open space. This is a huge success for the Issaquah Alps Trail Club and Save Squak, who have worked with the Washington Forest Law Center for months to prevent clear-cutting and development on the property. “IATC and Save Squak made an enormous difference in this process by reviewing forestry applications and working with WFLC and the Department of Natural Resources to help ensure enforcement of State forestry laws. Their members are people who live and work in the area immediately surrounding the forest. They used their local knowledge to explain the drastic environmental impacts that would result from logging. We believe those efforts ultimately helped to incentivize a sale,” said Wyatt Golding, staff attorney at the Washington Forest Law Center.
Potential funding sources for the acquisition by King County include Conservation Futures funds collected from property taxes levied throughout King County and its cities and dedicated for purchase and permanent protection of open space lands. Additional funding could include regional open space acquisition funds in the proposed King County Parks levy, which is on the August ballot to replace the current levy that expires at the end of the year. "We have this window of opportunity to preserve these century-old forests forever. But, this opportunity only exists because King County had the foresight to create a parks levy to fund the preservation of critical pieces of land for recreation and wildlife habitat. On August 6th, we need the people of King County to get out and vote for renewing the King County Parks levy. Continuing this levy is the only way to ensure funding for this and future public acquisitions. Look around you. The open space we all enjoy and which benefits animals and our environment was largely paid for by King County Parks levy monies. We can't let this come to an end!" says Tania Issa, representative for Save Squak.
A prominent natural feature visible from State Route 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.
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 seven-mile-long salmon stream that flows into Lake Washington, rise here. Save Squak and the Issaquah Alps Club (IATC) are looking forward to helping plan how this critical connecting piece of the Cougar-Squak Corridor will be used to:
- enhance connectivity between Squak and Cougar Mountains for both wildlife and people
- preserve mature stands of forest and other habitat for wildlife and native vegetation
- protect the headwaters of May Creek
- support efforts to restore May Creek
- provide a much needed regional trailhead for Squak Mountain
Save Squak, the WFLC, and the IATC thank the following organizations and individuals for their involvement and efforts to save this important portion of Squak Mountain
Once again, Please remember to approve the Park Levy on your August 6th King County ballot and ask your friends and neighbors to do so. These are your parks, recreation areas, and open spaces. They benefit everyone in King County and your children to come. They benefit your businesses by drawing in people from elsewhere. We need every vote to get the Parks Levy passed. We also need your vote to guide the county government by showing just how important these areas are to you. Please also consider contributing to the Parks Levy campaign at the Parks and Recreation Coalition.
About ‘Save Squak’
Save Squak, a group of concerned neighbors and community supporters in Issaquah, May Valley, and throughout Greater Seattle, was established in October 2012, to find an alternative to the environmental impact of clear cut logging planned for 216 acres on Issaquah’s Squak Mountain. With the leadership of David Kappler, the group has focused its efforts on ways to bring this land into public ownership, working with King County and other conservation groups to acquire this pristine forest acreage and add it to King County Parks.
About the Washington Forest Law Center
The Washington Forest Law Center 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.