King County Proposition 1, the Parks Levy passed overwhelmingly with over 70% of the vote cast. The Parks Levy is key for saving the Squak Mountain parcels from clear cutting. It is one of the funding sources for King County to acquire the land from the Trust for Public Land which is facilitating the preservation by buying the land from Erickson Logging and holding onto it until King County can budget the necessary funds.
Many thanks to all the voters in King County who helped pass the Parks Levy. You not only helped Save Squak, but you have helped many other worthy projects focused on preserving park land for current and future generations.
August 6, 2013, Issaquah Press: “Agreement protects Squak from logging”
Peter Clark of the Issaquah Press had a good article this week about the joint success of Trust for Public Land and King County in purchasing the Squak Mountain forest land from Erickson Logging.
Wyatt Golding at the Washington Forest Law Center, which was instrumental in providing pro bono legal services to the effort to stop the proposed logging, gave a shout-out to the Issaquah Alps Trail Club and Save Squak for the grassroots citizen effort:
“Issaquah Alps Trails Club 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,” Golding said. “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.”
Click here to read the complete article in the Issaquah Press.
The Squak Mountain forest parcels were saved from clear cutting because The Trust for Public Land has agreed to purchase the land and hold it for later purchase by King County. Funding for the King County purchase will come, in part, from a renewed parks levy.
The Park Levy is not a new tax but is a renewal of two expiring levies. Funds from the levy are used to:
- Keep King County parks clean, open and safe
- Complete missing links in the regional trail system
- Pay for critical repairs and maintenance
- Fund local city parks and Woodland Park Zoo
To ensure the Squak Mountain forest lands are acquired and preserved, King County must have adequate funds. Please cast a “Yes” vote for the Parks Levy, Proposition No. 1, in the August 6 primary. Don’t forget to mark and mail your ballots in before Tuesday. Thank you!
WHEN YOU VOTE, remember that King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn pledged his support to Save Squak early and publicly, in a February 19th speech given to the Issaquah City Council.
WHEN YOU VOTE, remember that King County Executive Dow Constantine signed the agreement with the Trust for Public Land and landowner/logger Kurt Erickson, agreeing to purchase the 216 acres of threatened land on Squak Mountain.
Save Squak endorses both Reagan Dunn and Dow Constantine in their bids for re-election and Save Squak lauds them for their conservation efforts here and throughout Greater Seattle.
July 23, 2013, Issaquah Reporter: “Done deal | Trust for Public Land and Kurt Erickson come to terms on Squak Mountain.”
Issaquah Reporter’s Linda Ball reports the successful negotiations between Trust for Public Land and Erickson Logging to acquire the Squak Mountain forest lands for King County:
An agreement has been reached between logger Kurt Erickson and the Trust for Public Lands, for TPL to preserve 216 acres of forestland that Erickson owns, on Squak Mountain, following several months of negotiations between the parties.
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.
“This is forest that people have cherished for generations and which, thanks to the partnership of The Trust for Public Land, will no longer be threatened, forever to be enjoyed and appreciated,” Constantine said.
Erickson said he would have preferred to keep the property, but he said it was great to get this over with.
“I want people to know that I worked to cooperate,” Erickson said. “It was a big driving force to cooperate for everyone to be happy.”
He said he understood both sides of the issue. The residents of Squak Mountain wanted the property to remain as it is to avoid issues of flooding and erosion — but he said he views his work as a craft.
“TPL worked hard to get it right,” Erickson said.
Click here to read the entire article at the Issaquah Reporter.
July 22, 2013, Issaquah Press: “Partnership reaches agreement to save Squak Mountain forestland”
The Issaquah Press broke the long anticipated news that a deal is finally in place for King County to acquire and protect the vulnerable Squak Mountain forestland with the assistance of the Trust for Public Land:
An agreement has been finalized for permanent public ownership of 216 acres of forestland on Squak Mountain, following several months of negotiations with the landowner.
King County Executive Dow Constantine and The Trust for Public Land announced the agreement, signed July 18, to purchase the forestland for $5 million.
Click to read the complete article at the Issaquah Press.
Click to read the joint King County & Trust for Public Land news release.
June 12, 2013, Issaquah Reporter: “State disapproves of latest application to log Squak”
Issaquah Reporter’s Linda Ball reports on the Washington Department of Natural Resource’s decision to deny a new logging permit clear cut Squak Mountain. Reporting on the legal ruse cooked up by Erickson Logging to pose as a small family logging operation:
The Department of Natural Resources stated in its response to logger Kurt Erickson’s most recent application to log only on the top of Squak Mountain, that it “believes the landowner/applicant is an alter ego of other persons or entities that do own 500 acres within 50 miles of saltwater. The landowner/applicant claims it owns less than 500 acres within 50 miles of saltwater and thus is not subject to the critical habitat trigger for marbled murrelets. Therefore, more information is needed to assess the potential marbled murrelets habitat at the site.”
Click here to read the full article in The Issaquah Reporter.
DNR Requires Adherence to Marbled Murrelet Provisions
We just received word late this afternoon that the Washington Department of Natural Resources has denied Erickson Logging’s latest permit application to clear cut Squak Mountain. Erickson’s legal ploy to transfer ownership of the parcels to a newly formed corporation posing as a small family forest operation to avoid requirements industrial logging operations are subject to seems to have failed for the moment. Here’s the word David Kappler, IATC President and Save Squak leader, received this afternoon:
Application 2416123 was disapproved today for the following reason:
Forest Practices is requiring the Marbled Murrelet form to be completed for this application.
Forest Practice District Manager
South Puget Sound Region
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
office (360) 802- 7009
cell (206) 920-5908
Thanks to all the folks at the Washington Forest Law Center and every citizen out there who sent in comments to DNR for your hard work and support — your efforts and perseverance made the difference! Save Squak will keep you updated as we learn more.
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
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