Event honors late environmentalists Ruth Kees, Maureen McCarry

November 6, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Environmentalist Ruth Kees and Issaquah City Councilwoman Maureen McCarry campaigned hard to preserve forested Park Pointe, and both community leaders left legacies dedicated to the slice of Tiger Mountain.

Leaders at the nonprofit Issaquah Environmental Council plan to honor the late Kees and McCarry on Nov. 11, in a public event to clear invasive plants and add native species to Park Pointe, a 101-acre tract near Issaquah High School.

Barbara Shelton, Issaquah Environmental Council secretary, said the planting event is designed to honor Kees and McCarry, and to encourage residents to explore the public land at Park Pointe.

Kees served as a longtime advocate for efforts to preserve open space and protect the Issaquah Creek watershed.

In 2003, city leaders established the Ruth Kees Environmental Award for a Sustainable Community. Kees, the initial recipient, received the state Department of Ecology’s Environmental Excellence Award, a top environmental honor in Washington, on the same night the city launched the Kees award.

What to know

Issaquah Environmental Council tree planting

  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 11
  • Volunteers should meet on Sixth Avenue South at Southeast Lewis Street.
  • Participants should wear warm gear and, if possible, bring shovels and other planting tools. Organizers plan to provide some gloves and tools.
  • Organizers plan to serve warm drinks and snacks.

City officials recognize others in Kees’ honor for demonstrating “outstanding commitment to protecting and preserving Issaquah’s natural resources for a sustainable community.”

Kees died in May 2009.

McCarry received the Ruth Kees Environmental Award for a Sustainable Community last year. The top environmental honor in the city recognized McCarry in part for efforts to preserve Park Pointe.

The prize included $500 — money from a long-term endowment established as part of Kees’ estate. McCarry donated the money to the Issaquah Environmental Council — and matched the prize money — so the organization could plant trees at Park Pointe.

McCarry died in July after a battle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, 18 months after resigning from the City Council due the illness.

In a last act as a councilwoman in December 2010, before a tearful sendoff, McCarry seconded a motion to adopt a Park Pointe agreement.

The city completed the Park Pointe agreement in early 2010, and since then, city, state and volunteer organizations mobilized to clean up the site, remove invasive species and plant native trees. Shelton credited city Open Space Steward Matt Mechler for efforts to remove invasive blackberry and prepare land for native plantings.

Participants plan to add Douglas fir and Western red cedar trees, plus 50 salmonberry bushes, to the Park Pointe landscape at the planting event.

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