Agreement protects Squak from logging
August 6, 2013
By Peter Clark
An agreement was finalized July 18 to protect 216 acres on Squak Mountain from logging.
After months of negotiation, King County reached a definitive deal with the Trust for Public Land to purchase the land from Erickson Logging for $5 million. Through the July 18 agreement, the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit that purchases land for conservation, would buy the parcel as early as 2014 and then the county would make payments over time to obtain ownership.
County Executive Dow Constantine’s office was important in completing the deal with the Trust for Public Land.
“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.
Previously, the county had explored using its Conservation Futures program in an attempt to offer a suitable price to the owner. This had raised concerns due to the amount the program could offer the landowner. The Trust for Public Land was brought in this January to explore a possible alternative.
“It’s so important to preserve places like Squak Mountain, where back-country nature is still within easy reach of city dwellers,” Roger Hoesterey, divisional director for The Trust for Public Land said. “We are delighted to help finalize this agreement.”
According to the county’s press release, the money the county will use to purchase the land is planned to come from Conservation Futures funds collected from property taxes and regional open space acquisition funds in the proposed King County Parks levy.
The Issaquah Alps Trails Club and its sister-group Save Squak were delighted with the news. Wyatt Golding, staff attorney at the Washington Forest Law Center, praised the groups for their work.
“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.”
An agreement that defines a firm timeline to repay the money from King County to the Trust for Public Land has not been announced.