King County parks host GPS-driven treasure hunt

October 4, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Oct. 4, 2012

King County Parks is launching a GPS-driven treasure hunt on Cougar Mountain to recognize land protected in the last 30 years.

Starting Saturday, participants can join the King County Conservation Futures GeoTour. The treasure hunt to 20 King County Parks cache sites is designed to raise awareness about the 111,000 acres of land the Conservation Futures Program has preserved in the last 30 years.

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Leaders laud land program for 30 years of conservation

August 28, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Aug. 28, 2012

King County leaders highlighted the program used to preserve 111,000 acres of farmland, forests, parks and open space countywide, including Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and Taylor Mountain near Issaquah.

In a recognition Monday, King County Council members marked 30 years of milestones in the Conservation Futures Program — a long-term effort to expand and maintain a open space.

In 1982, King County became the first county in the state to use Conservation Futures Funds. Cougar Mountain is the initial parkland purchased with program funds.

“It is important to preserve our open and natural spaces for recreation and reflection on our environmental heritage,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, Issaquah’s representative, said in a statement.

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Conservation Futures Program celebrates 30 years

July 31, 2012

The program instrumental in conserving Cougar Mountain as permanent open space is turning 30, and outdoors enthusiasts planned a local event to celebrate the milestone.

In the past 30 years, county officials used $300 million in Conservation Futures Program funds and more than $150 million in matching funds to preserve land, including the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park near Issaquah.

Overall, program dollars enabled the county to conserve 108,600 acres countywide, add 3,200 acres of urban parks and greenways, and protect 4,700 acres of watershed and salmon habitat.

Cougar Mountain is the initial parkland purchased with program funds.

“Through the commitment of residents and leaders over the past three decades, we have built a legacy of working forestlands and farms, linked trail systems and preserved beautiful open space for us — and future generations — to enjoy,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement.

The county and open space partners also launched a website, www.kingcounty.gov/conservationfutures, to explain the program’s history.

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Future parks funding is mission for King County task force

July 3, 2012

King County Executive Dow Constantine appointed 20 business and community leaders June 26 to devise future funding plans for King County Parks before the levies supporting the parks system expire next year.

In 2007, voters overwhelmingly approved a pair of six-year levies to support county-run parks and trails. The measures expire Dec. 31, 2013.

Constantine asked the King County Parks Levy Task Force to recommend a funding plan for 2014 and beyond. The group is expected to submit a plan by late September.

Members include representatives from the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Washington Trails Association and other outdoor groups.

“Parks, trails and open space are part of what make King County a great place to live,” Constantine said in a statement. “I have asked the task force to map a course that keeps our parks open and continues to build the system for future generations.”

The county park system includes the 3,115-acre Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, Grand Ridge Park and Duthie Hill Park in the Issaquah area.

Countywide, the system includes 200 parks, 175 miles of trails and 26,000 acres of open space.

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King County task force to examine future funding for parks

June 27, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. June 27, 2012

King County Executive Dow Constantine appointed 20 business and community leaders Tuesday to devise future funding plans for King County Parks before the levies supporting the parks system expire next year.

In 2007, voters overwhelmingly approved a pair of six-year levies to support county-run parks and trails. The measures expire Dec. 31, 2013.

Constantine asked the King County Parks Levy Task Force to recommend a funding plan for 2014 and beyond. The group is expected to submit a plan by late September.

“Parks, trails and open space are part of what make King County a great place to live,” Constantine said in a statement. “I have asked the task force to map a course that keeps our parks open and continues to build the system for future generations.”

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Cougar Mountain Trail Running Series returns

April 24, 2012

Annual event benefits King County parks

A Pacific Northwest tradition returns next month to King County’s Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park: The 10th-annual SCOTT Cougar Mountain Trail Running Series.

The series gets under way May 12 with a 5-mile run – the first of five races on various stretches of Cougar Mountain’s scenic, 36-mile trail network. Runs of eight, 10, 13.1 and a final race of 31 miles (with an option to run a 20-mile race instead) are scheduled in the following months.

Produced by Northwest Trail Runs and the Seattle Running Club, the race series not only introduces hundreds of people to Cougar Mountain’s 36 miles of fantastic trails, but it also benefits King County Parks.

Volunteer work groups from the trail-running community spend an average of 150 hours each year doing trail restoration work, including improving trail surface conditions, invasive weed removal and picking up trash.

Such work has contributed to Cougar Mountain’s status as one of the nation’s best trail-running locations, according to Runners World magazine.

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King County could outlaw smoking in public park areas

April 17, 2012

King County could join almost 600 local governments across the United States in creating no-smoking zones in county parks.

Legislation before the County Council aims to prohibit tobacco use in parks’ busiest areas, such as athletics fields, picnic shelters, playgrounds and trailheads.

The proposal calls for voluntary compliance, so, just like littering, failing to keep a dog on a leash or using alcohol in a park, enforcement occurs only if a problem is reported. Officials plan to use a federal grant to pay for signs denoting tobacco-free areas.

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USA Today spotlights Issaquah Alps trails

February 28, 2012

Issaquah Alps peaks and trails garnered national attention Feb. 21 after USA Today featured the Eastside mountains in a travel piece.

The feature outlines trails and points of interest on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — including the long-defunct Nike Ajax missile installation on Cougar Mountain and the paraglider launch site on Tiger Mountain.

“Hiking through Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, on to Squak Mountain State Park Natural Area and into Tiger Mountain State Forest adds mileage but provides a scenic route,” the guide notes.

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USA Today spotlights Issaquah Alps hiking trails

February 22, 2012

NEW — 9 a.m. Feb. 22, 2012

Issaquah Alps peaks and trails garnered some national attention Tuesday after USA Today featured the Eastside mountains in a travel piece.

The piece outlines trails and points of interest on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — including the long-defunct Nike Ajax missile installation on Cougar Mountain and the paraglider launch site on Tiger Mountain.

“Hiking through Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, on to Squak Mountain State Park Natural Area and into Tiger Mountain State Forest adds mileage but provides a scenic route,” the guide notes.

The piece is the latest national recognition for the Issaquah Alps and the mountains’ namesake city.

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Holiday gifts can benefit King County Parks

December 20, 2011

King County Parks leaders encouraged people to consider holiday gifts to support the county parks system.

Shoppers can browse King County Parks’ online store to create custom holiday cards, purchase parks-themed stamps or donate to the King County Parks Legacy Fund.

Sales benefit King County Parks’ 26,000 acres of public land, including Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and Duthie Hill Park near Issaquah, plus hundreds of miles of regional and backcountry trails systems.

The online retailer Zazzle donates up to 27 percent of net sales from purchased items back to King County Parks.

The agency has also joined www.41pounds.org, a nonprofit organization formed to reduce waste and pollution by helping people to limit the amount of junk mail they receive, to raise dollars for parks and programs.

The organization has pledged to donate to King County Parks for every subscriber referred through the King County Parks page, www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks.aspx.

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