Mountains to Sound Greenway comes of age

July 26, 2011

Leaders nurture Interstate 90 greenbelt, acre by acre, year by year

Ken Konigsmark (left), a longtime Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust board member, and founding president Jim Ellis stand near North Bend on Rattlesnake Mountain in 2000 . By Greg Farrar

Like the matter-of-fact name suggests, the Mountains to Sound Greenway starts amid the souvenir shops and seafood restaurants at the Seattle waterfront, unfurls along Interstate 90, encompassing cities and forests, and continues on, across the Cascades.

Issaquah, situated on the route, is not quite at the center, but the city is central in the long effort to create a greenbelt along the major roadway.

The idea for a conservation corridor along the interstate germinated in Issaquah more than 20 years ago. Issaquah Alps Trails Club members spearheaded a 1990 march from Snoqualmie Pass to Puget Sound to attract attention to the proposed greenbelt — a sort of Central Park for Western Washington.

The disparate citizen, conservation, corporate and government interests behind the proposal coalesced to form the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust in 1991. Supporters marched from Ellensburg to Seattle in early July to celebrate the 20-year milestone.

“The original vision was, what can we agree on to preserve what’s important to everyone along this corridor?” retired Issaquah City Administrator Leon Kos said.

The corridor stretches for 100 miles, connects 1.4 million acres — or a landmass about 15 times larger than Seattle — and includes more than 800,000 acres in public ownership.

The conservation is enmeshed in cooperation.

The organization is built to foster dialogue among divergent groups. Seattle civic leader Jim Ellis, founding president of the greenway trust, called on rivals to sit down at the same table to create the conservation corridor. So, representatives on the 58-member board include the Sierra Club and Weyerhaeuser Co.

Kos, a longtime greenway supporter and board member, said the Issaquah Alps Trail Club assumed a fundamental role early on.

“The community group that was really very instrumental was the Issaquah Alps Trails Club,” he said.

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Portland run to benefit Issaquah trails club

July 26, 2011

“About two years… and many, many pounds ago, in a doughnut shop in Seattle, I set my very first running goal: to run a marathon.”

That’s the first full line on Douglas Pariseau’s still growing website.

By the way, Pariseau, 44, reached his initial goal. His first marathon was the 2010 Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon. The achievement came just a year after Pariseau had decided he needed to run a marathon. So, as he says on his site, Pariseau needed a new goal.

He came up with one.

Mostly for fun, but also to raise money for the Issaquah Alps Trail Club and the cross-country team at Mt. Rainer Lutheran School in Tacoma, Pariseau leaves July 27 for a 185-plus mile run from the Issaquah REI store where he works to an REI in Portland, Ore.

Pariseau said he plans to make the trip in seven days.

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$6.2 million pedestrian bridge opens after delays

July 5, 2011

Protesters carry signs to decry the cost of a pedestrian bridge across Interstate 90 the day the bridge opened, July 1. By Tim Pfarr

The pedestrian bridge at Interstate 90 and state Route 900 opened July 1, months after the expected completed date.

Delays related to the bridge pilings and inclement weather slowed construction on the $6.2 million project.

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Excuse me? Uncover fertile dirt behind Poo Poo Point’s name

July 2, 2011

The collection at the Issaquah Train Depot includes a steam donkey. File

The poo poo referenced in Poo Poo Point is not destined for the bathroom.

Instead, the designation for a ridge on Tiger Mountain nods to logging.

Loggers used a winch called a steam donkey to haul logs through Tiger Mountain forests to a loading point.

“There was a steam whistle set up that they would blow before they started pulling these logs through the forest at high speed, which was dangerous,” Issaquah History Museums Executive Director Erica Maniez said.

The high-pitched whistle on the steam donkey emitted a “poo poo” sound.

(The history museums’ collection includes a steam donkey parked outside the restored Issaquah Train Depot.)

Maniez said Poo Poo Point is a contemporary designation. The late William Longwell Jr., a longtime Issaquah Alps Trails Club member, described the tale behind Poo Poo Point in a guide to Tiger Mountain trails.

Still, uttering “Poo Poo Point” prompts giggles from outsiders and recent transplants.

Contentious Interstate 90 pedestrian bridge to open Friday

June 30, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. June 30, 2011

The pedestrian bridge at Interstate 90 and state Route 900 is due to open Friday, months after the expected completed date.

Delays related to the bridge pilings and inclement weather slowed construction on the $6.2 million project. The connector separates bicyclists and pedestrians from the busy roadway. The structure includes a 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge across the westbound interstate on-ramp and a 10-foot-wide pedestrian crossing on the state Route 900 overpass.

The city contributed $354,000 to the connector. Federal and Sound Transit dollars covered the remainder.

The bridge is due to open by late Friday, after more than a decade of planning and sometimes-contentious discussions among city officials, transit advocates and trails enthusiasts.

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Mountains to Sound Greenway celebrates 20th anniversary with hikes, parties

June 28, 2011

It’s not too late for hikers, historical buffs and music lovers to register for the hikes and parties scheduled for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust’s 20th anniversary.

The hikes have a historical precedent.

“In 1990, a group of avid hikers got together and realized that population growth was going to happen,” Mountains to Sound Greenway spokeswoman Erin MacCoy said. “They wanted to make sure we could keep the green places green, so they did a hike from Snoqualmie Pass to the Seattle waterfront to raise awareness about that.”

The group of 100 hikers, including members of the Issaquah Alps Trails Club, took five days to complete their trek. One year later, in 1991, environmentalists founded the greenway trust.

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Issaquah events open Mountains to Sound Greenway Summer

June 17, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. June 17, 2011

Celebrate the season as the Mountains to Sound Greenway Summer launches Saturday and Sunday.

The events start Saturday as the Issaquah Alps Trails Club leads the Olallie Lake hike. Join hike leader Mary Nolan on a moderately difficult, five- to six-mile hike with 1,200 feet gain in elevation to Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area lakes — Talapus and Olallie. Participants need a Northwest Forest Pass. The hike is open to all ages; no reservation is required. Join the hike at the Issaquah Trails House, 110 S.E. Bush St., at 9 a.m. Saturday. Call Nolan at 837-1535.

Learn about the Puget Sound watershed and salmon at the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery open house and tours Saturday. Explore the life of a salmon through hands-on exhibits, tours and a family-oriented open house featuring activities for all age group. Join FISH docents for 30-minute hatchery tours at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The hatchery, 125 W. Sunset Way, is open 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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Find a niche at Issaquah Hobby & Volunteer Expo

May 3, 2011

Looking for a quilting club? How about a hiking group or a nonprofit that helps veterans?

Hobby hunters and volunteer enthusiasts need look no further than the 12th annual Hobby & Volunteer Expo, held at the same time as the Issaquah Farmers Market May 7 at Pickering Barn.

“It has just been a fantastic tradition, an annual event, in which community programs and hobby groups can get together and, one, network with each other, and two, put the word out that they exist and they are looking for members,” Issaquah Recreation Coordinator Cathy Jones said.

The expo targets a number of people: youths looking for volunteer opportunities; Issaquah newcomers looking for groups to join; empty nesters or recent retirees searching for new outlets; and just about anybody in need of a new venture.

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Interstate 90 pedestrian bridge is late, over budget

April 19, 2011

Opening is delayed until at least June

The spindly pedestrian crossover bridging the westbound on-ramp at Interstate 90 and state Route 900 is at least $200,000 over budget and not expected to open until June, months after the expected completion date.

Blame unstable soil at the site and soggy conditions for delaying the connector from April until early summer. The additional construction could increase the $6 million project budget. City Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock said planners could ask the City Council to authorize additional dollars for the project, depending on the remaining construction.

“We would like to get it done sooner, but we recognize that this has been a very wet winter, and it just keeps going,” he said.

The long-planned connector at the bustling intersection experienced a construction slowdown last fall after crews needed to dig deeper to find a solid layer to support the piers beneath the bridge. The rain-soaked winter and spring also caused construction to proceed at a slower pace.

Plans call for the completed connector to include a separate 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge across the westbound interstate on-ramps. Crews also modified the existing state Route 900 overpass to install a 10-foot-wide pedestrian crossing.

The city relied on federal dollars and a $400,000 grant from Sound Transit to offset most of the project cost. The city contributed about $341,000 for the connector and is responsible for cost overruns.

Construction on the project started last July.

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Legislators consider $30 fee for public lands, state parks

April 5, 2011

Proposed Discover Pass could stave off closures

Hikers, mountain bikers and other outdoors enthusiasts using Issaquah as a starting point for treks could face a $30 fee to use public lands and state parks come July.

Lawmakers proposed the statewide fee in order to inject funds into the cash-strapped agencies managing public forests, open spaces and recreation facilities. The legislation aims to create a yearlong pass, called the Discover Pass, to park at trailheads and other state-managed lands. For users uninterested in the annual parking pass, the legislation proposes a $10 day-use fee for using the lands. Otherwise, violators could face a ticket.

By Dona Mokin

Though the Discover Pass proposal attracted broad support from outdoor recreation groups, Issaquah legislators remain concerned about the state imposing fees amid a tough economy.

If the Legislature decides against a recreation fee, agencies could close state lands to public access in order to cut costs. Squak Mountain State Park near Issaquah faces closure from July through 2013 as legislators scramble to patch a $5.1 billion hole in the 2011-13 budget.

David Kappler, Issaquah Alps Trails Club president and a former Issaquah councilman, said the Discover Pass could offer a short-term solution.

“I think some of the fees that they’re talking about are reasonable, at least for a while, until things improve,” he said. “I really don’t think that we want to get into that situation long term.”

Supporters said the per-vehicle pass could be easier to enforce, because officers can check parking areas for vehicle windshields displaying a Discover Pass, rather than tracking down users on trails.

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