Legislators preserve dollars for Issaquah outdoor recreation projects

May 26, 2011

NEW — 10:30 a.m. May 26, 2011

Plans to acquire land for a Cougar Mountain trail and upgrade trail bridges in Tiger Mountain State Forest received a last-minute boost from state lawmakers before a special legislative session ended Wednesday night.

Before sending the $32 billion budget to Gov. Chris Gregoire, legislators allocated $42 million to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program for more than 50 projects statewide. In addition to the Issaquah Alps projects, lawmakers directed funds to Duthie Hill Park and the East Lake Sammamish Trail.

The proposed budget recommends $500,000 for King County to acquire land for Precipice Trail near Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and $247,870 to upgrade Tiger Mountain trail bridges. In addition, the proposal recommends $500,000 for the county’s East Lake Sammamish Trail project and $317,477 for county-run Duthie Hill Park.

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City plants trees for Arbor Day, honors top environmentalists

April 26, 2011

Issaquah leaders gathered on a less-than-springlike day April 16 to observe Arbor Day and plant a grove to honor Ruth Kees and the community’s other top environmentalists.

Like the top environmental honor in the city, the grove is named for the late Kees. The bespectacled environmentalist fought for decades to protect Issaquah Creek, Tiger Mountain and the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer from development-related threats.

The grove is set amid hundreds of other saplings in city parkland along Issaquah Creek.

Former Councilman David Kappler plants a tree at the Ruth Kees Grove on April 16. By Margaret Macleod

Former Councilman David Kappler, plus environmentalists, Joanna Buehler, Ken Konigsmark and Janet Wall — all past Ruth Kees Environmental Award for a Sustainable Community recipients — participated in the planting. Overall, about 20 people joined Mayor Ava Frisinger and the honorees for the ceremony.

Together, city leaders and residents planted conifers to symbolize the 10 Ruth Kees award recipients on a gray morning at Squak Valley Park North south of downtown Issaquah.

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Join city leaders to plant Ruth Kees Grove

April 12, 2011

Ruth Kees

Help city and state leaders dedicate the Ruth Kees Grove, and commemorate Arbor Day and the 20th anniversary of the state Department of Natural Resource Urban Forestry Program, at Squak Valley Park South.

Join city officials April 16 to plant 10 native conifers to honor the 10 recipients of the Ruth Kees Environmental Award for a Sustainable Community. The city has invited past recipients to the celebration.

Plans also call for the grove to include a trail, decorative rock features and a small patio or courtyard, featuring recipients’ names engraved on paver stones.

Past recipients received the honor for efforts to establish the Mountains to Sound Greenway, blaze trails in the Issaquah Alps and protect Issaquah waterways.

Ruth Kees, a longtime environmental activist, fought for decades to protect Issaquah Creek, Tiger Mountain and the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer. The award namesake received the inaugural honor in 2003.

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Surprising spring snowfall dusts Issaquah in white

April 7, 2011

Snowfall blanketed the Overdale Park neighborhood in Issaquah late Wednesday night. By Larry Lohrman

NEW — 8 a.m. April 7, 2011

Sure, spring started last month, but Old Man Winter is back.

Snowfall blanketed Issaquah and surrounding areas — especially neighborhoods in the Issaquah Highlands and on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Residents reported about 1 inch of snow accumulation in some places.

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Maureen McCarry receives city’s top environmental honor

March 21, 2011

NEW — 8 p.m. March 21, 2011

The latest recipient of the top environmental honor in Issaquah acted as a guiding force — in public and behind the scenes — in the long-running effort to shape neighborhoods and preserve undeveloped land.

Leaders elevated Maureen McCarry into the pantheon alongside other important conservation activists, and bestowed the Ruth Kees Environmental Award for a Sustainable Community on the former councilwoman at a City Hall ceremony Monday night.

Mayor Ava Frisinger cited the countless hours McCarry contributed to forge agreements outlining construction in the Issaquah Highlands and Talus, preserve forested Park Pointe near Issaquah High School and strengthen tree-protection rules.

The mayor and Council President John Traeger selected McCarry for the honor after receiving numerous nominations for the former councilwoman, a Squak Mountain resident.

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AmeriCorps teams restore Squak trails

February 15, 2011

Sam Decker (left), 20, of Seattle, and Kyle Johnson, 21, of Sibley, Ill. (population 300), do two jobs at once as they dig a drainage channel and fill in a trail path during their Americorps project on Squak Mountain. By Greg Farrar

The scrapes from shovels and the metallic ring from pickaxes splitting rock echoed across the morning stillness on Squak Mountain as AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps members remade a stretch of trail along a forested slope.

The team from the national service program set up in Squak Mountain State Park near Issaquah last week to upgrade trails and carve drainage ditches in the popular hiking destination.

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Press Editorial

February 15, 2011

Annual pass for parks is not unreasonable

We are not a proponent of willy-nilly user fees to line the coffers of government agencies, but with voters repeatedly saying no to taxes, user fees will become more prevalent. For state parks, we support the implementation of a $30 annual Discover Pass as a solution to keep state parks open.

Washington state parks are in trouble, just as many other state agencies and services are — all part of the proposed budget cuts needed to keep the state out of bankruptcy. State parks are expected to need $64 million in the upcoming biennium.

Squak Mountain State Park atop the middle peak of the Issaquah Alps is already slated to lose funding. But that park is an array of hiking and equestrian trails that will still have public access.

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AmeriCorps team arrives to restore Alps trails

February 1, 2011

Mountains to Sound Greenway trails and habitat received a boost from AmeriCorps in recent weeks, as a team arrived to help on Tiger and Squak mountains and elsewhere in the greenbelt

AmeriCorps has sent 22 crewmembers to assist in trail work in the Issaquah Alps, Mount Si and Rattlesnake Mountain. The group is also participating in ecological restoration in Redmond and the Snoqualmie Valley.

The crew is working alongside Washington Conservation Corps crews to help local land managers restore natural areas, maintain parks and trails, and improve access to recreation.

The greenway is arranged along Interstate 90 from the Seattle waterfront to Central Washington. The greenbelt links natural areas, trails, farms and forests, communities, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities.

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Group plans upstream Issaquah Creek habitat restoration

February 1, 2011

Salmon and other creatures in the Issaquah Creek basin receive a boost soon from citizens and the Friends of the Cedar River Watershed.

The nonprofit organization has planned creek habitat enhancement projects for Feb. 5. Friends of the Cedar River Watershed needs Issaquah-area residents to participate in the effort.

The restoration is scheduled to take place inside the Log Cabin Reach Natural Area on a section of creek upstream from Issaquah and near the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill.

The daylong program is the inaugural Issaquah-area effort for the Seattle-based Friends of the Cedar River Watershed.

Friends of the Cedar River Watershed is in the process of expanding efforts to restore habitat and educate residents throughout the Cedar River and Lake Washington watersheds. The local project is a collaboration between the nonprofit organization and King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

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City, National Weather Service collaborate

January 25, 2011

Forecasters aim to reduce confusion about flood data

Information from the city and the National Weather Service offered a study in contrasts as rain-gorged Issaquah Creek spilled onto city streets in early December.

A shed houses a U.S. Geological Survey flood gauge beside Issaquah Creek at 252nd Avenue Southeast and Southeast 165th Street. By Greg Farrar

Issaquah Creek data from a gauge upstream in Hobart indicated a creek running high, but not enough to cause more than localized flooding. Information from a downstream gauge and a notice from National Weather Service meteorologists, on the other hand, cautioned residents to prepare for widespread flooding in the city.

The arrangement caused some confusion among floodplain residents.

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