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.

Read more

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.

Read more

City celebrates Arbor Day at Ruth Kees Grove planting

April 20, 2011

Volunteers gather along Issaquah Creek on April 16 to observe Arbor Day. By Margaret Macleod

NEW — 4 p.m. April 20, 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.

Read more

Maureen McCarry receives city’s top environmental award

March 22, 2011

Maureen McCarry smiles March 21 as her husband Tom Knollmann and the City Hall audience applaud her for receiving the Ruth Kees Environmental Award. By Greg Farrar

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 March 21.

Read more

Greenway pioneer receives top environmental honor

July 13, 2010

Mountains to Sound Greenway pioneer Ted Thomsen — “the unsung hero” behind the 101-mile greenbelt — received the highest environmental honor in Issaquah in a City Hall ceremony last week.

The late Thomsen received the Ruth Kees Award for a Sustainable Community — the prize named for the late environmentalist, a tireless advocate for open space preservation. The city selected Thomsen for the yearslong effort to establish a billboard-free greenbelt from Seattle to Central Washington along Interstate 90.

Cynthia Welti, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust executive director, nominated Thomsen for the honor.

“He was essential to bringing the greenway vision to fruition,” she recalled in the nomination. “Ted is the unsung hero of the launch of this tremendous coalition effort.”

Read more

Greenway leader receives top environmental honor

July 6, 2010

NEW — 7:50 p.m. July 6, 2010

Mountains to Sound Greenway pioneer Ted Thomsen — “the unsung hero” behind the 101-mile greenbelt — received the highest environmental honor in Issaquah on Tuesday night.

The late Thomsen received the Ruth Kees Award for a Sustainable Community — the prize named for late environmentalist, a tireless advocate for open space preservation. The city selected Thomsen for the yearslong effort to establish a billboard-free greenbelt from Seattle to Central Washington along Interstate 90.

Cynthia Welti, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust executive director, nominated Thomsen for the honor.

“He was essential to bringing the greenway vision to fruition,” she recalled in the nomination. “Ted is the unsung hero of the launch of this tremendous coalition effort.”

Read more

Leon Kos will retire from city after 33 years

April 27, 2010

City administrator leaves behind a bigger, stronger Issaquah

Leon Kos

The past three decades can be attributed to — or blamed on — legendary City Clerk Linda Ruehle.

Issaquah needed a new city administrator in early 1977. Leon Kos, a recent Seattle transplant from California, applied for the job.

Read more

Task force to guide future of business district

October 6, 2009

A 12-member task force will spend the next year mapping the future of the Central Issaquah Plan, a document that will outline growth and redevelopment in the commercial heart of the city. Read more

Hiking society honors Squak

August 4, 2009

Squak Mountain has been recognized as a Washington State hiking destination by the American Hiking Society. Read more

Voters could decide additional protections for conservation land

July 7, 2009

Voters could soon decide to protect sensitive land along Issaquah Creek, parts of Cougar and Squak mountains, and dozens of other natural areas throughout King County. Read more

Next Page »