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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State parks gird for possible $30 million budget gap

December 6, 2011

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission officials said the agency is prepared to change amid the prospect of a $30 million budget gap.

The state parks agency used to receive about 75 percent of operating funds from the state general fund, but in the last legislative session, lawmakers set aside $17 million in “bridge” funding to transition the agency off of general fund dollars. Legislators also implemented the Discover Pass, a parking fee for state parks and state-managed recreation lands.

The commission prepared a strategy to allow the agency to respond to a worst-case scenario if legislators cut the existing $17 million general fund dollars, or if Discover Pass and other revenues fall short. The strategy includes deep spending cuts, changes to service levels in the short term and re-engineering the agency for a leaner future.

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State parks prepare for possible $30 million budget gap

November 28, 2011

NEW — 9 a.m. Nov. 28, 2011

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission officials said the agency is prepared to change amid the prospect of a $30 million budget gap.

The state parks agency used to receive about 75 percent of operating funds from the state general fund, but in the last legislative session, lawmakers set aside $17 million in “bridge” funding to transition the agency off of general fund dollars. Legislators also implemented the Discover Pass, a parking fee for state parks and state-managed recreation lands.

“The Discover Pass is a vital funding source for state parks,” Commission Chairman Joe Taller said in a statement. “We are asking the public to support and protect state parks by purchasing the Discover Pass.”

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City, neighbors dedicate Squak Mountain forest to Maureen McCarry

November 15, 2011

Former councilwoman led effort to protect Squak Mountain woods

Maureen McCarry (right), a former councilwoman and Forest Rim resident, flashes a thumbs-up to city Parks Planner Margaret Macleod at the dedication ceremony for McCarry Woods on Nov. 12. By Warren Kagarise

The thicket — all gold and green beneath a November sky the same color as chalk — adjacent to the Forest Rim neighborhood on Squak Mountain shares the name of a person instrumental in protecting the land for future generations.

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Community dedicates Squak Mountain forest to Maureen McCarry

November 12, 2011

Former Councilwoman Maureen McCarry (right) greets a well-wisher at the dedication ceremony for Squak Mountain's McCarry Woods on Saturday. By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 1 p.m. Nov. 12, 2011

The thicket — all gold and green beneath a November sky the same color as chalk — adjacent to the Forest Rim neighborhood on Squak Mountain shares the name of a person instrumental in protecting the land for future generations.

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State nets almost $3 million from Discover Pass sales

October 25, 2011

Sales prompt backups, confusion at state park

The state-mandated Discover Pass generated $2.9 million for state parks and other public recreation lands since the state and retailers started offering the pass in June — crucial dollars for the cash-strapped agencies responsible for managing public lands.

Officials started requiring a $30 annual pass or a $10 day-use pass to park vehicles at recreation lands statewide July 1. The pass is mandatory for state parks, as well as lands managed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources.

State public lands agencies need to generate about $60 million per year in sales to compensate for deep budget cuts. The agencies split the revenue — 84 percent for state parks and 8 percent apiece for the others.

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City renames forestland for former councilwoman

August 30, 2011

City Council members recognized Maureen McCarry on Aug. 15 by renaming a forested tract on Squak Mountain for the former councilwoman.

The change renamed the 40-acre Issaquah 69 parcel as McCarry Woods. The designation recognizes McCarry’s efforts as a councilwoman to acquire and preserve a key wildlife habitat and trail access to Squak Mountain State Park.

“This is, in my mind, one of the highest honors I think that we can give to any individual who has contributed so much to this community,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said before the unanimous decision to rename the land.

The city acquired the land in August 2007 as part of the Cougar-Squak Mountains Wildlife Corridor project. The forested land is just east of Squak Mountain Loop Southwest in the Forest Rim neighborhood high on Squak Mountain. McCarry is a Forest Rim resident.

In addition to preserving wildlife habitat, the acquisition protected a piece of the Bullitt Fireplace Trail — a link to the state park from Mountainside Drive Southwest.

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Discover Pass sales generate almost $3 million for parks, lands

August 25, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 25, 2011

The state generated $2.9 million for state parks and other public recreation lands during the initial six weeks of Discover Pass sales, state agency chiefs announced Wednesday.

Officials started requiring the $30 annual pass or $10 day-use pass to park vehicles at recreation lands statewide July 1. The state started selling the passes in June.

Don Hoch, Washington State Parks director, said the revenue is crucial to state parks, because the agency must rely on user fees and donations to cover costs. In recent years, the Legislature slashed funding for agencies managing outdoor recreation lands and facilities.

“Public support has been essential as we begin this new program aimed at preserving public access to recreation lands,” he said in a statement. “It’s heartening that Washington citizens are willing to help keep their recreation lands open and operating. And we are optimistic that sales will continue to grow to help fund our state recreation lands.”

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Coca-Cola offers $175,000 to refresh parks

August 23, 2011

Lake Sammamish or Squak Mountain state parks could receive up to $100,000 for upgrades — if either comes out on top in a nationwide contest from Coca-Cola.

The soda giant is offering $175,000 in grants to parks across the United States. In order to receive a prize, parks must receive the most votes from online fans. Supporters can cast unlimited votes until the voting period ends Sept. 6.

Participants can also earn extra points for chosen parks by using Facebook tools and uploading photos as part of the contest.

On the Web

Coca-Cola ‘America’s Favorite Park’ contest

Cast votes for “America’s Favorite Park” — and earn extra points for chosen parks — at the Coca-Cola Live Positively website, www.livepositively.com/#/ americasparks/vote.

In addition to the $100,000 prize, the top recipient claims the title “America’s Favorite Park” for the coming months. Coca-Cola is also offering a $50,000 grant to the park in the No. 2 spot and $25,000 to the No. 3 park.

The grants can be used to restore, rebuild or enhance recreation areas in parks to encourage people to play and be active. The effort is part of Coca-Cola’s Live Positively community initiative.

Both state parks in the Issaquah area cut services in recent years amid state budget shortfalls. Officials considered shutting down Squak Mountain State Park through 2013 as a cost-cutting measure, but decided in the end to keep the park open to the public.

In the contest so far, Lake Sammamish and Squak Mountain received a handful of votes and lag far behind the top contenders.

Coca-Cola launched the contest last year. The soda giant joined the National Park Foundation, America’s State Parks, and the National Recreation and Park Association for the ongoing campaign.

People across the United States cast more than 5.7 million votes during the 2010 campaign. Bear Head Lake State Park in Ely, Minn., received the initial $100,000 prize after garnering more than 1.6 million votes in the contest.

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