Outdoor enthusiasts, county officials, members of SaveSquak.com, representatives from the Trust for Public Lands and King County Parks officials gathered Saturday morning at the old lodge that was once part of the Issaquah Camping Club, to officially celebrate the acquisition of 226 acres into the King County Parks system.
Kevin Brown with King County Parks said the actual planning effort will begin later this year to improve the trails — some of which have been there over 20 years — and to figure out how to fold it into the open park space for Cougar and Tiger Mountains.
Deputy County Executive Fred Jarrett was at the celebration instead of executive Dow Constantine, because Constantine and his wife had just welcomed a new baby the day before. Jarrett said the acquisition was one of Constantine’s goals.
“It’s about delivering value and adding to our public space,” Jarrett said.
Jarrett said this was brought together in record time, noting that there was a great deal of interest in preserving the land due to concerns of flooding from potential clear-cutting and development and also disturbing fish habitat and wildlife. Jarrett thanked King County’s Parks staff for making it possible for “all to enjoy for eternity.”
District 9 County Council member, Reagan Dunn, a key driver behind the acquisition, could not be present due to another obligation. Larry Phillips, who represents District 4 on the county council, said Tibbetts and May Creeks are very important salmon habitats, which they have had great success with. He said now they don’t have to worry about clear cuts filling up those streams.
The Trust for Public Lands, a national non-profit, played a key role in the acquisition. Roger Hoesterey, senior vice president and division director west, oversees the TPL’s conservation programs in every state west of the Rockies, including Alaska and Hawaii. During his time at TPL, the states he directs have conserved over a half million acres of land. TPL put up the money to buy the property from landowner Kurt Erickson. King County has repaid TPL for about half of the property, with plans to pay off the rest before the end of the year. The purchase price was $5 million.
Hoesterey thanked Erickson, who wasn’t there, saying that Erickson probably could have made more money if he’d logged and developed it. He said this property was a high priority.Hoesterey also thanked Save Squak.
“They did all the hard work,” he said. “We need the rabble-rousers.”
The final speaker was Dave Kappler, president of the Issaquah Alps Trails Club, and one of the so-called rabble-rousers. He thanked members of the King County Council.
“We didn’t have a lot of meetings (Save Squak), but then Reagan Dunn showed up at Issaquah City Council,” Kappler said. “Larry Phillips has his name written over everything that’s green.”
Kappler said they were sort of out of their league on the whole thing.
“The people on Save Squak were great. They knew when to cool it when we needed to cool it,” he said.
After the meeting, everyone gathered outside to go on either a short, intermediate or long hike with guides.
The property will be closed off until all the trail improvements are made, for the safety of hikers and explorers.
David Kappler, president of the Issaquah Trails Club speaks, while Kevin Brown with King County Parks looks on.
The lodge that was once part of the old camping club is still functional and will be restored. There is a swimming pool in back beyond repair, which will be filled in.
Supporters of Squak Mountain filled the old lodge for the celebration and speeches.
Folks take off on one of several guided hikes after the festivities inside the lodge.
An interesting old monument that is on the old camping club site, is now covered in moss.
A remnant of the old camping club, it appeared to be some sort of storage facility.
An RV dump and old restroom building, leftover from the old camping club.
Very interesting old brick oven on one of the old campsites.
Squak Mountain is beautiful, pristine forest land.