King County and The Trust for Public Land are taking the last few steps in a two-year-long journey to permanently preserve more than 200 acres of Cascade foothills forestland.
Coveted for its ecological value, including sheltering the headwaters of a salmon-bearing stream, The Trust for Public Land purchased the 226 acres of land on Squak Mountain in 2014 for $5 million.
“Permanently preserving forestland in our Cascade foothills will pay dividends for each generation to come,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “By saving wildlife habitat and preserving recreational areas, we protect our region's environmental health and quality of life.”
“Protecting this stretch of land guarantees recreational opportunities and natural habitats will be preserved for years to come,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, whose Council District includes this land. “Acting quickly and partnering with the local community and open space organizations ensured this successful outcome and long-term protection from clear cutting and development.
“The partnership that made the purchase of this property possible had one goal: ensuring that this cherished habitat and recreational area adjacent to prized county and state parks stays available to public use,” said County Council Chair Larry Phillips. “This is a great accomplishment for both the County and The Trust for Public Land.”
"Successes like Squak Mountain are at the heart of our mission to give everyone a great park close to home," said Paul Kundtz, Washington State Director of The Trust for Public Land. "It's been intensely rewarding to be able to work with the great team at King County and achieve this wonderful outcome for the people of Issaquah."
King County previously purchased about half of the total acreage from The Trust for Public Land. In December, the County made its second and final payment to The Trust for Public Land, concluding the transaction and bringing the acreage into public ownership.
The property was purchased with King County Parks Levy regional open space funds, Conservation Futures funds, and real estate excise taxes.
The forestland remains closed to the public while King County Parks crews prepare the site for public use, including property clean-up, removing infrastructure and establishing trail routes.
The property should be open to hiking in the springtime, and King County Parks will begin a public planning process to help determine future uses for the property, which is being added to the County’s Cougar-Squak Corridor.
Bringing this land into public ownership provides public recreation access point to existing public open space properties and trails in the area – including King County’s Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, the Cougar Mountain/Squak Mountain Corridor and Washington state’s West Tiger Mountain Natural Resource Conservation Area.
About The Trust for Public Land
Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.
About King County Parks
King County Parks - Your Big Backyard - offers more than 200 parks and 26,000 acres of parks and natural lands, including such regional treasures as Marymoor Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, 175 miles of regional trails, 180 miles of backcountry trails and a world-class aquatic center. By cultivating strong relationships with non-profit, corporate and community partners, King County Parks enhances park amenities while reducing costs.