Following a discussion last Friday during a special meeting of the Enumclaw City Council regarding the recently announced White River Forest agreement between King County and the Hancock Timber Resource Group, the city of Enumclaw submitted a letter to County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember Reagan Dunn on Monday outlining concerns about recreational access and asking for a seat at the table with the two parties about this issue.
Citizens have come forward with seemingly divergent perspectives that value either conservation or the rights to development in the long-term, but they agree that current permit requirements set by Hancock Timber Resource Group to use the land is not fair.
The city shared the letter on its website and also made the copy available for Patch. The full text of the letter is below:
Dear Executive Constantine and Councilmember Dunn:
We, the City Council of the City of Enumclaw, are writing to you to express our interest in and concern with the recently announced White River Forest ("Forest") conservation easement agreement between King County and Hancock Natural Resources Group, Inc. The Council finds laudable the County's effort to preserve local forest industry jobs, transfer development rights, maintain the aesthetic of the Chinook Scenic Byway, and preserve the opportunity for recreational pursuits.
The Council's concern focuses on the issue of access to the Forest for recreation. It is our understanding that passive recreation is an allowed use within the conservation easement. However, such use, whether to allow for it, and under what conditions, is at the sole discretion of the property owner.
Though the Forest is located outside the City's urban growth boundary, there exists a connection between it and the residents of Enumclaw as well as residents of the surrounding unincorporated area. Local residents have long used the Forest for a variety of recreational purposes including hiking, horseback riding, and hunting. We believe it is to the betterment of the citizens of Enumclaw as well as all King County to have continued access to the Forest for reasonable cost recreation.
Consequently, it is our contention that the City should be included in and party to any discussions between the County and the Forest owner whether that is Hancock or a subsequent owner regarding recreational access and terms thereof. To that end, the City Council calls for the creation of a formal process, based on written agreement, whereby the City and County work collaboratively to preserve, enhance, and steward access to the White River Forest.
The Council looks forward to your response.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Enumclaw City Council,
Mike Thomas, City Administrator