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City Voices Vary Regarding King County's White River Forest Land Deal

Mayor Liz Reynolds shares a letter she's written to County Executive Dow Constantine regarding the agreement and advocates revisiting the issue of access fees currently being charged for recreational use of the land.

Enumclaw Mayor Liz Reynolds on Monday shared a letter in support of a King County that is currently working its way through King County Council with the Hancock Timber Resource Group:

Dear Executive Constantine:

I am writing to say thank you for all of the hard work you expended in working with King County Councilmembers Larry Phillips and Reagan Dunn, and others to secure a permanent easement over 43,000 acres of the White River Forest east of the City of Enumclaw. The preservation of the White River Forest has a significant positive impact on the City as well as surrounding communities. I am pleased that the White River Forest agreement preserves hundreds of local forestry jobs while at the same time allowing for the continuation of recreational activities such as horseback riding and hiking that our citizens have engaged in for years on this property.

Preservation of the White River Forest is an enhancement to the state and federally recognized Chinook Scenic Byway (SR 410) that runs from Enumclaw to Naches. Those traveling the Byway for recreation or other purposes will now be able to do so without the impingement of urban sprawl and development seen elsewhere in Puget Sound.

As the proposed legislation works its way through the County’s legislative process, I urge you to, if possible, revisit the issue of charging an access fee. Historically, a fee has not been charged to gain access to the property.

It is through your efforts and vision that the White River Forest agreement is now on the doorstep of becoming a reality and a historic achievement in the preservation of rural King County.

My sincere gratitude and best wishes,
Mayor Liz Reynolds

The issue of access fees is one she shares with City Councilman Darrel Dickson, who last week discussed his concerns about the agreement during the regular meeting of the Enumclaw City Council. . Dickson also worried about the long-term impact of prohibiting development so close to the city, but per the access fees, he pointed out that since at least part of the funding in the $11.1 million agreement would come from county parks levy money, there should be a discussion about use of the land without added cost to county residents.

"What are we getting out of this as a community?" he said.

According to Dickson, who wrote an email to Patch advocating community input, the agreement is going before the county budget committee today, April 2 at 1:30 p.m.

The Courier-Herald reports that if the proposal passes through committee, it will be addressed by full council on April 15. If discussion continues to the committee's April 16 meeting, it will go to full council on April 29.

City Administrator Mike Thomas told The Courier-Herald the city would not be a participant as the agreement works its way through the County Council. Nonetheless, Dickson's proposal that the issue be brought to the city's community/economic development committee for discussion still stands. That CED meeting also happens tonight, April 2 at 5:30 p.m. in the Stevenson-Yerxa building.

The public is invited to attend.

Karen Jensen April 09, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Mayor Reynolds, Your letter stating " allowing for the continuation of recreational activities such as horseback riding and hiking that our citizens have engaged in for years on this property." assumes this. Have you read the contract? Where does it specifically say this? After all this property is private and the land owner can opt to close the land to any one at any time, fee or not. It is your duty to look out for the citizens of Enumclaw. That includes future Enumclaw growth and economics. Why are we not asking for the surrounding Enumclaw land to be put aside for future Enumclaw needs? Why are you are closing a door to future Enumclaw developement to the east with no input from it's citizens. Where will future commercial and light industrial go? We all want Enumclaw to remain the same, but in reality Enumclaw will grow and we will outgrow our boundaries as early as 13 years from now. I ask you to give Enumclaw a fighting chance to stay a live and be that vibrant community that meets the needs of us all in the years to come.
M Miller April 15, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Thank you D. Dickson for keeping Enumclaw in the loop with King County re: WR Forest Land Deal. Do we the citizens of Enumclaw/King County have a say in this deal that already appears to be a done deal. I feel we have to stand up, like Karen Jensen stated in her post-What about the future economic development for our Town? Is this just another good old boys deal? What is really in it for the good of King County citizens? Sealing up the corridor all the way to Greenwater-we will be boxed in for sure. Again, has the public had a chance to really look at the contract? Can they Hancock, break up the property into 35acre parcels when they feel like it? We already have 160 acres in our city limits that limits our growth already. What was good 25+ years ago is it still good for all concerned now? How will Enumclaw benefit in the "long run?" Good for Mr. Dickson for wanting something good for our community.

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