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King County and Enumclaw sign memorandum of agreement on White River Forest
A memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed this week by King County and the city of Enumclaw outlines the cooperative makeup in working with the property owner of the White River Forest to ensure continued access and use of the forest for recreational purposes.
“This is an important step in in keeping the White River Forest open to continued recreational use for County residents,” said Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, whose district includes Enumclaw and the tree farm. “I would like to thank Mayor Liz Reynolds and Executive Dow Constantine for their hard work and dedication to work towards keeping the White River Tree Farm open to recreational use.”
“With this agreement we will explore ways to preserve and enhance access for hiking, horseback riding, and other recreational activities across this vast swath of forestland, which is twice the size the city of Bellevue,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.
“The citizens of the Enumclaw plateau have historically had access to the White River Forest for a variety of recreational activities. I believe this MOA creates the partnership which can work collaboratively with the current owner, Hancock, or any subsequent owner, to preserve and enhance recreational access to the White River Tree Farm,” stated Mayor Liz Reynolds.
King County purchased a conservation easement on the White River Forest in March of this year, thereby preserving the largest unprotected forestland remaining in the county, and achieving the County’s longstanding goal of protecting 200,000 acres of working forests countywide.
The land is owned and managed by Hancock Timber Resources, including the right to sustainable timber harvests, which supports hundreds of forestry jobs.
For many years, this property has been open for passive recreational activities to County and City residents. Recreational opportunities throughout the forest include hiking, horseback riding, hunting and fishing.
The recent conservation easement the County entered into with the landowners will allow the public continued access to the Forest for activities such as hiking, horseback riding and other recreational activities. The access is conditional, with Hancock having the right to limit or eliminate such access. Hancock Timber Resources currently charges a fee to access the forest.
This County and the City both agree that mutual cooperation is the foundation to preserve, enhance and improve recreational access and this agreement bolsters that cooperation. The agreement also sets up a recreational committee comprised of representatives from the County and the City to serve in an advisory role to the Enumclaw City Council and County Council regarding preservation of access to the Forest.
The newly formed joint County-City committee could explore a number of potential recreational issues, including:
- Grant or other funding opportunities that the County or City may be eligible for;
- Improvements for access and use;
- Activities and events that showcase the property’s natural attributes;
- Capital projects that maintain and improve access and use;
- Potential purchase of a recreation easement on the property; and
- Potential reduction or elimination of access fees.