Arts and Entertainment

Art installation recalls Cougar Mountain’s industrial past | King County Parks

4Culture and the King County Parks and Recreation Division will present Black Forest [29,930,000 tons], a temporary land art installation created by Seattle-based artist Hans Baumann, at the County’s Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park near Newcastle in March.  Funding for the project was provided by 4Culture, King County’s public arts agency.

In the artist’s own words, “Black Forest [29,930,000 tons] is an aesthetic statement borne out of the complex historical narratives present at Cougar Mountain. It acknowledges the park’s history as a site of intense resource extraction and re-imagines the forest as a site for carbon sequestration through the construction of a large-scale land art installation.”

“Partnering with 4Culture provides an excellent opportunity to bring thought-provoking art to unexpected places, such as along a hiking trail in one of our most popular parks,” said King County Parks Division Director Kevin Brown.

Black Forest exemplifies our Site Specific funding program, which is to support creative projects that highlight King County’s historic past,” said Eric Taylor, who runs 4Culture’s Heritage Programs. “It will bring attention to the fact that Cougar Mountain is an abandoned coal mine, and through the lens of a contemporary artist, suggest a productive and positive future for post-industrial sites in our region.”

With the help of volunteers, nearly 50,000 pounds of bio-carbon will be applied to a forested site roughly one acre in size near the Red Town trailhead at the park’s northwest entrance. The bio-carbon will cover the forest floor and decompose slowly over time.

Baumann chose this material because it both improves the health of the forest soil and resembles the coal that was actively mined from the mountain from 1863 to 1963.

This art installation presents a unique opportunity for volunteers to create art while enjoying a lovely forested setting.

Up to eight volunteers are needed for two shifts per day, Feb. 21-23. Volunteers will work spreading bio-carbon from 8-11:30 a.m. or from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., and are encouraged to participate across multiple days and shifts. To sign up, contact Laurie Clinton, Volunteer Program Manager at King County Parks, at 206-296-4452 or

The installation is expected to be completed by March 1, and visitors can experience the installation from a viewing area located along the trail at any time during regular park hours.

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park is the green gem in King County's 26,000-acre park system. Just minutes from Seattle and the Eastside cities Bellevue, Issaquah and others, the 3,100-acre park provides an excellent example of the region’s unique historical, cultural and natural heritage. The park preserves important wildlife habitat, including the headwaters of salmon-bearing streams, while offering dozens of miles of hiking trails and equestrian trails.

To learn more about the project and the artist, and for a map to the project site, visit or


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