Moving Forward: Legal Matter Resolved, Foundation Looks to the Future

We are incredibly pleased to share that after months of good-faith negotiations with The Mountaineers, we have reached agreement on the remaining issues in the litigation that started in 2019. I know we are all weary after the four-year back and forth, but we never gave up on resolving the litigation without a trial.

After several attempts to bring The Mountaineers to the negotiating table, last September we again reached out to request organization-to-organization negotiations. Our goal, as always, was to focus on where we could find common ground and build consensus through compromise on any outstanding issues. They agreed to meet and we’ve been working diligently since then, trading ideas, sharing solutions and hammering out good compromises that benefit both organizations, the people we serve and the work we do.

Both organizations had a team of board members. Representing the Foundation was Jeff Wirtz, along with board members Mindy Roberts, Katha Miller-Winder, and Scott Eby. They all worked tirelessly to position the Foundation for success, both in professionalism and pragmatic solutions. Throughout the process, we engaged our all-volunteer Board of Directors and updated our supporters in December and at our January Board retreat.

The detailed settlement terms remain confidential. However, several elements will be public. For example, we agreed to a land swap that ensures the Foundation owns the entire Big Tree Trail to provide access to the recently restored Hidden Valley, including the lovely pavilion and bridge over Wildcat Creek and recent plantings to restore salmon habitat. Both organizations agreed to retire the name Mountaineers Foundation, and we will change our legal name and move fully to Keta Legacy Foundation, which will take some time, so bear with us. And, we have reached agreement on a commonsense process to determine if a bequest and donor intend the Foundation – you can read more As we always have, we will continue to side with the final determination of the executor of the trust on all bequests.

It has always been our goal to find common ground to resolve the litigation sooner. But, the end result is we have found our organizations more aligned with a better understanding of each organizations’ priorities and goals. More communication is always better and we know the next Foundation leaders will continue in that spirit of collaboration.

As many of you know, Jeff Wirtz’s term as Foundation president ended in early February. We could not have asked for a better person to lead us through the myriad of intricate projects on the Preserve, and also to guide us through this difficult time that no volunteer should face. 

We are grateful for the cooperation of The Mountaineers and their board members for agreeing to the months-long process. Both organizations have bright futures ahead and we look forward to working with them and others to see our missions come to fruition.