Keta Legacy Foundation, The Mountaineers Reach Settlement in Ongoing Litigation

The four-year legal dispute was settled out of court this week with both sides agreeing to retire the ‘Mountaineers Foundation’ name, closing out the remaining issue in the lawsuit

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The final piece of litigation between The Mountaineers and Keta Legacy Foundation has been formally settled out of court this week. Both groups’ leaders have been engaging in confidential negotiations since September 2023 to resolve the remaining piece of the litigation: The use of and rights to the “Mountaineers Foundation” name.

“After months of negotiations to resolve the final piece of the overall litigation, we are pleased to find a pathway forward that ensures both organizations can focus their time and resources on our missions and align with our board and donor values,” said Jeff Wirtz, former president of Keta Legacy Foundation. “In addition to agreeing that both groups will retire the name ‘Mountaineers Foundation,’ we also found our way to resolving other issues that arose due to cross-boundary access needs. Reaching common ground allows us to move forward with our top priorities of protecting the forests and salmon-bearing streams in and around the Rhododendron Preserve and ensuring outdoor access for all through both groups’ activities.”

“Both groups benefit from finding common ground, not just on the name, but on access to one another’s lands. We’ve been neighbors in Kitsap County for decades and we each have a stake in protecting the environment while ensuring that we respect each other’s priorities. This agreement achieves those goals which we reached in a spirit of compromise and a desire to forge a better working relationship moving forward,” said Tom Vogl, CEO of The Mountaineers. “Most important, this agreement allows both organizations to put these issues behind us and allows us each to focus on the important work ahead.”

In addition to agreeing that neither organization will use the “Mountaineers Foundation” name, the two groups reached resolution on issues unrelated to the final litigation, including:

  • A land swap that allows Keta Legacy Foundation clear access to the Big Tree Trail and the recently restored salmon habitat of Hidden Valley as well as The Mountaineers backstage access to the Kitsap Forest Theater and space for parking.
  • An agreement on a commonsense process to determine the intent of donors’ bequests and whether they were meant to go to Keta Legacy Foundation or The Mountaineers.
  • Reciprocal easements for potential electrical upgrades across each others’ properties, allowing for a safer electrical system for the Theater and potential electrical needs on Keta Legacy Foundation’s land.

Wirtz and Vogl believe the months-long negotiations sparked a better understanding of what each group does, their missions and their desire to focus their time and resources on the good work for which both organizations are known.

The leaders added that while this dispute was not how either wanted to dedicate time and energy, the work has created a greater framework for more thoughtful collaboration in the future.

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The Mountaineers is a Washington nonprofit corporation, originally founded in 1906, and merging with its successor organization The Mountaineers of the Pacific Northwest in 2011, with the purpose of providing, among many other services and activities, a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, educational activities, training, charitable fundraising, conservation activities, and social events.

Keta Legacy Foundation is a Washington nonprofit corporation, originally founded in 1968 as the Mountaineers Foundation, with the purpose of providing community grants, educational activities, charitable fundraising, stewarding lands and waters including the Rhododendron Preserve in Kitsap County, and conservation activities. The organization will change its legal name to Keta Legacy Foundation in 2024.


Media Contacts:
Keta Legacy Foundation: Bobbi Cussins, 360-280-1679,
The Mountaineers: Mark Firmani, 206-919-9357,

Written by SerieAUKWire

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