Monday, December 19, 2011

Workshop Explores Climate Change and Access to Public Lands

By Kim Brown, Public Lands Programs Intern

Huge gouges from roads. Trails little more than dotted lines of tread on a slumping slope. Piles of old growth trees ripped from the forest, now horizontally huddled against broken bridge pilings, still other bridges twisted and tossed about like toys (and one that was swept away and never found). Scenes from a Mad Max movie? Nope – just another day at the office from our public lands managers.

Western Washington’s devastating floods of 2003, 2006 and 2007, termed “100 year floods,” were a wake-up call to public land managers and the public. Eight years after the 2003 floods, the Forest Service is still dealing with that flood damage, and National Parks are still dealing with damage caused by the 2006 and 2007 floods. Careers have been launched – and bailed – as a result of the nebulous flood repair processes. Due to climate change, we can expect flood damage to become more frequent.

On November 30 and December 1, 2011, the North Cascadia Adaption Partnership (NCAP) - a collaboration of the US Forest Service (USFS) and National Park Service (NPS) - hosted a Climate Change and Human Access workshop to explore changing hydrology and its impact to access on public lands - including roads, trails, campgrounds and infrastructure.

Presentations by the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group, Western Federal Lands Highways Division, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Olympic National Forests, Mt. Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades National Parks showed climate change trends, road repair specifications, costs, and predictions.

NPS and USFS gave presentations about their flood issues - these presentations were dubbed “The Battle of the Floods” – with each agency outdoing the other with their devastation photos.
Climate scientists and land managers anticipate more frequent and larger storms due to changing precipitation patterns and the rising snow levels. We can expect more volumes of water roaring down our watersheds in winter, creating more swift-moving, or “flashier” floods capable of undermining roadbeds and scouring away riverbanks so that bridges no longer lead anywhere, their far ends jutting out into thin air and looking like ancient Roman ruins, their purpose long-gone.

The lack of rain in extended summers will dry out the forest vegetation and soils, meaning more fires and less vegetation to absorb the frequent and heavier fall and winter rains, resulting in - you guessed it – flashier floods.

Thousands of miles of secondary, un-used logging and spur-roads remain in Washington’s National Forests. There is no funding to upgrade every road to standards that will withstand 100 year floods. Factors to consider are geologic hazard, how much sediment enters fish habitat and how often, how many streams a road crosses per mile, and riparian zone buffers. In the future, those roads that are kept open will need upgrading to meet the newer standards needed withstand the impacts of climate change.

There are a lot of things we can do now to prepare ourselves for change, before the impacts of climate change become bigger. Check out some of the resources below; consider participating during public comment periods for road repairs, and advocate for appropriate federal funding for public land agencies.

More information about road issues & climate change :
US Fish & Wildlife, on Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

Olympic National Forest Climate Change publication, August, 2011 (144 pages). The USFS Pacific Northwest Research station just completed the 2nd of a 2-part study on climate change and how it might affect roads, vegetation, wildlife and hydrology in Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park. These studies will be a tremendously useful resource to all land managers when determining a course of action regarding the management of their lands for climate change.
The Way In - a study by National Parks Conservation Association after the 2006 floods at MRNP

Way-cool technical dork stuff:

Engineered log jams (ELJ’s). Placing woody debris in strategic locations can slow down the pace of water, which helps in preventing disastrous undermining of roadbeds (as a bonus, ELJ’s create aquatic habitat and resting places for fish).
Fish passage culverts . Used for fish-bearing streams, these culverts are now termed Aquatic Organism Passage culverts, or AOP’s (I am not making this up!). Larger AOP’s are being used more routinely. It’s not uncommon nowadays to see AOPs that are designed to accommodate 100 year floods, plus 20%, for added debris to move through them (to impress friends and family: this is written as a Q100 + 20% AOP - how you say it is up to you). This is quite a change from the old standard of a 25-year flood standard (Q25, of course).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Federal Court Upholds the Roadless Area Conservation Rule

Thanks to our friends at Washington Wilderness Coalition for breaking the news with the following press release!

SEATTLE, WA – Today, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the legality of the Roadless Rule, affirming protections for nearly two million acres of wild national forests in Washington and nearly 60 million acres around the country. The Court upheld the Rule’s provisions protecting Roadless Areas from road building and associated logging and development. This rule has been under attack for almost a decade but this influential decision ensures that the roadless rule is now unequivocally national policy.

“This is a great victory for the people of Washington and America who have spoken out, time and again and in record number, in support of protecting these wild backcountry lands,” said Tom Uniack, Conservation Director for Washington Wilderness Coalition. “Today’s decision was a home run for roadless forests and clears up any legal ambiguity about the Roadless Rule nationwide.”

The ruling upholds one of the most popular land conservation policies in Washington and the nation and will preserve protections for special places like the Dark Divide near Mt St. Helens and the Kettle Range in northeastern Washington and South Quinault Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula.

“I welcome the news that this court has rejected essentially every legal argument against protecting pristine forests,” said Senator Maria Cantwell. “Today’s ruling affirms the 2001 Roadless Rule was a well-crafted, balanced policy which continues to enjoy strong public support. The Roadless Rule is not just good environmental policy, but it protects outdoor industry jobs and helps stem the growth of the Forest Service’s road maintenance backlog. We now have the wind at our backs as we continue working to codify the Roadless Rule into law to ensure future generations of Americans will continue to benefit from these last remaining wild forestlands.”

The rule has been the subject of conflicting court decisions over the past decade. In August 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling to reinstate the roadless rule, leaving the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision still pending. Today’s decision dismissed all of the legal arguments made against the Roadless Rule in the lower court and affirmed that the Rule did not violate the Wilderness Act and that the two-year public process was consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act.

“This decision makes the Roadless Rule the law of the land.” said Rep. Jay Inslee (WA-01). “For years, the public has voiced its overwhelming support for the Roadless Rule. Now, the court has settled the debate and 49 million acres of public lands will be protected. This decision confirms our efforts in Congress to permanently protect pristine roadlesss areas, preserving our natural legacy for generations to come.”

Roadless areas are often referred to as “backyard wildlands” because of their proximity to population centers and the multi-season recreational opportunities they provide for youth, families and outdoor enthusiasts. Over the past several years hundreds of elected officials, local businesses and diverse stakeholders throughout Washington State have voiced their support for the roadless areas, which are a large part of the quality of life we all enjoy here in the Pacific Northwest.


The Roadless Area Conservation Rule is a popular and balanced policy that protects nearly 60 million acres of undeveloped national forests from road-building and other industrial activity. It was issued by the Clinton Administration in early 2001 after the most extensive public involvement process in the history of federal rulemaking and enjoys the support of hundreds of local elected officials, conservation and recreation groups, religious leaders and local businesses throughout Washington State. With more than one-half of America's national forests already open to logging, mining and drilling, the rule was intended to preserve the last third of undeveloped forests as a home for fish & wildlife, a haven for recreation and a heritage for future generations.

The values of protecting roadless forests include:

Sixty million Americans rely on clean and safe drinking water from the national forests. Roadless areas provide the purest source of that water due to their pristine and road-free condition. In the Northwest Forest Service Region, which includes Washington and Oregon, drinking water on national forest land is worth approximately $941 million annually, which is more than any other region or state in the country except California.

Outdoor recreation has become more and more popular over time as Americans participate in everything from hike and camping to hunting and fishing in roadless areas. Approximately 2.5 million Washington residents took part in hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching in 2001, contributing $2.4 billion to the state economy.

A majority of the unspoiled habitat for hundreds of threatened, endangered, and declining species is found in roadless areas. In Washington, 25 at-risk species, including bald eagles, steelhead and bull trout and chinook salmon are found in national forests and could be harmed by the building of new roads and the ensuing destruction of roadless areas.

Protecting roadless areas would be fiscally responsible, by saving taxpayers the cost of adding subsidized logging roads to the existing network of nearly 400,000 miles of national forest roads, which have an unfunded maintenance backlog of nearly $10 billion.

The 10th Circuit decision can be read at:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Open House & Cookout for Okanogan-Wenatchee & Colville Forest Plan Revision

The Forest Service is revising Forest Plans for the Okanogan-Wenatchee and Colville National Forests. These plans guide the agency's management of important natural and recreational resources for the next 10-15 years. Learn more.

If you care about Eastern Washington's National Forests, attend the only scheduled public meeting west of the Cascade crest and join the recreation and conservation community for a cookout following the open house.

Okanogan-Wenatchee & Colville National Forest Open House & Cookout
Saturday, August 13, 2011, 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
The Mountaineers Program Center, 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115

10 a.m. - 12 p.m. - Open House for Okanogan-Wenatchee & Colville National Forest Plan Revision
Forest Service representatives will provide a brief presentation about the proposed action and the public comment process, followed by a short question and answer session. Before and after the presentation, tables will be set up in an open house format to provide an individual opportunity to learn more about specific topics of public interest, and to have one-on-one conversations with Forest Service representatives. Details.

12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. - Community Cookout
Continue the conversation about the proposed actions for the forest plan revisions during a free community cookout after the open house. Representatives from the recreation and conservation community will be on hand to share perspectives and discuss important aspects of the forest plans. This event is sponsored by Conservation Northwest, The Mountaineers, Sierra Club, Washington Trails Association and Washington Wilderness Coalition.

For questions about the cookout, contact Sarah Krueger, Conservation Manager, The Mountaineers, 206-521-6012 or email sarahk @

Friday, July 22, 2011

Planning for the Okanogan-Wenatchee & Colville National Forests

The U.S. Forest Service is updating the Okanogan-Wenatchee and Colville National Forest Plans this year and recently released Draft Proposed Actions for public review through September 28, 2011. During the Draft Proposed Action review period, the Forest Service collects public input to help shape a range of alternatives to consider for their respective forest plans. Once approved, these forest plans will dictate management practices for the next 10-15 years.

The revised forest plans have the potential to radically change the way the forest is managed for a range of values including human-powered and motorized recreation, wildlife habitat, wilderness preservation and resource extraction.

If you visit the Okanogan-Wenatchee or Colville National Forests for the incredible opportunities for hiking, climbing, kayaking, mountaineering, camping, backcountry skiing, snow-shoeing, and nature study – or care about the preservation of roadless and potential wilderness areas – take the time to get familiar with the Proposed Actions and share your perspective with the Forest Service.

Get involved!
  • Review the Draft Proposed Actions & Maps online
  • Attend the only west-side open house event Saturday, August 13, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the Mountaineers Program Center, 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle
  • Join the Mountaineers and other recreation and conservation groups for a post-open house picnic and discussion August 13, 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. at the Mountaineers Program Center. Food and beverages provided, RSVP to
  • Attend one of two lunch-time webinars with the Forest Service August 9 & 18, 12-1:30 p.m. Details TBA.
  • Submit your comments by September 28th! Submit comments via email to or mail written comments to the Colville and Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest Plan Revision Team, Okanogan Valley Office, 1240 Second Ave. South, Okanogan, WA, 98840.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mt. Rainier in our own Backyard

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics recently designated Mount Rainer National Park as a Leave No Trace Hot Spot. Learn more about this important effort during the Leave No Trace Backyard Session at The Mountaineers Program Center on Monday, June 27, 7-9 p.m.

Jordan Mammel, from Mount Rainier National Park, will discuss recreational impacts to the Paradise meadows as well as ways that we can help restore and protect these precious alpine resources.

Enjoy food and beverages, networking with other Leave No Trace supporters, and a rumored appearance from Leave No Trace's Bigfoot at the event. This event is free and open to the public, RSVP to

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weigh in on the Wild Sky Trails Plan

The Wild Sky Wilderness encompasses rugged peaks, roaring rivers and lush forests. The area protected by the Wild Sky Wilderness is roadless and, well... wild, without many established trails.

When Wild Sky was established in 2008, the legislation called for a trail plan to establish system of hiking and equestrian trails to provide access to the wilderness area. A public meeting will be held on Thursday, June 23, 2011 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Park Place Middle School commons in Monroe, WA to take the next steps to establish a trail plan.

Join The Mountaineers in participating in this unique opportunity to craft a vision for a trail system that will serve the incredible opportunities for backcountry recreation in the Wild Sky. Tom Davis is the project leader for the plan and can answer questions - he may be reached at If you would like to get involved with the Mountaineers response to the Trails Plan study, contact

Friday, May 13, 2011

Governor signs Discover Pass into law

Pass to take effect July 1, 2011

Official Press Release

OLYMPIA – Flanked by recreation enthusiasts, Governor Chris Gregoire today signed legislation that will keep state park and recreation lands open with revenue from a vehicle access pass known as the Discover Pass.

“It is essential that we keep our recreation areas open to the public,” said Governor Gregoire. “I applaud the Legislature for coming together with a solution that allows us to help keep our state recreation lands open and accessible during the worst budget crisis in the state’s history.”

The Discover Pass will be required as of July 1 for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The pass — which will be available for sale in mid-June — will cost $30 a year per vehicle or $10 for a day-use pass. State recreation lands include state parks, boat launches, campgrounds, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, trails and trailheads.

Holders of certain types of fishing and hunting licenses, registered campers in state parks and other users are exempt from some Discover Pass requirements. For details, visit

Once available, the Discover Pass can be purchased at one of nearly 600 sporting goods or other retail stores that sell hunting and fishing licenses. It will also be available for purchase online or by calling toll free 1-866-320-9933. Beginning next fall, the public will be able to purchase a pass when renewing a vehicle license through the Washington State Department of Licensing. The Discover Pass or day-use pass must be visibly displayed in the front windshield of any motor vehicle.

Revenue from the Discover Pass will fill budget gaps created by the loss of State General Fund support for parks and recreation on state lands. Revenue will be split among the three state agencies that provide recreational access to state lands in proportion to their need for general fund replacement: 84 percent to State Parks; 8 percent to WDFW; and 8 percent to DNR.

State Parks, WDFW, and DNR jointly requested legislation that led to the creation of the Discover Pass, intended to provide revenue to maintain recreation access to state lands and meet the increasing demand for outdoor recreation. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Islands, who conducted stakeholder work and coordinated with other legislators. In addition to providing a stable source of revenue, the legislation provides reciprocal authority for law enforcement staff from each agency, which will improve public safety and help protect state resources.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Park Service Considers Air Tours at Rainier

Whether you enjoy exploring the wilderness backcountry or picnicking at Paradise or Sunrise Visitor Centers at Mt. Rainier National Park, commercial sightseeing flights could affect your experience of Washington’s most iconic park. The National Park Service is considering how to manage air tour flights, low altitude “fly bys” aimed at giving tourists a unique view of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding territory. But for many on-the-ground visitors looking for a wilderness experience, these flights are not as scenic.
You can have a voice in developing plans for air tour operations by attending a public meeting hosted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Park Service (NPS). The three meetings are open for public commenting on the Air Tour Management Plan:

April 26th, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the Mountaineers Program Center, 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA.

April 27th, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m at the Mt. Rainier National Park Education Center , 55210 238th Ave. E., Ashford, WA.

April 28th, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA.

Can’t make a meeting? Recreationists are encouraged to submit comments online by May 16th at

During the meetings, four alternative plans will be discussed. These alternatives will apply to all commercial air tour operations below 5,000 feet above ground level flying over the area of the park including a .5 miles buffer zone.

1. No Air Tours Alternative: No commercial air touring flights will be allowed.

2. Interim Operating Authority (IOA) No Action Alternative: The IOA sets the number of flights for an air tour business in a year. In this region, there are five air tour operators that have been allotted a total of 114 flight days. This plan maintains the number of flight days set at 114 days. There are no restrictions on the time, day, and season that flights can occur, and the plan allows for two loop routes around Mt. Rainier.

3. Existing Flights Alternative: Although the IOA allows up to 114 days, the actual number of days used by operators is significantly less. This alternative better reflects actual trends, capping the number of flights of 4-6 seat single engine planes at 55 per year with no restrictions on time, day, or season of flights. It does set restrictions for minimum flight altitude at 2,000 feet above ground and a 3-4 lateral buffer from Mt. Rainier.

4. Highway 123 and Southern Route Alternative: In this plan, aircraft must fly over these roads. The alternative also allows 0-114 days of flights, but with time of day restrictions. This alternative caps the number of flights per day at four and allows air tours only on Monday-Thursday. The minimum altitude requirements are contingent on the destination of the flight.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

National Forest Management Planning Under Review

The U.S. National Forest Service is now considering new rules that will determine how our National Forests are managed, including more than 9 million acres here in Washington State. While the draft rule is a good first step towards modernizing Forest Planning for the 21st century, there are some areas where the rule needs improvement. Those who recreate in National Forests may pay particular attention to the following aspects of the draft rule:

The Good
Sustainable Recreation: The proposed rule recognizes that recreation needs greater consideration in the Forest Planning process. All forest plans must provide for sustainable recreation, defined as: “…the set of recreational opportunities, uses and access that, individually and combined, are ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable, allowing the responsible official to offer recreation opportunities now and into the future.”

The Bad
Water Quality: While the rule makes progress by approaching management from a watershed perspective, the language leaves much open to interpretation and fails to define minimum standards for riparian buffers or establish guidelines for watershed protection.

Wildlife Management: The rules would roll back protections for fish and wildlife by allowing agencies to pick and choose which species to protect and failing to provide a measurement for managing viable and resilient populations.

Role of Science: The proposed rule requires the responsible official to “take into account” the best available science, allowing managers to rely on inferior scientific information or opinions rather than conform to the best available information. Decisions affecting wildlife and forest management, as well as forest users need to be based on sound ecosystem or social science.

Public Process: Throughout the proposed new rule a theme of providing local officials greater discretion appears. While the Forest Service attempts to provide more flexibility, the many non-binding subjective terms throughout the rule such as “desired conditions”, “taking into account”, and “should consider” leaves much to debate and interpretation that could result in future discord. In addition the appeal process, referred to as an “objection”, includes new barriers and procedures that limit opportunities for the public to constructively engage in management decisions.

What You Can Do

Please come to the only open house that will be held by the Forest Service in Washington State on these important proposed rules. The Forest Service scheduled more than 70 meetings around the country but excluded Washington State until local conservation leaders insisted on a local meeting. The Mountaineers will co-host a Friends of Our Forests Happy Hour before the Forest Service’s open house on March 23rd in downtown Seattle.

Please RSVP so that we can get an accurate estimate of who will be attending at:

Event Information

Friends of our Forests Happy Hour
When: 5-6pm Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 (before the open house and walk over after)
Where: Elephant & Castle, (1415 Fifth Avenue, Seattle)
Discuss the basics of what’s at stake
Meet other Forest Activists

Forest Rule Open House
When: 6-8pm, Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011,
Where: Sheraton Hotel (1400 Sixth Avenue, Seattle)
Learn about the proposed forest management rule and how it needs to be improved to strength protections for fish, wildlife, watersheds and recreational opportunities
Weigh in by submitting an official comment on the rule

The public is encouraged to submit written comments on the draft rule at The Mountaineers will be developing comments in advance of the May 16 deadline for public comments. We welcome your thoughts, ideas, and observations on the proposed rule – contact Sarah Krueger,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

National Parks Clarify Climbing Policies

For climbers who frequent routes in the North Cascades National Park, or other favorites like Yosemite and Joshua Tree, new proposals may change how you climb within National Parks. The National Park Service recently released revised Wilderness Stewardship policies to guide Service-wide management of park wilderness areas, including specific requirements for how parks will manage climbing activities where ropes and fixed or removable anchors are used to support an ascent or descent, including rock climbing, snow and ice climbing, mountaineering, canyoneering and caving.
In a departure from its traditionally unclear stance on climbing, the Service’s new directive explicitly defines climbing as a legitimate use and offers guidance on issues like anchor placement. Recommendations from the document include:
"Clean climbing" techniques should be the norm in wilderness. This involves the use of temporary equipment and anchors that can be placed and removed without altering the environment (e.g. slings, cams, nuts, chocks, and stoppers).
Placement of fixed anchors does not violate the Wilderness Act, but the replacement, removal, or installation of fixed bolts must be authorized.
Parks with significant climbing use must develop climbing management plans. Strategies to control, or in some cases reduce, proliferation of fixed anchors in wilderness must be articulated in the plans. Climbing management planning will include public comment periods.
Motorized drilling will remained banned.
• The establishment of bolt-intensive face climbs, such as “sport climbs,” is considered incompatible
with wilderness preservation and management due to the concentration of human activity which they support, and the types and level of impacts associated with the development of such routes.

Washington climbers should make use of the public comment period to voice any concerns or questions about the draft by March 10, 2011. The Access Fund, a leader on climbing access issues, is analyzing this issue and soliciting climber feedback via a survey found on their homepage.

State Lands Access Fee Evolves

Washington legislators continue to craft proposals to keep state lands open and accessible for recreation despite the lack of general funds. At the heart of bills in the Senate (SB 5622) and the House (HB 1796) is a three-agency Discover Pass for vehicle access to State Parks, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) lands. The annual pass would cost $30 per vehicle or $10 for a day-pass. The Senate Bill 5622 recently moved out of the Natural Resources & Marine Waters committee with the following improvements:

  • Volunteers on state lands will receive a complimentary pass after 24 hours of service.
  • State Parks may establish up to 12 days a year when entry to parks is free.
  • Registered campers will not require a day pass or annual pass.
  • People purchasing hunting or fishing licenses can purchase a $7 vehicle access fee for activities exclusive to DFW lands.

Under the governor’s current budget proposal, general funds appropriated to State Parks will be cut by 2/3 in the next two-year biennium. The outlook for the 2013-15 biennium is a State Parks department entirely cut-off from general funds, and the prospects for access and recreation programs at DNR and DFW is equally dire. The need for user-generated funding has never been greater for agencies that manage state lands.

The Discover Pass strives to raise $71 million in the first two years. With the lion’s share of visitors, State Parks would receive 85% of funds generated by the Discover Pass, with the remaining 15% divided between DNR and DFW. While there are those who are skeptical that Washington can maintain state lands on user-generated funds alone, the pass is an important step in the right direction and offers an alternative to massive closures on state lands.

If you value the opportunities for recreation on our state lands, please take a minute to tell your legislators that you support the Discover Pass!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Planning Ahead for Washington's Wildlife

Ask a room of climate change researchers what Washington State will look like in the next 100 years and you will see dozens of different maps illustrating changing climate’s affect the natural world. Projections for climate change differ vary greatly depending on how each scientific model considers an array of factors. Maps of the future may show arid lands increasing or decreasing, forest types migrating east or west, and wildlife habitat and corridors expanding, contracting, or vanishing altogether. Only one thing seems certain about the future – change is coming.

In tandem with climate change, a growing demand for renewable energy makes its mark upon the landscape. Throughout Eastern Washington, rows of white wind turbines occupy the ridgelines and transmission lines stripe the terrain. As the pace of wind development increases, so does the urgency for planning ahead for connectivity and resiliency of wildlife habitats across the region.

Wildlife managers at the state and federal levels have the challenging job of anticipating a range of factors when planning for the future survival of fish, wildlife, and bird species in Washington State. Join the Conservation Division for “Planning Ahead for Washington’s Wildlife”, an evening lecture and discussion with two of the state’s leading wildlife managers February 18, 7-9:00 p.m. at The Mountaineers Program Center.

Rocky Beach, 32-year veteran of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, will discuss the impacts of climate change on Washington’s wildlife species and their habitat, as well as the possible strategies to address this daunting challenge at international, national, state and local levels.

William O. Vogel, Biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will introduce landscape-level efforts to plan for the exploding wind energy market in Washington State. Vogel will explain how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is adapting to address concerns about wildlife and bird species by working cooperatively with land owners and project developers, as well as local agencies.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Help Clear the Way to the Ptarmigan Traverse!

Hikers and climbers who complete the North Cascades’ Ptarmigan Traverse return home with memories of alpine meadows, colossal glaciers, rugged peaks, and a treacherous slog through the Bachelor Creek trail, the southern approach route from Downey Creek and the Suiattle River Road. If you have ever traveled the Ptarmigan Traverse, or if the route is on your bucket list, your support is needed to add the abandoned Bachelor Creek trail to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Trail System so that the trail can receive well-overdue maintenance.

The Bachelor Creek trail was originally constructed in the 1930’s for response to a wildfire. Although the primitive trail was dropped from Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest’s official inventory after 1990, Bachelor Creek remained an important route for those accessing the Ptarmigan Traverse as well as anglers hiking to alpine lakes in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Slide alder and downed trees mangle the route, but until the trail is officially added back to the National Forest’s trail inventory, the Bachelor Creek trail cannot legally receive attention by eager volunteer trail crews.

The Mountaineers encourages hikers and climbers to submit comments in support of designating the Bachelor Creek trail as a Class 1 Wilderness Trail. Comments in support of the trail will be considered until January 30th, 2011, during the public comment period for the Suiattle Access and Travel Management Plan. Comments may be directed to Peter Forbes, Darrington District Ranger of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, at Use the template below or write your own original letter. With your help, we can reclaim the Bachelor Creek trail and make the entire Ptarmigan Traverse something to look forward to!

Template Letter

Peter Forbes

Darrington District Ranger

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

1405 Emens Street

Darrington, WA 98241-9502

Dear Peter,

I am writing in response to the Suiattle Access and Travel Management Plan. Please consider adding the Bachelor Creek Trail to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Trail System as a Class 1 Wilderness trail. The Bachelor Creek Trail is a critical link from the Downey Creek Trail and the Suiattle River Road to the Ptarmigan Traverse, a nationally-recognized crown jewel of the North Cascades.

The Bachelor Creek Trail is notoriously overgrown but still remains a vital access route to the Glacier Peak Wilderness and the Ptarmigan Traverse. Please add the Bachelor Creek Trail back into the National Forest Trail System with a Class 1 Wilderness Designation so that the trail can be legally cleared of downed logs and overgrown brush.

Thank you,