Thursday, June 20, 2013

Forest Road Planning Meetings Announced

News Release from Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

 Photo by Gary Paull.
Everett, Wash., June 10, 2013—Each year five million people visit the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. They drive forest roads to get to their destinations, to experience spectacular vistas at places such as Big Four Ice Caves, Mt. Baker, Heather Meadows, Skagit Wild and Scenic River and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. But what does the future hold for these beloved places?

Approximately 2,500 miles of roads crisscross the forest, from the Canadian border to the Mt. Rainier National Park on the western Cascades.  The Forest Service can afford to maintain about a quarter of them.

Guided by mandates in the 2005 Travel Management Rule, each national forest must identify a road system by 2015 within budget for safe travel, use, administration and resource protection.  To complete this report, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest staff wants to find out what roads are important to the public and why.

Eight meetings are scheduled June through October in Seattle, Sedro-Woolley, Issaquah, Bellingham, Enumclaw, Monroe and Everett. Those who do not attend a meeting will be able to give their input online.   Partners and stakeholders representing a broad range of interests, from environmental, timber industry to off-road vehicle groups, have formed a “Sustainable Roads Cadre” to engage the public in the process.

A science-driven approach developed by the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station and Portland State University will be used to understand how people use and value landscapes and resources. Social scientists from the lab will guide meeting participants in using maps to identify places of significance and assign values or activities associated with them.

This process creates socio-spatial layers that will be incorporated into digital map data to contribute to the report and can be used for future recreation and stewardship planning.  The results will provide visual displays of visitor destinations, routes, and show places with special meaning or value.

The forest will share the results with the public in the late fall after the report is compiled and analyzed.  No decisions will be made.  Before doing road upgrades, closures, decommissioning or road conversions to trail, the forest will execute the National Environmental Policy Analysis.

“The future is uncertain. But that doesn’t mean we can afford to stand back and let circumstances dictate our decisions for us. This analysis will guide us, in a holistic forest-wide approach, choosing the roads we can afford to keep open,” said Jennifer Eberlien, forest supervisor.

Learn more about the Sustainable Roads Process.  If you cannot attend a meeting, visit the Sustainable Roads blog site and complete a questionnaire.

Sustainable Roads Meeting Schedule
RSVP to, capacity is limited and attendance is on a first-come basis.

June 29, 10 a.m.-12:30 noon
Seattle, REI downtown

July 9, 10 a.m.-12:30 noon
Sedro-Woolley, Mt. Baker District office

July 23, 5:30-8 p.m.
Issaquah Main Fire Station office

Aug. 6, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Enumclaw Public Library

Aug. 21, 4:30-7 p.m.
Darrington Public Library

Sept. 10, 5:30-8 p.m.
Bellingham Public Library

Sept. 24, 1-3:30 p.m.
Monroe Public Library

Oct. 9, 5:30-8 p.m.
Everett Public Library downtown

Comment period for proposed Skykomish Dam

Posted by Sarah Krueger, Public Lands Programs Manager

On June 12, hundreds of people packed an overflowing public meeting at the Index Fire Station to express concerns about the Snohomish County Public Utility District's plans to build a dam and power plant near Sunset Falls on the South Fork Skykomish River, one mile south of Index.  This section of the Skykomish (home to threatened salmon and bull trout) is noted for its ecological and recreational values and has been recommended to Congress for National Wild and Scenic River designation by the U.S. Forest Service. Check out the video below of salmon returning to the proposed dam site.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently reviewing the "Pre-Application Document" submitted by the Snohomish County PUD for the licensing of the proposed dam and is accepting public comments on the proposal until July 19.  You can review the official scoping documents online and learn more about the "Save the Skykomish" campaign.

Official comments should be submitted online by July 19 with the FERC's eComment tool.  All filings  must include the project name (Sunset Falls Fish Passage and Energy Project) and number (P-14295-001), and
bear the appropriate heading: “Comments on Pre-Application Document”.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness Legislation Passes Senate

Senator Patty Murray announced yesterday that Senate Bill 112, The Alpine Lakes Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act, passed the Senate by unanimous consent!  The Mountaineers have long supported the effort to federally designate the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild & Scenic and also expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness by 22,000 acres to include important lower-elevation forests.  Learn more. 

Rafting the Middle Fork Snoqualmie.  Photo by Tom O'Keefe.  
“Today we moved one step closer to expanding the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and ensuring this pristine landscape will be preserved as a legacy for generations to come,”said Senator Murray, “This designation will allow our children and grandchildren to experience these special places in their natural state.”

 “The Alpine Lakes Wilderness offers incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation just 45 minutes from Seattle,” said Senator Cantwell. “Areas like Alpine Lakes help make Washington state unique, and draw visitors and talented workers to our communities. Wilderness areas also ensure the supply of clean water and vibrant wildlife populations."

 Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene (WA-1), Dave Reichert (WA-08), Adam Smith (WA-05), and Jim McDermott (WA-07). The House Natural Resources Committee announced that it will hold a hearing for the bill in July. Stay tuned for results from that hearing!