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Conservation Groups Emphasize Recreation, Clean Water for Forest Planning near Mt. Rainier

Today, Washington Wild joined Wild Earth Guardians, The Washington Trails Association, and The Wilderness Society commenting on the initial stages of a large watershed planning project on Mt. Baker-Snoqulamie National Forest (MBSNF) lands north and east of Rainier National Park. As recreation and conservation organizations with members who live, work, play and care deeply for Washington state’s natural beauty, the four groups expressed their hope that MBSNF would simultaneously support enhanced outdoor experiences on public lands while ensuring these wild lands and waters are restored and protected.

Photo Courtesy of Eric Noel

The Snoquera landscape is an amazing area located near Crystal Mountain Ski Area, Noble Knob Trail and the Norse Peak Wilderness. It has numerous recreation opportunities including trails, campgrounds, a ski area and access to historic lookouts. Washington’s recreational visits are only growing with at least 63% of Washingtonians participating in outdoor activities each year. These recreationists spend $21.6 billion annually on trips and equipment that support nearly 200,000 jobs.

Snoquera also contains multiple watersheds that drain into Puget Sound. Threatened and endangered salmon and trout still struggle to spawn in upper river reaches and Tacoma and other Pierce County residents depend on clean drinking water that flows through this landscape. 

In their letter to the Snoqualmie Ranger District, groups asked that the project:

  • Enhance recreational opportunities and infrastructure, including dispersed camping, road to trail opportunities, restoring Coral Pass Campground, and thinking of trails for the future.
  • Include improvements to water quality with a focus on benefits to salmon and community drinking water systems. This area of the forest has several drinking water systems that that source water from Forest Service streams, include Crystal Mountain, the town of Buckley and the City of Tacoma.
  • Use best available science to put this landscape on a path to develop into a resilient ecosystem
  • Clearly articulate and incorporate transportation system challenges and opportunities and prioritize roads that offer access, while decommissioning roads that provide little to no access yet pose high aquatic risk.

This project represents a tremendous opportunity to protect and restore the Snoquera area. Washington Wild appreciates the Forest’s efforts to do so with this project and looks forward to the next steps.