Organizations Support Balance of Watershed Restoration and Recreational Access on Olympic National Forest
Washington Wild helped coordinate a letter signed by 10 conservation and recreation organizations preserving and enhancing recreational access and supporting watershed restoration on the Dungeness Watershed. The letter expressed support for addressing an oversized and under-maintained road system that causes high aquatic risk to our watersheds and fish while balancing important recreation opportunities.
The groups believe this is best achieved by reducing overall road density by decommissioning deteriorating and unneeded roads, those that are high risk and unused, while also prioritizing maintenance for roads that are used to access our public lands (e.g., roads that access Marmot Pass, Gold Creek, Upper Dungeness and Royal Basin Trails).
The groups also provided suggestions for valuable information to be included in the draft Environmental Assessment including evaluating unauthorized or user made routes that negatively impact the area and whether there are barriers to fish passage that need to be addressed. They also provided suggestions for prioritization of roads to be decommissioned, including benefits to wildlife, addressing impaired or at-risk watersheds, and enhancing recreation experiences.
Read the joint comment letter here.
The national forest road system has 374,000 miles of roads – which amounts to 8 times the size of the national highway system. The pure number of roads is unsustainable, especially as funding and agency maintenance budgets have continually declined over the past decade.
Washington Wild works to bring together a broad coalition of conservation and recreation stakeholders to prioritize maintenance of Forest Service roads that provide access to trails, campgrounds and other recreational infrastructure so that current and future generations can explore the wild places we work so hard to protect. Simultaneously, we advocate for reducing the size of the overall road system by decommissioning old and decaying logging roads that no longer or never have provided recreational access and pose aquatic risks to our watersheds.