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Washington Wild Coordinates Letter Supporting Strong Management of Middle Fork Snoqualmie & Pratt Wild & Scenic Rivers

Posted on Nov 13, 2020 in Conservation News, River Management, WA Wild Blog

Photo by Tom O’Keefe

Washington Wild coordinated a letter to the U.S. Forest Service undersigned by 23 conservation, recreation, and wildlife organizations supporting strong management of Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Wild and Scenic Rivers. 

As one of the closest mountain valleys to the greater Seattle area, the Middle Fork Snoqualmie watershed receives considerable attention and use. Running through this land—which we recognize as the ancestral land of Coast Salish Peoples, including the Tulalip and Snoqualmie Peoples past and Present—are two designated Wild and Scenic Rivers: The Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and the Pratt River. 

The U.S. Forest Service has drafted a Comprehensive River Draft Management Plan (CRMP) for the management of this Wild and Scenic River corridor, which includes approximately 34 miles of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and approximately 9 miles of the Pratt River. 

While the proposed CRMP was a strong draft, Washington Wild and the 23 undersigned organizations wrote to ask the U.S. Forest Service to consider the following for a final plan that supports ecological function, sustainable public recreation, and Tribal lifeways:

  • Botany/Ecology should be included as one of the Outstandingly Remarkable Values for the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River – Due to land conversion and development in the Puget Sound lowlands, Sitka spruce are largely absent from the landscape. However, the remaining Sitka spruce stands within the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River valley are located within the river corridor, contribute substantially to the river ecosystem, and owe their presence to the microclimate the river provides.
  •  Dispersed camping should be closed along the Middle Fork Road. While dispersed camping is a popular activity, the impacts of this use are significant and increasing as recreation continues to increase in this Wild and Scenic River corridor. Impacts include the presence of unburied human waste, user-built trail networks, riparian river damage, and unsafe use of campfires.
  • The current draft plan has carefully considered final boundaries for the Wild and Scenic River designated areas.  It’s important to include the entirety of the headwaters from Chain Lakes and the Lower and Upper Melakwa Lakes, which contribute to the outstanding values of the Pratt River.

We were grateful for the opportunity to submit comments. This is an exciting opportunity to provide long term protection and management for these remarkable river corridors. We look forward to the adoption and implementation of the final CRMP to protect and manage this remarkable river system for the benefit of fish and wildlife, clean water, sustainable recreation opportunities, and upholding tribal treaty rights and lifeways for generations to come.