Upper Goat Creek Bridge Replacement Vital to Watershed and Local Economy

The recent reconstruction of the Upper Goat Creek Bridge on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is a great example of how the National Forest Foundation works with the Forest Service and local partners to make a positive difference on National Forest lands.

The Methow Valley is known for having the most extensive network of groomed cross-country ski trails in the nation, attracting recreational skiers and Olympians in training alike to the gorgeous valley surrounded by the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. In the summer trekkers, bikers, horseback riders and runners extensively use the 120-mile Methow Valley Sport Trails System, over 50 percent of which is located on National Forest. It is a vital component of the local, recreation-based, economy.

The Upper Goat Creek Bridge, located on National Forest land, is a critical link on this trail system, allowing passage over Goat Creek, and connecting one of the major portions of the trail network. Each year 50,000 users cross the bridge, and it is on the course of nine different race/sporting events. So in 2012, when the 20 year-old bridge was closed to all users due to safety issues, it threatened the local economy by limiting access to popular trails.

Goat Creek itself provides critical habitat for threatened species of bull trout and salmon. The old bridge was impeding the stream channel, which meant during periods of high water there were incidents of stream blockage and channel over-flow, and potential for bridge damage, all of which can degrade both upstream and downstream critical habitat.

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Pieces of the old bridge about to be removed.
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Machinery removes large pieces of the old bridge. 

Replacement of the Upper Goat Creek Bridge was a project that fit well with the NFF’s mission to promote both the health of and the public enjoyment of our National Forests. So, we partnered with the Forest Service and the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association to redesign and reconstruct the bridge.

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The start of the new bridge.
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The complete bridge ready for hikers and skiers. 

The bridge replacement, part of the NFF’s Majestic Methow Treasured Landscapes campaign, was completed in 2013, reconnecting the trail system for the 2013-2014 ski season. The new bridge allows for unimpeded stream flow, protecting the habitat critical for threatened fish species. This project has resulted in happy skiers and recreationalists, happy fish and happy business owners. And we are happy to have helped it happen!

To learn more about the Majestic Methow Treasured Landscapes campaign, visit nationalforests.org or contact Dayle Wallien at 206-832-8280 or dwallien@nationalforests.org.

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Coca-Cola Volunteers Remove Invasive Species on Angeles National Forest

How do you help fight California’s drought? One way is to replenish local supplies of water. More than 50 Coca-Cola employees helped do just that on Saturday, April 5, at Wildwood Picnic Area.

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The Angeles National Forest provides the Los Angeles region with 33 percent of its water, with the Big Tujunga Watershed as the largest local source of water for the City of Los Angeles. The critical role this area provides to the region’s water supply is one of the reasons the NFF focused efforts on the Angeles as a Treasured Landscape . After the devastating Station Fire scorched 252 square miles, including 90 percent of the Big Tujunga Watershed, the NFF recognized the need for large-scale restoration.

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Coca-Cola employees came out to support the restoration of this natural resource by removing invasive weeds that steal water from the ecosystem and reduce native habitat for birds and butterflies. The work of the employees is the culmination of a partnership between Coca-Cola, the U.S. Forest Service, and the NFF that removed invasive weeds from 200 acres in the Big Tujunga canyon and replenished 2.4 million liters of water back to nature.

pair of volunteers

This effort is part of the NFF’s program to restore the headwaters of National Forests across the country. The NFF significantly leveraged the contribution from Coca-Cola to accomplish this important conservation project on the ground. Of course Smokey Bear, the spectacular weather, support from Coca-Cola and the US Forest Service, all helped make this a fantastic day up in Los Angeles Backyard Forest.

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Earth Day 2014 - Not Enough

Earth Day header

On April 22, Earth Day, the world pauses for our planet. On this special day, people all over the world devote some of their time to helping protect and improve our planet. We applaud their efforts and appreciate their time. With our network of partners and volunteers, we are proud to be part of the community that takes care of our home.

Over the last 12 years, we’ve planted more than four million trees and shrubs and brought 6,530 organizations together. More than 120,000 volunteers have donated more than 1.5 million hours. 10,513 miles of trailwork completed. 81,114 acres of noxious weeds treated. 46,013 youth employed or engaged.

And yet, it’s not enough.

The National Forest System, 193 million acres of wild and critical places for the country, requires time and dedication equal to that of its vast size.

From collaborations across the West to tree-planting in the Midwest, from community engagement in the Rockies to trail restoration in the Northeast, the National Forest Foundation is committed to our National Forests.

We need your help to ensure that not only on Earth Day, but every day, our National Forests provide the priceless resources for our country and the planet.

 

Click here to support our National Forests

 

 

 


A Native, Wild Fish - Westslope Cutthroat

Wes Swaffar, NFF’s Ecosystem Services Program Manager introduces one of his favorite catches, the Westslope Cutthroat of the Northern Rockies.

When many of us go fishing, we often think about hooking into a big rainbow or brown trout. While both are common on many of our National Forests, they are often non-native species that were introduced by sportsmen years ago. Many of our National Forests are stronghold for native, wild fish that evolved over millennia to survive in site specific environments. Throughout my National Forest stomping grounds of the Northern Rockies, I choose to pursue the Westslope Cutthroat trout. 

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The Westslope Cutthroat Trout ( Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi ) is a fish worthy of immense admiration and respect.

You'll know one by:

  • the copper to olive hues that color their bodies,
  • their fine freckle-like spots that are clustered toward their tail, and
  • their namesake red “cut” under their throat.
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Westslope Cutthroat are native to Idaho and Montana’s upper Columbia River watershed and northern tributaries of the Snake River. They can also be found east of the Continental Divide in the Upper Missouri, Milk and North Saskatchewan Rivers.

While they still occupy a fairly wide spread of country, existing populations of genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout exist in less than three percent of their historic range . Habitat degradation and fragmentation, over-exploitation and hybridization with non-native rainbow trout greatly reduced populations of Westslope Cutthroat.

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A perfect example of a genetically pure Westslope Cutthroat Trout

Within that range, you’ll have to work pretty hard to get yourself a genetically pure Westslope Cutthroat Trout. You’ll often only find them in remote headwaters areas that are fed by cold, clean water. For this reason, Westslope Cutthroat are an “indicator species”, letting biologists know that if these fish are present in a given stream, that stream is likely in good overall health. In their native environment, they survive by feeding on a variety of small aquatic insects, known collectively as macroinvertebrates.

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An eager angler in pursuit of Westslope Cutthroat Trout, surrounded by the beautiful Lolo National Forest.

My pursuit of Westslope Cutthroat Trout has led me into some of the most spectacular public lands in the country. Whether it’s tromping around remote stretches of the Flathead River watershed or wading thigh deep in frigid tributaries of the Blackfoot River, finding this fish in its native habitat almost guarantees that you’ll be surrounded by spectacular National Forest lands. If you find ever find yourself on a cold stream in the Northern Rockies, tie on your favorite fly and perhaps you too can find an eager Westslope Cutthroat to make your day.

Be sure to check out a recent New York Times article about Westslope Cutthroat in Montana.