Improving Wildlife Habitat and Recreation on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie
The beautiful Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest spans 1.7 million acres on the western slopes of the Cascade Range in Washington and includes glacier-covered peaks, spectacular mountain meadows and old-growth temperate rainforests. The verdant valleys and forested mountains host an array of amazing wildlife including salmon, northern spotted owls, fishers, elk and more.
Before this land became a National Forest it was home to numerous Native American tribes who hunted, fished, harvested plants and other resources to meet their subsistence, spiritual, and medicinal needs. Many federally recognized tribes still have hunting, fishing and gathering rights on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Near Seattle and the greater Puget Sound area, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is one of the most visited National Forests in the country. Over 2.5 million people recreate on the National Forest each year. Unfortunately, past management practices and the influx of recreation visitors have degraded wildlife habitat and overused recreation areas on the Forest. Through our Treasured Landscapes site on the Darrington Ranger District, we are working to improve wildlife habitat and recreation areas while increasing the number and diversity of people stewarding the National Forest into the future.
Improving Recreation on the Mountain Loop Highway
The Mountain Loop Highway is a National Scenic Byway that connects the towns of Granite Falls and Darrington and follows the Stillaguamish and Sauk Rivers. The Mountain Loop provides 147 access points for hiking, biking, fishing, camping, kayaking, rock climbing, and sightseeing activities, including the popular Big Four Mountain ice caves and access to three wilderness areas.
Unfortunately, with the number of visitors that recreate on the Mountain Loop Highway, the Forest Service is unable to keep up with the necessary maintenance. This backlog has caused environmental damage and created poor visitor experiences. The number of visitors is anticipated to increase in the coming decade, which will exasperate the problem.
As part of our Treasured Landscapes program, the NFF is working to create a sustainable approach to maintaining recreation areas by improving existing recreation areas and increasing the number and diversity of volunteer and youth stewards to supplement the Forest Service’s efforts.
Improving Wildlife Habitat and Cultural Resources
The federally recognized Sauk-Suiattle, Tulalip and Stillaguamish Tribes have historic lands within the Darrington District and maintain treaty rights for hunting, fishing and harvesting plants. The NFF is working with these Tribes to improve forest and watershed health to increase populations of wildlife and important cultural foods. These efforts include improving habitat for threatened salmon and steelhead, important cultural species for the tribes in the area, food for endangered orcas in Puget Sound, and important for communities near the Forest and coastal fishing communities.
The NFF is also working to improve historic huckleberry foraging areas, as they are important resources to local Tribes, while improving forest health. We are exploring reintroducing beavers into their historic watersheds. They will help increase biodiversity and healthy habitat for species such as salmon. This is also important work for climate change resilience.
Engaging Diverse Communities and Employing Youth
To increase connections to their historic lands, we are working with tribal youth to steward the National Forest. We are also working with non-native youth from underserved rural and urban communities to connect them to the National Forest, steward the natural resources, build job skills and develop options for a career path in natural resources.
Join us as we restore habitat, improve recreation areas and engage youth on the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.