Rebuilding and Improving Recreation on the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
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.
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, located near Seattle and Puget Sound, is one of the most visited National Forests in the country. Over 2.5 million people recreate on the National Forest each year. Unfortunately, the influx of recreation visitors has taken degraded the condition of the trails, campgrounds and other overused recreation areas on the National Forest. Along with providing poor visitor experiences, the degraded recreation areas have negative impacts on adjacent wildlife habitat.
Through our Treasured Landscape initiative, we are working with the Forest Service to invest $14 million to rebuild popular hiking trails, build and improve campgrounds along the Mountain Loop Highway while making recreation experiences inclusive and accessible for all people. We believe everyone should feel safe to enjoy public lands.
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. The Mountain Loop has popular recreation sites like the Big Four Mountain ice caves, six campgrounds, three wilderness areas and hundreds of miles of hiking trails.
Unfortunately, with the number of visitors that recreate on the Mountain Loop Highway the Forest Service is unable to keep up with the maintenance of recreation sites especially on popular trails like Mt. Pilchuck, Heather Lake and Lake Twenty-two. The number of visitors is anticipated to increase in the coming decade, which will exasperate the problem.
As part of the Treasured Landscapes initiative, the NFF is working with the Forest Service, local communities and businesses to rebuild and improve many popular hiking trails accessed by the Mountain Loop Highway. Along with hiking trails we are improving the Gold Basin, Turlo, and Verlot Campgrounds and completing a design towards building a new campground at the former Camp Silverton youth camp site. Our goal is to improve these recreation areas and make them safe and accessible for everyone to enjoy in years to come.
Improving Wildlife Habitat and Cultural Resources
The federally recognized Sauk-Suiattle, Tulalip and Stillaguamish Tribes have historic lands along the Mountain Loop Highway 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. We are supporting tribal youth to improve traditional huckleberry foraging areas as they are important resources to local Tribes, while improving forest health. Throughout this Treasured Landscape initiative, we will continue to strengthen their connection to the National Forest.
Join us as we hike down the trail to improve the recreation and access to this is beautiful area on the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest!