Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest Service, www.fs.usda.gov/mbs
Everett, Wash., June 10, 2013—Each year five million people visit the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. They drive forest roads to get to their destinations, to experience spectacular vistas at places such as Big Four Ice Caves, Mt. Baker, Heather Meadows, Skagit Wild and Scenic River and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. But what does the future hold for these beloved places?
Approximately 2,500 miles of roads crisscross the forest, from the Canadian border to the Mt. Rainier National Park on the western Cascades. The Forest Service can afford to maintain about a quarter of them.
Guided by mandates in the 2005 Travel Management Rule, each national forest must identify a road system by 2015 within budget for safe travel, use, administration and resource protection. To complete this report, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest staff wants to find out what roads are important to the public and why.
Eight meetings are scheduled June through October in Seattle, Sedro-Woolley, Issaquah, Bellingham, Enumclaw, Monroe and Everett. Those who do not attend a meeting will be able to give their input online. Partners and stakeholders representing a broad range of interests, from environmental, timber industry to off-road vehicle groups, have formed a “Sustainable Roads Cadre” to engage the public in the process.
A science-driven approach developed by the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station and Portland State University will be used to understand how people use and value landscapes and resources. Social scientists from the lab will guide meeting participants in using maps to identify places of significance and assign values or activities associated with them.
This process creates socio-spatial layers that will be incorporated into digital map data to contribute to the report and can be used for future recreation and stewardship planning. The results will provide visual displays of visitor destinations, routes, and show places with special meaning or value.
The forest will share the results with the public in the late fall after the report is compiled and analyzed. No decisions will be made. Before doing road upgrades, closures, decommissioning or road conversions to trail, the forest will execute the National Environmental Policy Analysis.
“The future is uncertain. But that doesn’t mean we can afford to stand back and let circumstances dictate our decisions for us. This analysis will guide us, in a holistic forest-wide approach, choosing the roads we can afford to keep open,” said Jennifer Eberlien, forest supervisor.
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