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Wild Sky Wilderness Trails Plan Released

Posted by Jonathan Guzzo at Jun 05, 2013 10:15 AM |
The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has just released its Wild Sky Wilderness Area Trail Plan which identifies, evaluates and priorities 50 existing and proposed trails in the new Wild Sky Wilderness Area.
Wild Sky Wilderness Trails Plan Released

The new Wild Sky Wilderness Trail Plan recommends developing the current fisherman's trail to Eagle Lake (below). Photo by Norm.

There is good news and bad news with the brand new Wild Sky Wilderness Area Trail Plan. The good news is that the plan has identified some amazing trail projects, analyzing and evaluating 50 existing and proposed trails in the Wilderness Area. The bad news is that the Skykomish District has few resources to develop these trails, which means this is much more than a vision than an executable plan.

The 106,000 acre Wild Sky Wilderness Area is Washington's newest wilderness. It was passed in 2008, after years of work and is the the first such designation in Washington State since 1984. The legislation required the Forest Service to conduct a trail plan for the area, since the newly-minted wilderness had only a few routes, and those are mostly on its periphery. The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest kicked off its Wild Sky Wilderness trail planning process in the summer of 2011, and the recently released final plan is the result of extensive public involvement, field reconnaissance and evaluation. You'll want to click through to view the map of proposed trails.

Highest Priority New Trails
  • Frog Mountain
  • Beckler Peak - Alpine Baldy loop
  • Kelley Creek relocation
  • Eagle Lake
  • Iron Mountain
  • Mineral Butte
  • The final plan is the product of both vision and practical awareness of just how broke the Forest Service really is. There are a lot of great potential trails in Wild Sky. Many of them are in appropriate potential locations. Some are not. But the world of trails that could be built is limited by the very severe budget shortfalls that the agency is facing. They're even worse than projected when they started planning in 2011 due to the impacts of sequestration and the long term inability of Congress to agree on a budget plan.

    But we're cautiously optimistic that some of these trails -- particularly Iron Mountain-Conglomerate Point, Mineral Butte and Blanca Lake -- will be planned and built sooner, by using the unique combination of talent and grit that WTA and the Forest Service bring to these projects. We'll keep you posted as this plan marches forward!

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    Existing trails

    Posted by Josh K at Jun 17, 2013 12:00 PM
    I noticed quite a few of the trails on the map are already existing trails, such as the Blanca Lake trail, which you mention in this piece. Does this mean that these existing trails are at risk of losing "official" maintenance under this new plan?

    Existing Trails/Maintenance

    Posted by Jonathan Guzzo at Jun 17, 2013 12:00 PM
    Hi Josh,

    Thanks for the great question. The Wild Sky Trails Plan is additive to the current system, so existing trails will not be removed from the system, and will continue to receive maintenance.

    Jonathan

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