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DNR Charts New Management Direction for Reiter Foothills

Posted by Jonathan Guzzo at Nov 12, 2009 10:55 AM |

The Reiter Forest, a patch of State land managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that borders both the Wild Sky Wilderness and Wallace Falls State Park, has been for many years a lost landscape.  Reiter has been unmanaged, and in the absence of planning and on-the-ground agency presence, renegade motorized use has taken hold. 

As a consequence, it’s laced with a network of roads, damaged trails, and cross-country routes pioneered by so-called “tube buggies”—large, independent suspension jeeps that can ride nearly anywhere.  On a recent trip to Reiter, I saw a second-growth forest that has the potential to be a lovely hiking destination.  But bootleg routes have torn deep gouges in the forest floor, jeeps have damaged the trunks of trees while squeezing between them, and silt has run into streams, degrading fish habitat.

The eastern end of the Reiter Forest adjoins Forks of the Sky State Park and the top of the Index Town Wall, with sweeping views of the Wild Sky peaks, the Skykomish River valley and Mt. Index.  In his Footsore guidebooks, Harvey Manning described the scenic “Vertigo Rim” hiking trail that winds along the top of the Town Wall.

Over the past two years, DNR has stepped up to the task of planning for recreation in the Reiter Forest.  The process has had its peaks and valleys.  The original Advisory Committee chosen to examine the planning process was heavily weighted toward the motorized community.  After an outcry by non-motorized and conservation oriented people, the makeup of the Advisory Committee changed and was balanced by representatives from the conservation community and hiking enthusiasts.

On November 10, DNR released its draft Reiter Foothills Forest Recreation Plan.  DNR is to be commended for taking a principled stand on behalf of the wildlife and non-motorized recreationists who value this area so highly. They propose shrinking the motorized-access footprint of Reiter from 4,000 acres to about 1,000 acres.  The proposed motorized area runs through an aquifer recharge zone that supplies water to the town of Index.  DNR proposes to minimize motorized trail development in the recharge area.  Most importantly — provided that the agency can procure funding — DNR will restore heavily damaged areas both inside and outside the motorized use are, and will close user-built routes.

But one crucial detail needs to be completed.  The area between Wild Sky Wilderness, May Creek and Wallace Falls has been proposed for addition to DNR’s Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA) inventory, as the Wild Wallace NRCA.  This area is a critical recreation resource that should be protected.  Adding it to the NRCA system would prevent DNR from logging it, or opening the area administratively to motorized recreation in the future.  Please ask DNR to study the merits of the proposed Wild Wallace NRCA. 

DNR is collecting public comment on the draft Reiter plan until December 4.  You can comment at the above web link, or get your voice heard by attending a public meeting on November 18  from 6:30 to 8 p.m.  at The Commons at Monroe High School—17001 Tester Road, Monroe.


more hate by Guzzo

I struggle to understand how you can think putting the same volume of users on 1000 acres is better then 4000 acres. Tiger mtn hiking trails get pretty torn up in the winter too, would you support REDUCING the available trails in order to reduct impact? Just be honest, you hate motorized recreation and don't want to share public lands. There is more then enough Wilderness along highway 2, hikers don't need to be working against other recreationalists in Rieter. That being said, the motorized groups, particularly the jeep and 4x4 groups, should be working educate, and if necessary support increased enforcement.

WTA and Guzzo - enough with the moto hate!

Posted by:

AC on Nov 12, 2009 04:17 PM

Brain strain?

Way to go BikerHiker, reduce the argument to “moto hate”, and concentration of devastation. Fact is, across the nation, motorized recreation has the largest and deepest footprint. Mighty bright of you to whine about having to wallow in your own ecological pig pen (gotta love that simpering “we share, why can’t you?"). I could go into the “subtleties” of impact and contradictions of 4-bying, but most assuredly it would be a waste of bits.

That red herring of self-enforcement would be plenty tantalizing if it did not stink of yet-to-be seen restraint; plenty of evidence out there of disrespect for out-of-bounds poaching of outlawed areas (y'all can’t even manage to stay off city trails and greens for christ's sake). Plenty of legal places have been laid waste already by rubber and petrol; why not enjoy them again and again? Mudders rule!

Posted by:

D. Inscho on Nov 15, 2009 12:11 AM

Brain strain?

Dinscho, you're certainly uninformed about motorized use in Washington state.
Walker Valley in Skagit County is the ONLY legitimate ORV area in DNR's northwest region. Everything else is limited to open 2wd logging roads.
Walker is very well self-enforced. DNR has ONE person for the whole region, user groups help at Walker because its legal to wheel there, and we have a vested interest in keeping it open.
Reiter is a result of too many recreationalists, and not enough land to cater to their needs.
Hikers have Wallace falls, Index mtn, Snoqualmie, etc, etc, etc, etc, should I go on? Hikers don't belong in Reiter. Period. When Reiter opens up in the spring, there it will join Walker as the ONLY legitimate ORV area. And I can assure you, these two places are not enough to meet demand, and illegal use will continue.
If WTA wants to see illegal offroad use end, they need to be in support of more legal, managed ORV areas that can sustain the demand. Lobbying for a 1000 acre area or less only pushes illegal offroad use elsewhere, onto YOUR hiking trails.
Recreation groups need to join forces and work with each other to create places for each sport to enjoy. These places absolutely need to be environmentally sustainable and meet the demand of each group.

Posted by:

japerry on Nov 18, 2009 10:33 AM

Brain strain?

Just noticing that the same picture is used REPEATEDLY to show off all the environmentally damage caused.

There are 71 hikes west of stevens pass that aren't near reiter. reiter is and always has been a swampy hellhole. it's not for hiking, thats what makes it great for off road vehicle use. except for the bark removed from the trees( bears do that too) the picture would have looked nearly identical without mans presence. I can't wait until all these hiking trails get washed they create get washed out and they start bitching about not having enough money to create to proper footbridges. There is nothing there for a hiker to enjoy, take the wallace falls route to lake isabel, it's breathtaking. Reiter is powerlines clear cut and swamp.

Posted by:

jake on May 25, 2010 11:49 AM

link for comments to DNR

Here's the link to the website (not the PDF) if you would like to send comments to the DNR on this project:[…]/nr09_182.aspx

Hurry! Comments close Dec 4

Posted by:

pianodirt on Nov 30, 2009 02:13 PM