Lawsuit May Halt Repairs of Suiattle Road
Two organizations, the North Cascades Conservation Council and Pilchuck Audubon Society, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, are suing to halt work on the Suiattle River Road repair project.
Were you looking forward to a hike up Green Mountain in the Glacier Peak Wilderness this fall? Planning a backpack on the stunning Vista Creek Loop on the flanks of Glacier Peak? Well, you might want to have a Plan B.
The Suiattle River Road (FSR #26) has been impassable for years. After many seasons of environmental review and waiting for repair funding to come through, the Darrington Ranger District finally had plans to restore access to this important route later this summer. Now, these long-awaited repairs are in jeopardy.
Two organizations, the North Cascades Conservation Council and Pilchuck Audubon Society, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, are suing to halt work on the Suiattle River Road repair project. The litigants contend that repairs at mileposts 12.6 and 14.4 were not properly scoped for environmental impacts even though the Forest Service partially analyzed them in a 2006 Environmental Assessment (EA).
The Suiattle River Road sustained major storm damage in late 2003 and again in late 2006, so new storm damage occurred in these sections after the 2006 Environmental Assessment was complete.
This is not the first time the Suiattle Road repairs have drawn legal opposition. The litigants previously filed an appeal to the original 2006 EA, and that appeal was turned back by Forest Service Region 6, ruling in favor of the District. The litigants did not sue at that time. It's possible that one factor prompting this current lawsuit is that the project is now in the hands of the Federal Highways Administration, which is asking for an exemption from environmental review, known as a Categorical Exclusion.
While WTA is keenly aware of the critical importance of protecting the environment while preserving hiking opportunities, we have not seen that the issues raised in this lawsuit rise to the level of stopping this project. We're considering all of our options and are absolutely committed to maintaining hiker access to these special, irreplaceable hikes.
We'll keep Signpost readers updated on this issue as it evolves. For media coverage of this lawsuit check out these articles in the Everett Herald and Joel Connelly's piece the Seattle PI.
cljskis on May 16, 2011 10:16 PM
"Mina&Co." on May 21, 2011 12:30 AM
Oh no, a couple cubic meters of silt in the suiattle river that carries hundreds down every day and during spring runoff tens of thousands. IT carries so much silt every damned day the river is completely opaque all the time except in the fall. Stick a bucket in it where it flows fairly fast and see how much silt you grab. I am not talking the normal ol' silt from glaciers either, though there is a lot of that as well.
EA, what a crock. The road already exists, wilderness surrounds it, either say you want to close it down, or get the F' out of the way and let the forest service do its job. Quit trying to backdoor your real agenda which is closing down said road as to extend the wilderness boundary.
Its morons like you who give environmentalists a reputation for ignorant air heads.
Common sense, jeez.
"wastral" on May 21, 2011 12:30 AM
Suiattle Road & Green Mt Lookout
"Arlyn" on May 24, 2011 09:51 AM
Green Mountain Lookout
"BobnSusie" on Jul 08, 2011 08:08 PM
in High Country News http://www.hcn.org/[…]/a-fire-lookout-in-a-wilderness-speaks-of-our-past
Now that's what WTA, on behalf of the many dozens of its own volunteers who have worked here, should have had the courage to say.
"Rod Farlee" on Jul 08, 2011 08:08 PM
the feds lost
There will be no work on this road this season.
"Kevin Geraghty" on Jun 01, 2011 11:05 PM
the public lost
Kevin, the time for a full analysis of road needs was during the 2008 Suiattle Access and Travel Management Environmental Assessment http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=24529
The time to criticize the repairs was during the 2006 Suiattle Road Repairs Environmental Assessment http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=6829
The time to finally repair the road is now. You should have participated in previous years of study and public comment, rather than filing a lawsuit to stop repairs AFTER the contract had finally been issued and the work started!
"Rod Farlee" on Jun 01, 2011 11:05 PM