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New Trails or Transmission Lines for the Yacolt Burn?

Posted by Ryan Ojerio at Dec 08, 2009 10:50 AM |

Over the past two years DNR staff and local trail user groups have developed a draft recreation plan for the Yacolt Burn State Forest. The 10 year plan calls more more trails and campground facilities, but will an expanded regional power grid trump trails and recreation?

A new recreation plan is in the works for the Yacolt Burn State Forest, the closest public forest to Vancouver, WA. For hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians the plan could double the miles of trails by adding some 17 miles of new non-motorized trail. The plan also seeks to increase camping opportunities by expanding the two existing campgrounds and adding a third oriented to OHV riders. OHV riders can also expect the plan to call for a major expansion of the existing motorized trail system.

Unofficial and illegally built user-trails may be adopted into the plan drawing some criticism that rogue recreationalists are being rewarded for their illicit activities.

In developing the draft plan DNR staff have engaged the public through an open house, on-line survey and in meetings with local trail user groups. The plan’s focus on expanding trail miles first followed by facilities expansion second reflects public input.

Specific trail locations haven’t been confirmed pending additional environmental review and public comment. But participants in the planning process have called for more loop opportunities and options for shorter trips. Another component will be a Mountain Bike Downhill course separate from other trail users. Much of the current 14 miles of non-motorized trail in the forest is a point-to-point route from Moulton Falls to Silver Star Mt. It is a National Recreation Trail and a segment of the Chinook Trail that may one day form a 300 mile loop encircling the Columbia River Gorge.

The new recreation plan is due for public review in March 2010 and is the first step to meeting the growing recreation demand from the Vancouver metropolitan area over the next decade. But the plan faces one major question: Will the new BPA transmission lines connecting wind farms in the Gorge to population centers in western Washington cut through the heart of this recreation area? The BPA is currently accepting public comments until December 14th regarding several different possible corridors for the transmission lines. To learn more and see a map of possible routes for the transmission lines visit: BPA I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Project