Partnership Brings New Trails to the Teanaway Community Forest
After a decade of strong collaboration, WTA and our partners are so excited that a trails plan for the Teanaway Community Forest has passed the state’s environmental review. That means, in 2023 WTA will be able to break ground on new trails in the community forest. Find out where we plan to work first.
After a decade of strong collaboration, WTA and our partners are so excited that a trails plan for the Teanaway Community Forest has passed the state’s environmental review. That means, in 2023 WTA will be able to break ground on new trails in the community forest.
What is the Teanaway Community Forest?
The Teanaway Community Forest is the state’s first community forest, which was created in 2013. The forest’s goal is to protect critical water sources and salmon habitat at the headwaters of the Yakima River.
It took government agencies, non-profits, tribes and agricultural groups years of planning and public involvement to develop management and recreation plans so the forest can preserve water and habitat at the same time it provides for recreation, grazing and forestry. Experts including the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), land managers and Yakama Nation fisheries biologists — as well as outdoor recreation groups and members of the public — worked together on the project.
WTA led the way on what is known as the West Fork Trails Coalition, and this year that coalition crafted the West Fork Trails plan to outline how the public will recreate on trails in the West Fork Teanaway River drainage of the Teanaway Community Forest.
“We wouldn’t have been able to move forward with or complete the West Fork Trails plan without our partnership with WTA,” said Stephanie Margheim, DNR’s southeast region recreation and public use manager. “WTA brings years of expertise to projects like this that we do not have in-house, and we are incredibly thankful to have WTA by our side. We are excited the plan crossed the finish line so we can get working on implementation.”
Starting in the West Fork
Based on the Teanaway Community Forest recreation plan, which was written in 2018, the highest density of trails in the community forest will be in the West Fork area. That area was chosen because there were many trails already there, and because of the rich opportunities for recreation including camping, hiking, sightseeing, mountain biking, hunting, horseback riding, fishing, wildlife viewing, plant gathering, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
The recently approved trails plan requires that the trails in the area be brought up to DNR trail standards. The work will include removing some trails that negatively impact the watershed and building new trails to maximize access and safety, and to reroute trails away from private property. The goal is to provide opportunities for multiple uses, experience levels and abilities.
The plan outlines the trailwork in phases so users and wildlife can start seeing benefits within the first few years. The first phase of work focuses on a series of loop trails north of the West Fork Teanaway River. Loop trails will bring recreators to scenic viewpoints and unique landmarks. The first phase of trailwork also prioritizes linking the West Fork trails with the nearby communities of Cle Elum, Roslyn and Ronald. This benefits residents and visitors alike by boosting the local economy and expanding opportunities to recreate.
How can I get involved?
Just as the TCF could not have been created without public involvement, the forest needs you for this next phase of work. You can help in two main ways.
First, the trails plan does not include funding. And it needs it. Join WTA for Hiker Rally Day in March and help us advocate for funding for the Teanaway. (Along with other public lands priorities!)
Next, keep an eye out in the spring for volunteer work parties to get hands-on in the community forest.
A huge thank you
WTA wants to thank all of our partners, from organizations to individuals, for joining us in bringing this trails plan to fruition. As the DNR states in the TCF management plan, “our partnership with the community — and the extended community of Teanaway-lovers — will ensure sound management of this forest well into the future.”