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Speak Up for Trails Along the Mountain Loop by July 3

Posted by Andrea Imler at Jun 24, 2017 12:00 PM |

The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest recently proposed a timber project in the popular Mountain Loop Scenic Byway area. While it may mean more parking, some popular trails like Heather Lake, Mount Pilchuck and Lake 22 may be impacted. Learn more and submit your comments by July 3.

The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest recently proposed a timber project (called the South Fork Stillaguamish Vegetation Project) in the popular Mountain Loop Scenic Byway area. Right now, the project proposal is a mixed bag. It includes a few projects that would benefit trails (like increasing parking), as well as a number of other projects could negatively impact trails, the hiking experience and trail access.

heather lake by Cora Leach

Relatively easy access to Heather Lake's views draw many hikers from the Mountain Loop and beyond. Photo by Cora Leach

WTA is asking for the Forest Service to reconsider logging the parcel surrounding the Heather Lake trail from the project, as well as consider a number of other items impacting trails and trail access.

Take action: Before you head out hiking over the holiday weekend, learn more and speak up by the July 3 deadline. 

Managing Forests with Recreation in Mind

Forest management—including timber harvest—is an important part of having a healthy forest and can be achieved while also providing for protection of recreation and trails. It’s important that forest management activities are planned and balanced with recreation and trail protection.

What the Project Proposes

The Forest Service’s proposed project in the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway area will occur over 10-20 years and includes:

  • Tree harvesting of second growth stands between 20 and 80 years of age on 6,960 - 9,300 acres.
  • Tree harvesting would occur at the Heather Lake trailhead and along a section of the trail (beyond an initial 100-foot buffer). To accommodate harvesting activities, the trail would likely be closed 1-2 months during the summer. The parking lot would also be expanded by 50 spots.
  • The Mount Pilchuck trail would likely be closed 1-2 months during the summer.
  • The Sunrise Mine trailhead would be relocated 0.5 miles back (on the current road), adding one mile roundtrip to the trail. Tree harvesting would occur on 1-2 acres along the road—including the portion being converted to trail. Parking would be created for 75 cars. Additionally, the trail would likely be closed 3 months or more during the summer.
  • The Walt Bailey (or Mallardy Ridge) trailhead would be relocated 1 mile back (on the current road), adding two miles roundtrip to the trail. Tree harvesting would occur on 1 acre along the road—including the portion being converted to trail. Parking would be created for approximately 30 cars. Additionally, the trail would likely be closed 3 months or more during the summer.
  • Trail and road closures to recreation sites would be closed when tree harvesting activities are taking place in the area—excluding weekends and holidays.
     

What Hikers Can Do: EMAIL YOUR COMMENTS

The Forest Service needs to hear from you about this timber harvest proposal that would impact trails in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Make sure to get your comments in by 5 p.m. Monday, July 3rd—the Forest Service must hear from you today.

We’ve made it easy for you to submit a comment:

  • Use the talking points below or this example letter to submit comments.
  • Email your comments to the Forest Service at: comments-pacificnorthwest-mtbaker-snoqualmie@fs.fed.us.
  • Make sure to include “Comments on S.F. Stillaguamish Vegetation Project” in the subject line. Also, make sure to include your name and mailing address in the email.  

TALKING POINTS: Reducing Impact to Trail Users

Here are WTA’s top priorities for the Forest Service to consider:

  • Remove the Heather Lake trail parcel from the timber project.This is the most popular trail in the Mountain Loop area and is simply too important to be logged.
  • Design the timber project so that it does not negatively impact recreational access and trails.
  • Do not use trails to haul logs and ensure that trails are in the same condition or better when the project is complete.
  • Plan any logging-related special closures of Heather Lake, Mount Pilchuck, Sunrise Mine/Vesper Peak, Lake 22, and Mount Dickerman trails for the non-peak season (October-April).
  • Provide public notification of closures at least one week in advance.
  • We strongly support and appreciate the proposed road-to-trail conversion at Sunrise Mine and Walt Bailey trailheads.
  • We strongly support and appreciate the proposed expansion and/or development of parking lots at Heather Lake, Sunrise Mine and the Walt Bailey trailheads.
  • We strongly support and appreciate the proposed development of new bathroom facilities at Boardman Lake and Coal Lake trailheads.
     

Use your voice to support trails along the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway. Tell the Forest Service what this area means to you. The deadline to comment is 5 p.m. on Monday, July 3.

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