Wilderness Recommendations on the Okanogan-Wenatchee
Every time I think about hiking or backpacking, I reflexively daydream about the Glacier Peak Wilderness.
Traversing High Pass’ flowery reaches, tackling the rough hike to Little Giant Pass and whiling away a couple of days at Ice Lakes remain my most cherished backcountry memories.
And that’s just scratching the surface of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest’s Wilderness legacy, which includes such country as the Alpine Lakes, Pasayten and Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness areas.
That legacy could grow as a result of Wilderness Recommendation Reviews being conducted by the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest Planning Team.
Every 15 years or so, each national forest must plan for its future, deciding how they’re going to manage the landscape, wildlife and visitors to best meet the goals of the forest. This year, for the first time, the Okanogan-Wenatchee is required to conduct a review of the roadless acreage on the forest and make recommendations to Congress as to which areas will be added to the National Wilderness Preservation System. The final addition of these areas still requires an act of Congress, but recommending them for inclusion is a significant step forward in ensuring that they will managed in a way that will keep their wilderness values intact.
There is a great deal of wilderness acreage in the Okanogan-Wenatchee, but much of it is in high, rocky country. Preserving river valleys and other low-elevation areas benefits wildlife and secures more four-season hiking opportunities.
The Okanogan-Wenatchee’s draft Wilderness Reviews are public documents, though you have to request them from the Forest Service. The forest would like feedback on them by the end of this month (the comment form can be found here.) Washington Trails Association is currently reviewing the documents and will be making recommendations to the Forest Service on specific areas.
If you would like to learn more about the forest’s take on the suitability of their roadless areas for inclusion in wilderness, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 206.965.8558.