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Today, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to preserve the Green Mountain Lookout in Glacier Peak Wilderness. The legislation, championed by Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, would protect the lookout after a U.S. District Court judge ordered its removal back in 2012.
"The Green Mountain Lookout is more than a hiking destination," Sen. Murray said on the floor of the Senate today. "It’s part of the Pacific Northwest’s heritage. It’s a cherished historical landmark. It’s a place where parents have brought their kids for generations, to appreciate the splendor of the great outdoors in the Northwest. And it’s a place that has been a vital source of tourism-related income for the people who’ve been impacted by this deadly landslide that has struck this region.""One little glimmer of hope"
The congresswomen underscored that the bill, if passed, would be a morale boost to a community devastated by the deadly SR 530 landslide.
Sens. Murray and Cantwell, and Rep. Suzan DelBene recently visited the town of Darrington and have been pressing for federal support for the community. While there, the legislators met with the mayor and other local officials.
"... after we finished sort of our official meeting, the mayor took us aside and told myself and Senator Cantwell and our congresswoman Suzan DelBene that the one little glimmer of hope that he thought he could provide to this community was passage of this Green Mountain Lookout bill," said Sen. Murray.
“This is a significant step forward towards saving a community treasure for the residents of Snohomish County. This scenic lookout is a destination for locals and tourists, historians and outdoor enthusiasts,” added Sen. Cantwell.Next steps for Green Mountain Lookout bill
The Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Act (H.R. 908 / S. 404) still needs to clear the House before President Obama, who already announced his support for the legislation, could sign it into law.
The bill will now go to the House, where it could be taken up as soon as next week, according to Rep. DelBene. Reps. DelBene and Rick Larsen, who originally introduced the bill to protect Green Mountain Lookout, have been championing the House version of the bill.
What you can do. Please take a minute and thank the legislators for their tremendous support for the Green Mountain Lookout.
Ask anyone who has driven Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road (FS 56) what their experience was like and they’ll probably tell you about the car-swallowing potholes and tire-sucking mud. Others will talk about the time their car axle broke or multiple tires went pancake flat—in one trip.
Soon those experiences will be a thing of the past.
Each year, more than 100,000 hikers and other recreationists venture to the Middle Fork to hike, camp, kayak and fish all year-round. The Middle Fork Valley—in the backyard of North Bend and only a 45-minute drive from Seattle—is incredibly scenic, with jagged peaks, towering old-growth trees and a raging river along the road. The Middle Fork is the main access road for a number of popular hiking trails like Mailbox Peak, Granite Creek, Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Trail and Taylor River—to name just a few.
By paving the road, hikers will have easier and safer access to their favorite places. In addition, water quality in the Middle Fork valley will improve due to a decrease of sediment run-off that currently flows off the dirt road and into streams. Old road culverts (those metal pipes that run under roads to allow streams to continue flowing downstream) will also be replaced and made more fish-friendly so trout can migrate upstream.
WTA sees this project as a win-win for hikers and the environment.How will construction impact my trip to the Middle Fork?
Prep work for construction such as road surveying and flagging will begin on April 14, 2014 and construction will continue through August 2016. See the details and map below if you plan to hike the Middle Fork during this time.
2014 ROAD CLOSURES
The Lake Dorothy Road, which some people use as an alternative to one section of the Middle Fork Road, will be closed to all public traffic. (See map.)
Closures on the main Middle Fork Road will begin May 5, 2014 and extend through October 31, 2014 as follows:
Eastern Intersection of Lake Dorothy Road (Upper Couplet) at Valley Camp to Middle Fork CampgroundRoad Closed: 12:00pm Monday — 12:00pm FridayRoad Open: 12:00pm Friday — 12:00pm Monday (Up to 60 minute delays may occur.)
Note: The Mailbox Peak Trail and all trails beyond Mailbox will be inaccessible when the road is closed.
CCC Trailhead to Middle Fork Campground Road Closed: 7 Days a Week - July 28, 2014 to September 26, 2014Resources
Eagle River, CO | © Fay Augustyn
With the summer months just around the corner and spring peeking out from behind the piles of snow, I’m thinking only of the outdoors. Hiking, rafting, biking, fishing and just enjoying the amazing rivers and landscapes of Colorado. Here in the west, we are fortunate to have an abundance of public lands for all of us to enjoy. These protected lands provide some of the most outstanding recreational opportunities for residents and tourists alike, as well as provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife.
Many communities in the west have already benefited from these protected lands. Just last week the Vail Daily ran an article discussing the numerous benefits of open space and recreation to local economies. According to “Conserving Lands and Prosperity,” a new report on behalf of Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, communities in the west that protect open space and manage it for sensible recreation rather than just extraction have enjoyed higher economic success. Outdoor recreation on public lands in the west has contributed to increased jobs and higher economic vitality in communities across the rural west. Counties making open space and conservation a priority saw a much higher growth rate than those managed solely for commodity production.
In Colorado, places like Eagle County are working to ensure that open space is protected and enjoyed through hiking, fishing, boating, biking and other family-friendly activities. American Rivers is working with the Eagle County Open Space program to protect these treasured public lands and provide opportunities to enjoy them through Blue Trails. By doing so, we are boosting local economies, protecting critical habitat for wildlife, enhancing community stewardship, and inspiring a new generation of river lovers.
Day Two in the 30 Days of Biking, 30 Words, 30 Pictures series
I didn’t choose “flexibility” as my word for today just because I didn’t make it to the noon yoga class at Salt Room Yoga a block away from our Seattle office, although it’s a factor.* Today made me think about the flexibility bicycling provides in my transportation needs. But let me start with yoga.
Yoga provides a great balance (yoga pun!) to bicycling since it provides weight-bearing exercise and helps build upper-body strength along with flexibility work that helps offset the repetitive motions of cycling.
The book Pedal, Stretch, Breathe by Seattle yoga teacher, author, and bicyclist Kelli Refer (@yogaforbikers on Twitter) nicely highlights the benefits of yoga and the postures that address the effects of bicycling on the body. You can pick up an autographed copy of her book in our Pioneer Square store or order from Kelli on her blog.
The mindset yoga helps you cultivate applies to bicycling too. You can stress out or you can rest in the moment and accept it for what it is, cultivating mental flexibility.
And now for the transportation flexibility bicycling provides that I appreciated yet again today–
If you drive in a city with one-way streets you know this moment. You’re at an intersection and the address you want is only about a block away. Except it’s at least three blocks away because you’re on a one-way street and you’ll have to execute two right turns or two left turns to get anywhere near your destination.
This morning at that kind of intersection my bike gave me all the flexibility I needed. I walked my bike up one block, crossed the street, and there I was–parked and inside in half the time it would have taken me to drive (not counting the hunt for parking that I get to skip.)
Now sure, I can park a car, get out and walk, and get where I’m going. But I will no longer have with me the vehicle that helps me get places faster and carries my stuff far more easily than I can with just my body to bear the weight. I’ll have to backtrack to where I parked, which introduces a hassle factor that constrains my choices about the next stop, and the next.
I’m also pretty well assured that my car parking spot will not be directly in front of the building I’m going to, whereas I can park my bike at a rack if one’s available, hitch it to a tall sign post, railing, or other fixed item, or in some instances bring it inside with me. Voila–parking flexibility! The combination of bike/walk and route flexibility with parking flexibility enables me to string together a series of brief stops very efficiently.
Bicycling has increased the flexibility of my thinking and assumptions about how I get from Point A to Point B in other ways. Because the pace of bicycling enables me to experience my surroundings much more deeply I’m more apt to explore. I try different routes, take a jaunt down a side street because I see an interesting sign, and experiment with options that I hope (usually in vain) will allow me to sneak around some of the hill climbs I face commuting in Seattle.
This afternoon in an attempt to inject flexibility into my homeward commute route since I’d already landed on my word of the day, I tried going an extra block up Pike before turning to get to Pine, where I climb in the bike lane to Melrose. Lo and behold, when I got to that next block (9th, for you Seattle dwellers) I realized I couldn’t turn left because–yep–it was another one-way street.
If I’d been in my car I would have gnashed my teeth. I also would have had to do quite a bit of fiddling around, going blocks out of my way in heavy downtown traffic, because this is at a spot with major buildings and a freeway that introduce black holes into the street grid. (Side note: I would have been adding all the while to downtown traffic congestion and air pollution while going exactly nowhere.)
Since I was on my bike I again exercised the flexibility of the pedestrian option that someone on a bike always has. My bike and I were only one block away from Pine, after all, and roughly 2 minutes later I was back in the bike lane and climbing.
It’s good to be flexible.Related Reading
*Possible additional factor: Our whole family loves the movie The Incredibles, which we’ve watched countless times. Elastigirl’s powers are pretty cool.
It is an exciting time for Washington Bikes as we open our Spokane office. With consistent staff presence in the greater Spokane area, we will be able to support more community advocates, impact more local policies and projects, and encourage more people to get on the saddle.
To support the effort, Kate Johnston has joined our staff as the Spokane-based School and Family Programs Coordinator. She is a third-generation eastern-Washington cyclist who studied Urban Planning and earned her teaching certificate in secondary education from Eastern Washington University. She recently completed two years of work in the project management division of a global engineering firm and is now looking forward to focusing her energies back home in the Inland Northwest region.
For two years in a row, Kate has been the team captain for the winning corporate-division team in the 185-mile Spokane to Sandpoint Relay. In addition to spending time with her family, she enjoys the luxurious simplicity of living in a central location with both a bike lane and a bus-line right outside her front door.
Kate will be working with the Spokane Regional Health District and Spokane Public Schools to promote healthy and safe routes for children to get to school in communities around Spokane. Over the next four years, she will work with school staff, parents, and students to promote biking and walking to school around seven elementary schools: Bemiss, Holmes, Logan, Moran Prairie, Seth Woodard (Spokane Valley), Stevens, and Sunset (Cheney) elementary schools.
She will also be partnering with Spokane Public Schools to more directly promote policies and activities that support wellness at school, such as healthy eating and active living. With this additional approach, we will be able to impact policies and school culture around active transportation. This is an effort made possible with support from the Empire Health Foundation.
In addition to these school-based projects, Kate’s presence in the Spokane region will support bike advocacy overall. Whether it is providing support for Bike Month, talking with communities about rail-trails, or working with city staff to promote better bike infrastructure, she will be a consistent face for us in eastern Washington. We are excited and look forward to this new era of Washington Bikes.
Kate can be reached at 509.280.5762 or email@example.com, and her office is housed with the Empire Health Foundation.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced their response to a lawsuit pressing them to better protect children from health-harming pesticides that drift from fields in rural areas.
If you missed some of the fun that the environmental and outdoor community had with April Fools' yesterday (besides our own post about a whole new crew of WTA trail experts), here is a quick recap to enjoy over a cup of coffee.Mount Rainier: how well do you know your volcanoes?
Mount Rainier National Park tried to pass off Mount Baker as Mount Rainier and a magnet as The Rainier Dart (Dendrobates foolerae), a rare species of frog found in the park.
"Nation's most fearsome invasive species wreaks havoc on Western waterways."
This fine piece of April Fools' journalism looks into the classic tensions around an unusual invasive:
"The hippo takeover has been swift and thorough. The Yellowstone, Snake, and Columbia Rivers now support breeding populations, and, after a juvenile was sighted in the Gila River last month, scientists believe it’s only a matter of time before the creatures arrive in the main stem of the Colorado."
In a whimsical mashup of the tiny house trend, the ultra-light trend and your obsession with those tiny display model tents, REI released the Gulliver 3-season tent. For your head.
Washington guidebook author, Craig Romano, released his latest hiking guidebook, essential for the cat loving hiker. What the author says you'll find in this April 1 release:
"You won't find Dog Mountain in this book, but the Kendall Katwalk, Cougar Mountain, and Panther Creek are all in it!"
"The Crocodiles Gaiters, the limited-edition Crocodile Coozy is built with a waterproof, breathable upper and super-durable base."
You know you've always wanted to hike the mountains of Kansas, and on April 1, Green Trails made it possible.
The ATC released a new perfume in its online store, so you don't have to go days on trail without a bath to get that very unique and sought-after "hiker scent."
Chaco takes the barefoot trend even further
Chaco riffs on their classic Z sandal with the Barefoot Z, which "features a new Paleolithic design with a GroundTouch footbed that has been millions of years in the making."
In recognition of Earth Day 2014, Washington Trails Association is partnering with EarthShare Washington and 35 other environmental non-profits in Washington state to issue a challenge to Washington companies:
In 16 days, raise $50,000 and volunteer 1,000 hours to benefit Washington environmental charities and make a REAL impact on our environment.How the challenge works
Through this crowdfunding model, business and employees use the easy online tools provided by EarthShare Washington at EarthDayCorporateChallenge.org to create teams and recruit clients, colleagues, and friends to donate money and volunteer hours to their teams.Where does the money go?
Funds raised through the Challenge are distributed to 36 conservation nonprofits vetted by EarthShare Washington. Fans of WTA may also specify their gifts for Washington Trails Association.Give back to the places you love this Earth Day
If your company prides itself of supporting community sustainability and supporting a greener, healthier planet, then the challenge is a great way to put those values into action.
Washington companies know that Washington's wild lands and recreational opportunities are major positive factors in employee recruitment and retention.
We live in a special place that attracts bright, innovative people from around the world, and Earth Day presents a singular opportunity to come together across your company and give back.Team leaders needed!
Engaging your company to participate is crucial to the Challenge’s success.Four easy steps to have your company take part:
Every weekday of the Earth Day Corporate Challenge a prize will be given to one lucky donor (some days more than one) from companies like Columbia Sportsware/Mountain Hardware, KAVU, REI and Patagonia.About Earthshare Washington
Founded in 1987 by local environmental organizations, EarthShare Washington brings people together to build and share resources for the environment. Through education programs, an award-winning website, environmental fundraising, sustainability workshops and collaborating with businesses, EarthShare Washington helps employees connect with and volunteer for leading environmental nonprofits.
Ski Industry should follow up with more than just words and oppose the so-called Water Rights Protection Act
American Rivers feels compelled to respond to an op-ed in the Denver Post authored by Mr. Michael Berry, President of the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). While we appreciate Mr. Berry’s statement that H.R. 3189, the so-called Water Rights Protection Act, “needs work,” in our view the bill is still an unprecedented assault on our nation’s rivers.
As the Denver Post editorialized when it called for H.R. 3189 to be rejected, the issue at stake in this legislation is not protecting the ski industry, it is protecting the taxpayers. As the Post noted, the Forest Service’s goal is to “ensure water stays with the public land used by resorts, even if ownership of the resort changes.” The Post goes on to say that it is “vital to ensure [that] the people, through their government, retain control of the water that is the lifeblood of [Colorado mountain] communities.”
We could not agree more.
Nonetheless, as the legislative process unfolded, American Rivers offered to work with the sponsor of the bill, Representative Tipton, and interested parties like the NSAA to address legitimate concerns. We were told that there could be no deal that would narrowly solve the ski industry’s concerns, like the substitute bill offered by Rep. Jared Polis, because it would not meet the needs of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Farm Bureau, and oil and gas interests. It was made clear to us that NSAA was far more concerned about maintaining its partnership with its polluter allies than with working with the conservation and recreation community on compromise legislation.
In his op-ed, Mr. Berry seems to imply that his organization supported Mr. Polis’ amendment narrowing the scope of this bill. However, as Rep. Tipton declared on the floor of the U.S. House during debate on H.R. 3189, he received an email from NSAA “supporting the bill with the Tipton manager’s amendment.” The Polis Amendment would have supplanted Mr. Tipton’s bill and substituted in its place a narrow version. It is not possible to support both. But Mr. Berry tries to have it both ways, implying that NSAA did support the Polis Amendment, although there is no evidence in the Congressional Record indicating that NSAA ever supported it.
Mr. Berry also claims that H.R. 3189 “does not impact bypass flows.” That is factually incorrect. Moreover, he claims that NSAA supports legislation, like H.R. 3189 that “will not alter the minimum stream flow protections that are set and enforced by the state on virtually every river, stream and tributary.” He makes no mention of federal law, which protects federal reservations like National Forests, which belong to all Americans, not just the corporations who happen to lease the use of them.
NSAA members get a thirty year permit to operate resorts in your National Forests. American Rivers, and more than 90 conservation and recreation groups from across the country, believe that the government has a responsibility to protect the taxpayers’ interests by ensuring that in exchange for thirty years of business certainty, ski resorts are required to make sure that the water remains with the land if the resort is sold.
The mechanism by which the taxpayers’ interests are protected is something that we can and should have a meaningful discussion about. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Mark Udall and Congressman Polis, the Forest Service has committed to revising the process by which the public’s interest is protected, and American Rivers is grateful that this process is underway.
If enacted into law, H.R. 3189 would place the interests of ski resorts, frackers, and ranchers above the public interest. We agree with Congressman Polis, President Obama, and the editorial board of the Denver Post that H.R. 3189 should be rejected.