News

Decisions made for Middle Fork area

An environmental assessment has been completed for access, travel and recreation activities on national forest lands in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River drainage in northeast King County.

The assessment's decision document, signed by John Phipps, forest supervisor of Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, allows a mix of recreation access opportunities and increased resource protection to control garbage dumping, vandalism and illegal shooting in the Middle Fork valley. These actions will hopefully result in improved water quality and better fish and wildlife habitat.

The decision will result in:

* Public usage of about 20 miles of driveable roads, 28 motorized dispersed day-use campsites and more than 88 miles of trail (all open to hikers and llamas, 72.5 miles open for all stock animals, 39.6 miles open for mountain bikes).

* Decreased illegal dumping, off-road vehicle driving and firearm shooting through removal of 59 problem sites and decommissioning of more than 28 miles of road, more than a third of them in the Upper Middle Fork and Quartz Creek drainages.

Key points in the decision, effective in 2004:

* Closes Road 56 at Dingford Creek Trailhead to motorized access and converts the last 7.6 miles of road to a trail for use by multiple groups; i.e., hikers, stock and mountain bikers. In-holders have the opportunity to maintain motorized access through Special Use Permit authority.

* Keeps Road 56 open for high-clearance vehicles from near the junction of Road 5640 to Dingford Creek Trailhead (6.4 miles) from April 15 to Nov. 1. When closed, this segment of road would be used as a trail for hikers, stock and mountain bikes.

* Opens the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trail No. 1003 to mountain bike use for a three-year trial period. Seasonal-use restrictions would be placed on stock and mountain bikes.

* Maintains the present closure of Quartz Creek Road systems (5640) to motorized recreation access above the Snoqualmie Lake Trailhead at Taylor River Bridge.

* Changes maintenance level of 3.7 miles of the Middle Fork Road (No. 56) to maintenance level 4 (gravel, double lane) in support of paving proposal for lower Middle Fork Road under analysis by the Federal Highway Administration.

* Decommissions about 2.3 miles of Road 5600-50 and converts it to trail. The two trail segments would connect to the CCC/Taylor River Trail and link to the King County Regional Trail System and numerous western destinations including Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle.

Forest managers also have begun environmental assessment planning steps for construction of a new campground in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River drainage. Additionally, a road paving proposal is under review by the Federal Highway Administration to improve the physical and safety features of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road from Valley Camp to the Middle Fork Trailhead (about 8.5 miles).

* To view the decision document online, or for appeal information, go to www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs/projects/mf_atm/.

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