Budget decision expected this week on Mount Si access

The Washington State Legislature will unveil budget numbers this week determining the fate of public trail access at Mount Si.

Legislators are expected to approve a supplemental budget by Tuesday, April 13, that cuts $2.8 billion in discretionary spending — and could include a $278,000 cut to the Washington Department of Natural Resources general fund.

If the cut goes through, the department has warned that its trailheads at Mount Si, Little Si, Rattlesnake Lake and the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie are among dozens statewide slated for closure or reduced services. With about 350,000 visitors per year, the Mount Si trailhead is by far the busiest of those trails marked for closure.

As of Friday, legislators from the Washington Senate and House of Representatives were still negotiating a compromise budget. The house version cuts $278,000 from the DNR budget, while the senate version does not.

"People close to the ground expect them to have an (agreement) Sunday or Monday to be voted on," said Pat Albright, spokeswoman for Sen. Cheryl Pflug's office.

"If the $278,000 stays in our budget, we'll be able to maintain the facilities we have," said Mark Mauren, DNR's recreation manager. "If they cut, we'll have to go to plan B."

That means working with community groups to find resources to address the shortfall.

Mauren said he understands that DNR recreation funding is just one of thousands of budget decisions that legislators must make.

"They have a huge amount of money to cut," he said. "I wouldn't want to second-guess that."

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