The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to restore and protect natural areas between Seattle and the Cascade Mountains, and the U.S. Forest Service has entered into an agreement for a package of improvement projects along the I-90 corridor, including in the Snoqualmie National Forest.
“We are pleased to have this agreement with Greenway Trust,” said Jody Weil, forest supervisor of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. “We are excited to make this progress working with partners, communities and the public.”
The agreement proposes updates at popular destinations, including Denny Creek, Franklin Falls, Annette Lake, Snow Lake, the new Pratt Bar trail in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley, and the Asahel Curtis Nature Trail, among others. The plans also includes additional bear-proof food storage containers, fire rings, road improvements and trail maintenance along the Pacific Crest Trail.
The funding will also support conservation crews, volunteers and nonprofit organizations, including Mountains to Sound and the Washington Trails Association, in efforts for continuing trail maintenance.
The agreement comes nearly a year after the passing of the federal Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). The act permanently funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund and started the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, which supports maintenance and repairs in national parks, national forests and other federal lands.
“While many Washingtonians enjoy these public spaces today, we must do everything we can to ensure they are just as vibrant for generations to come,” said Washington U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier, a co-sponsor of the bill.
The agreement and additional funding comes as interest has grown in the outdoors within the Mountain to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area, a 1.5 million-acre space between Seattle and Ellensburg. Yet, as interest grows, public agency budgets and staff needed to make necessary updates to the natural areas have shrunk, leading to a backlog of maintenance issues. Despite the benefits of the GAOA, national parks and forests are still hindered by the lack of regular operations funding.
“We encourage everyone to take an active role in creating healthy and sustainable public lands, by volunteering, donating and recreating responsibly,” said Jon Hoekstra, executive director for the Greenway Trust.