Agreements signed between the USDA Forest Service and the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust mark the beginning of the impact of conservation legislation in the local area.
In August 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) was officially signed, which is a historic investment in America’s public land. The act permanently funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, which supports deferred maintenance and repair work in national parks, national forests, and other federal states.
Interest in outdoor recreational activities is growing rapidly within the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area (Greenway NHA), the 1.5 million acre landscape that stretches from Seattle to Ellensburg along Interstate-90. As government budgets and staff shrink and the population grows, the backlog in much-needed path and recreational maintenance has increased dramatically. The GAOA provides part of the solution to this maintenance backlog for public land management agencies and will benefit all people who live, work and play on the Greenway NHA and on state public lots across the country.
Congressman Kim Schrier of Washington’s 8th Congressional District is a strong supporter of the Great American Outdoors Act:
Middle fork path. Photo: MTSG Trust
“We are fortunate to live in a state full of natural beauty, with some of the best parks and recreation areas our country has to offer right in my district. While many Washingtoners enjoy these public spaces today, we must now do everything we can to ensure they are just as vibrant for generations to come. The investments included in the GAOA will bring us much closer to that important goal. I am very excited about this agreement between USFS and Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust to make GAOA’s vision a reality here in the 8th District, ”said Rep. Schrier.
Within the Greenway NHA there are now signed agreements between the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest for a package of projects within the broader Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area. Multi-Asset Investment Corridor ”, a joint proposal of the two National Forests.
The package includes much-needed maintenance and improvements at popular locations like Denny Creek and Franklin Falls, Annette Lake, Snow Lake, the new Pratt Bar Trail in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley, Asahel Curtis Nature Trail and more. Forest Service staff have also requested the provision of bear-proof food containers, fire rings, and toll tubes for popular campsites such as Tinkham and Wish Poosh; Road improvements and a new gatehouse for the Kachess Campground; Trails on and near the Pacific Crest Trail; and funding to support Youth Corps crews, volunteers, and nonprofit partners to complete critical maintenance projects.
The many different projects are run by a mix of nonprofit partners including the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, the Washington Trails Association, the National Older Worker Career Center, contractors, designers, construction companies, volunteers, conservation organizations, and others.
“Partners, stakeholders and user groups are critical to the achievement of the Forest Service’s infrastructure goals, so we’re excited about this agreement with Greenway Trust,” said Jody Weil, Forest Supervisor of Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. “We look forward to making this progress in collaboration with partners, communities and the public.”
Outdoor recreation contributes more than $ 26 billion to the Washington State economy each year, and the positive effects of GAOA go far beyond improvements on site. Improved recreational access has positive benefits for nearby communities that stretch from Seattle to the smaller towns and cities that are the gateways to recreational destinations where visitors often stop to buy groceries, supplies, or accommodations on their travels.
“Our business depends on having safe, clean, and accessible paths within the Greenway NHA,” said Luke Talbott, CEO and founder of Compass Outdoor Adventures, local tour guide and outdoor event organizer. “It’s really great to see this much-needed investment being made in our public land.”
The Greenway Trust estimates that at least 39 jobs will be supported directly through projects in the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Multi-Asset Recreation Investment Corridor. This collaboration will also indirectly support numerous other jobs, such as B. Manufacturers of picnic tables and prefabricated toilets at the starting point; Delivery driver; Operators who produce or provide raw materials (such as wood, steel and gravel or stone); and other positions.
Greenway Trust Trail Crew
The GAOA is an important step in restoring and preserving our beloved public land. But even with this historic level of funding, national parks and national forests are hampered by a lack of funds for regular operation and maintenance and require ongoing advocacy and support.
So what can individuals do to take care of this public land? “We encourage everyone to take an active role in creating healthy and sustainable public land by volunteering, donating, regenerating responsibly, thanking park rangers and maintenance staff, respecting others and the landscape, and helping out in support of future legislative efforts like that GAOA and LWCF, ”said Jon Hoekstra, Executive Director of the Greenway Trust.
[Read more about the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust website here]