Creating a plan for our new backyard
Spring is in the air in the Central Cascades. Snow is rapidly melting, wildflowers are beginning to pop up and elk will soon be calving. Protecting and connecting habitat for those elk is one of many reasons The Nature Conservancy recently purchased nearly 48,000 acres of forest between Snoqualmie Pass and Cle Elum. While executing such a large deal was an exciting milestone as we work to re-connect the checkered landscape. But the real work is only just beginning. Here’s what happens next:
Our forests team is on the land assessing the conservation and restoration needs and seeing how people are using the forests. After our mild winter and low snowpack, we have already seen songbirds returning to the area, and we’ve observed a bobcat stealthily watching us from the undergrowth. We’ve also seen lots of people out enjoying this very special land. This information we are gathering will be used to put together a comprehensive Forest Management Plan. It will include a present and future look at: Forest management, recreation, public access, roads and trails, grazing, mineral management and other natural resource issues. The plan will allow us to operate under established forest management protocol, creating a restoration strategy that is science based, and creating positive outcomes for the entire forest ecosystem.
The land is full of beauty and in places offers sweeping views of the region. But the needs for restoration are also apparent. In some places, unhealthy forests threaten critical wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. We are eager to begin hands-on restoration. That work may include things such as commercial logging for forest health, thinning from below – cutting skinny clutter to make room for big trees—planned burns and stream restoration. There is much to be done and we will prioritize based on making the biggest impact.
We are hiring staff to help us with this ambitious project. We are adding foresters and a Central Cascades Community Coordinator and hope to have them in place soon.
Robust community outreach is helping us learn how people use these lands and what they cherish about the landscape. We’ve received more than 500 responses to our online survey, We’ve met with dozens of community and land use groups. We are working with our partners in the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, including the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Yakama Nation, and the US Forest Service, as we aim towards a connected and healthy landscape. We are attending the Teanaway Community Forest Advisory Committee meetings so we can align our management plans, where appropriate. We realize that working towards a healthy and connected forest includes working closely with our neighbors. The first of our three community open houses was well attended and sparked good discussion. We invite you to attend upcoming meetings:
March 17, 5:30PM – 7:30PM
March 27, 5:30PM – 7:30PM
We are grateful for the tremendous support from Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and its members, as we take on this ambitious project. We hope you will continue to make your voices heard and to share your vision for this land. Together we will create a legacy for people and nature.
Photo credit: Benj Drummond