Snapshot: Greenway Highlights of 2014

In these final hours of 2014 it’s a joyous time to reflect on what we’ve been able to achieve together. It was a year full of wins: massive land conservations, key progress on keeping trails and parks open, and National Heritage Area designation moved forward in leaps and bounds. These successes—many  compiled below—are thanks to our broad-based coalition. It’s well known that the secret to the Greenway’s success has always been our passionate supporters who collectively move mountains. Together, we are shaping a vision for our region’s future—ensuring the high quality of life we treasure now is passed along to future generations.

Whether you volunteered, donated, or lent us your expertise, you helped us move the needle forward on these vital projects!

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2014

 

The Nature Conservancy: Forests for Our Future | 41,500 acres conserved

The Nature Conservancy purchased 41,500 acres of Plum Creek Timber land in the Mountains to Sound Greenway as part of 2-state, $134 million acquisition. The second-largest conservation purchase in the history of the Greenway, it includes key lands such as Cle Elum Ridge, adjacent to the new Teanaway Community Forest, and the majority of the infamous “checkerboard” lands that have posed a host of challenges to Washington land managers for a century. Uniting the checkerboard lands under one owner is a huge step toward cohesive, effective management of these east-slope forest lands for conservation and recreation. Learn more.

 

Tiger Mountain Bike Trails

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been working hard to meet the growing demand for outdoor recreation for hikers, mountain bikers, and more. This spring, DNR partnered with Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance to build a three-mile connection, expanding the Tiger Mountain bicycle trail system to 12 miles. The trail construction was funded by two grants: through the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program and the Non-highway & Off-Road Vehicle Activities Program. Then, DNR partnered with Puget SoundCorps and the Greenway Trust to relocate a half mile of the popular Tiger Mountain Trail that had been damaged by flooding, including a bridge. Learn more.

 

Tall Chief Acquisition | 191 acres conserved

In an effort to ensure the Valley reaches its full agricultural potential, King County acquired the property that for years housed Tall Chief golf course. Though it made for a bit of a muddy 18 holes, the 191-acre property contains a valuable commodity — rich, fertile Snoqualmie Valley farmland. The site had been targeted for residential development, which could have seeded conflict with the Valley’s hard-working farmers. The Tall Chief property was purchased by King County using Conservation Futures Tax funding, and will be returned to working farm land as part of the County’s efforts to support the growing local food movement. Learn more.

 

By the Numbers: Volunteers and Students

Greenway Volunteer Program
4,022 volunteers restored natural areas and maintained trails in the Greenway
39,888 hours volunteered
18,800 native trees and shrubs planted
70.6 trail miles maintained

Greenway Education Program
3,867 local students engaged in environmental education lessons
123 classes joined field study trips to Tiger Mountain
48 schools participated

 

Alpine Lakes Wilderness Expansion

U.S. Congress expanded the Alpine Lakes Wilderness to include spectacular lands in the upper Middle Fork River Valley and near Snoqualmie Pass. They also designated the 10-mile Pratt River and a segment of Middle Fork Snoqualmie River as Wild and Scenic Rivers. This designation didn’t happen overnight. It’s been over a decade of patient work by many conservation groups and our federal delegation to steward it through Congress. This expansion will add 22,000 acres of U.S. forest lands into the wilderness area. Learn more.

 

High Point to Preston Cycle Track

King County Roads recently installed a .7-mile cycle track along High Point Way. The new cycle track is located between Issaquah and Preston, running parallel to Interstate 90, and connects to the Preston-Fall City Trail. Riders can now enjoy a 50-mile scenic journey from the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle, around Lakes Washington and Sammamish, to an iconic view of Snoqualmie Falls. Learn more.

 

Carter Subaru’s 100,000th Tree

Over the past seven years, Carter Subaru has donated one tree for every test drive and three trees for every car purchased, planted by the Greenway Trust as part of Carter’s “On the Road to Carbon Neutral” program to offset emissions. This fall, the Carter family and the Greenway Trust celebrated the program’s 100,000th tree, which was planted at Discovery Park in Seattle on October 25th. Learn more.

 

Greenway National Heritage Area

The Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area (NHA) effort gained great momentum in Congress this year. Competing with hundreds of other lands bills for attention, this bipartisan legislation progressed steadily over the past 12 months, and was in the mix in the final days, but at the end just missed being included in the final lands package approved by Congress. Congressman Dave Reichert and Senator Maria Cantwell, Greenway NHA champions, worked tirelessly this Congress, introducing Greenway legislation, moving it favorably out of committees in both houses, and then pushed hard for inclusion in the final days. Greenway legislation made it much further than most land bills do in their first session and is now well positioned for the new Congress. Learn more.

 

Progress in Conserving the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley

It’s been a successful year for conserving the Middle Fork Valley. New trailheads were constructed at Dingford Creek and Mailbox Peak. Various partners helped us open a new trail to Mailbox Peak. The Pratt River and the upper stretches of the Middle Fork River were designated as Wild & Scenic Rivers. The Alpine Lakes Wilderness was expanded to include the wild (although previously undesignated) upper stretches of the valley. And our partners at Washington State Department of Natural Resources have expanded the Mt Si and Middle Fork Natural Resource Conservation Areas (NRCAs) further protecting these unique places. Learn more about the Middle Fork Effort.

 

Mailbox Peak Trail Grand Opening

After three summers of construction, the new Mailbox Peak trail officially opened to hikers in September. The 4.7-mile trail was built by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources in partnership with the Greenway Trust, Washington Trails Association, and EarthCorps. The old trail is a daunting ridge route, frequently visited by search and rescue to help lost or injured hikers. The new trail offers a family-friendly alternative, ascending at a moderate pace to sweeping views of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley and Cascade Mountains. Funding for the trail was provided by DNR, the Spring Family Trust for Trails, Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, and the Federal Highways Administration. With the new trail, DNR provides another mountaintop destination close by for the thousands of people who flock from the Seattle area each year to climb Mt. Si, Little Si, and Rattlesnake. Learn more.

 

Manastash Block | 1,280 acres conserved

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, acquired 1,280 acres of Plum Creek timber lands near the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area in June 2014. This follows the purchase of 3,510 acres in December 2013 on the same 5,490-acre property, as part of an ongoing effort to improve connectivity of public lands in the Manastash Creek Basin.  This area encompasses a critical migration corridor for elk between seasonal habitats, contains prime habitat for spotted owls and wolverines, and Manastash Creek is home to steelhead and trout. This purchase is part of the Heart of the Cascades Project, and was jointly funded by Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the national Department of Fish and Wildlife. Learn more.

 

Bellevue Trail Gap Progress

Traveling east from that westernmost point in the Greenway, one could follow the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail out of Seattle, across Lake Washington, until you abruptly meet the end of the trail in Bellevue’s Factoria neighborhood. Trail users, have hope! The City of Bellevue is working to connect this key missing link, and further the vision of a safe, enjoyable trail between the mountains and the Sound. With funding from the City of Bellevue, leveraging Federal Highway Administration dollars through their Transportation Alternatives Program, the City is currently designing a trail corridor across densely-populated Factoria. This advances the effort to fill in the first major segment of the Bellevue gap in the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail along Interstate 90. Learn more.

 

Evergreen Sno-Park Opening

The Kittitas County Parks and Recreation District, an entirely volunteer-driven organization and longtime partner of the Greenway Trust, opened Evergreen Sno-Park on November 1st. The sno-park, at 2,200 feet in elevation, gives snowmobilers access to more than 100 miles of groomed trails on the Taneum-Manastash trail system. The project was made possible by an impressive collaboration: Washington State Parks helped find grant funding to cover insurance costs of the sno-park; Washington State Snowmobile Association led fundraising, and the family of local developer Sean Northrup donated 5 acres of land.

 

Squak Mountain Addition | 226 acres conserved

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and King County teamed up to conserve key parcels connecting Cougar and Squak Mountains. TPL facilitated King County Parks’ purchase of 226 acres of high-quality forestland in the Issaquah Alps, adding to King County’s Cougar-Squak Corridor parkland. Funding for the purchase came from King County Parks Levy regional open space funds, Conservation Futures funds, and Real Estate Excise Taxes. This property has significant potential for outdoor environmental education, and will open for hiking in 2015. Learn more.

 

Lower Cle Elum River Restoration

Fish are an important part of Kittitas County’s heritage.  Kittitas Conservation Trust improved connections between the lower Cle Elum River and side channel habitat, which is critical for salmon spawning. Working along more than 2 miles of river and a floodplain area of 240 acres, the Trust and partners added large woody debris to the river, much of it flown in by helicopter, and reconstructed segments of the channel to reconnect the floodplain and improve rearing habitat for salmon.

 

Tolt River Restoration

Along the lower Tolt and Snoqualmie Rivers near Carnation, The Tribe, King County Parks, the City of Carnation, the Greenway, and the local community are working together to control invasive plants and re-establish native plants. The restored riparian zone will provide shade, fish and wildlife diversity, promote natural ecosystem processes, and sustain native plant species that are culturally significant for the Tribe. Thus far, nearly 2,000 native trees and shrubs have been planted with valuable volunteer stewardship assistance from local citizens and students from Carnation Elementary and the Riverview Learning Center. The project is funded by the City of Carnation, King Conservation District and King County Flood Control District.

 

Taylor Mountain Inholding | 40 acres conserved

Early this spring, King County partnered with the City of Seattle to acquire a privately held stretch of King County’s Taylor Mountain Forest. The 40-acre parcel was the last private inholding in the Forest. This acquisition will increase space available for Taylor Mountain’s hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers, allow better management, and grant unimpeded public access within the forest.

Priority Areas:
Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley, National Heritage Area, Snoqualmie River Valley, Upper Yakima Basin, Urban and Edge Communities
Post Categories:
Community, Conservation, Education, News, Recreation, Volunteer