Year in review

It’s been such a busy and action packed year in the Greenway. Given that we are at the end of 2009, it’s only appropriate that we take a look back and absorb all the great projects and accomplishments over the past year. The year 2009 leaves a legacy in the Mountains to Sound Greenway of lands conserved, trails built, generous and hard-working volunteers giving their time and energy, fish and wildlife habitat restored, schoolchildren educated in the natural world, and tourists and locals alike amazed by the diversity and beauty of the Greenway.

The spirit of cooperation that we are so proud of preserves this magnificent landscape of gorgeous scenery and vibrant communities and has helped result in some major accomplishments during 2009:

Raging River acquisition – 7,000 acres of forest land were preserved, to be managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources as the Raging River State Forest.

The new Middle Fork Natural Resources Conservation Area was designated by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark during the annual Mountains to Sound Greenway celebration dinner in December. This new 10,273-acre conservation area links recreation areas in Mt. Si to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, just east of the town of North Bend.

32 acres were acquired on the ridgetop between Mt. Si and Mt. Teneriffe for public ownership by the state Department of Natural Resources. This inholding with its wonderful views fills in a gap in recreation lands at Mt. Si.

14 acres were acquired in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley by King County. After 20 years of work by members of the Greenway coalition, what was once a haven for illegal activity is now a recreation area that has views of peaks in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and opportunities for hiking, biking, rock climbing and boating.

80 acres were acquired at Swamp Lake, near the Cabin Creek area east of Snoqualmie Pass in the Wenatchee National Forest, by the Trust for Public Land.

The Washington State Department of Transportation and Cascade Land Conservancy acquired 546 acres along Gold Creek at Snoqualmie Pass.

King County voters approved the Open Space Amendment, which grants additional protection to natural areas in the county.

The City of Bellevue and King County are undertaking a visionary redevelopment project in the Bel-Red neighborhood, allowing developers to build more densely if they acquire development rights off of agricultural and forest lands. This smart growth initiative will protect natural areas in the Greenway and elsewhere.

Lake Sammamish is important for salmon, birds, amphibians, insects and other wildlife. The area has been degraded over time by invasive weeds and heavy foot and boat traffic. To improve the park’s ecological condition, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust have undertaken a multi-year restoration project. Hundreds of volunteers and conservation corps crews planted 32,591 trees at this and many other restoration sites in the Greenway in 2009.

The new Marymoor Connector Trail links the Burke-Gilman to the East Lake Sammamish Trail, making it possible to travel between Ballard and Issaquah on a safe, separated trail, bringing the region one step closer to a connected regional trail system that will allow a hiker or biker to travel from the Seattle waterfront and head east across the state.

The grand opening of the new Little Si Trail and Trailhead occurred on National Trails Day, with a new parking area to accommodate the thousands of hikers that visit each year, a brand new trail surface, a new trail connecting the parking lots and a new bridge over the Snoqualmie River.

The Greenway education program taught over 3,500 school children about the importance of keeping a healthy natural environment in balance with growing population. Some of these students had never been on a walk in the woods before.

New Greenway Summer Camps brought over 100 young people to do ecological restoration and trail maintenance during week-long camps, engaging future generations in caring for special places in the Greenway.

This is only a sampling of the many projects and key partners that make the Mountains to Sound Greenway a reality for future generations to enjoy!