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Friday, October 23, 2009

Completing the Park: The American Alps Legacy Project

"Where's my Park?"

Oddly enough, most visitors to the North Cascades never actually enter the North Cascades National Park. The North Cascades Highway stays within the Ross Lake National Recreation Area and the scenic highway corridor to the east, which is outside the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The only car-accessible area of the park is along the upper Cascade River Road leading to the Cascade Pass trailhead.

The beautiful 30-mile scenic Highway 20 corridor from Ross Lake to Early Winters did not receive the long-term protection from development that comes with park designation. Important lowlands, like the Cascade River valley, were excluded from the park. Several pristine valleys including Thunder and Big Beaver Creeks were designated as part of the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, instead of park.

Upper Snowy Lake (above) marks one of the true headwaters of the Skagit River in the US. Just beyond, the snowfields below Mt. Hardy mark the true headwaters of the Methow River--a critical area by any measure. The entire area is unprotected.


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