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Thursday, December 3, 2009

URGENT! Send an email TODAY to save Washington State’s Reiter Forest!

Please take a minute to send an email TODAY to save Washington State’s Reiter Forest from off-road vehicle (ORV) damage. Reiter is located on the west side of the North Cascades north of US 2 near the town of Index (click here for a map).

We understand that ORV users are flooding the Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) with email comments, and we need to counter that with emails from many individual non-motorized recreationists and conservationists.





Example of a "user created ORV route" and damage caused by 4x4 “tube buggies” that have killed many trees at Reiter by stripping the bark off the trunks as they squeeze through the Reiter forest. For background, see "Reiter Forest: DNR's ORV Problems," The Wild Cascades, Summer 09, p. 14





DNR is taking public comments on its Draft Recreation Plan for Reiter Forest.  The comment deadline is TOMORROW (Friday Dec.4) at 5:00 PM Pacific time.

We like DNR’s plan because it significantly REDUCES the acreage open to ORVs, for good reason.  A year ago ORVers expected the entire Forest would be designated as an ORV sportspark, so they are upset about the proposed limits.  They are also upset because a month ago, DNR temporarily closed the entire Forest to any ORV use, to allow for restoration this winter and spring to repair ORV-caused damage (the first time Reiter has ever been entirely closed to ORVs).

We also like DNR’s plan because it helps protect adjacent wildlands from ORV trespass – the new Wild Sky Wilderness, Wallace Falls State Park, and Forks of the Sky State Park are all adjacent to Reiter Forest, and trespass and vandalism does occur.  We like the designation of non-motorized areas within Reiter Forest, to protect the land and wildlife and provide year-round, lower-elevation non-motorized recreation.  We need to support DNR’s efforts to protect public resources, even while we urge them to conduct a full EIS.

DNR’s Reiter Forest plan documents can be viewed HERE.

See below for talking points, and THANKS for helping us to protect Reiter Forest!

Among organizations supporting protection for Reiter Forest are:
Alpine Lakes Protection Society
Conservation Northwest
Friends of Wild Sky

The Mountaineers
North Cascades Conservation Council
Pilchuck Audubon Society
Sierra Club
Washington Trails Association
Washington Wilderness Coalition


Send your email comments to: sepacenter@dnr.wa.gov

Subject line:  Draft Reiter Foothills Forest Recreation Plan -- File 09-111001

Key points to make:
Support DNR’s plan to limit ORV use to 1,100 acres of the 10,000-acre Reiter Forest, due to extensive past damage caused by ORVs, to prevent future damage throughout Reiter Forest, and to prevent ORV trespass into the adjacent Wild Sky Wilderness, Wallace Falls State Park, and Forks of the Sky State Park.

Support DNR’s plan to restore and repair the horrendous damage caused by ORVs.

Support DNR’s current temporary closure to ORV use, to allow for restoration this winter and spring.  When Reiter is re-opened, DNR should not allow 4x4 “tube buggies” that have killed many trees at Reiter by stripping the bark off the trunks as they squeeze through the forest.

Support DNR’s plan to provide non-motorized recreation at Reiter, in areas separate from those open to ORVs.

Ask DNR to develop non-motorized trails to Lake Isabel in Wild Sky Wilderness, along the May Creek waterfalls, along “Vertigo Rim” atop the Index Town Wall, and to the east side of Wallace Falls.  These trails will provide year-round, lower-elevation recreation to many people.  The State’s surveys have always shown that non-motorized trail recreationists are the majority, and greatly outnumber ORV recreationists.

Ask DNR to study the merits of creating a Wild Wallace Natural Resource Conservation Area (NRCA) in the portion of Reiter Forest between May Creek and Wallace Falls.

Ask DNR to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze site-specific ORV impacts, past practices, and the restoration, mitigation, usage limits, enforcement and funding that are needed in the future. 

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