Follow by Email

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sustainable Roads workshop rescheduled to 11/13

The Sustainable Roads Project has restarted since the shutdown of the Federal Government has ended.

The Everett public workshop meeting which was canceled on October 9th has been rescheduled for Wednesday, November 13th from 5:30 to 8:00 PM at Everett Community College, Jackson Conference Center.

NCCC encourages everyone to advocate for the responsible decommissioning of the unnecessary and environmentally damaging, crumbling roads on our national forest, as well as the responsible maintenance of roads whose important uses include connecting people with nature. 

In the current issue of The Wild Cascades, Ed Henderson describes the Sustainable Roads Project:

Following up on the fall 2012 meeting at REI (see TWCWinter 2013), the Forest Service staff of the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest (MBS) is conducting a series of workshops to gather public input on the maintenance of the road system on that national forest. Faced with budget cuts that will dramatically reduce the number and miles of roads it can afford to maintain, the MBS staff is calling on the public to help determine which roads should be maintained and which should no longer be kept up.

The Forest Service is responsible for more than 400,000 miles of roads on the national forests throughout the nation. There are over 20,000 miles of road on national forest land in Washington State, 2,500 miles of which are located in MBS. Almost all of them are decades old and in poor condition. Nationally there is a multi-billion dollar backlog of deferred maintenance on national forest roads. Crumbling roads are responsible for washouts, erosion and landslides. The recent washout on the Cascades River Road in the North Cascades National Park and mudslides that closed state Highway 20 twice this summer forcibly remind us that roads are but temporary fixtures in a dynamic mountain landscape.

MBS candidly admits that these roads were build for the short-term goal of “getting the cut out.” That is, to provide access for cutting down trees and hauling the logs away. The roads were never intended to afford access for recreation and other uses for many years into the future. With the decline of logging, the trees having been cut down, subsidies for maintenance have been severely reduced. MBS estimates that it will only have funds to maintain about 25% or 628 of its 2,500 miles of roads.

The Sustainable Roads Project is part of the response to the federal 2005 Travel Management Rule. The Rule mandated that all national forests develop a Motor Vehicle Use Map and create a sustainable roads strategy. Based on its Minimum Roads Analysis, MBS produced its map in 2009. The final strategy, due to be completed by 2015, will inform future decisions as to which roads to maintain and at what level. Decisions on the closure of individual roads will require the normal NEPA evaluation.

To involve the public in developing the strategy, MBS has been holding a series of eight public workshops. Through September 24, seven workshops have been attended by over 240 people. Each workshop begins with introductory remarks, followed by background explanations and instructions. Participants, seated in groups of six, are asked to identify as many as eight destinations each in the forest that are important to them. Then they are instructed to mark with color-coded hi-lighters the roads on the national forest they use for access to these areas. The roads and areas are both marked on a large map for the group and individually reported on separate worksheets.

Each group of participants then discusses and responds to three major topics.
1. What are the consequences of a reduced road system?
Not surprisingly, the loss of motor vehicle access heads the list, followed by a wide range of both positive and negative effects. These range from negative economic impacts on rural communities as a result of reduced visitation, crowding on the remaining accessible sites, and loss of fire protection to the reduced introduction of invasive species, improved wildlife habitat and increased opportunities for non-motorized recreation.
2. What criteria should be used when analyzing the road system?
The participant groups have responded with a strong element of realism. The first criterion mentioned is a cost-benefit analysis, followed by consideration of the local economic impact, the importance of the area accessed, and the on-going maintenance cost. Environmental effects, both positive and negative, must be considered, many participants say.
3. What are some strategies and opportunities for maintaining the road system?
While many schemes for raising money have been proposed, more pragmatic ideas include “Adopt-a-Road” partnerships between local groups and the Forest Service for particular roads and lowering maintenance criteria on some roads to allow more miles to be kept open.
The workshops also provide an opportunity for the participants to identify problem roads and roads they believe should be closed.
Not part of the workshop discussions is the fate of the remaining 75% or 1,972 miles of MBS roads that will not be maintained. There appear to be three options:

The roads may be closed to motor vehicle traffic and blocked with gates, with the option of being reopened at some future date.

The roads may be decommissioned with culverts removed, natural drainage restored, the driving surface removed and native vegetation planted. These roads would be removed from the inventory and never restored. Decommissioning will require a NEPA process.

After the workshops close, you can express your views on the Sustainable Roads blogs on the MBS website. As of September 26, more than 627 people had posted comments on the future of forest roads.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Wild Cascades - new issue now available online

The new Summer-Fall 2013 issue of The Wild Cascades is now available on our website!

Of course, you can always get your copy first, a couple of weeks before it's posted on our website, by joining NCCC!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

NCCC co-founder Phil Zalesky has passed away.

We regret to inform you that NCCC co-founder Phil Zalesky passed away yesterday. 

HistoryLink File #9368
Zalesky, Phil (b. 1924) and Laura (b. 1924)
Phil and Laura Zalesky began lives in 1924 that included early poverty, but became enriched through their marriage in 1945 and intertwined with some of the most important Pacific Northwest environmental efforts of the twentieth century: creation of North Cascades National Park, defending Olympic National Park, and protecting the fragile wetlands of Snohomish County.      


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Do It Yourself - Build a National Park

By the late Patrick Goldsworthy, co-founder of NCCC. (First published in NCCC News, February 1959)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Patrick Goldsworthy: An appreciation [Seattle P-I]

Patrick Goldsworthy: An appreciation


Dr. Patrick Donovan Goldsworthy was present at the creation of the Northwest’s conservation movement, back in the days when horn-blasting logging trucks lined up outside wilderness hearings, and the Wenatchee National Forest supervisor greeted a delegation of early greens with the words:  “Just what do you people want?”

Goldsworthy, 94, died in Seattle on Sunday.
“Pat always impressed me as one of the true gentlemen of Northwest conservation,” said Tim McNulty, a Sequim-based author and longtime activist in Olympic Park Associates.
By Joe Sebille
A grizzly bear in the North Cascades National Park, the first confirmed sighting since before the park’s creation in 1968.  Dr. Patrick Goldsworthy, who crusaded to establish the park, died Sunday at 94.  The first hike he took in the “American Alps” was to Cascade Pass, just below where this picture was taken.

Goldsworthy was a gentlemen, but relentless in his advocacy.
He helped establish the first Sierra Club chapter in the Northwest.  In 1957, he helped found the North Cascades Conservation Council, the most uncompromising voice of Washington conservation.  The N3C fought an administrative battle for creation of a Glacier Peak Wilderness Area in 1960, then turned to Congress for passage of the North Cascades Act in 1968.
The landmark legislation created a 684,000 acre North Cascades National Park complex, along with adjoining Glacier Peak and Pasayten Wilderness Areas totaling nearly one million acres.  It was a seminal moment for protection and preservation of the “American Alps.”
When U.S. Interior Secretary Stewart Udall came to Seattle for the 1962 World’s Fair, Seattle attorney/conservationist Irving Clark, Jr., invited Goldsworthy to a Bainbridge Island beach party honoring Udall.
“Now Pat,” he admonished Goldsworthy, “Stewart Udall is a busy man.”  Clark gently suggested that Goldsworthy let Udall relax and hold off lobbying for a national park in the North Cascades.
No way!  Armed with maps, Goldsworthy positioned himself just inside the door of the beach house.  He waylaid Udall, took him into the study and laid out the case for a park. Goldsworthy, lugging topographical maps, became a familiar figure in Washington congressional offices.
Six years post-Bainbridge, Goldsworthy stood with Udall at the White House while President Lyndon Johnson signed the North Cascades Act into law.  He received a pen used by LBJ to sign the act.
Goldsworthy was a participant in one of the national conservation movements most wrenching battles.  He was a director of the Sierra Club when, in 1969, the club board voted to oust visionary but autocratic executive director David Brower.
Brower had brought national attention to the “American Alps” with publication of the Sierra Club book “North Cascades: Forgotten Parkland.”  He gave national circulation to a film, “The Wilderness Alps of Stehekin.”  He helped defeat a massive mining project proposed for the heart of the Glacier Peak Wilderness, with a full-page New York Times ad headlined:  “An Open Pit Visible from the Moon.”
But he spent money the club did not have, and went around its directors.  Goldsworthy was a diehard Brower defender, and left the Sierra Club board afterward.
In professional life, Goldsworthy was a University of Washington professor who spent a career researching protein biochemistry.  He was raised in Berkeley, California, weaned on early Sierra Club outings, and came north to Seattle after World War II service in the Army Medical Corps.
The atmosphere for conservation, at the time, was not friendly.  A famous Seattle Times editorial lampooned conservation advocates as “mountain climbers and birdwatchers.”  An Olympic National Park superintendent allowed illegal logging on park lands, supposedly taking trees that endangered visitors.
Goldsworthy went out to the park, photographed the destruction, and helped halt the logging.  He was active in Olympic Park Associates, which became a model for N3C.
The conservation community was never/will never be satisfied.  The North Cascades Act was followed in 1976 by creation of a 393,000-acre Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  The million-acre Washington Wilderness Act of 1984 created a Mt. Baker and Boulder River Wilderness, and protected 179,000 acres east of Lake Chelan.
Yet, even in his 90′s, Goldsworthy continued to press his latest cause, expansion of the North Cascades National Park to embrace ecosystem rather than political boundaries.  A now-sympathetic Times pictured Goldsworthy and longtime fellow activist Polly Dyer on a hike up the Baker River, just outside existing park boundaries.
Along with 101 Hikes guidebook author Harvey Manning, Goldsworthy belong to a group that called itself the Elderly Birdwatchers Hiking and Griping Society.  It did 39 hikes, of which Goldsworthy participated in 23.  Woe unto the motorcycle-riding Forest Service backcountry ranger who encountered the “Birdwatchers.”
Goldsworthy retired from the University of Washington in the early 1990′s, but never really retired from the N3C.
If you want to see his legacy, lift your eyes unto our hills.