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Friday, November 28, 2014

Urgent Action Alert! New Stehekin road as Hastings "legacy?"

Urgent Action Alert!

New Stehekin road as Hastings "legacy?"

Joel Connelly announced in the Seattle P-I Monday that there's an effort underway to deliver a parting gift to retiring Congressman Doc Hastings by an action directing the National Park Service (NPS) to rebuild the upper Stehekin road. Joel says,

"It hasn’t come together — yet — but the idea is to 'bundle' several bipartisan proposals, and put the bundle into a must-pass piece of legislation such as the pending Defense appropriations bill." 

This appears to be a bundle of other actions, including protecting the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and Illabot Creek and additions to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, which have been pending for some time. A new National Historical Park for the Manhattan Project near Rep. Hastings' base in the Tri-Cities is also included and would be a fitting tribute to him. All of these have merit.

But tossing in a rebuild of the upper Stehekin road with this mix would be a mistake!
MARIA CANTWELL as soon as you can, and tell them not to support this! Either remove the Stehekin Road from the bundle or set aside the whole bundle until these proposals can be separately addressed.

Murray:  206 553-5545
 (202) 224-2621
Cantwell:  206 220-6400
(202) 224-3441

Senators Murray and Cantwell need to hear from YOU that this road is a road to nowhere. The upper Stehekin road connects to no other roads. The people in Stehekin are not asking for it to be rebuilt. Many folks continue to quietly access the upper valley on foot, bike and horseback today, using the old roadbed as a trail. If the old road is repaired it will continue to wash-out in future floods because of the stream's well-documented riverbed aggredation, that's elevating the river bed and forcing the main channel to migrate across the floodplain in high-water events. And if it's rebuilt in a new location to avoid flood damage, there would be a huge impact to ancient forest that has been protected in Wilderness since the 1988 Washington Parks Wilderness Act. That's why NCCC has been consistently opposed to rebuilding and/or rerouting this road.
The National Park Service did a thorough job of analyzing the feasibility of rebuilding the road above High Bridge, with full public comment. NPS's study demonstrated that the reconstruction would be futile, just causing a lot of additional impact on what is now a well-recovered landscape. And it would require changing the Wilderness boundary, because Wilderness surrounds the old road corridor on both sides above High Bridge where the road currently ends.
Rep. Hastings has been an opponent of environmental legislation in his nearly 20-year Congressional career, including Wilderness designations. As recent Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee he has been seeking to roll back the Endangered Species Act. If Congress wants to honor him, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Hanford would be a fine legacy. Don't build an expensive road to nowhere in the heart of the Wild Cascades!

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