Explore, enjoy and protect the planet

Goldmark Designates Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA)

December 3, 2009

10,270 acre site links Mount Si to federal forests

OLYMPIA – At the annual Mountains to Sound Greenway Dinner last night, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark designated the new Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA). The river valley was identified as ecologically distinguished, featuring patches of natural-origin forests, important fish and wildlife habitat, and scenic views.

This natural area, with 10,270 acres within its boundary, is nested along Interstate 90, and flanked by the Mount Si NRCA and federal forests. It will offer habitat corridors for many large and small animal species alike, and it will support the vision of the Mountains to Sound Greenway. 

"I have designated this new Middle Fork NRCA which has higher elevation old forests and connects valuable wildlife corridor across a broad landscape," said Commissioner Goldmark. "In addition, the new NRCA will offer scenic views and low impact public use in the Mountains to Sound Greenway close to ever more populated metropolitan areas."

Natural Resources Conservation Areas in Washington State are selected for their unique features and native ecosystems, as well as for people-pleasing scenic views and grandeur. Natural areas are designated to maintain, enhance or restore ecological systems and habitat for threatened, endangered and sensitive plants and animals, while offering opportunities for education and recreation.

"This new designation will enhance a wonderful conservation and recreation area in the Greenway," says Cynthia Welti, Executive Director of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. "We are grateful to Commissioner Goldmark and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the Middle Fork Outdoor Recreation Coalition and the many individuals and organizations within the Greenway Trust coalition who have worked for decades to turn the once-lawless Middle Fork Valley into a safe, accessible place for families, hikers, kayakers, rafters and fishers."

"Conservation status for this area is a big step toward our vision for the Middle Fork Valley and for the Greenway," Says Sally Jewell, CEO and President of outdoor retailer REI and Past President of the Greenway Trust. "By linking conservation lands, we are preserving treasured places for future generations to enjoy."

Washington’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff and other public and private partners identify areas of importance and work together to protect them. Natural areas inform the scientific community through study and research, which helps unlock secrets of rare plants and animal species, and identify relationships of plant and animals in these natural communities. A bonus for the public is that most of these natural areas can accommodate hikers and be enjoyed by so many people that want to experience the beauty and refresh their spirits.

Currently, most of the lands inside the Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA are state trust lands, managed by DNR to provide revenue to specific trusts that build public schools, and help pay for county services. Last year the Legislature approved funding to transfer the state trust lands in the Middle Fork Valley out of trust status and into conservation status as an NRCA.

The proposed Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA boundary also contains a few private parcels that will not be a part of the NRCA unless they are purchased. DNR only may purchase private land from willing sellers at fair market value — and only if funds are available. There is no authority or right of condemnation associated with acquiring lands for a natural area. DNR relies mostly on external funding sources for land acquisition in natural areas. Designation of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA will allow DNR to pursue grant funding to purchase land, and the agency intends to apply to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program for funds.

Establishing the proposed boundary is the first step toward accomplishing protection for this rich landscape.  DNR will work with partners and supporters to secure and manage this conservation area for the benefit and enjoyment of this and future generations of Washington’s citizens.

About the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust

The Mountains to Sound Greenway connects natural areas, trails, working farms and forests, historic towns and communities, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities from Seattle across the Cascade Mountains to Central Washington. The Greenway provides easy access to recreation and nature for millions of people in the Northwest, key to the quality of life in this region.

The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust leads and inspires action to conserve and enhance this landscape, ensuring a long-term balance between people and nature. Since 1991, the Greenway Trust has worked to promote public land acquisitions, connect a continuous regional trail system, teach people of all ages about the importance of conserving forests and wildlife, improve recreation access, create new parks and trails and mobilize thousands of volunteers.

Note: a map is available. 

Media Contacts:

Jane Chavey, Senior Communications Manager, 360-902-1721 jane.chavey@dnr.wa.gov 
Amy Brockhaus, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, 206-382-5565