This past week marked the second annual celebration of recreational opportunities on Washington’s beloved public lands, including National Forests, Roadless Areas, Wilderness and wild rivers. Governor Christine Gregoire recently released a proclamation on Washington’s Great Outdoors Week, stating that outdoor recreational activities “contribute significantly to our state and national economies and support thousands of jobs in rural communities near national forests and other public lands.” Gov. Gregoire encouraged all Washingtonians to enjoy outdoor activities and explore our public lands.
Washington is just one of several states participating in a nationwide effort to promote the benefits of public lands nationally. Each year, two-thirds of Americans enjoy the recreational opportunities on public lands offered during this week, including: hiking, biking, camping, climbing, kayaking, fishing, canoeing, and snowshoeing. Many of Great Outdoors Week’s events took place on public lands that are not under permanent protection. Some Washington-based events, for example, included trail restoration work in the Pratt River Connector Trail, in the proposed Alpine Lakes Wilderness additions. When the Alpine Lakes Wilderness was designated as a Wilderness in 1976, the Pratt River Valley’s low-elevation forests were not included. The Valley provides backyard wilderness recreation, old-growth forests, and key fisheries habitat. However, it is currently not permanently protected, and remains at risk for development.
On Saturday, August 28th, the Cutthroat Classic Trail Run will take place in the Methow Valley, a crucial wild land, which is currently not permanently protected. The Methow Valley has some of the Pacific Northwest’s best trail-based recreation and is prime land for recreation in all seasons, including skiing, mountain biking, and hiking. Located in the Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest, the Methow Valley has the opportunity to be considered for protections in the upcoming Eatern Washington Forest Plan revisions. The public comment period ends September 28th. This marks the first year in which the Forest Service will recommend lands for Wilderness designations.
We celebrated Great Outdoors Week with some fun social events around Seattle as well! On Tuesday, we partnered with our friends at Bluebird Microcreamery to offer a one-time-only ice cream flavor, S’more Wilderness! On Thursday, thanks to a gracious co-sponsorship by the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture¸ we held a natural history and wild lands themed trivia night at the College Inn Pub. Thanks to everyone who came out to our events, and thanks to our partners!
Want to more about possible threats to Washington’s wild lands? Check out this threats fact sheet. Events like Washington’s Great Outdoors Week highlights the importance of our state’s wild lands, and helps to explains why protecting them is such a high priority for Washington Wilderness Coalition.
Terra Miller-Cassman is WWC’s summer conservation outreach intern and blog writer. She recently completed her first year of UW’s environmental studies. For questions, contact Terra at email@example.com.