"Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA offers habitat, clean water, and recreation" by Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands
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"Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA offers habitat, clean water, and recreation" by Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands 
Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA 

DNR FIELD NOTES
                                                                                                         
December 11, 2009

DNR Field Notes | Commentary: Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA offers habitat, clean water, and recreation

OLYMPIA – This 499-word article from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is available for use in your publication or on your website at anytime. The photo, Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA, also may be used with attribution as indicated.

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Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA offers habitat, clean water, and recreation

By Peter Goldmark
Commissioner of Public Lands

At the annual Mountains to Sound Greenway Dinner on December 2, I had the distinct pleasure of designating the new Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA). Protecting ecologically significant lands in key locations across the state is a very important and gratifying part of our work.

Some of Washington’s natural areas are islands of ancient ecology surrounded by other land use or development. Others were selected for their unique features, such as Mount Si NRCA or the new Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA, that are prized both for their people-pleasing scenic views and grandeur and their native ecosystems.

When unique lands are modified or developed, their important natural attributes and diverse public opportunities may be gone forever. So it is critical for our staff at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to identify areas of importance and work together with public and private partners to protect them.

Such was the case in the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River Valley, identified as ecologically distinguished, featuring patches of natural-origin forests, important fish and wildlife habitat, and scenic views. This natural area, that includes 10,270-acre within its boundary, is nested along Interstate 90, and flanked by the Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area 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. 

Currently, most of this area is state trust lands, managed by DNR to provide revenue to specific trusts that build public schools, and help pay for county services. However, much of this land has slow-growing higher elevation older forests, less valuable as timber lands than as forest habitat that supports clean water and other public resources. Last year the Legislature approved funding to transfer the state trust lands in the Middle Fork Valley out of trust status and into the natural area. The proposed Middle Fork Snoqualmie NRCA also contains a few private parcels that will be eligible to be included in the NRCA if they are purchased from willing sellers.

As I indicated, NRCAs in Washington State are designated to protect native ecological systems and habitat for threatened, endangered and sensitive plants and animals, while offering opportunities for education and low-impact public use.

Natural areas inform the scientific community through study and research, which helps us 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 natural areas are appropriate for hiking, to be enjoyed by so many people that want to experience the beauty and refresh their spirits.

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

Media Contact: Jane Chavey, Senior Communications Manager, 360-902-1721, jane.chavey@dnr.wa.gov

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