State DNR adopts recreation plan for Western Yacolt Burn Forest
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State DNR adopts recreation plan for Western Yacolt Burn Forest 
 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 16, 2010

State DNR adopts recreation plan for Western Yacolt Burn Forest
Plan proposes nearly 80 miles of new trails

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today formally adopted a comprehensive recreation plan that will guide the safe and sustainable management of recreation in the western portion of the Yacolt Burn State Forest.

“This plan will enhance existing recreation and create new recreational opportunities while ensuring the health of the forest’s resources and habitat in the Western Yacolt Burn,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “I really appreciate all the hard work and collaboration on the part of the citizen advisory committee who worked closely with DNR staff to make this plan a reality.”

The Western Yacolt Burn Forest Recreation Plan addresses recreation on 40,000 acres of the western half of the Yacolt Burn State Forest. The entire forest, located in southwest Washington, encompasses 90,000 acres and is located 10 miles northeast of Vancouver and 20 miles from the heart of the Portland metropolitan area.

As the region’s population has grown in the past two decades, so has the popularity of the Western Yacolt Burn. In addition, opportunities to recreate on nearby privately owned land—especially for motorized activities—is growing scarce. As a result, people are turning more to the Western Yacolt Burn Forest for recreation.

Public plays strong role in plan development
For nearly two years, DNR worked on the plan with an 11-member committee of people who represented a spectrum of recreation and community interests. The committee members provided invaluable insight and energy in developing the plan.

Chris King, a project manager for Howard S. Wright Constructors out of Vancouver, served on the committee. He lives within 20 minutes of the Western Yacolt Burn. “I believe we produced a plan that will go a long way toward meeting recreational needs and increasing safety in the Western Yacolt Burn,” King said. “I look forward to continuing my relationship with DNR as the plan is adopted and will be excited to go out on the trail and help put shovel to earth as the plan comes to life.”

Jon Brobst has lived next to the Yacolt Burn for 22 years and served on the recreation planning committee. He owns an auto parts business in Washougal and also participates in a neighborhood watch association. “The most important point of our work on the committee was to protect the area as a multi-use asset for future generations,” Brobst said.
 
Gary Collins represented the equestrian community on the committee and is concerned about the future of funding for recreation, given the economy and budget priorities. “But with no plan, we have no chance for funding,” he said.

In addition to working with the recreation planning committee, DNR sought public input before and during development of the plan through public meetings, a survey of users, public review of the draft plan, and a public comment period during the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review process.

Highlights of the Western Yacolt Burn Forest Recreation Plan
The Western Yacolt Burn Forest Recreation Plan sets goals for a 10-year period and proposes adding nearly 80 miles of authorized trails—20 miles of non-motorized and 58 miles of motorized trails. Also included in the plan are a new campground and trailhead, centrally located to off-road vehicle (ORV) trails. DNR also proposes expanding some of the existing campgrounds and parking at an established trailhead in the forest.

The plan provides for the development of separate trail systems for motorized and non-motorized recreation, which will result in more enjoyable recreational experiences and increase safety by reducing conflict among different user groups. DNR has used this approach effectively in other recreation areas, such as the popular Capitol State Forest, south of Olympia.

This planning effort was funded from grants from the Nonhighway and Off-road Vehicle Activities (NOVA) program in 2007. DNR’s ability to carry out the projects proposed under the plan will depend on securing funding for construction, maintenance, operations, and enforcement.

Download the Western Yacolt Burn Forest Recreation Plan at: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/Publications/amp_rec_western_yacolt_burn_forest_recreation_plan2010.pdf  
More information about the planning process and links to individual maps from the plan: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/RecreationEducation/Topics/RecreationPlanning/Pages/amp_rec_yacolt_plan.aspx  

Recreation planning on DNR-managed lands
DNR-managed lands provide more than 1,000 miles of trails, 143 recreation sites, and a variety of landscapes throughout Washington State. Most of these recreation areas are located on state trust lands, which provide revenue for public institutions such as K-12 schools.

DNR’s primary responsibility is to manage these trust lands for future generations. In addition, as a steward of public lands, DNR also works to protect the natural resources that support the trust. DNR must balance these obligations with providing enjoyable, safe, and sustainable recreation opportunities.

One of the tools DNR uses to better manage recreation is to develop comprehensive recreation plans. The Western Yacolt Burn Recreation Plan is the most recent planning effort.

Recreational opportunities on DNR-managed lands include hiking, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, camping, motorized vehicle riding, mountain biking, and boating. DNR’s main recreation focus is to provide trails, trailhead facilities, and a primitive experience in a natural setting.

Media Contact: Toni Droscher, Recreation Program Communications Manager, 360-902-1523, or toni.droscher@dnr.wa.gov .

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