State DNR reaches milestone in developing recreation opportunities for Reiter Foothills Forest
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State DNR reaches milestone in developing recreation opportunities for Reiter Foothills Forest 
 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
                                                    
April 21, 2011

State DNR reaches milestone in developing recreation opportunities for Reiter Foothills Forest 
After wide public input on environmental review, DNR moves one step closer to trail completion

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced a major milestone in its progress to develop recreation at Reiter Foothills Forest. The agency has determined through the State Environmental Review Act (SEPA) process that the proposed design and plan for a motorized trail system in the forest will not have significant adverse effects on the forest’s environment. With this determination, DNR can now move forward with the next steps to develop recreation opportunities in the area.

The proposed motorized trail system is one part of an overall recreation plan for Reiter Foothills Forest that will also include a system of trails for non-motorized recreation, including hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use. The recreation plan calls for developing non-motorized and motorized trails in separate areas of the forest.

Reiter Foothills Forest had never been formally developed as a recreation site. Throughout the years, users have built their own trails, many of which were located in environmentally sensitive areas. Some of these trails impacted natural resources and created concern for public safety.

“The recreation plan will enable DNR to improve recreational opportunities, access, and public safety, while protecting the environment and natural resources,” said Mark Mauren, DNR’s Recreation Program Manager. “We now have a well-designed trail and facility plan based on sound science and valuable public input.”

The new, designated motorized trail system will be developed in two phases:

  • Phase 1.  Development, design, and construction of a motorized trail system, which includes 10.5 miles of trail, two temporary parking areas, and one trials-riding challenge area.
  • Phase 2. Construction of 15.3 additional miles of trail, one trials-riding area, construction of a new trailhead, five challenge-riding areas for four-wheel drive vehicles (4x4s), potential additional parking (if needed), and development of an upper parking area.   

“The new trail system will offer challenging and fun recreation opportunities for single-track, quad, and four-wheel-drive riders,” Mauren said. “Once developed, Reiter Foothills Forest will contribute to the overall economic vitality of the Highway 2 corridor through the Skykomish Valley.”

In addition to the motorized trail plan, DNR staff have been working with the public and volunteers to design, lay out, and develop a system of trails for non-motorized recreation.

Public weighs in on trail proposal during SEPA review process
DNR released the proposed motorized trail plan in December 2010 for public comment through the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review process. When the review period closed on January 31, DNR had received 803 comments. The comments addressed issues such as water quality, enforcement, and traffic impacts to roads and local communities

DNR staff spent several weeks going through and responding to the comments. After a thorough review, the SEPA responsible official issued a Notice of Final Determination, which is a Modified Determination of Non-Significance (MDNS). The decision was issued after considering all comments, including impacts to the town of Index, water quality, enforcement, wildlife habitat, transportation, and the recent landslide affecting Reiter Road. DNR addressed all these issues and others and how they will affect the development of recreation in the Reiter Foothills Forest.

Next steps to reopening Reiter Foothills Forest
Now that DNR’s responsible official has made the final SEPA determination, DNR can move forward with the motorized trail project and apply for the appropriate permits from state and local governments. To help fund the development of recreation at Reiter Foothills Forest, DNR applied for a number of grants. In addition, revenue from the proposed Discover Pass, which is currently under consideration in the legislature, could help pay for some of the costs.

Map of the Reiter Foothills Forest recreation planning area 

Reiter Foothills Forest recreation planning area 

Background on Reiter Foothills Forest
Reiter Foothills Forest is a block of forested state trust lands in southeastern Snohomish County managed by DNR.  The forest has long been a popular place for recreation, particularly off-road vehicle (ORV) riding.

In November 2009, DNR temporarily closed the area to all but foot access while the agency and volunteers worked to restore environmental damage and develop a safe and sustainable plan for new trails. The motorized trail plan also calls for additional restoration work.
      
Recreation planning on DNR-managed lands
One of the tools DNR uses to manage recreation includes developing comprehensive recreation plans to ensure public safety and to help protect wildlife habitat, water quality and other natural resources on state trust lands. In April 2010, DNR completed the Reiter Foothills Recreation Plan, which went through an extensive public involvement process over several years, including a SEPA review.

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.

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

Further information
Details and related documents about the SEPA final determination are online at:
www.dnr.wa.gov/ResearchScience/Topics/SEPAOthers/Pages/amp_sepa_other_reitertrail_feb.aspx  

For more information about the Reiter Foothills Forest Recreation Plan, go to:

More information, specifically about the motorized trail system, is online at:


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

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