State DNR releases final recreation plan for Ahtanum State Forest
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State DNR releases final recreation plan for Ahtanum State Forest 
 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
                                                                                                         
January 20, 2010
 
State DNR releases final recreation plan for Ahtanum State Forest
DNR, citizen group work to improve recreation opportunities and access

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today released a recreation plan for the Ahtanum State Forest, a 76,000-acre block of forested state trust land about 20 miles west of Yakima.

The Ahtanum State Forest is a popular year-round recreation area for visitors from both sides of the Cascade Mountains. Over the years, the area has experienced increased use from a variety of recreation activities including off-road vehicle riding, hiking, hunting, and horseback riding.

“This plan provides the foundation for creating safe, sustainable, and enjoyable recreation opportunities in the Ahtanum State Forest,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “The strength of the plan lies in the collaborative efforts of citizens representing diverse recreation interests who helped develop a vision for the forest.”

In 2008, the Washington State Legislature directed DNR to develop a plan for the state forest that provides recreation opportunities, meets the management obligations of the state trust, and protects the environmental health of the area’s resources. The highest priorities of the plan are education and enforcement, improved signage, and continued public access.

Public involvement plays a key role
For the past two years, DNR staff worked with a citizen advisory group to develop the plan. Members of the group included representatives from a broad range of motorized and non-motorized recreation interests, a wildlife biologist, a conservationist, and a neighboring landowner. The planning group members devoted numerous hours to learning more about the area’s geology and biology, going on field visits, and surveying the public about their opinion on the future of recreation in the Ahtanum State Forest.

“I grew up hiking and hunting in the Ahtanum State Forest and have seen a lot of overuse and abuse,” said Ron Rutherford, who represented the four-wheel community on the Ahtanum Recreation Plan Work Group. “This plan will guide recreation in Ahtanum for the next 15 to 20 years and provide a proactive approach to managing recreation, rather than dealing with issues each year as they come up.”

“It was a pleasure to work with the Ahtanum work group,” said Mary Van Amburg, who represented the snowmobiling community. “It was a very diversified group that worked well together in the best interest of all recreation uses.”

Sara Cate, who represented hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing interests, said: “I’m pleased that the plan calls for improved trail signage, which should discourage people from building new, unauthorized trails or tearing up the landscape.”

Highlights of the Ahtanum Recreation Plan:

  • Pursue sustainable sources of funding to build and maintain facilities and trails, offer educational opportunities, and provide adequate enforcement.
  • Improve facilities that are outdated, such as expanding parking for Sno-Park locations.
  • Increase partnerships and coordination with volunteers to help with maintenance and enforcement.
  • Promote new trails and trailheads in a sustainable manner that can meet the needs of both the motorized and non-motorized recreation communities.
  • Improve opportunities for winter recreation.

The Ahtanum State Forest Recreation Plan is available at: www.dnr.wa.gov/RecreationEducation/Topics/RecreationPlanning/Pages/amp_rec_ahtanum.aspx  

For more information on how you can volunteer to help put the plan to work in the Ahtanum State Forest, contact Erin Kreutz at 509-925-0944 or erin.kreutz@dnr.wa.gov .

Map showing location of Ahtanum State Forest

Media Contact: Toni Droscher, Recreation Program Communications Manager, 360-902-1623 or toni.droscher@dnr.wa.gov .

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