Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, DNR Team Up on Good Neighbor Authority’s Bandera Restoration Project
April 28, 2022
Restoration project partnership between DNR and USFS will bolster forest health, improve aquatic habitats, and bolster trail access in forest east of Seattle
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will begin the Bandera Restoration Project this week in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest east of Seattle. The project will improve forest health, including aquatic habitat, and improve access to two popular trailheads off Interstate 90.
The project is part of the Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) agreement between DNR and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to advance forest health goals held by both agencies, including:
- Restoration of forests to support species diversity and forest structure for long-term resilience.
- Enhancement and restoration of wildlife habitats. Workers will replace 13 undersized culverts in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Obsolete forest roads will be decommissioned, which will improve fish habitats. The Bandera Restoration Project will also improve deer and elk forage habitats.
- Improving access to outdoor recreation opportunities. Repairs of Forest Service roads will improve hydrologic function. These repairs will create safer driving conditions for visitors to both trails. Workers will replace 13 undersized culverts in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Obsolete forest roads will be decommissioned, which will improve fish habitats.
The Bandera Restoration Project will take place around the south side of Bandera Mountain. Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) successfully bid for the project in 2019. In addition to restoration of salmon habitat and trail improvements, the project will provide green power to homes through cogeneration and produce commercial lumber from the removal of younger trees and by thinning uniform stands that lack diversity for wildlife habitat and are prone to insect and disease outbreaks.
“Managers of forestland across Washington face a range of challenges, including diminished aquatic habitat and degraded wildlife habitat,” said Jody Weil, Forest Supervisor of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. “The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is no exception. Historic logging and fire suppression practices left many landscapes in an unnatural and fire prone state. Modern management utilizes forest thinning to create a more natural ecosystem, lower the risk of insect and disease outbreaks in trees, and support better fish and wildlife habitat.”
Commissioner Franz signed a Good Neighbor Authority agreement with USFS in 2017. The agreement authorizes DNR to conduct forest, watershed and rangeland restoration projects on federal land.
“At the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, we believe that improving our watersheds, forests, and rural economies takes an all hands, all lands approach,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who leads DNR. “I am proud to see this latest example of our innovative state and federal partnership, which allows us to restore forestland, increase hiking access in the popular Snoqualmie River Valley, and make salmon habitat enhancements that will be felt in this watershed and beyond.”
Revenue generated by the Bandera Restoration Project will fund future restoration projects within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The Washington State Legislature created a new fund for DNR in 2017 to hold this revenue to ensure it is then used to speed the pace and scale of forest restoration work on federal lands. Project partners intend to use revenues from this project to explore additional salmon recovery opportunities in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
“Sierra Pacific is proud to partner in this collaboration,” said Lisa Perry, community relations manager for SPI. “It provides the public a chance to see how forest management provides a multitude of benefits, including forest health, habitat improvement, improved recreational access, and every day products that store carbon for generations.
Intermittent closures of FS 9030 and FS 9031 will be required during the Bandera Restoration Project. Operations will take place throughout the spring and summer of 2022. The two roads are located off Exit 45 from I-90, and connect hikers to the Talapus Lake Trailhead and the Ira Springs Trailhead.
The contract between SPI and DNR requires at least one of the roads to remain open to the public. Both roads must be open from noon on Fridays through Sunday nights, as well as on all federally recognized holidays.
Workers will focus first on units along FS 9031. It is unlikely that operations will close FS 9030 until late May or early June.
Information on upcoming road closures will be available on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website, Facebook, and Twitter pages, as well as the Washington Trails Association web pages for both trails. Members of the public can also check the DNR Facebook and Twitter for updates on the project.
About the Good Neighbor Authority
Congress permanently authorized the GNA in the 2014 Farm Bill. It authorizes state agencies like DNR to enter into agreements with the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to conduct forestland, watershed, and rangeland restoration services as an agent of the federal government, with the added benefit of using state procedures and policies to conduct the work. Under the GNA, the state must follow all applicable federal laws.
For more information on the Good Neighbor Authority in Washington State, please visit https://www.dnr.wa.gov/GNA.
DNR Communications Manager
Public Affairs Specialist
USDA Forest Service