Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Romano's Endangered Trails

Gee Point

As a guidebook writer I've hiked my fair share of trails over the years. Here in Washington State- well over 1,000 of them. The fate of many of these backwoods byways is grim. While 20 years ago logging and logging roads were obliterating many of them off of the face of the Cascades, Olympics, and Selkirks, now they are fading because we aren't logging anymore! Say what? You heard me correctly. Because we are no longer logging in many of our national forests (thank the global market place and a few environmental zealots, but mostly the global market place) funding for trails and other recreation programs on our national forests has all but disappeared.

Now you can blame Bush and the Republicans, they certainly are responsible for much of the fund gutting-but it was happening under Clinton, too-and the current Democratic Congress hasn't amounted to too much either when it comes to funding our forests. (I miss Scoop Jackson!) The situation looks dire in the future even under a president Clinton, Obama, or McCain. Unless Americans start demanding that we fund our national forests better and perhaps stop wasting so much of our public dollars on wars, social welfare programs and entitlements.Our national Forests benefit all Americans-and wildlife-and provide a break from the rapidly urbanizing landscapes that we just can't seem to stop (think no population policy-think uncontrolled immigration-think unsustainable development).

Anyhow, I've digressed enough. I wish to share with you from time to time some of my favorite endangered trails in Washington State. One is Gee Point in the Finney Block of the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest located between the Stilliguamish and Skagit Rivers. Pockets of gorgeous old-growth still exist on this former lookout point with spectacular views of Mount Baker and the Skagit Valley. One of my favorite highlights on this trail is its "Mini Grand Park." The first .25 mile of this trail is brushy hell-but beyond, some good tread still exists. All this trail needs to bring it back to life is a handful of trail lovers one weekend brushing it out and doing a little tread work-perhaps adding a trailhead sign would be nice too. I've highlighted it in my new book, Day Hiking North Cascades. It is a peaceful trail and I want more people to discover it before we lose it forever. Will you heed my call and go hike it this year?

(photo- Gee Point's "Mini Grand Park" and thanks to WTA for the Endangered Trails inspiration)

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