As the 2022-23 ski season winds down, we want to take a look back at what Cascade Backcountry Alliance accomplished in our first year and share the upcoming projects we’re working on.
Before we dive in, we’d also like to say a huge thank-you to our partners, community volunteers, and everyone who’s supported Cascade Backcountry Alliance over the past year. We’ve come a long way in a short time thanks to your support!
Our Year One Accomplishments
A lot of work this winter took place behind the scenes.
Starting from a core group of backcountry users, we reincorporated Cascade Backcountry Alliance after a more than three-year hiatus.
We created bylaws for the organization and voted in a 12-member board. We laid out our mission and identified long-term access issues that Cascade Backcountry Alliance is well-suited to address.
We also created internal teams focused on outreach, education, and working with the Sno-Parks program. We shared our efforts with the community through a new website, blog, and social media channels.
We worked hard to develop relationships within the winter recreation community. Our board members had productive interactions with local ski resorts, Forest Service offices, the National Park Service, state legislators, Washington State Parks, the Northwest Avalanche Center, and many others.
We began building collaborative relationships with other access-focused organizations including Citizens for Forest Roads, the Whatcom County Snowmobile Club, and the Central Cascade Winter Recreation Council. We also met with dozens of individuals who care deeply about winter recreation in the Cascades and who can help us achieve our mission in the years ahead.
We also worked on several time-sensitive access issues that impacted backcountry recreation this winter.
With the support of our community and in partnership with Citizens for Forest Roads and the Whatcom County Snowmobile Club, we launched a letter-writing campaign to Representative Rick Larsen to spur repairs to Glacier Creek Road on the north side of Mt. Baker.
Shortly after our campaign, Representative Larsen visited Glacier Creek Road and announced that it will be repaired using Federal Highway Administration funds. Thank you to everyone who participated in this effort for your help.
We also took an active role in meetings with Mt. Rainier National Park leadership to address the closure of Paradise on weekdays throughout the winter. While there isn’t yet a resolution to this issue, Cascade Backcountry Alliance has been recognized as an important contributor to the discussion.
We’re now involved in discussions around the proposed reservation system for Paradise with other stakeholders including Washington Trails Association, National Parks Conservation Association, The Mountaineers, Access Fund, and Winter Wildlands Alliance.
What Cascade Backcountry Alliance is Doing Now
While the Cascades are making the transition to summer, our board is already thinking about next winter. We have several ongoing efforts to offer new winter access options and to make Cascade Backcountry Alliance even more of a resource for the backcountry community.
First, we just submitted two applications for new Sno-Parks with Washington State Parks.
One is at White Pine Road, east of Stevens Pass, which would offer access to the north side of the Chiwaukum range for backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and ice climbing. This road has been plowed by Cascade Meadows Camp in the past, but public parking was extremely limited. We partnered with the camp, which owns the land, to propose the Sno-Park.
The second proposed Sno-Park is at Tinkham Road, west of Snoqualmie Pass. The area offers great snowshoeing and backcountry skiing opportunities including Humpback Mountain.
We’ll be working with Washington State Parks this summer as we seek approval for these Sno-Parks. If they’re approved, they will likely be open for winter recreation starting in the 2023-24 season.
We’re also producing new educational content to help more people get into the backcountry safely and responsibly. That includes publishing beginner-friendly guides on how to start backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, where to get avalanche safety training, and much more.
Look for these new educational resources on our website and social media channels this fall.
We also want to get to know our community better. We plan to share a survey this fall to learn more about your priorities for Cascade Backcountry Alliance. We’re also excited to host events so we can meet more of the community and answer questions about what we do.
Our Future Plans and Projects
Expanding winter backcountry access is a long-term effort and we have exciting plans for the future to achieve our mission.
First, we’re continuing to build relationships with land managers, policy makers, backcountry users, and other recreation-focused advocacy groups. We want to be a reliable, trusted partner within the winter recreation community.
We also want to better represent the entire backcountry community. Look for more snowshoeing and non-ski-related recreation tips from Cascade Backcountry Alliance over the coming year.
We’re actively looking for ways to expand winter access in new areas. That includes working with community members and land managers to identify new potential Sno-Parks.
We’re also looking into the possibility of opening more terrain to backcountry skiing and snowshoeing through vegetation management, also known as glading. Glading has been highly successful in the Northeast, but we have a lot of work to do to determine if this is viable in Washington.
Thanks for a Great First Year
We’ve come a long way this year, and we couldn’t have done it without our community and our partners. From all of us at Cascade Backcountry Alliance, thank you for your support and we’re looking forward to next winter!