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  • Writer's pictureWill Russack

Long-term Closure of Gold Creek Valley - Public Comments Due May 2!

Updated: Apr 29

The USFS, WDFW, and the Yakama Nation are proposing a large restoration project in the Gold Creek Valley, just east of Snoqualmie Pass. The project would restore riparian and wetland ecological functions to the creek which would help support recovery of bull trout, a federally listed species.

While this ecological restoration work is incredibly exciting, the proposed project would result in a multi-year closure of Gold Creek Pond and its recreation facilities, including the popular snowshoe loop and access further up the valley. Beyond being an important winter access point for snow play, snowshoers, and backcountry skiers, Gold Creek provides ADA access to the incredible views of the Gold Creek Valley during snow-free months.

Snowshoers walking through the forest
Photo credit: Cherlyn Eliza

The draft environmental assessment has determined no significant environmental impacts and no significant recreational impacts, citing that the 100-300 cars who recreate at the Gold Creek Sno-Park can visit other areas during the closure. However, the “other recreational facilities” in the Snoqualmie Pass area do not have the capacity to absorb the hundreds of vehicles and winter recreationalists that currently enjoy the Gold Creek Valley during the winter months. 

CBA believes the proposed project needs to include more substantive plans for offsetting the significant loss of Gold Creek Valley as a winter recreation access point.

We recommend the Forest Service investigate the feasibility of the following additional solutions to help address the already difficult parking issues in the Snoqualmie Pass vicinity:

  • Provide parking at the PCT North (Kendall Katwalk) parking lot to improve access to the Commonwealth Basin for snowshoeing and backcountry skiing

  • Allow winter recreationalists to continue to access F.S Road 4832-144 in the Gold Creek Valley, which is outside the project area and provides snowshoeing opportunities and backcountry skiing access

  • Allow recreationalists to access the upper Gold Creek Valley via trail 1314 by including clear signage and/or temporary trail markers as necessary to maintain closure of project area

  • Expand parking on Lake Mardee Road and pursue opportunities to acquire the adjacent private land, where snowshoers can access F.S road 9090 and provide additional snow play opportunities in the flat open area.

  • Work with WSDOT to allow parking on the north side of I-90 at Exit 62 and add signage and trail connector for cross country skiers and snowshoers to access Cabin Creek and Mount Amabalis trail system. 

We believe that the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is responsible for working with their colleagues in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and private landowners to help address the winter parking issues at Snoqualmie Pass, including the added stress caused by this project.

The draft environmental assessment currently predicts that construction will impact Gold Creek Pond will year-round for 5-7 years, and potentially up to 10 years. Limiting the closure period to the extent possible would help mitigate the large anticipated impacts on winter recreation. Additionally we would like to see a project map documenting the temporary impacts and road closures that could be distributed to the recreational community. 

We understand that the Gold Creek Sno-park (F.S 4832) will still be open, even though the trail and pond and recreational area will be closed. It would be helpful for the closure map to direct users towards alternate recreation options if they show up at the location and no longer have an easily accessible recreation destination available.

 For additional project info: 

Public comments on the proposal are due May 2nd. If you regularly recreate in the Snoqualmie pass area make sure to mention that in your comment and feel free to use any of our talking points above. 

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