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JimK
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JimK
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PostWed Apr 11, 2012 1:49 pm 
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This thread is not about debating the merits of the three alternatives. It is to help those who want to send a comment supporting Alternative B to repair the road to the end. If you are not sure which Alternative you favor, please read the Environmental Assessment (EA). In short, the three Alternatives are (A) Do nothing, (B) Repair the road to the end, and (C) repair the road to the Green Mt. Road junction and leave 4 miles of unrepaired road. There are 7 trailheads on the whole road and 4 of them are after the Green Mt. Road.

It has now been 8 1/2 years since the road first washed out at Downey Creek and 5 1/2 years since the last 10 miles have been closed. A new generation has never seen the end of the road and the fantastic trails that begin there. A number of us feel strongly enough that this area should again be open to the existing trailheads that we have spent time planning to help the process along.

There are a number of concerns regarding repairing and in places moving the road to help assure that it will be far less apt to fail again. In the planning process numerous federal and state agencies were consulted to be sure that no lasting damage will be done to endangered fish and animals. It's all in the EA. The result is that none of those agencies objected to the plan as it now stands.

Below is all that one needs to put together a comment. We need those who want the road repaired to the end to have their wishes heard. If you support a different alternative you have that same right. Please take the time to send in a comment. The hardest part is getting started. That blank screen or paper can be intimidating. To make it easier we put together a sample letter with additional points that can be added.

If you do nothing more than state your alternative that is helpful. If you cut and paste our sample and added a few other items and ideally a personal memory about the Suiattle so  much the better. No money is being requested. Just your input. The road has been shut down to driving for nearly 9 years. That is long enough.

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Link to the NEPA process which gives tips on commenting: NEPA Process

2) Full EA is here: Suiattle EA

3) Very brief description of alternatives (full description of alternatives is in link #2)
a. Alternative A No Action - road would remain closed at MP 12.6 (1.8 mile road walk to the Huckleberry Mtn TH) no road-to-trail conversion.

b. Alternative B Full Restoration of Road Access - all sites to be repaired and full access to Suiattle TH, Sulphur Mtn, Sulphur Creek, Downey Creek.

c. Alternative C Partial Road Restoration - Road only repaired to Green Mountain Road.  No road-to-trail conversion (over 4 mile road walk to Suiattle Trailhead).


4) Deadline for comments is 4/20/2012

5) Email comments to:   wfl.suiattleriverroad@dot.gov

6) Postmark (mail) comments to:
Federal Highway Administration
610 East Fifth Street
Vancouver, WA 98661-3893

(Either email or snail mail is fine.)
-------------------------------------------------------

Things to consider in your letter:
economic impact to the Darrington area

access for areas beyond the current closure

Alternative C leaves an 8 mile round trip walk to get to trailheads and the Sulphur Creek campgrounds.

That 8 mile round trip walk would severely lessen the amount of volunteer work done on trails. Not possible to get to trails and work in one day.

multiple user groups that have used the area in the past (hikers, backpackers, climbers, family camping at Buck Creek, Sulphur Ck, and Downey Creek), kayakers, horsepackers, SAR access, etc.

parking options at each alternative (special note that with Alternative C partial closure, there is no plan to add parking where the road will end whereas with Alternative B full restoration of the road, access to the turnaround at Suiattle Trailhead is restored)

where the road is currently located in flood plains and has washed out, the plan is to relocated the road out of the flood plain to reduce the chance of future washouts

----------------------------------------------------
Sample Letter


Regarding:
Suiattle River Road Project
WA FS ERFO 071-2023
Environmental Assessment

Dear Ms. Steele –

I am in support of Alternative B for the Suiattle River Road. This road should be repaired to the Suiattle Trailhead the following reason (s):

The Suiattle River Access and Travel Management Plan (ATM) ROD states that 74 miles of road will be no longer available to the public for pleasure-driving, dispersed camping, berry picking, picnicking. I recognize the high cost of maintenance does not warrant  keeping them open is high, and they are no longer needed.

The Suiattle River Road and its access to 7 trailheads, 2 car-camp grounds, however, is critical for hikers, backpackers, climbers, family car camping, kayakers, equestrians, pleasure-drivers, hunters, berry pickers, photography, mushroom picking, fishermen and simple enjoyment of being outdoors.

The loss of the Suiattle Road would make trail and campground maintenance extremely difficult

Page 3 of the EA identifies the Suiattle River Road as a “high need road” by The 2003 Forest-wide Roads Analysis or recreation and purposes.

With the loss of the White Chuck Road and trail in 2003, and the loss of the Suiattle River road beyond its current closure at milepost 12, the North Fork Sauk trail is becoming over-used by equestrians, hunters, climbers, backpackers. The parking lot there is no longer sufficient, and the degradation of backcountry camps are testament to the impact of the closure of the Suiattle Road. If the Suiattle Road is not repaired, continued heavy use of the North Fork Sauk trail will degrade the wilderness experience that people hope to enjoy when they enter Glacier Peak Wilderness.

While Alternative C does provide some access to 2 trailheads and one car campground, it does not include fixing the Downey Creek crossing, which is good for fish and the tribes like it.

ARRA funds breakdown.
; recruiting volunteers to walk 24 miles round trip to work on trails would be impossible. 

Sincerely,
Your name
Your address
Your email address

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Schroder
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PostWed Apr 11, 2012 7:06 pm 
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There's absolutely no reason Not to repair the Suiattle road to it's end.  The project proposes using an old logging road around washouts 2,3 and 4 to get the road to a higher elevation, out of wetlands and outside the Wild and Scenic River boundary to provide a road that will last long after I'm gone and eliminate the threat of future washouts.  NC3 and PAS has characterized the stand that the new connector road will pass through as old-growth. It's far from it.  It has all been logged or burned in the last century.  Furthermore, the existing road that goes through wetlands will be removed and the area rehabilitated. It will actually be better environmentally than it is now.  Likewise, the short reroute further away from the river at the Huckleberry trail head will locate the road far enough from the river to preclude washout threats.

The Downey Creek Bridge, which has not been damaged in floods as some claim, will be extended 210 feet on the west end and allow natural flow of high water without any obstruction. This has been endorsed by the Tribes and all the biologists that have had input to the project.  This is fully funded outside of the rest of this project as a salmon recovery project.

There is a short washout prior to Downey Creek where the road will be shifted further into the bank and that design, accompanied by the improvements to the Downey Creek Bridge, should reduce the risk of future slides here. That has also been characterized as low environmental risk by the geologist and biologists that have studied this.

As for the rest of the road - there was minor damage to the approach on the Sulphur Creek Bridge and the guard rail by a large log, but the 2 miles of road, the Sulphur Creek Campground and the huge existing paved parking lot at the end are all in great shape. It's ridiculous to consider NC3's proposal to close this section.

Alternative C, closing the road at Green Mountain, would eliminate any improvements at Downey Creek - since a trail is not funded. A large parking lot would have to be built somewhere in the vicinity of the Green Mountain Horse Pasture - adding 10 miles round trip to any trip up the Suiattle trails and all users, including vehicles on the Green Mountain Road ,would be occupying a stretch of road here. A very dangerous situation.

Don't let NC3 fool you. The funding for this project ends this year. There is no funding for trails, parking lots and creative engineering that they propose as alternates to the plans in the EA.

Alternative B is fully funded, has no significant environmental risk according to the experts that have contributed to the EA and it repairs the road to the 2003 terminus at Suiattle Trailhead - restoring all our access.
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cartman
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cartman
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PostWed Apr 11, 2012 8:39 pm 
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Jim, is emailing one's comments to the email in 5) above just as effective as mailing a letter; in other words, can do either?  Both will go to the same individual(s)?
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JimK
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JimK
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PostWed Apr 11, 2012 8:50 pm 
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My understanding is that they go to the same person. If in doubt use can certainly use snail mail.

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SergioNapelo
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SergioNapelo
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PostWed Apr 11, 2012 10:10 pm 
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Thank you Jim!
up.gif

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"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains.   From where shall my help come.   My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!" - David, King of Israel 1,000 BC
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Bedivere
Why Do Witches Burn?



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Bedivere
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PostWed Apr 11, 2012 11:12 pm 
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Folks - I'm posting the version of the sample letter above that I sent.  I've fixed some grammatical and punctuation errors, rearranged things a bit for better clarity, and added a tiny bit more information.

I hope that people find this useful.

I'm also doing my best to rally the troops through e-mails to people I know who would care about this, via Facebook, and by posting about this on other outdoors related websites I belong to.

Let's get this road reopened!  Don't be part of the silent majority.  It's time the majority stood up and stopped letting a noisy extremist minority get it's way.

Remember the Middle Fork!


Regarding:
Suiattle River Road Project
WA FS ERFO 071-2023
Environmental Assessment

Dear Ms. Steele –

I am in support of Alternative B for the Suiattle River Road. This road should be repaired to the Suiattle Trailhead for the following reason(s):

The Suiattle River Access and Travel Management Plan (ATM) ROD states that 74 miles of road will be no longer available to the public for pleasure-driving, dispersed camping, berry picking, and picnicking. I recognize the high cost of maintenance does not warrant  keeping them open and they are no longer needed.

However, the Suiattle River Road and its access to 7 trailheads and 2 car-camp grounds is critical for hikers, backpackers, climbers, family car camping, kayakers, equestrians, pleasure-drivers, hunters, berry pickers, photography, mushroom picking, fishermen, and the simple enjoyment of being outdoors.

Page 3 of the EA points out that the Suiattle River Road is a “high need road” as determined by The 2003 MBS Forest-wide Roads Analysis.

The loss of the Suiattle Road would make trail and campground maintenance extremely difficult as well as restricting access permanently to an area that has traditionally been enjoyed by multitudes of people and has cultural significance to local Indian tribes.  Furthermore,  volunteer efforts are critical to trail maintenance and recruiting volunteers to walk 24 miles round trip to work on trails would be extremely difficult.

With the loss of the White Chuck Road and trail in 2003, and the loss of the Suiattle River road beyond its current closure at milepost 12, the North Fork Sauk trail is becoming over-used by equestrians, hunters, climbers, and backpackers. The parking lot there is no longer sufficient and the degradation of backcountry camps are testament to the impact of the closure of the Suiattle Road. If the Suiattle Road is not repaired, continued heavy use of the North Fork Sauk trail will degrade the wilderness experience that people hope to enjoy when they enter Glacier Peak Wilderness.

While Alternative C does provide some access to 2 trailheads and one car campground, it does not include fixing the Downey Creek crossing which would be good for fish.  The Indian tribes support repairing this bridge and improving fish habitat and according to section 1.9 of the EA a Salmon Recovery Board Fund grant was approved in 2011 which would provide funding for this repair.

Reopening this road would also have a beneficial effect on the economies of local towns such as Darrington.

In summary, there are many good reasons to repair and reopen this road and restore access to this wonderful area.  It has been too long that the public has been unable to access this area and the improvements to be implemented in the construction of the new road would benefit riparian and wetland areas and improve fish habitat.

Let's please move forward with alternative B and restore access to a beautiful and important area of our public lands.

Sincerely,

Name
Address
E-mail

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JimK
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JimK
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PostThu Apr 12, 2012 5:39 am 
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CW, that is exactly what I hope folks will do. Use some ideas in the sample letter but make it your own. Dwell on the points that are most important to you. All comments have value but non form letter ones have more in this process.

Also, you nailed my feelings exactly. We bitched and moaned about the MF Snoqualmie for years but did not do what was needed when the issue was still undecided. We learned a lesson. Now is the time to get involved on the Suiattle.

Don't underestimate the potential of Facebook and Twitter. You can reach a lot of people with little effort. Just outline the case and link to this thread to get folks started. 8 1/2 days left and counting in the comment period.

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Hiking Northwest
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kite
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kite
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PostThu Apr 12, 2012 8:34 am 
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Sent a short snail mail letter asking that the road be repaired to the Suiattle Trailhead
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PACKER
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PACKER
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PostThu Apr 12, 2012 10:09 am 
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Jim great work, thanks for the meeting at your home. In actuality the last public use of the 49 road was fall 2010 as it has been closed to public use for maintance which is still up in the air. I am planning to ride it in the next few weeks on horse back and will have a better report then, and snow accumulation etc.
Thanks again. Best Everett Lewis

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RodF
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PostThu Apr 12, 2012 10:11 am 
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Schroder has provided an excellent summary of the alternatives.

(N3C's "creative engineering" proposal, especially their temporary 210-foot log trestle extension to the Downey Creek "trail bridge", expected to be washed out and rebuilt every 10 years, is simply ludicrous.)

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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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nlunstrum
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nlunstrum
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PostThu Apr 12, 2012 7:11 pm 
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Thanks for the reminder Jim! Letter sent.

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Elvis
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PostThu Apr 12, 2012 9:22 pm 
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Thank you Jim & Chainsaw Willie... and everyone who sent in their comments (regardless of your opinions).

~E

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"Ill habits gather unseen degrees, as brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas."  ~John Dryden
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Don
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PostFri Apr 13, 2012 5:29 am 
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Thanks for the letter sample and reminder of key points, JimK.  Letter sent!  up.gif

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Kim Brown
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Kim Brown
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PostFri Apr 13, 2012 8:13 am 
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I just got back from Darrington where I learned that the Glacier Peak cafe is now closed for good, and the lumber mill is down to one shift.

Not much left of that town. They rely on recreation dollars, and the Suiattle Road having been virtually closed since 2006 is killing them.  (the Oso General Store is shut down, too, but that was always a shaky place for a business....)

Hopefully some can hang on; many have already left (vacant houses all over the place).

Of course, not all is dismal; several teens were out riding bikes, and the ball field was getting some work. Several social events are planned throughout summer.

It's an odd mixture of glum and good; I  guess because there's still hope. up.gif
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Mtn Man
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PostFri Apr 13, 2012 9:34 am 
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Letter sent with a few adjustments, thanks!

B)

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Mmmmm, backcountry...
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