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Sat., March 23, 2013

Keep politics out of park

Foot access to the old-growth forest on the western slopes on Mount Spokane, in our state park, is not easy. It requires hiking several miles and gaining considerable elevation. Its remoteness makes it prime habitat for rare wildlife. Its large extent and unlogged status also makes it unique in Spokane County, with a canopy of large old fir, spruce, hemlock, tamarack, pine and cedar shading a moist, complex forest floor.

The mission of Washington State Parks is to protect such natural treasures for everyone to enjoy. The old growth is also a critical area that Spokane County is obligated to protect. But both state parks and the county have turned over control of this side of Mount Spokane to those who operate the ski area.

This would serve the small segment of the recreating public that uses lift-assisted alpine skiing while harming the rest of us who enjoy watching wildlife in a large block of intact old-growth forest, or who just like untrammeled natural areas. Spokane County, state parks and the ski area operators can’t even admit old growth exists there.

This is one more example of how politics can destroy so much, while serving so few.

Jeffrey Juel


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