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Bicycle Access to be Restored on Popular Seattle-Area Trail
Bicycle Access to be Restored on Popular Seattle-Area TrailThe Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Trail, a popular Forest Service trail near Seattle, may soon open to bicycle use for the first time in nearly a decade. Four Washington recreation and conservation groups--organizations who have often been at odds--are supporting two-way, alternate-day mountain bike access as one component of a unprecedented three-year agreement. The U.S. Forest Service will make this access decision.

Mountain bikers briefly enjoyed access to the Middle Fork Trail in the 1990s. Since then, this riverside path through old-growth forest less than a 90-minute drive from Seattle has been a source of conflict among cyclists, hikers and conservation groups.

During the last year, the IMBA-affiliated Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club (BBTC) met regularly to discuss Middle Fork trail access with representatives of Alpine Lakes Protection Society (ALPS), Middle Fork Outdoor Recreation Coalition (MidFORC), Washington Trails Association (WTA), Singletrack Mind and the Sierra Club. The product of these discussions is a three-year agreement, signed by ALPS, BBTC, MidForc and WTA, that...

Supports two-way, alternate day mountain bike access on the Middle Fork Trail;
Supports a boundary adjustment for proposed Wilderness that excludes the Middle Fork trail;
Calls for each organization to send an action alert to its members to support the agreement and the adjusted proposed Wilderness boundary;
Calls for the BBTC to support no new development and eventual Wilderness designation for the Pratt River Valley;
Calls for the BBTC to contribute 240 volunteer hours per year to Middle Fork trail maintenance, and post educational and informational signs at each Middle Fork trailhead.
This agreement will be presented to the Forest Service for consideration.

BBTC's Jennifer Lesher said, "Since the Forest Service generally makes decisions based on user input and consensus, we are hoping that this is a package that will be hard to refute."

IMBA executive director Tim Blumenthal said, "The work that has been done in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River area is monumental as these groups have traditionally struggled to find common ground. This agreement shows the power of cooperation and compromise and should lead to other combined efforts that will benefit trail users and conservation."

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