Rep. DelBene Meets for Riverside Roundtable

Congresswoman DelBene met with outdoor recreation and conservation leaders for a hike and roundtable luncheon.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
August 11, 2016
Rep. DelBene Meets for Riverside Roundtable

On Aug 10, The Mountaineers joined Congresswoman DelBene, and a number of other organizations and companies involved in outdoor recreation and conservation, for a hike along the North Fork Nooksack River. An important artery of Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, the Nooksack is one of our favorite outdoor playgrounds. The thundering waters provided the perfect backdrop for a discussion that included a dozen diverse representatives  all championing the connection between conservation, outdoor recreation, and strong local economies. 

The Big Picture

The Mountaineers were honored to join forces with wildlife groups, outfitters, business owners, and community leaders to share our conservation vision with the Congresswoman. The group hiked along the Horseshoe Bend Trail, parallelling the North Fork Nooksack, to learn about salmon and other native fish of the Nooksack River. Then, we enjoyed a roundtable lunch at the Shuksan Picnic Area, a newly-renovated day use site and a wonderful example of infrastructure funding at work.

All the discussion topics came back to same central theme: protection and access. Investing in the protection and accessibility of wild places fosters a recreation economy that pays dividends for local communities – both economically and for the well-being that spending time in nature brings to everyone. And investing is the right thing to do: we believe that everyone – from urban to rural communities - deserves to experience the natural wonders found on our nation’s public lands.

Roundtable Discussion Highlights

  • Wild and Scenic Designation for the Nooksack River: This designation would guarantee permanent protection for the Nooksack. Fed by the glacier snowmelt of Mt. Baker and Shuksan, the river weaves all the way to the Salish Sea – an essential part of the region’s wilderness character. Many of the recreational experiences we all enjoy benefit from a close connection to water and rivers like the Nooksack. Scenic waterways enhance hiking, paddling, backpacking, and camping. We are pleased to support our partners at American Rivers for their leadership in protecting rivers that are a part of our recreational pursuits.
  • Infrastructure Funding: From trail signs to picnic areas and river access points, infrastructure investments allow people to enjoy wild places with the least amount of impact. Congressional leadership can help make major strides towards this goal. The reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Federal Land Recreation Enhancement Act, and the Federal Land Access Program, are all areas calling for Congressional support. DelBene has been a strong advocate in Congress for these kinds of investments. 
  • Land Management Resources: Land managers, like the National Forest Service, need our support to provide outdoor access and protect wild places. The Forest Service’s new streamlined permitting process for outfitters and guides is a great step in the right direction. (Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest’s work increasing permitted days on Mt. Baker has set a national example for increasing facilitated access to our public lands.) Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has also taken the initiative to develop an Access Travel Management Plan for the Nooksack River watershed that helps prioritize investments in roads that provide access to recreation destinations. However, we all need to continue to advocate for more land management resources, especially in light of the recent strain wildfires have placed on departments.