DNR plans major trail expansion in SW Washington
The DNR is proposing a major expansion of both motorized and non-motorized trails in the Western Yacolt Burn Forest north of Vancouver, WA. Hopefully the plan will end OHV incursions on the Bell's Mt. Trail and other unsanctioned OHV activities in the forest.
The Western Yacolt Burn State Forest located just north of Vancouver, WA provides recreation to a population expected to increase by 43% by 2030. Yet the existing trail system is inadequate and poorly designed to handle current use. WIth funding from the Non-Highway and Off-road Vehicle Activities (NOVA) program the DNR engaged in a three year process to plan new trails and campground improvements to meet increasing demand.
Throughout process, DNR staff worked with representatives from the motorized and non-motorized community, including local WTA volunteers. The resulting plan has something for everyone, hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and OHV users.
Specifically hikers can look forward to an additional 12 to 16 trail miles that would create up to four new loop hikes near Bell's Mt. and Kloochman Butte. However, expansion of the Jones Creek OHV trail system will put motorized trails in close proximity to non-motorized trails although the two will be separate.
Lacking sufficient resources, DNR staff have not been able to prevent OHV incursions on the Bell's Mt. Trail nor unauthorized OHV activity on an estimated 170 miles of unsanctioned "trails". Hopefully this plan will protect natural resources by decommissioning these routes and spur a greater education and enforcement effort.
The plan will be implemented over the next 10 years depending on the availability of grant funding and volunteer labor to assist with trail design and construction. If you would like to get involved, please contact SW Washington Regional Coordinator, Ryan Ojerio at email@example.com or call (360) 722-2657.
Do you hike in the Yacolt Burn State Forest? What are your hopes for an improved trail system? Send your comments and concerns to:
Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 47105
Olympia, WA 98504