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Raging River Forest full of recreational potential in plan | Photos

Sam Jarrett, DNR, stands at the edge of the Raging River. The land, recently acquired by DNR, has big recreational potential for multiple user groups.  - Celeste Gracey | Issaquah and Sammamish Reporter
Sam Jarrett, DNR, stands at the edge of the Raging River. The land, recently acquired by DNR, has big recreational potential for multiple user groups.
— image credit: Celeste Gracey | Issaquah and Sammamish Reporter

Surveying a path through the ravine, Sam Jarrett stands on the edge of a clearing. A screen of trees hides the Raging River from view, but not its sound.

He glances back at a power substation, before slipping through a nest of blackberry bushes and down to the rivers edge. Mossy rocks turn logs into teeter-totters above swirling water, which washes out the eery buzz from power lines.

Imagine a trail along the pristine river. It’s a possibility, says Jarrett, a recreation manager for the Department of Natural Resources.

The scene reveals the potential of the Raging River Forest to become the next big recreation site along I-90.

About four years after acquiring the land, DNR is now planning what to do with it. It kicked off the development of its recreation management plan for the Snoqualmie Corridor Feb. 1 with a public meeting.

While most of Raging River’s second-growth forest, which has an impressive network of logging roads and a power line clearing that runs its length, has been impacted by logging, it is otherwise unexplored by hikers, bikers and horsemen alike. The three groups have a history of trail dispute.

The Raging River Forest is an opportunity for all three user groups to figure out what types of trails they can share and where they need their own.

“This is a blank slate,” said Douglas McClelland, a DNR assistant region manager.

Raging River was privately owned until DNR acquired it about four years ago. The only trails are logging roads.

While some hikers have ventured to explore the forest, few know the Raging River better than Ralph Owen, who regularly explores the forests on foot.

He remembers when DNR decided to allow biking on East Tiger Mountain, which butts up agains Raging (corridor map), about 15 years ago. Trails that hikers had created were given over to bikers, he said.

“There is always going to be tension,” he said, but having bikers in the plan from the beginning will help.

The recreation plan, which also includes the Snoqualmie Middle Fork, is one of the largest that the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance has been invited to participate in, said Doug Walsh, a biker at the kickoff meeting. It’s big deal for bikers.

Bikers only have access to about 12 of the 80 miles of trails on Tiger Mountain. As a result, some have “poached” trails or crossed into hiker-only areas.

There isn’t much opportunity to expand on Tiger, but there is a strong possibility of connecting to a new Raging River network.

Likewise, horsemen are looking to connect their trails on the nearby Taylor Mountain and hikers are hoping to officially connect Tiger Mountain with Rattlesnake Ridge, which is East of the Raging.

The land doesn’t come without some baggage.

DNR exists to manage Washington’s 5.6 million acres of trust lands, much of which can be harvested for timber. The money is used to help build schools and prisons, said McClelland, who is leading up the recreation plan.

Over 8,000 of Raging’s 10,000 acres will remain “working forests,” meaning DNR will continue to log the land, even after trails are built. This has always been the case on Tiger, which is about two-thirds working land, he said.

Mountain bikers came to the kickoff meeting looking for a way to create more places to ride, he said. “What they learned is there is much more to it than that.”

DNR first began creating formalized recreation management plans a few years ago. The Snoqualmie Corridor project is the biggest attempted in the state.

It’s an important region for recreation, because demand has been much higher for afternoon hikes that only take 2-3 hours, McClelland said.

At the forest, Jarrett, from DNR, rests his hand on the wheel of his truck. Looking past the clearing and buzzing power lines, he glances up into Raging River’s thickest forests along Rattlesnake Ridge. The whole valley has a view of the surrounding mountains. “It could be a destination landscape for recreation.”

Doug Walsh, left, and Peter Sherill both participate in the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. They attended the Feb. 1 DNR meeting to give input on what they’d like to see happen in the Snoqualmie Corridor forests. BY CELESTE GRACEY, ISSAQUAH & SAMMAMISH REPORTER

Doug McClelland, left, and Johann Sasynuik discuss trail connections on a map of the Snoqualmie Corridor. The Department of Natural Resources is creating a recreation management plan for some forests along I-90. BY CELESTE GRACEY, ISSAQUAH & SAMMAMISH REPORTER

Ken Schulz, a horseman, would like to see separate trails for horses and bikes in the Raging River Forest. BY CELESTE GRACEY, ISSAQUAH & SAMMAMISH REPORTER

Doug McLelland, right, presents information about the Snoqualmie Corridor Recreation Management Plan at a middle school in Snoqualmie. It's in its earliest stages of planning. BY CELESTE GRACEY, ISSAQUAH & SAMMAMISH REPORTER

Sam Jarrett, DNR, stands at the edge of the Raging River. The land, recently acquired by DNR, has big recreational potential for multiple user groups. BY CELESTE GRACEY, ISSAQUAH & SAMMAMISH REPORTER

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