Our mission: To ensure the sustainable economic future of the Skykomish Valley by developing outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities that benefit users and local communities.

Sign the Letter of Support to stop heavy logging around Wallace Falls State Park and turn that land into a Public Park instead.
RESIDENTS, VOTERS, and business owners:

(A copy of the Letter of Support can be viewed by clicking here.)

We are a group of local citizens asking the Snohomish County Council to reconvey approx. 5,300 acres of Forest Board Land near Gold Bar back to the County to create a new public park.
The Vision for "Wild Wallace County Park"
Wild Wallace County Park vision map

YELLOW = Proposed Wild Wallace County Park.   PINK = Wallace Falls State Park.

Overview
  • Heavy logging is planned for the hills north of Gold Bar on public land around Wallace Falls State Park.
  • This logging will severely affect the views from Gold Bar and Highway 2 and will negatively impact property values, quality of life, and the appeal of Wallace Falls State Park.
  • Because the public agency that manages the land is required to maximize timber revenues, the only way to prevent this logging is to have the land reconveyed back to the County.
  • Per state law, Snohomish County will NOT have to pay for the land as long as it gets reconveyed for a new public park.
  • The 5-member Snohomish County Council makes the decision about whether or not to reconvey the land.
It's an incredible opportunity.
But if the land doesn't get reconveyed it will be logged very soon, destroying this opportunity, the unique forest, and the views from Gold Bar and Highway 2.
"Economic growth for Gold Bar and the Skykomish Valley is primarily going to come through tourism and services in the next fifty years and not through selling natural resources."
Here's the 2020 Logging Plan for Public Land Around Gold Bar

Below is the Department of Natural Resource's (DNR's) short term plan for logging in the 10,000-acre Reiter Foothills Forest as of this year (2020). The Reiter Foothills Forest contains the proposed Wild Wallace County Park area.

Each of these arrows points to a planned or current timber sale. (Wallace Falls State Park is the yellow area on the left side of this map.)

7 timber sales planned in Reiter Foothills Forest over the next couple of years.
Map of Reiter Foothills logging plan

The 5,300 acres that we are proposing for Wild Wallace County Park comes out of the western half of this Forest. 

More timber sales planned by 2025

There are actually more timber sales planned between now and 2025. The map below shows the planned sale dates and approximate locations for planned logging operations in just the western portion of Reiter Foothills Forest (the area containing the proposed Park and where views from Gold Bar will be affected the most).

map of logging in reiter foothills 2020 to 2025

Prepared by the Washington Forest Law Center with help from the ESRI Conservation Program using DNR data.

A significant portion of these areas are clear-cuts, although not all. For example, the large northmost area is labeled 'thin'. Brushcrasher sale, the big dark red area on the eastern edge of Wallace Falls State Park that was sold in March 2020 but not yet logged, is around half thinning and half clear-cut.

FAQ: "Does 'clear-cut' mean removing all the trees?"

When we say "clear-cut", we're talking about the "Variable Retention Harvest" (VRH) logging method. This means leaving around 8 trees per acre.

When you typically start out with 300 to 400 trees per acre, that means removing around 97% of the trees. So yes, there are a few trees left, but if you're the kind of person who would call yourself bald if you lost 97% of your hair, then it's a clear-cut.

The results typically look like this, below.

Example of Variable Retention Harvest (leaving 8 trees per acre) on DNR-managed land.

How these timber sales will affect Gold Bar

Using data from the Department of Natural Resources about projected timber sales in Reiter Foothills Forest, here's a mock-up of public land they are planning to log over the next few years (starting 2020).

Green outline is Wallace Falls State Park. Yellow border is the proposed new Wild Wallace County Park. Light red areas are planned timber sales. Dark red areas are already sold. 

Map of proposed border of Wild Wallace County Park

Notice how four of these logging areas border Wallace Falls State Park, Snohomish County's most popular park that attracts over 225,000 visitors per year.

Heavy logging near Gold Bar is bad for the Sky Valley
  • It's bad for views, property values, quality of life, and wildlife habitat.
  • It severely impacts the appeal of Wallace Falls State Park, a major source of revenue for the Skykomish Valley.
  • It's short term thinking:  Gold Bar's natural resources get exported for a one-time gain that leaves the hillsides scarred for the next 50+ years. (An understatement, since some of the trees in at least one of the planned sales are over 100 years old.)
  • It eliminates the opportunity to create Wild Wallace County Park, taking away a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create a unique asset that would help support the Sky Valley economy on a sustainable, ongoing basis while preserving views, property values, and wildlife habitat at the same time.
Sign the Letter of Support

If you haven't already signed, click below to go to the Letter of Support to tell legislators you support using this land for a new County Park instead of logging.

"Potential trail systems have been proposed that could create a large influx of economic growth while preserving the natural beauty of the valley."
The Proposed New Public Park Area Is a Hidden Gem

The proposed Wild Wallace County Park area contains rarely visited trails, viewpoints, and historic sites that most locals don't even know about. 

Yellow = proposed Wild Wallace County Park.  Purple = Wallace Falls State Park.

Map of proposed Wild Wallace County Park

Map of proposed Wild Wallace County Park and attractions

Some of the features in the map are concept ideas for the future park, i.e., completed campsites, mountain biking trail, etc.  But there's already a good base of hiking trails, viewpoints and other attractions.

Here's what's already there:
  • Beautiful, rarely visited May Creek Falls.
  • Numerous smaller waterfalls that would be popular hiking destinations.
  • Access to rarely seen eastern views of Lower Wallace Falls.
  • The historic Pelton Wheel and Copper Belle Mine.
  • Numerous areas suitable for paid campsites.
  • Many overlook areas with sweeping views of the Skykomish Valley and mountains.
  • A nationally acclaimed bouldering area for rock climbers.
  • A good existing trail infrastructure of old logging roads and current trails.
  • Two large areas with trail access and space for PARKING.
  • Access to Lake Isabel in the Wild Sky Wilderness.
  • Enough space for mountain bikers and equestrians to recreate separately.
  • Family-friendly trails that are hikeable year-round.
  • Some trails that could be made ADA-accessible.
"Timber sales, whether the Singletary plan, the newly proposed plan called Middle May, or other such plans to harvest vast amounts of forest in the surrounding area will negatively and drastically impact both the beauty and the functionality of the forests for many decades to come."
Wild Wallace: A New County Park at a Bargain Price
Snohomish County does not have to pay for the 5,300 acres if it decides to use them for a public park.  The process is called a "Reconveyance".

In a reconveyance, the 5-member Snohomish County Council simply votes to have the land reconveyed back to the County to use as a public park. (RCW 79.22.300) There is no cost for the acreage, just for the administrative cost of the transfer.

In other words, Snohomish County could get an amazing new 5,300-acre park at $0 (zero) dollars per acre, and would just pay for the survey and handling of the transfer. (Much of this land has already been surveyed.)

FAQ: "Who's on the Snohomish County Council?"

Nate Nehring - District 1.
Megan Dunn - District 2.
Stephanie Wright - District 3.
Jared Mead - District 4.
Sam Low - District 5. This district includes the Skykomish Valley.

Council Contact Info:  425-388-3494   Email: contact.council@snoco.org

Sky Valley Future has already spoken to several Council Members and County Executive Dave Somers, and we've gotten positive feedback about this plan.  This is not a pie-in-the-sky proposition, it is very feasible.

But legislators need to hear from voters and users of the Skykomish Valley.

Snohomish County Council members need to  hear from YOU.
Please sign our petition.
Sign the Letter of Support

If you haven't already signed, click below to go to the Letter of Support to tell legislators you support using this land for a new County Park instead of logging.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this about stopping all logging in the Skykomish Valley?

This is not about stopping all logging in the Sky Valley. This is about preserving a total of approx. 5,300 acres of public land to the east and west of Wallace Falls State Park that the Department of Natural Resources plans to log heavily, and instead turning that area into a public park to relieve overcrowding at Wallace Falls State Park, preserve the beauty of the valley, and generate more tourism revenue for Gold Bar.

How much would it cost to get the new public Park land?

The cost for the land would be $0 (zero) per acre. That's because it's already public land and Snohomish County can ask to have it reconveyed back to the County using a process called "Reconveyance".  (RCW 79.22.300)

Under the terms of a reconveyance, the County can ask to have the land back without paying for the acreage as long as it uses the land for a public park.  The County would just pay for the administrative cost of the transfer, i.e. surveying, but gets the land for free.

Does the City of Gold Bar support timber sales in Reiter Foothills Forest?

No. On December 18, 2019, the City of Gold Bar passed a resolution opposing heavy logging in the hills around Gold Bar. The City of Gold Bar stated the following in Resolution No. 19-15:

"Timber sales, whether the Singletary Plan, the newly proposed plan called Middle May, or other such plans to harvest vast amounts of forest in the surrounding area will negatively and drastically impact both the beauty and functionality of the forests for many decades to come."

Click here to read the entire City of Gold Bar resolution.

Don't local schools need the money from logging?

1) First of all, this is NOT about stopping ALL logging on public land in Sultan School District.

It concerns only 5,300 crucial acres that protect Wallace Falls State Park, Snohomish County's busiest park and a primary revenue generator for the Skykomish Valley.

This means it is also NOT about stopping all revenues that go to Sultan School District from heavy logging on public land.

It does mean that when people talk about timber sale revenues generated by ALL public timber lands in Sultan School District when referring to the small proposed new park area, they are obviously speaking out of context.

2) Any timber sale revenue needs to be evaluated over the logging life cycle of the stand of trees, i.e. 50 years.

(Some timber is logged more frequently, but some of the trees in the proposed Middle May sale near Wallace Falls are over 100 years old, so 50 years is pretty conservative.)

This means:

If a school district got $350K from a timber sale, over the 50-year logging cycle that comes out to $7K on a yearly basis. $500K comes out to $10K on a yearly basis.

By comparison, Sultan School District's most recent yearly budget was over $31 million.

Not looking at it this way would be like if someone got a sum of money once every 50 years, but talked about it to you as though they got that same amount every single year.

What's with the $7,868,062 I keep seeing on Facebook?

That's a number often quoted by Sultan School District Superintendent Dan Chaplik as being the amount of revenue from timber sales from 1999 to 2020, and also a reason for not reconveying these 5,300 acres for a public park.

To put that number into context, it's important to:

1) Average it out over that 20 year time span, which comes to $393,403 per year.

2) Understand that this number is totaled from ALL public timber lands in Sultan School District (not the relatively very small portion proposed for a new public park).

This means - as is hopefully also clear to the Sultan School Board - that quoting the number in this context is out of context and not an "apples to apples" comparison.

Here's another way to look at it:

If each of the approximately 15,000 households in Sultan School District gave just $26 dollars a year, that would completely replace the annual amount that was generated by ALL timber lands in the district.

Or, seeing as this is being proposed as a County Park, if each of the 300K households in Snohomish County gave $1.31 per YEAR, that would also make up that amount.

Now, consider that the 5,300 acres for the proposed park makes up just a small portion of those timber lands.

How big of a deal are these planned timber sales?

They're a huge deal for Wallace Falls State Park and the future of Gold Bar, but a tiny deal for Department of Natural Resources.

The Middle May clear-cut in the proposed area, for example, will be just under 1 million board feet of timber.  In 2017 Washington approved over 2.7 billion board ft of timber harvest.

That means the Middle May timber sale accounts for around .037% (that's 1/27th of one percent) of typical yearly timber sales in Washington.

"These forests have always been working forests, and I support loggers."

Logging and mining were a key part of Gold Bar's history, but anyone who lives along the Highway 2 corridor knows that times are changing. Other communities along Highway 2 have been forward-thinking enough to tap into the skyrocketing demand for areas with outdoor recreation.

The City of Gold Bar has stated very clearly what most people in the Sky Valley already know:

"Economic growth for Gold Bar and the Skykomish Valley is primarily going to come through tourism and services in the next fifty years and not through selling natural resources."

"The City of Gold Bar has a history of mining and logging that, while an important part of history and heritage, no longer serves as viable sources of employment or income for its residents."

Click here to read the entire City of Gold Bar resolution.

What are you calling a 'clear-cut'?

When we say "clear-cut", we're talking about the "Variable Retention Harvest" (VRH) logging method. This means leaving around 8 trees per acre.

When you typically start out with 300 to 400 trees per acre, that means removing around 97% of the trees.

So yes, there are a few trees left, but if you're the kind of person who would call yourself bald if you lost 97% of your hair, then it's a clear-cut.

How do schools get money from logging?

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages several types of land, including former County land that was lost to foreclosure in the early 1900's and turned over to the state to manage. As part of the agreement, some revenue from timber sales on this public land goes to schools for infrastructure (not for teacher salaries or equipment).

This is what the City of Gold Bar has to say about it:

"Any monetary benefit from the proposed sale of timber for logging provides a one-time limited benefit as opposed to ongoing maintainable sources of revenue for entities such as school, fire or hospital districts."

"The funding from such districts should be ongoing and come from the voters of those districts and not lump sum one time sales of land without voter input."

Click here to read the entire City of Gold Bar resolution.

Why are lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) logged so heavily?

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) interprets its state mandate as requiring it to generate as much money from timber sale revenues as possible.

In reality the mandate states that the lands need to be managed for "all the people", but DNR has been sued in the past for NOT logging because of the way the mandate is currently interpreted.

Isn't Department of Natural Resources (DNR) planning trails in Reiter Foothills Forest?

DNR is planning to build miles and miles of logging roads and bridges over May Creek that are large enough for logging trucks. Future 'hiking' trails would run through large clear-cuts filled with slash.

It falls into the "Thanks, but you really shouldn't have" department.

There's already a great infrastructure of trails in that part of Reiter Foothills, along with former trails that would be easy to put back into use. Most of them currently run through beautiful stands of forest, some over 100 years old.

Much smaller, less expensive bridges that are suitable for equestrians could be installed with grant money, and in less problematic locations. This has been done in many parks throughout the country.

What about all the traffic we already have on Highway 2?

A lot of traffic is passing through Gold Bar to spend money in Chelan County, which prioritizes tourism. It would be great to get some of the benefit of those tourists rather than just the traffic.

Logging more of the hills around Gold Bar will not fix Highway 2, as some people seem to think. But it will make Gold Bar look like a place that's being stripped for short term gain, and send more of that traffic through the valley to places that know how to capitalize on the economy we are living with today, not the economy of 30 years ago.

Will creating a new public park generate revenue for Gold Bar?

A 2019 study showed that Lake Serene's 45,000 users contribute $475,000 per year to the local (i.e. Sky Valley) economy, and a total of $834,000 in Snohomish County. (https://rco.wa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/HikingBikingStudy.pdf) At $10.55 per visitor, and considering that groups of 2 and 3 often fill up a tank of gas and/or stop to eat, that seems realistic and even conservative.

Wallace Falls State Park gets over 225,000 visitors per year, making it Snohomish County's busiest park. A recent survey found that 42% of Wallace Falls visitors plan to shop or dine in the local area. If each of those shoppers spent only the same amount, $10.55, that would amount to $996,975 per year - nearly a million dollars to the Sky Valley economy.

In addition to typical hiker spending, the proposed new public park area has enough space for mountain bikers and equestrians to recreate without competing, has multiple areas suitable for great paid campsites, and could have cabin rentals and paid climbing and mountain biking tours. There would also be great potential for a paid shuttle service from Monroe to Gold Bar.

This is how Gold Bar can revitalize its economy and use its natural resources sustainably, instead of exporting them for a one-time windfall that leaves a 50-year legacy of stripped hillsides.

Is creating a new public park the only way to keep the land from being logged?

Yes. That's because Department of Natural Resources (DNR) interprets its mandate as a requirement to generate as much timber sale revenue as possible, so the land will be logged if it stays under the management of DNR.

There are already two crucial timber sales planned for late 2020, and at least one more in 2021. (And more from 2021 to 2025.)

Under the terms of state law (RCW 79.22.300), the land can only be reconveyed back to the County if the County uses the land for a public park.

Sign the Letter of Support

If you haven't already signed, click below to go to the Letter of Support to tell legislators you support using this land for a new County Park instead of logging.