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2008 Carbon River Wonderland Trail Reroute

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Mount Rainier Seeks Public Comments on Carbon River Wonderland Trail Reroute Environmental Assessment

Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga has announced that an Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared for a proposal to reroute a section of the flood-damaged Wonderland Trail in the Carbon River Valley. The public is invited to review the EA and provide their comments.

Mount Rainier National Park experienced severe flooding in November 2006, which resulted in extensive damage to park roads, campgrounds, and trails, including a segment of the historic Wonderland Trail (WT) in the Carbon River Valley. Approximately one half mile of the WT was damaged two miles east of the Ipsut Creek Campground in designated wilderness. The spur trail that crosses the Carbon River and connects the WT to the Northern Loop Trail was also damaged.

The historic Wonderland Trail encircles Mount Rainier along a 93-mile route. The WT is accessible from several points along the route, including the Carbon River area. Before the flood, the Carbon River trail segment provided access to the Carbon Glacier, the Mother Mountain loop, and points east on the WT from Ipsut Creek. The missing trail tread, glacier river crossings, lack of a defined route, and continued exposure to flooding is creating conditions that are unsafe for hikers and damaging to park resources.

Currently hikers are being rerouted to the Northern Loop Trail via the existing spur trail. Three alternatives are presented in the EA, including the park's preferred alternative to reroute the trail above the floodplain. These alternatives present a range of ways to preserve the continuity of the WT. The alternatives the park is considering include allowing trail use to continue as is, which includes bypassing the damaged section via the Northern Loop Trail (NLT); bypassing the damaged section via the NLT and upgrading the NLT to WT standards; or relocating the damaged section to higher ground above the flood zone. The latter alternative would require establishing new trail tread in bedrock, which would require intermittent blasting during trail construction. Under the other two alternatives, a portion of the route would remain susceptible to flooding.

The alternatives for the WT proposal were developed in consultation with park staff, other federal agencies, and input received from early public scoping. The early public scoping period began on April 16, 2008 and concluded on May 15, 2008. Mount Rainier National Park was established to protect and preserve its natural and cultural resources and to provide opportunities for visitors to safely experience and understand the park environment in a manner that does not impair park resources and values. The Wonderland Trail is a contributing element of the Mount Rainier National Historic Landmark District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

The EA is available on the park website http://parkplanning.nps.gov/. From the drop-down menu choose Mount Rainier National Park. It is also available at local public libraries. To receive more information or to request a CD copy of the EA, please call the Superintendent's Secretary, Donna Rahier, at (360) 569-2211, ext. 2301.

Those wishing to provide comments should submit them in writing to: Superintendent, Mount Rainier National Park, 55210 238th Ave. E., Ashford, Washington 98304; or electronically at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/, choosing Mount Rainier National Park from the drop-down menu. Your comments should be post marked or electronically date stamped no later than October 18, 2008. Your comments, including your personal identifying information (name, address, telephone, e-mail address) may be made publicly available at any time, if requested under the Freedom of Information Act. While you can request your personal identifying information be withheld from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Contact Information
Karen_Thompson@nps.gov
360-569-2211 ext 3376