New Acquisition to Improve Access to Mt. Rainier National Park

A critical 440-acre piece of land has been bought and added to Mount Rainier National Park in an effort to improve one of the main routes into the park from the Seattle area, The Trust for Public Land and National Park Service announced today.

The land lies along the Carbon River Road, which has frequently been washed out. The Park Service is working to fix the problem by expanding the northwest boundary and moving some facilities and parking. The purchase of this property from Plum Creek constitutes more than half of the acreages in the 2004 Carbon River boundary expansion area for Mount Rainier National Park.

“The picture of snow-capped Mount Rainier behind the skyscrapers of Seattle is one of Washington’s most recognized views,” said Mike Deller, Washington Director for TPL. “Almost 2 million people visit the national park every year, and many of them use the Carbon River entrance, even though access has been a problem because of flooding. We are happy that the addition of this land will help solve that problem, and thankful to Plum Creek for being part of the long-term collaborative effort that achieved this important outcome.”

The $995,000 to finance the project came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with support from U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both D-Wash., and Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), and Adam Smith (D-Wash.).

“I’m proud to have helped secure additional land for one of Washington State’s most scenic areas,” said Sen. Murray. “This land will help protect critical wildlife habitats from flooding while allowing more families from across Washington State, and the country, to take advantage of the unmatched beauty found at Mount Rainier National Park.”

“I commend the Park Service and the Trust for Public Land for moving this project forward and facilitating vital improvements to one of our state’s most beloved national parks,” said Sen. Cantwell. “It has been over five years since I worked with the late Representative Jennifer Dunn to pass the bipartisan legislation enabling expansion of Mount Rainier National Park, and it’s a testament to all the stakeholders involved and their years of hard work that this critical effort to ensure access to the park’s northwest boundary is nearing completion.”

Representative Reichert said, “I am pleased that more of our beautiful landscape is being protected for future generations and that Washington’s proud tradition of conservation continues. I can think of no better way to celebrate National Wilderness Month here in Washington State than to include an additional 440 acres as part of our beloved Mount Rainier National Park.”

“This is precisely the type of acquisition that the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund was established for: a critical addition to one of our country’s greatest national parks that will allow for enhanced recreational access and better habitat protection,” said Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., who supported the funding as a member of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations subcommittee.

The Park Service plans to build a new campground, with roads and parking, along with new hiking trails and fishing spots on the Carbon River. The expansion will also help protect the Carbon River valley, which has one of the last inland old-growth rainforests in the United States, and connects wildlife corridors from the park to Puget Sound.

“Over the past five years the Trust for Public Land and our congressional delegation have worked together with us to acquire this critical acreage along the Carbon River entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. This major acquisition will protect habitat and enhance the visitor experience,” said Mount Rainier Superintendent Dave Uberuaga.

Improving access to the park through the Carbon River area will also have a profound effect on the gateway communities of Wilkeson, Carbonado, Buckley, and Orting. The economies of these communities are dependent on park visitors.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is the premier federal program to conserve land across the country. The LWCF is a critical tool to acquire inholdings, expansions of public lands, and new federal designations in national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, wild and scenic river corridors, national scenic and historic trails, and Bureau of Land Management lands. A bill called The Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2009, (S. 2747), has been introduced in the Senate to guarantee dedicated funding to the program. Efforts are now underway in Congress to fully fund the program.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2.8 million acres of land nationwide, including over 73,000 acres in Washington.