Big Four Ice Caves
Erik Hecht/Getty Images
View from the Big Four Ice Caves

Washington state’s Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie has been designated as a Treasured Landscape by the congressionally-chartered National Forest Foundation as part of a joint four-year effort to improve and restore the oft-visited region near Seattle.

The 1.7 million-acre national forest on the western edge of the Cascades is highlighted by rainforests, mountain meadows, glaciers, and the ever-popular Big Four Ice Caves, stunning attractions that draw nearly 3 million visitors each year.

Joining the NFF in the $14 million initiative will be the U.S. Forest Service, which will contribute resources to fix up campgrounds and recreation areas while promoting inclusivity, particularly along the Mountain Loop Highway, a designated National Scenic Byway that runs alongside the Sauk and Stillaguamish rivers and offers nearly 150 access points to activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, camping, rock climbing, and fishing.

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“The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is often considered as one of the most visited National Forests in the country, and with visitation at an all-time high, working to ensure access and sustain the health and diversity of our forest is imperative,” said Jody Weil, the current supervisor of Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

“Our partnership will be instrumental in helping protect our watersheds, meet our tribal treaty obligations, help accommodate more members of the public, and to sustain quality outdoor experiences.”

Emphasized as part of the initiative will be the preservation and rehabilitation of wildlife, notably the currently-threatened salmon, a species culturally significant to the area’s Native tribes who have depended on the region’s natural resources for centuries prior to its national forest designation.

“The Mountain Loop Highway on this national forest is valued as a treasured landscape by many people, especially the Native American tribal people who have lived here for countless generations,” said Patrick Shannon, the National Forest Foundation’s Pacific Northwest and Alaska director.

“We are looking forward to connecting the local communities and tribes in improving degraded recreation areas while improving the environment for sustainable use in years to come.”

Visit the official Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest website to learn more about everything the region offers and to read about current conservation measures being implemented.