DNR Sustainable Recreation Work Group
From Evergreen Trail Guide
What is the DNR Sustainable Recreation Workshop Series?
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be looking to user groups and individuals to help create a new vision for recreation on DNR-managed forestlands, aquatic lands and natural areas. Throughout the month of September, DNR will host nine workshops across the state to gather input from interested citizens and recreational user groups on questions such as: what type of recreation do you enjoy and where do you like to recreate in Washington? DNR staff will also be asking for the public’s vision for recreation on DNR-managed lands.
How does the Sustainable Recreation Work Group work?
DNR staff will compile the information gathered at these meetings and present them to the Sustainable Recreation Work Group. This work group will be comprised of a diverse group of members who in some form or fashion, all have an interest in recreation issues on state lands.
The Sustainable Recreation Work Group will then make recommendations to the Washington State Legislature on a long-term vision for the future of recreation on DNR-managed lands. This is important because the DNR last officially addressed recreation on state-managed lands 37 years ago. Since then, the face of recreation has changed considerably and the DNR is now doing it’s best to address newer forms of recreation and the needs of these user groups.research paper
The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance (formerly BBTC) has a seat on this work group!
Work Group Timeline:
- First meeting – September 26, 2008
- Progress report due to Legislature – December 2008
- Final recommendations to Legislature – December 2009
Public Workshops Schedule:
(All workshops are from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.)
- September 9 – Issaquah
- September 10 – Okanogan
- September 10 – Olympia
- September 11 – Deer Park
- September 15 – Hoquiam
- September 15 – Vancouver
- September 16 – Port Angeles
- September 16 – Burlington
- September 17 – Ellensburg
If you can't attend a workshop but want to provide your input on recreation in Washington State, please complete this short Sustainable Recreation Survey.
Asst. Division Mngr Recreation Public Access
Update contributions from Matt Patterson & Jon Kennedy
The turnout for the Issaquah DNR Recreation Planning Workshop was terrific with mountain bikers representing close to half those present. This was the first workshop of the series and we couldn’t have started off on a better note.
The meeting consisted of a quick introduction to the workshop format by Doug Sutherland (the elected Commissioner of Public Lands – read more about Doug as he is up for re-election this year). Sutherland started his speech describing the efforts he’s been a part of to introduce legislation that improves recreation opportunities that are (keywords) *safe* and *sustainable* (read more). The product of this initiative is the newly formed Sustainable Recreation Work Group. The SRWG will be making recommendations to the state legislature on the long-term vision for the future of recreation on DNR land. They will be gathering input from the public regarding the types of recreation and where they like to do it.
It’s going to be crucial that in any dealings we have to address the needs of Mt. bikers and in particular, feeriding, we don’t forget that the general perception today is that what we do isn’t safe. Case in point, during Doug Sutherland’s speech he made a few off-hand comments, referring to freeriding as ‘crazy’. We weren’t alone however, he also poked fun at paragliders, stating; he hoped they were ‘sober’ before they ‘jump off the mountain’ under their ‘flying contraption’. This is where we mountain bikers can make a real difference by educating the powers that be and by helping them to change their vocabulary and thinking of our sport from “extreme” to “mainstream”. We are a responsible user group with genuine needs that are currently not being met.
Doug McClelland took the floor next. Doug is the State Lands Manager and supervises the land in the South Puget Sound region. Doug is a familiar face to those who attended the previous meeting regarding changes to the recreation laws. Doug explained how the meeting would work: that there would be comment cards to be filled out and that there were essentially 4 or 5 stations around the room where questions and comments would be brought up and recorded for submission to the Working Group. He encouraged those present to participate in the comments and to stand up and be counted.
Some of these questions were:
- What type of recreation do you enjoy?
- Where do you like to recreate in Washington?
- What’s your vision for the DNR over the next 50 years?
After that people pretty much went about discussing their points of view and expressing the need for more trails and such. One of the salient points that Matt Patterson made to Doug was that, “we want the DNR to start to realize that the Mountain Bikers present at this meeting don’t just represent the ‘demand’ side of the equation, as he put it, but that we are here to help the DNR satisfy the demand through volunteer efforts.” This is one of the keys to making our proposals sustainable.
We got to meet the guy who will be taking over from Heather Cole (former Recreational Forester for the DNR) in October, his name is Sam Jarrett and he’s coming from the Kitsap area. He mentioned he enjoyed mountain biking but at the same time seemed fairly torn between the nature of his work and his hobby. Sam, who is aware of other successful freeride and downhill mountain bike trail systems, like Post Canyon (Hood River County Forestry Dept), Black Rock (OR Dept. of Forestry), and Port Angeles (DNR), suggested we need to pull together the case studies for those success stories and present them to the DNR. Jon Kennedy, Matt Patterson and Courtney Nash have teamed up to for this effort!
There were plenty of new face and people to meet but one that apparently stood out for both Matt Patterson and Jon Kennedy was Pete Steilberg. Pete is an attorney with Merrick, Hofstedt & Lindsey, P.S. His practice areas include medical and professional malpractice, commercial litigation, products liability, personal injury, premises liability, Uniform Commercial Code issues, and consumer protection. Pete contacted the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance (formerly BBTC) early on to ensure that we knew about the meeting. It was great to meet Pete at the meeting and since then he has been helpful at answering questions that we have about liability and the WA Recreational Use Statute.
It’s important that we continue to attend these meetings in great numbers. Our input is vital to this process and has the potential to make a real difference once this process is complete. Please pass this on to anyone you know who can be of assistance and attend these meetings.
Update contributions from Eric Brown
Bikers definitely had a presence at the meeting......based on the tally at around 7:30 (when I left), bikers were outnumbered by the equestrian and ORV folks at this meeting - many of whom were wearing their 4x4 club shirts. I saw about 15 checks for DH, FR and XC biking (I assume most bikers checked all three).
In talking to Mark Mauren, it really sounds like DNR is strapped for resources to manage the current recreational facilities they have in the state. That seems to be their biggest concern when opening up new areas for motos, equestrians, bikers, etc. Even with volunteer efforts to build and maintain areas, it does take staff time to plan and manage these locations. It would seem that one area where clubs like the WHIMPS or Evergreen could help DNR is in grant writing to secure funds for the areas we'd like to recreate in... just a thought. The sweat equity part is a given.
I overheard a few good conversations between equestrians/motos and mountain bikers. The bikers who were present sounded articulate, looked respectable and didn’t hurt our cause. I had a good chat with the head of the NW region for the DNR. He worked in Seattle when Tiger Mt. was turned into a state forest and he worked with Harvey Manning and the Issaquah Alps folks to set that area up for recreation. He clearly understands that the recreational needs of the population have changed since those mandates were set way back when. As he said, mountain biking wasn’t even a thought back then, nor was paragliding or ORV use, etc.
Overall, it's good to see DNR looking at the various user groups and getting feedback. The timing couldn't be better for many of us... even if the fruits of this don't take place immediately.
Sustainable Workgroup Meeting I (9/26/2008)
Update by John Lang
On the tail of astounding mountain bike turnout at DNR workshops in Issaquah and Burlington, John Lang, Evergreen’s executive director, attended the first of six Sustainable Recreation Work Group meetings.
Established by the legislature, the twenty-eight member Sustainable Recreation Work Group exists to create a long-term vision for recreational opportunities on state lands managed by DNR and provide recommendations that will support that vision into the future. The work group was convened by Doug Sutherland, Commissioner of Public Lands, who also appointed members, and is chaired by James Donaldson.
The first meeting was primarily intended to finalize the work group charter and establish a process to develop recommendations to the legislature in November 2009. But it did highlight a few important points.
First, the membership of the work group consists of a wide range of representatives from mountain biking, hiking, horse riding, fishing, boating, paragliding, dirt biking, four wheeling, snowmobiling, conservation, bird watching, and farming. The work group also consists of members of the legislature and a representative of the governor staff. This diverse membership underscores the need and opportunity to work closely with a wide range of interests in order to advance the goals of mountain biking, and to craft a shared vision for recreation in Washington State.
Second, during this first work group meeting it was clear that the grassroots advocacy of mountain bikers at work shops in Issaquah and Burlington made a strong impression on DNR. This just goes to show that the mountain bike community is one of the most active user groups in the state, and that we have a strong voice on the direction of recreational policy. As the process moves forward over the next twelve months, and as it begins to take shape around specific issues, Evergreen will update and engage you so that your voice will continue to be heard.
Sustainable Workgroup Meeting II (10/29/2008)
Update by John Lang
John Lang of Evergreen attended the second work group meeting along with representatives from a wide range of user groups, as well as public officials. Hosted by the DNR in Yakima, the purpose of this meeting was to begin work on a DNR recreation vision. This vision will be finalized at the next meeting in November, in preparation for an initial report to the legislature in December. The vision will also help to frame specific policy and funding issues that will be taken up early next year as the work group moves on to formulate specific strategies around recreation.
The work group has not moved on to this next phase, but several key items have begun to surface including forward thinking recreation planning, greater access, stronger law enforcement, public education, and greater user group cooperation. While there may be important differences between user groups, the conversations tended to highlight the common group on these issues between a range of recreation groups such as bikers, hikers, equestrians, motorcyclists, or four-wheelers.
Among the specific issues that Evergreen raised was the need to address freeriding restrictions on DNR lands. Currently, freeriding is prohibited because of concerns around injury and liability. In the coming months, Evergreen and possibility other user groups will work with DNR to examine existing law and look for workable solutions to the current impasse.
Overall, the process is just getting under way, and it remains to be seen the end result of all of this work. But Evergreen is excited to engage with DNR, other user groups and public officials on a topic as important as recreation on DNR lands.