I did want to walk up the "old" Mt Mitchell (or as the state calls it, Mitchell Peak) trail a ways, to see how it was holding up with zero maintenance. I was pleased to see, that except for minor tree debris, it seems to be holding up well. We were, however, rather surprised to see flagging and signage about a timber sale, about 1/3 mile up the trail.
When I got home, I wrote to the WA DNR office, inquiring about this sale, looking for assurances that the trail was going to be preserved. Mr. Marcus Johns very graciously took time to quickly respond and forward my inquiry to the unit forester, who supplied him with this information:
So, what I glean out of his letter:The timber sale proposal you are asking about is called Swift Mitchell Sorts VRH VDT and is on trajectory for auction in May of 2017; VRH = Variable retention harvest; VDT=Variable density thinning. Currently the sale proposal is in the early planning and sale layout phase so the final product has yet to be determined. Some boundaries are marked, as you saw, and some are yet to be finalized.
The Mitchell Peak trail runs extensively through the harvest proposal area and will be impacted by road construction and harvest operations. This trail would have to be closed during operations as there are no re-route options due to difficult terrain and adjacent private ownership. The trail will be disrupted by the operation and will require rehabilitation/repair with equipment and hand tools. This work will be included in the timber sale contract and reviewed with the harvester during the pre-work conference that precedes road construction and harvest activities. It is then incumbent upon the assigned Contract Administrator to make sure all activities are completed prior to closing the contract and releasing the harvester form their obligations.
The lead forester (person setting up the sale) for the project will be working closely with one of our region Recreation staff while designing the sale units and prescribing rehab/repair needs. This collaboration is standard procedure when recreation opportunities interact with timber harvest activities.
I hope this answers your questions.
Marcus Johns, DNR
1) The trail is going to be preserved
2) There will be roads build
3) The trail will be closed during the harvesting operations, then rehabilitated / repaired
4) This will be a "selective" cut, not a clear cut
5) It is scheduled to go to auction in a year
6) (from a subsequent exchange) Nothing will change in regards to the public access on the 10 road.
Oh, for anyone interested, it is now about 4 1/4 miles and 1,350 feet of climb up to the Mitchell Peak trail head.