Mt. Spokane

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Mt. Spokane State Park is Washington state’s largest state park and Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park covers 10% of the park. In 2011, Mt. Spokane 2000 proposed expanding the Ski and Snowboard Park by 279 acres. This proposal poses a threat to the native forest and wildlife on the west side of the mountain. If approved, a chairlift and seven runs will fragment old growth stands and permanently impact the headwaters of Blanchard Creek. The operators of the ski area have refused to alter their plans or consider other mountain improvements that would help the area thrive.

In 2014, Mt. Spokane 2000 prepared an Environmental Impact Statement and the Washington State Parks Commission approved the ski area reclassification and expansion in November of 2014. In response, members of the Save Mt. Spokane Coalition filed notice in Superior Court against that decision, based on a clear violation of the State Parks Natural Resource Policy. In 2015, The Lands Council, along with John Roskelley, Fayette Krause, Spokane Audubon Society, and Spokane Mountaineers, joined the suit. The case is now in Appeals Court, but no date has been set for the hearing. We also appealed the Timber Harvest Permit issued by Spokane County. That appeal was heard by the Spokane County Hearings Examiner on April 13.

 

The Latest News on Mt. Spokane

On August 1, 2017, the Washington State Supreme Court declined to review a challenge to the proposed ski expansion in Mt. Spokane State Park.

For years, conservationists and tribes have fought to protect old-growth trees and a culturally important forest in Mt. Spokane State Park. In fact, the Commission’s own chief wildlife biologist concluded that the western slopes of Mt. Spokane possess “the highest level of natural resources quality in the state park system.”

“The decision to not review the case really renders the Commission’s policy on protecting high valued state lands meaningless”, said Mike Petersen, Executive Director of The Lands Council, one of the Plaintiffs in the case.

“The 800-acre portion of the west side of the mountain that is at issue in this case provides invaluable and rare alpine habitat that is unmatched in eastern Washington. An old-growth forest covers the western slopes, and it provides valuable habitat for many species that have seen their available habitat shrink in recent years. Gray wolves, which are on the state endangered species list, have recently been documented within Mt. Spokane State Park. Moving forward with the expansion puts all these values at risk”, said Petersen

The forested canopy and mature vegetation provides valuable snow and water retention that recharges late-summer ponds, streams, and springs that many species and migrating animals rely upon. Clearcutting the forest for ski runs and building numerous ski lift tower platforms will cause irreparable harm.

As the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has observed, cutting ski runs through the old-growth forest will cause harm well beyond the immediate area logged. The valuable habitat will be fragmented and left virtually unusable for the many species that currently depend upon it. The intact old-growth forest will be forever changed.

The Plaintiffs in the case are: John Roskelley, The Lands Council, Spokane Audubon, Spokane Mountaineers, and Fayette Krause.