I was pleased to read Craig Hill’s article, “Carbon River trail coming” (TNT, 2-11). The decision to convert most of the Carbon River Road to a trail is the correct decision.
As quoted in the article, Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga made this very difficult decision after careful consideration of the options before him and what makes the most sense for the Park Service, the public and the park itself.
Since 1977, damage to the Carbon River Road from flooding has occurred an average of every 2.4 years; a road here is no longer feasible due to continual flooding. The Park Service’s decision to convert the road to a trail provides appropriate public access while also protecting endangered species such as bull trout and essential habitat for Chinook and coho salmon, by preventing sections of the road eroding and disturbing their spawning grounds during floods. The installation of engineered log jams will prevent further erosion of the road.
This decision is financially responsible because it does not use limited park financial resources to construct a road that would likely wash out again in the future.
The National Parks Conservation Association applauds the superintendent and the National Park Service for making a difficult decision that is forward-looking and will be best for Mount Rainier National Park and its visitors in the long term.
(Graves is the Northwest program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association.)