Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a United States National Forest that is located in the state of Washington. This forest holds 2,561,454 acres and extends along the Cascade Range to Mount Rainier National Park. The forest is divided into four ranger districts known as the Mt. Baker District, the Darrington Ranger District, the Skykomish Ranger District, and the Snoqualmie Ranger District. Because over half of the population of Washington lives within seventy miles of this forest and the forest is easily accessible by paved road, it is the second most visited national forest in America.

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is known for its scenic mountain views, with peak elevations reaching between five thousand and eight thousand feet, excluding Mount Baker and Glacier Peak, which reach higher elevations. This forest also holds more glaciers than any other national forest in America, except those in Alaska, including Roosevelt Glacier, South Cascade Glacier, and Honeycomb Glacier. By 1998, the number of glaciers within the forest decreased from 295 to 287 and by 2006, the volume of the glaciers decreased by forty percent. These occurrences are known as glacier retreat, which is caused by warming conditions, and they result in the decrease of glacial run off during warmer months, which effects may species including salmon.

In 1968, a section of Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest was transferred to the care of the National Park Service in North Cascades National Park and a study was conducted on the entire forest in 1993, showing that it holds  643,500 acres of old growth forest. Many wilderness areas were established in this forest in 1964 including Clearwater Wilderness, Mount Baker Wilderness, and Norse Peak Wilderness. Forty-two percent of old growth forests in the national forest are protected within these designated wilderness areas. The Skagit Wild and Scenic River System was established in 1978, which protects 125 miles of water ways that are support many species, including the bald eagle.

Image Caption: The northeast face of Glacier Peak in the morning from near Image Lake. The Dusty, Ermine and Vista Glaciers (l to r) are visible. Credit: Andrew Hitchcock/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)