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Syncline, Coyote Wall to Catherine Creek
If you aren’t familiar with the Burdoin Mountain - Coyote Wall - Catherine Creek areas, you’ve thus far missed out on experiencing one of the Gorge’s truly unique treasures. Situated just upstream from White Salmon on the Columbia River, these adjacent areas feature rugged cliffs, Oregon white oak woodlands, wide open meadows and sweeping views of the Gorge that rival any other around. The unique soils and climate have created some very special plant communities that include many endemic and rare wildflowers that deliver a spectacular succession of colorful displays. And with unique plant communities come unique species of animals that are equally as rare as the plants they rely upon for habitat.
A Forest Service decision regarding a contentious recreation plan could bring an end to years of debate over how to best manage one of the most popular undeveloped recreation areas in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. In a nutshell, the plan seeks to convert a proliferation of unofficial, user-built routes into a system of trails that reduce trail user conflicts, end trespass on adjacent private property and protect one of the most botanically unique landscapes in the region.
The formal decision notice released on January 7, 2011, is the second attempt at reconciling a variety of disparate interests. The new plan is complicated and will require an extraordinary education and enforcement effort to shift people from the status quo to a new set of rules that designate where and when various activities are allowed. If this latest decision notice doesn’t attract an appeal within the 45 day comment period, then perhaps this recreation plan has found a safe harbor.
To see a map of the proposed trail system, a summary of use restrictions, and the Forest Service argument for this latest decision notice visit the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area website.
Excerpted from Washington Trails Assoc article: Coyote Wall - Catherine Creek Recreation Plan by Susan Elderkin