Over 400 acres of land in the Stevens Pass area were purchased by a local group so as to prevent the Pacific Crest Trail from being severed. The Pacific Crest Trail Association is a private group focused on protecting and promoting the Pacific Crest National Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada including the famous Cascades in Washington. It’s a popular site to Pacific North-westerners and tourists alike.
In an interview with Megan Wargo, the PCTA’s director of land protection, she stated that “the Forest Service is the overall manager for the entire trail. Where the trail goes through private land, they have a trail easement to allow the public to pass through the private property.”
However, on part of the Stevens Pass, no one had obtained an easement. Wargo believes this mistake was an oversight since the path was built piece by piece. “In most likelihood, it was just an oversight. Somebody thought there was an easement there, but the easement was not recorded.”
The association managed to secure federal money with the help of the Forest Service from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase the land; however, the PCTA had to secure a loan from The Conservation Fund to help with the purchase because of the magnitude of the forest fires this summer.
Once the Forest Service can turn its focus away from the forest fires, the PCTA will sell the land to the Forest Service and repay the loan.
“It was a roller-caster ride getting it closed,” Wargo stated. “The risk of not closing that project would have been pretty large as far as the PCT and keeping it open.”