Upper Alliance Road, which begins at the #5 mine across from the Cle Elum High School, and parts of Ridge Road along Cle Elum Ridge are closed to snowmobiling and other recreational activities for the winter season. During this time, The Nature Conservancy, which manages the adjacent privately-owned land on Cle Elum Ridge, is conducting commercial tree thinning as part of ongoing forest conservation and wildfire prevention practices.
Thinning is an essential part of ongoing conservation efforts in the Cle Elum region for creating healthier, more fire-resilient forests. Winter conditions are ideal for this operation since the frozen ground and snow reduce soil compaction that heavy machinery could otherwise cause. Additionally, the dormant trees store essential nutrients in root systems during the winter months, which remain in the forest to support future growth.
“This thinning is an essential step towards protecting the towns of Ronald, Roslyn, and Cle Elum from the threat of catastrophic fire. We’re grateful for the support of our recreation communities as we complete this work, and we hope it will pay off for years to come,” explained Katie Pofahl, Community Relations Manager with The Nature Conservancy.
The decision to close parts of Alliance and Ridge roads was made in close collaboration with the Kittitas County Snowmobile Grooming Council and Washington State Parks, with the safety of community members as a primary concern. Logging trucks will be working throughout the winter and can create dangerous conditions for recreationists. Recreational use of these roads will resume once logging operations are complete.
“The Kittitas County Snowmobile Grooming Council wishes to remind all that we have worked hard to establish a positive working relationship with The Nature Conservancy. Winter recreation is the only time motorized travel is allowed,” said Bob Seelye, Chairman of the Snowmobile Council. “Hopefully, all will respect the temporary logging closure. In addition, a gentle reminder that over the snow vehicles are NOT allowed on the Roslyn Nordic Ski trails, and there is a 25 MPH Speed limit on the Coal Mines trail. Have a safe winter recreation season.”
Washington State Parks has updated the map of available snowmobile trails, which can be seen here and reflects these changes. Please consult the maps, pay attention to posted signs, and check in with your local groomers and land managers if you have questions.
“We appreciate the community’s understanding and cooperation as we balance the health of our forests and recreational activities on these working forest lands,” said Pofahl.