Where is the Silver Star area? Silver Star Mountain is located approximately 25 miles northeast of Vancouver in Skamania County. The mountain and surrounding lands are situated in the far southwestern corner of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and bordered by Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) lands to the west, south and east and private lands to the south.
The Silver Star area is dominated by a ridge connecting three major peaks west to east: Silver Star Mountain, 4,390 ft above sea level, Little Baldy, 3,920 ft and Bluff Mountain 3,980 ft. Steep slopes and ridges drop off the central ridge into the Copper Creek basin to the north and the Washougal River basin to the south. Ridges and peaks in the area tend to be steep with many rock outcrops, bluffs, talus slopes and waterfalls making the area outstanding in its geologic and scenic features.
This downloadable Image File is a map of the area showing the system trails in the area.
What regulations apply to Forest Service Special Interest Areas? The Silver Star Mountain and nearby ridges and valleys were designated as a Special Interest Area in the Forest Management Plan in 1990. The goal of this designation was to maintain the outstanding scenic, botanical, and cultural features of the area while still providing for an appropriate level of public access and enjoyment. Standards and guidelines specify that motorized vehicles should not be permitted within the Special Interest Area. In 1993 the Forest Service approved a trails plan that closed some of the roads that used to lead to Silver Star, authorized some new trails and established the management goal of providing a semi-primitive non-motorized experience with trails designated for hiking as well as some open to equestrians and mountain biking.
Who is involved in this project? The Planning Team includes representatives from: Backcountry Horsemen of Washington, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Chinook Trail Association, Cougar Area Trail Seekers, Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Friends of Road 4109, Gifford Pinchot National Forest - Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Gifford Pinchot National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Washington Native Plant Society, and Washington Trails Association. Facilitation and technical support is provided by the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program.
If Silver Star is on lands managed by the Forest Service why is the Department of Natural Resources involved? The Silver Star area (Gifford Pinchot National Forest) shares a border with the Yacolt Burn State Forest (DNR) and several trails interconnect between DNR and Forest Service managed land. An increasing number of people are parking at trailheads managed by DNR and using the trail system to access Forest Service managed trails. The steering committee believes that a holistic and integrated approach to managing recreation across both land management agencies will be the most efficient way to provide a high quality trail system while protecting natural, cultural and scenic resources.
What is a vision plan? A vision plan sets the direction for the future management of an area. It describes the character and the overall type of experience a person would expect to find decades from now. Vision plans are typically short on specifics but instead provide the conceptual idea of a place to which future planning efforts should align. They are not legally binding plans or have specific timelines but rather an expression of the collective voice of those organizations and agencies that develop the vision. Being less rigid than typical government planning frameworks allows state and federal agencies to engage as participants rather than drivers of the conversation.
Will there be new trails? This is not a trails plan. Although the document contains recommendations to show potential new trail concepts, any new project idea will need to be further studied to follow applicable federal and state requirements for environmental analysis and public comment. This vision plan does not set a timeline for those additional, detailed planning efforts. This plan does recommend where new trails could be considered to improve the overall trail system to reduce future congestion and negative impacts to cultural, scenic, and natural resources. Why aren’t there any motorized groups involved in this project? The 1986 Gifford Pinchot National Forest travel plan designated the Silver Star area as non-motorized to protect the unique and fragile planned communities from damage and to protect the semi-primitive recreational values.
When will this planning process be done? The planning process spanned 2020 to the spring of 2023. The plan was published online at the end of June 2023 to coincide with the flourishing of wildflowers on Silver Star Mountain.
What comes next? Now that the plan is done the planning team has a list of recommendations and options to consider. In some instances, such as restoring an existing trail or parking area the work could be scheduled as long as there is staff and volunteer capacity plus the necessary resources to get the work done. Other recommendations such as rerouting a trail or parking area would require additional research, planning and analysis to ensure that such a project is properly vetted according to applicable state and federal regulations. Some recommendations might take years or even decades before coming to fruition. Some ideas that this planning team considers worth exploring my never come to pass. Vision plans are not blueprints and timelines but rather a statement of shared goals and agreement on possible ways those goals might be achieved.
What is happening now to manage recreation in the Silver Star area? The Forest Service, DNR and the other partners involved in this planning effort are actively engaged in trail maintenance events and even new trail construction projects approved on DNR lands in the Yacolt Burn Recreation Plan that was adopted in 2010. Building our collective capacity to steward the trails we have now will help ensure future generations will enjoy these special landscapes so rich in cultural, natural and scenic value. In 2023 the Chinook Trail Association and Friends of Road 4109 will be restoring barriers to prevent motorized incursions onto the non-motorized trails. WTA will be leading trail work parties and doing a trail sign inventory to plan for future sign repairs and replacement.
How can I provide comments? We would like to hear from you! Please share your experience and opinions about recreating in the Silver Star area using this email: email@example.com