A name change, wilderness and wild and scenic river designation, and improved visitor services are all provided for in the National Park Service's final general management plan/environmental impact statement on the Ross Lake National Recreation Area in Washington state.
In a bow to marketing, the plan calls on Congress to change the name of the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, which is sandwiched by North Cascades National Park, to "North Cascades National Recreation Area."
Released Thursday, the plan is expected to guide management of the NRA for the next 15-20 years. While the proposed name change might to some be the most eye-catching aspect of the plan, it's not the only substantive particular.
Overall, the plan is designed and intended to enhance visitor services in the NRA and provide better connections with the backcountry in the surrounding national park. It also would make it easier, via an online system, for backcountry users to secure permits.
There are, of course, a lot more details in the voluminous plan. Details that touch on grizzly bear management units and how grizzly recovery can be encouraged in the area, on sport climbing in the NRA, provisions for moving to cleaner-burning boat engines on the NRA's lakes, and a slight expansion of the Ross Lake Resort lodgings. To better understand these changes, read Chapter 4 of the plan.
The plan was welcomed by the National Parks Conservation Association, which said the document "provides better protection of natural and cultural resources, expands recreational and education opportunities for our children and grandchildren, raises the 118,000-acre recreation area’s public profile, and supports gateway businesses and local jobs."
"Specifically, NPCA supports the National Park Service’s recommendation that Ross Lake National Recreation Area be changed to the North Cascades National Recreation Area," said Sean Smith, the group's policy director. "Changing the NRA’s name came at the request of individual park supporters, and will improve people’s connection to and recognition of the entire North Cascades complex."
"The plan also converts nearly 4,000 acres of the Thunder Creek potential wilderness area to designated wilderness (as part of the Stephen Mather Wilderness Area). In addition, the new plan recommends 33 miles of park rivers, including Goodell, Newhalem and Skagit, for Wild and Scenic designation, which would permanently prohibit dams on these river sections, and provide the highest level of water quality and access protections," said Mr. Smith.