Where We Work

Map showing Washington’s North Cascades Ecosystem and the three major highways traversing it.

Map showing Washington’s North Cascades Ecosystem and the three major highways traversing it.

The North Cascades Ecosystem (NCE) comprises an area of 24,800 km2 in Washington, with an additional 10,350 km2 extending north into British Columbia. In the US, 90% of the NCE is managed by the US Forest Service, the US National Park Service, and the State of Washington, and approximately 41% falls within Forest Service wilderness or the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.

I-90 intersects the Cascades at Snoqualmie Pass, where growing traffic volume currently averages 27,000 vehicles per day. This area has been recognized as a critical link in the north-south movement of wildlife in the Cascades. The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently began to improve 15 miles of I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass, with one of its goals being to enhance ecological connectivity via wildlife crossing structures and fencing.

A visual concept of a wildlife crossing structure planned for I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass. Credit: WSDOT

Meanwhile, Route 2 is a two-lane highway where it crosses the Cascades, with an average traffic volume of 3,800 vehicles per day. Ski area development, power-line corridors, and residential development also potentially affect carnivore movement in the Route 2 corridor.

Highway 20 in the North Cascades. Credit: Paula MacKay

Highway 20 in the North Cascades. Credit: Paula MacKay

 

 

 

Lastly, Highway 20 comprises two lanes where it bisects North Cascades National Park in northernmost Washington, with an average traffic volume of 4,800 vehicles per day during non-winter (a major section of this road is closed to automobile traffic during the winter)