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Mount Baker has repeatedly proposed for National Park protection, originally as its own National Park and later as a part of North Cascades National Park — but it never happened. Now we can see why this was a big mistake.

The area is in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, which is administered by the U.S. Forest Service. The Forest Service which — unlike the National Park Service — is focused primarily on industrial resource extraction, wants to lease lands for industrial geothermal drilling and power generation on the flanks of Mount Baker, right next to North Cascades National Park. Naturally, conservationists are very concerned by this misguided plan, but that is not likely to stop the development-oriented Forest Service.

It is still not too late to protect the Mount Baker region. It should be transferred from Forest Service administration and added to North Cascades National Park. This would ensure its permanent protection from this kind of destructive exploitation.

The American Alps Legacy Project is proposing the expansion of North Cascades National Park, including some lands in the Mount Baker Ranger District that are threatened by Forest Service mismanagement. Those who care about this spectacular region should support their efforts.

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