ARLINGTON, Wash. - A volunteer pilot with the LightHawk Organization has some last minute instructions before we lift off.
"Please let me know if you start to feel queasy," said pilot Jane Nicolai. "I'll let you know where a sick sack is nearby."
That wasn't necessary. Puget Sound Partnership Director David Dicks didn't notice the turbulence, he was too interested in seeing, in person, what he has seen so many times on maps and in computer models; the relationship between the Cascade forests and Puget Sound. He calls it the 'snow caps to the white caps' factor.
Dicks is sold that protecting Puget Sound and the federal roadless areas in this state are scientifically and economically linked.
"Protecting areas costs about one tenth as much as restoring them," said Dicks, who accepted an invitation from the Washington Wilderness Coalition and the LIghtHawk Organization to fly over places protected by roadless forests, like Spada Lake, which provides much of the drinking water for Southern Snohomish County.
The groups say roadless areas appear safe for now but forces may be brewing in Congress to make another run at lifting the roadless restrictions. Business and lands rights organization have argued that cutting off those areas to cars hurts the economy and restricts Americans from enjoying lands they own. The roadless groups argue the lands are still open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders, just not cars.