Friday, September 7, 2012

Backcountry Closed:

Short of a miracle intervention by someone higher up in the Park service, Hurricane Ridge will be closed Mondays through Thursdays for 2012-2013.

Perceptions versus Reality:

ONP Claim: Seven day winter access was a failure

Fact: The two years of the experiment resulted in an average increase of 10,578 more winter visitors over the previous two years, an increase of 35%.

ONP Claim: Winter use is an insignificant sub population of users compared to other spending priorities.

Fact:  The winter use period accounts for 16% of the annual visits to Hurricane Ridge.  Winter visits to Hurricane Ridge is about the same as annual backcountry overnights.

ONP Claim: Seven day winter access is too expensive

Fact:  Other winter areas with similar conditions are able to keep roads clear 24/7 for less cost

Mount Baker in 2012

ONP Claim: Costs outweigh the benefits

Fact: Using NPS’s MP3 model visitor spending was more than costs.  Hurricane Ridge is one the most efficient NPS winter areas in terms of dollar per visitor, more so when visitor spending is accounted for.  In addition, there are benefits beyond visitor spending, such as quality of life, and recirculating local dollars.

ONP Claim:  Almost all visitors are local.

Fact: License plates from 27 states were observed in 2012.  Also, this is accounted for in the MP3 model.

ONP Claim: Park crews are as efficient as possible

Fact:  Independent study finds methods to save tens of thousands of dollars using accepted practices in winter use areas.

ONP Claim:  Hurricane Ridge is not viewed as a winter park

Fact:  Hurricane Ridge attracts more winter visitors than Crater Lake, Lassen, Sequoia, as well as open segments of Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks.

ONP Claim: Hurricane Ridge requires 5 full time Rangers to staff safely

Fact:  Lake Crescent is staffed with three Rangers for 273,330 winter visits

ONP Claim: Extreme weather causes road to close

Fact:  Closed days averaged 5.3” of snow in 24 hours, 15 mph average winds for 24 hours, and a peak one hour average of 26 mph.

ONP Claim:  Avalanche hazard on the road is high

Fact: Using the Simplified Avalanche Hazard Index which is based on the number and frequency of avalanches per traffic indicates low or very low threat to the road.  A full assessment could be done by an expert, but has not been requested by ONP.

ONP Claim:  Reinstalling gates at Third Peak and or the Slot is not feasible due to lack of turnaround

Fact:  Turnaround at the Switchback trail head is 90’ in diameter; 75’ at the Slot.  Existing turnaround at the lodge is 75’.

ONP Claim:  Reinstalling gates at Third Peak and or the Slot is not feasible due to lack of parking.

Parking below the switchback trail head
Fact:  At least 50 parking spaces are available at Third Peak, more are available on paved pull outs above Third Peak.

ONP Claim:  Reinstalling gates at Third Peak and or the Slot is not feasible due to lack restrooms

Fact:  Outhouse facilities are required for Washington State Winter Recreation Program SnoParks and installed and maintained at minimal cost.

ONP Claim:  Downhill skiing is an activity that requires extensive development with resulting significant environmental impacts.

Fact:  The downhill facilities at Hurricane Ridge disturb less than 1,000 square feet of land.