Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October updates

Check FreeHurricane Ridge on facebook at

Port Angeles Mayor Cherrie Kidd, City Manger Dan McKeen, and Greg Halberg participated in a conference call with National Park Service Comptroller Bruce Sheaffer in August. 

Mr. Sheaffer acknowledged that the two year trial period was due to the intervention of Congressman Norm Dicks, who is a long time friend of the Park Service.  He stated that our request would be easier if the Park Service were in a normal budget cycle, but because of both the uncertainty due to the elections and lack of budget resolutions in Congress, and an overall tight budget fulfilling our request would be difficult. We did not mention that the access was reduced during an expanding budget period.

We presented to him portions of the data on this blog, including how Hurricane Ridge compares to visitation in other parks, the NPS's visitor spending model, and a different way of looking at the visitation number than ONP presented.  Mr. Sheaffer said the presentation was impressive and that he would examine our data at the regional level.

Since then we have heard nothing, Cherrie was scheduled for a conference call in September, but it was cancelled by Mr. Scheaffer at the last minute.

The first year of the program had a deadline of August 1 to hire and train the additional staff, and still the staff were not ready until after the New Year, so it does not look good for the upcoming winter.

Letters to all the politicians involved are still helpful. Contact info here

The Winter Sports Club, which operates the ski area at Hurricane Ridge, is in need of replacing its antiquated equipment.  The idea was broached with the park as early as the 2000's.  The response at that time was that the Park was conducting a General Management Plan (GMP), and the ski club should wait until that was complete before submitting any proposals.  The GMP was completed in 2009, at which time the club went to the park with various alternatives for lift improvements.  In 2011 the answer from the Park was that the Park needs to complete a Winter Use Plan for Hurricane Ridge before they can evaluate any ski area improvements proposal.  During our first meeting Todd Suess said that the project could take two to three years to complete.

Cherrie Kidd suggested that the NPS should continue to fund seven day a week access until the Winter Use Plan was complete, assuming that seven day a week access would be one of the items on the winter use agenda.  At that time Mr. Suess stated that it was more likely that the Winter Use Plan would not be completed for seven to ten years.

Meanwhile, at ONP, staff destroyed the popular Waterhole Cabin in September 2012, because it was "unsafe." This is a further direct hit to winter recreation in Olympic National Park.  The ski club proposed in 2010 a  plan to place removable winter only ski huts along the non-wilderness road corridor, which included taking over management of the Waterhole Hut if desired by ONP.  There was no mention at that time that the Waterhole Hut was on the soon to be removed list.  The proposal was rejected by ONP because it amounted to an expansion of the ski area.  Which is a little bit of a silly point, because another group could have done the same plan just as well.

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