Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thank you for the chance to provide correct information about access to Hurricane Ridge.

From the November press release:“Keeping Hurricane Ridge Road open daily through the winter is a very different task than providing daily access to the park's low elevation roads, and is significantly more costly and difficult,” Suess said.  However, this new explanation indicates that they spend just as much money for these other places, probably more.  The road crew costs for three guys working 40 hours per week would be the same.  The law enforcement costs are greater because each place has its own staff.  Lake Crescent/Sol Duc has three, Elwha two or more, and Staircase two.  The additional costs for sand is slightly more but relatively insignificant.  Fuel may be more, but doubtful due to the cost just to get to Sol Duc and Staircase.  Fuel also is a relatively small portion of the cost.

1.  "The full time crew's normal work day is 5 am to 3:30 pm." The road does not open until the crew is essentially done for the day.  The exception is that occasionally, the plow/sand truck will make a second pass in the afternoon.  Compare that to any other winter road operation, where the crews plow as needed during storms while the road remains open to public vehicles.

During the seven day trail period, on average it took three hours to clear the road each day, which would be 21 hours in an average week.  Even the extreme weeks were less than 40 hours per week.

2.  "Three employees maintain Camp David Jr and East Beach, Olympic HS and Whiskey Bend, and Sol Duc."  CDJ and EB roads are shared with the county.  I am pretty familiar with East Beach Road, and I would be surprised if the Park spends ten days a year on it.  The County plows it when it snows.  PUD clears trees after windstorms.  Olympic HS road closes at variable gates depending on snowfall.  It is not plowed.  I have never seen Whiskey Bend plowed.  Sol Duc is closed to the public whenever it snows.  If they clear one lane, why not both and keep it open?  Also the GMP states that Sol Duc should close in the winter.
In 2012 there were 7,337 Jan-March vehicles on Hurricane Ridge.  The other areas that the park is busy maintianing were 52 at Staircase; 4,661 at Elwha; 750 at Sol Duc; and 5,874 at East Beach. Yet,
"We cannot justify taxpayer money to maintain weekday winter access to Hurricane Ridge Road for a relatively small number of people.”
3.  "In keeping with National Park Service standards for safety..."  What are those standards?  Why are they different for Hurricane Ridge than Lake Crescent, for example?  Why are they different than ONF and/or other National Forest and Park areas that do maintain access?
Normal operations at Stevens Pass 12/7/12

Second Plow at Stevens

Rotary Plow at Stevens 12/7/12

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