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Author Topic: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!  (Read 2621 times)
watsonskipsmith
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Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« on: 02/17/12, 11:17 AM »

I first heard about the pending midweek hurricane ridge closure from this TAY post


http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=23739.0

recieved this update from my email inquiry:

Thanks for your concern.  The road to Hurricane Ridge will remain open daily (weather permitting) for the rest of this winter.  Next winter, however, we will not be able to keep the road open all week.  Currently, Hurricane Ridge has been averaging as few as 12 visitors on a week day, which does not begin to cover the cost keeping the road open.  Please note, too, that the ski operation is run by volunteers and only runs on weekends; thus, the poma lift does not run during the week under any circumstances.
 
Believe me that everyone at the park wants to Hurricane Ridge road to stay open as much as, if not more than, you do.  But it is a money-losing situation as it is, and we are facing even deeper budget cuts this year.  However, we hope to be able to keep the road open as much as four days a week nest winter.

Thanks for writing,
Olympic National Park Visitor Center
3002 Mount Angeles Road
Port Angeles, WA 98362

now might be a good time hurricane frequent fliers to make our voices heard!

you can send emails here:
http://www.nps.gov/PWR/sendmail.htm?o=%3B1%28G%22MJ%2B%25IJ%5E%3DKQR%5DQA2NHU%2A85%2A%5D2II%5F16%21%22X%0A&r=/olym/index.htm



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Steve_O
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #1 on: 02/19/12, 10:23 AM »

Thanks for posting this and starting the discussion again.  Which park employee sent this?  Barb?

I've got two days up at the ridge midweek this winter and have been turned away an additional 4 days.  Believe me - I want the road open more that they do.

"Believe me that everyone at the park wants to Hurricane Ridge road to stay open as much as, if not more than, you do." 

If this statement were true they'd have the plow drivers out there doing their job when the snow starts to fly like WSDOT does.  Currently the plows don't go up until 7am - it's impossible to plow 20" of snow off that road in 2 hours.  They won't let cars up until both directions have been plowed and sanded...how about this - send up a plow and a sander at the same time and have another truck up in the lot plowing out two dozen parking spots.  They don't need to plow out the ENTIRE lot on a Tuesday! 

The community has poured 150K into this the last two winters and the park is wasting this opportunity.  Here's who I've been emailing.  Barb_Maynes@nps.gov

Keep on it.

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watsonskipsmith
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #2 on: 02/19/12, 12:02 PM »

Hi Steve O,
The email sent to me was unsigned so dont know who did the answering. I will try to inquire in person tommorow if they get the road open. Can you give a breif history of the 150K community effort?
« Last Edit: 02/19/12, 12:09 PM by watsonskipsmith » Logged
Stormking
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #3 on: 02/21/12, 08:20 AM »

I attended a meeting between City and Park officials Monday 2/13.  The road data for the season was presented to the city at the mid-point of the season.  Mayor Kidd and others are going to DC after the season to make the argument for continued 7 day a week access.  The primary target is Bruce Shaffer, the NPS comptroller.

Your letters will be more effective being sent to Mayor Kidd especially if they can be used to show people in Washington DC the interest in access.  The real pull will be with Congressmen Dicks and Inslee, and Senators Cantwell and Murray.

The reply you received is premature at best.  Also, the quote "averaging as few as 12" is informative because 12 is actually the lowest number of cars counted, which was 2/9 during the rainstorm.  The Monday - Thursday average is 36.  Keep in mind that is cars, not visitors.  I think they use 2.8 visitors per car for their visitor stats, so that is 100 people per day, average.

« Last Edit: 02/21/12, 07:36 PM by Stormking » Logged
Stormking
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #4 on: 02/21/12, 09:10 AM »

Local ONP managements "criteria for success" is 45% of weekend visits.  Apparently that is from the five year average, which equals 98 vehicles per day.  When asked what that was based on the answer I recieved was "that is what we decided."  This after at least a dozen meetings between local officials and the park to determine what metrics should be used. 

Is this 45% metric going to be used for all ONP management decisions?  I'll bet the visitor center gets less than 45% of its visits during the week.  Are they going to shut that down also?  Why not whole sections of the park that don't get 45% of the visits as the more popular areas? Why not whole parks that don't get 45% of the more popular parks?

Meanwhile, the park has on their management page a study that states the economic impact of visits to ONP.  http://www.friendsonp.org/images/econ_of_olympicnp.pdf Table 8.  It includes a table that can be used to calculate the economic impact of additonal visits to the park, such as those added by weekday visits.

The study, updated from 2000 using the CPI, shows that one visitor has an $85 total economic impact on the community, so the 100 visitors on the average weekday equals $8,500.




 
« Last Edit: 02/25/12, 12:58 AM by Stormking » Logged
Stormking
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #5 on: 02/22/12, 08:59 AM »

ONP states the total cost to open the Ridge is $750,000; $425,000 for Friday-Sunday and an additional $325,000 for Monday- Thursday.  I'm assuming that is how they arrived at 45%.  Those numbers include plowing, law enforcement, interpretation, and cleaning the lodge.  I haven't seen a breakdown on each category.

Local fundraising chipped in $75,000 for each of the past two years.

Some of the cost is in salary that they have to pay anyway for full-time year round rangers and road crew.  I beleive they hired two additional seasonal rangers and 4 road crew to operate seven days a week, for a total of 5 rangers and 8 road crew.




« Last Edit: 02/22/12, 11:51 AM by Stormking » Logged
Stormking
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #6 on: 02/22/12, 09:58 AM »

For comparason:
Mt Baker WSDOT plowing costs range from $195,000 to $547,000 over the past 5 years.  7 road staff, 150% more snow, open 24/7.  Includes spring opening to Artist's point.

Little Cottonwood Canyon (13  miles) road is plowed for $400,000 with 6 road staff, who also plow Big Cottonwood. (EIS for alternatives @ utah dot page)

Yellowstone NP plows 65 miles to Cooke City for $457,000 24/7 according to May 2011 Yellowstone Winter Use plan.  Also spends $325,000 for avalanche control on Sylvan Pass for 446 snowmobile visitors.  Grooming the trail costs more.

WSDOT Steven's Pass budget is $800,000 for clearing the road, including avalanche control.

Grand Teton NP plows 145 miles of road from 3:30 am to 9:30 pm with 8 plow drivers in the south section and 7 in the north.  Roads open 24/7.

Anthony Lakes Highway is plowed by a private contractor using $125,000 in Oregon Snowpark funds.  7,100' elevation to base. Nine mile road open 24/7.

Clallam County said they would plow the road Monday - Thursday up to the "Slot" for $75,000.

Still working on info from some other similar roads.

« Last Edit: 02/24/12, 05:42 PM by Stormking » Logged
nxnwsurf
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #7 on: 02/23/12, 04:40 PM »

Some contact info for the people stormking was talking about
ckidd@cityofpa.us
Barb_Maynes@nps.gov
https://inslee.house.gov/contact-me/email-jay
http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactMe
http://cantwell.senate.gov/contact/
http://www.house.gov/dicks/newemail.shtml?other
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Stormking
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #8 on: 02/23/12, 05:13 PM »

Olympic has winter recreation a significant part of it's congressionally mandated "Purpose,"  more so than all other National Parks.

The purpose of Olympic National Park is "…to conserve and render available to the people, for recreational use, this outstanding mountainous country, containing numerous glaciers and perpetual snow fields." 

Winter recreation predates the creation of Olympic and was one of the primary reasons for creating the Park in 1938.  Rep. Mon C. Wallgren of Everett, the author of the founding legislation was of the opinion that the first addition to the park would be the Deer Park area. "He pointed out this area is particularly adaptable to winter sports and would make a 'skiing paradise.'"

Winter recreation within Olympic was reaffirmed by the construction of the all season Hurricane Ridge Parkway in 1958.

Yet, Hurricane Ridge is the only NPS road operated on a weekend only basis. Here is the winter access for other western National Parks:

Paradise, MRNP, WA: 5,400’ 177"/680” average max/total snow. Open 7 days a week. 18 miles of road from Nisqually Entrance (2023’) to Paradise. May open late due to plowing. Road opening matrix. 2.5 hours from Seattle. 60,016 Jan-April Visits.

Yellowstone NP, WY: 7,000’ 65 miles of road plowed in winter from Cooke City to North Entrance for 35,641 Jan-April visits at a cost of $457,240. $4 million for winter operations to serve 93,838 visitors. 41”/208" North entrance snow. Some of the worst winter weather in North America. Since 1997, the NPS has spent over $11 million on planning for winter use management in Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and the Parkway (2009).

Yosemite NP, CA: 7,200’, Badger Pass ski area. 99/300" snow. Wawona, Big Oak Flat, El Portal, Hetch Hetchy, and Mariposa Grove Roads open. Tioga Pass and Glacier Point huts. 90 miles of marked trails, with 25 miles of groomed track. 22,843 Badger Pass vehicles YTD April 2011.

Crater Lake NP, OR: 6,400’ 121"/504” average snow at HQ. 7.1 mile road open 7 days a week to crater rim at 7,100’. 25,236 Jan-April visits. A ten-mile snowmobile ride along the groomed North Entrance Road brings you to an amazing lake view.

Glacier NP, MT 3,200’ elevation. 21"/132"  Snow at West Glacier.  11.5 miles of dead end road from West Entrance to Lake McDonald Lodge. 159 guided ski trips.  $1.5 million est. annual cost for GTTS clearing and repair. 44,783 visits Jan-April

Lassen NP, CA: 6,700’ 105/480”average snow. 1 mile of road plus parking plowed by NPS. CalTrans plows 5 miles of road to the entrance from Hiway. Similar access on northeast entrance. New $8.5m Kohn Yoh Mah Nee visitor center open 7 days a week year round. Lassen tracks visits by weekend (5,793) and weekday (5,142) GMP-winterization of facilities to allow day use in winter. Interpretive Plan- four seasons. 25,683 Jan-April visits. 683 skiers.

Sequoia NP, CA: 7,200 feet. 62/244” snow @ Lodgepole. General’s Highway between SNP and KCNP 26 miles open 7 days a week. Increased funding in 1984 allowed for 7 day a week access. Road may close between Wuksachi Village (6700’) and General Grove (6500’)for plowing after storms. Pear Lake Ski Hut accessed from Wolverton Meadow. Heated restrooms at Lodgepole Campground. 22,483 Jan-April visits.

Grand Teton NP WY 6,300’ elevation. 55"/253"@ Snake River. 29 miles of dead end road from Moran to Flagg Ranch to service 12,931 visitors to south YNP. 13,023 xc skiers in GTNP

North Cascades NP, WA: Open 7 days a week. WA DOT plows Hwy 20 to MP 135. Five miles of Hwy 20 is closed for the winter before reopen on the east side. Snowmobile access. 203 visits

Rocky Mountain National Park: Park open 24/7/365 days a year. Roads to Kawuneeche Valley, Bear Lake, Wild Basin, and Hidden Valley plowed. 52" of snow at Bear Lake 2/13/12. 9,450' elevation. 10 mile road. Limited parking, smaller than Hurricane Ridge. Warming Hut. 14,837 visits past Grand Lake.

Teton Pass WY The pass parking lot holds an average of 60 vehicles. Each space turns over an average of three times, meaning several hundred skiers are visiting the pass each day.

Hurricane Ridge, with 36,863 January- April visits.  It ranks 290th in overall park visits, meaning 73 park units receive less visits in a year than Hurricane Ridge in the four winter months.

For comparason, total ONP annual backcountry visits was 68,546 in 2010.
« Last Edit: 02/25/12, 10:58 AM by Stormking » Logged
Stormking
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #9 on: 02/23/12, 05:25 PM »

Many of the meetings with ONP officials were regarding promoting Hurricane Ridge.  The City and County spent all the available money as part of the $75,000 match.  We were told ONP couldn't legally promote the park. The twitter feed  is the best they could do.  We even tried to connect the park tweets to the ski area's facebook, but obviously that didn't happen.

So compare ONP twitter message today 2/23/12:  7:56: Road is snow covered up top; estimated 9:00a opening.  9:08: "The road is open" to Rocky Mountain National Parks facebook and twitter:

#BearLake 0730: H 30º, L 14º, current 15º. 12" new snow! (you want to go out and play, don't you!), 68" total on the ground. Mostly cloudy, calm winds (really!, tho a bit breezy now at HQ, 26º). Excellent snowshoe/x-c ski conditions but use caution & avoid avalanche terrain. Hidden Valley & the west side received 6" new snow. Roads are snowpacked & icy, plows are working. Snow tires or 4WD recommended. Enjoy your day! ks

Just sayin': not "everyone at the park wants to Hurricane Ridge road to stay open as much as, if not more than, you do"
« Last Edit: 02/24/12, 08:46 AM by Stormking » Logged
watsonskipsmith
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #10 on: 02/24/12, 03:08 PM »

Thanks to all for these great data points and history! Time to get some letters and emails going!
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Amar Andalkar
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WWW
Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #11 on: 02/24/12, 10:45 PM »

...

Paradise, MRNP, WA: 5,400’ 177” average snow. ...

Yellowstone NP, WY: 7,000’ ... 150” snow per year. ...

...

Crater Lake NP, OR: 6,400’ 121” average snow. ....

...

Lassen NP, CA: 6,700’ 105”average snow. ...

Sequoia NP, CA: 7,200 feet. 160” snow. ...

...

Stormking, I appreciate your advocacy in favor of keeping the road open. Even though I rarely ever make it out to the Olympics in winter, I'm all in favor of the NPS maintaining winter access to our parks.

However, you don't state where the various numbers come from in your post, and their accuracy may be doubtful. Just glancing through, I immediately noticed that the snowfall numbers are obviously all screwed up.

For Paradise, Crater Lake, and Lassen, the listed values above are the average April 1 snow depths, while for Yellowstone and Sequoia, those are approximately the average annual snowfall at the given elevations -- just totally an apples and oranges comparison. For proper comparison, the average annual snowfalls are, Paradise: 680", Crater Lake Park HQ: 520", and Lassen SW Entrance: 480-500" (incomplete data there). Hurricane Ridge does not have accurate snowfall statistics available as far as I know, but average April 1 snowdepth is about 105".

Glaring errors like that (the error is in the comparison) leave all the other numbers and comparisons in severe doubt -- hopefully they are more accurate and properly comparable. Statistics are useless if they're not known to be accurate and reliable.

« Last Edit: 02/24/12, 11:16 PM by Amar Andalkar » Logged

Stormking
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #12 on: 02/25/12, 12:48 AM »

Amar thanks for the data.  I used average April 1 snow on the ground where I could, because that is the only metric available for HR.  Data mostly from your site/nwac.  But you don't include Cooke City or Sequoia, so my google search turned up what I had.  I just modified those slightly, but not from a good source.  I think Cooke City was from wunderground for the NE entrance

The visitation data come from http://www.nature.nps.gov/stats/.

Cost data are from  email communication with Dustin Terpening, WDOT; www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Passes/NorthCascades/FAQ.htm#8;  http://www.udot.utah.gov/main/f?p=100:pg:0::::V,T:,1720;  Yellowstone Winter Use Plan Draft EIS, May 2011 table 36; www.nwac.us/data/CLISNO; 4 . hyalitecanyon.blogspot.com/         
« Last Edit: 02/25/12, 12:53 AM by Stormking » Logged
Amar Andalkar
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #13 on: 02/25/12, 09:51 AM »

The Western Regional Climate Center has good data for annual snowfall (and daily snowdepths throughout the year) for over 2000 sites in the western US, including many within the various National Parks: http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/Climsum.html

The "New Selection Tool" lets you easily zoom in and find sites which are located within various Parks. The sites in the Parks are generally the official data collected by the NPS rangers and then sent to the National Climatic Data Center as part of the COOP observer program. WRCC makes a summary of that data available for free (NCDC charges the general public, unless you have a .gov, .edu, or .mil IP address). Data quality is generally good, but (as always) there are some sites which have some questionable data.

For each site (e.g. Cooke City http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?mt1995 or Grant Grove http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?ca3551), it gives the annual snowfall on the main page, but the listed snow depths are a monthly average over an entire month (not very useful). The correct average April 1 snow depth can be found in the "Daily Summary Stats" linked at the bottom of the left sidebar.

For road plowing costs, it seems that the average annual snowfall would be the most relevant number for comparisons of roads which are kept plowed open throughout the winter, while the average April 1 snow depth would be most relevant for roads which are closed in winter and then plowed open in the spring.

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Stormking
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Re: Mid week Hurricane Ridge closure next winter!
« Reply #14 on: 03/06/12, 08:17 AM »

Article in the PDN about access, that directly contradicts the letter watsonskipsmith got from the park.  Maybe I'm a kook, but that letter is another piece of evidence in a long list that for whatever reason local park officials have no interest in keeping the road open.

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20120305/news/303059996/port-angeles-city-plans-dc-visit-to-request-continued-hurricane

More info on the economic impact of park visits

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20120301/news/303019987

This arcticle, assuming based on a press release from the Park, is a little odd also.  For one, there are 3 million VISITS, but not three million visitors-each visitor enters the park 1.5 times, on average.  Also, it doesn't include secondary effects, which is 1.37 times the direct spending, or jobs, or ONP employees and their secondary effects.  This info is available at the link posted a few posts up the thread.

One of the arguments I have heard against weekday opening is that it's only locals going up there, so the economic benifits are not has high.  First of all, the management of the road (8:00 notice and 9 am openings) is a dis-incentive for people that have to drive more than an hour to get there.  Second, its not true-I've counted licence plates from 25 states so far this winter in my limited interaction with the road.
« Last Edit: 03/06/12, 08:30 AM by Stormking » Logged
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