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CBAlliance
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Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« on: 10/07/17, 10:07 AM »

Hi All,

After much backroom discussion, Western Washington is finally getting its own backcountry ski and snowboard advocacy group. Myself and other members of the CBA have watched backcountry usage skyrocket in recent years, as good winters and improved gear have fueled a renaissance all along the Cascade crest. Along with more crowded skintracks, attendant access issues have started to plague our community: difficult parking situations, conflicts with other snow travelers, and reduced uphill travel options at our local resorts.

Currently, there is no united voice for skiers and riders to speak with land managers, resorts, and fellow winter recreationalists. While backcountry users generally seek a solitary experience, our lack of organization has begun to hurt us. A trend of reduced access and diminished user experience is the fate of every recreational group that fails to organize once it hits a critical mass.

We believe that the time has come to present a united voice in addressing these issues. However, we want to hear from the TAY community about what issues they feel are of greatest importance. Beyond simply getting our name out and establishing relationships, our #1 priority for this year is to plow the PCT trailhead at the commonwealth basin. We have ideas and things we hope to address in many areas- time will tell what is feasible for us and what our priorities should be. The point is that we are a new organization and now is the time for YOU to have your voice heard.

Check out the website at cascadebackcountryalliance.org and let us know what you think. For projects in your area, look in the current projects tab and then give us some feedback. What issues do you think are important? What should we focus on as an organization? You can email us, or comment here-- we'd like this thread to be a place for some productive conversation.

Lastly, if you enter your email into our mailing list, we will keep you informed on our events and projects. We are excited to hear from the core community before we gain a more public face, and we appreciate your time and your words.
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #1 on: 10/07/17, 11:07 AM »

Welcome!
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Andrew Carey
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #2 on: 10/07/17, 12:34 PM »

It would be important to me to know who at least the key organizers are and if the organizers and the alliance have any affiliations outside of other non-profit public service groups.† Thanks, abc† :-)


I do think it is well past the time when such an alliance should have been formed--thanks for forming one.  I look forward to updates.
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... want your own private skintrack? Better move to the yukon dude. (B'ham Allen, 2011).
...USA: government of the people by corporate proxies for business.

Andy Carey, Nisqually Park, 3500 feet below Paradise
Randy
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #3 on: 10/07/17, 02:51 PM »

Hi All,

our #1 priority for this year is to plow the PCT trailhead at the commonwealth basin.

This seems like an interesting priority to me, given that backcountry skiers have been parking for free at the Snoqualmie Summit/Summit West lots for at least a half century.

Can you illuminate the factors that where used to identify this as a top priority?
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CBAlliance
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #4 on: 10/07/17, 03:07 PM »

It would be important to me to know who at least the key organizers are and if the organizers and the alliance have any affiliations outside of other non-profit public service groups.† Thanks, abc† :-)

Andrew,

Thanks for the response. The CBA has no affiliations besides the Winter Wildlands Alliance, which is a national nonprofit group that has helped us organize and get our paperwork in order.

As far as the primary members: I currently work for International Mountain Guides. The past 4 winters you may have seen me at Pro Ski and Mountain Service in North Bend, where I worked in the shop. Some of our key members are also in the industry, and work for guide services such as Mountain Madness and Alpine Ascents, as well as Ascent Outdoors in Seattle. Others work at resorts, other retailers, and at gear companies.

To be very clear: we do not represent the interests of any of these institutions as the CBA. We are all avid recreational skiers who want to help address the needs of the recreational community. While obviously the industry benefits from more skiers and more backcountry users, the point is that we as recreationalists have a political voice- for-profit entities already have the means and resources to advocate for themselves.

I should have signed the first post, apologies.

Cheers,
Conrad Wharton
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CBAlliance
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #5 on: 10/07/17, 03:36 PM »

This seems like an interesting priority to me, given that backcountry skiers have been parking for free at the Snoqualmie Summit/Summit West lots for at least a half century.

Can you illuminate the factors that where used to identify this as a top priority?

Hi Randy,

There were a few things that went into this decision, and it is by no means set in stone. First, to your question about why this is even a concern: Snoqualmie Pass is the closest and easiest access to touring from Seattle. The status quo of resort parking use, which is taken up not only by touring folks but snowshoers and other user groups, has a few problems. First, the increasing number of free-riders cannot continue forever- the competition for resort parking will eventually become a serious issue. Second, the number of people wandering under the overpass to access the commonwealth is a safety concern.

The large number of public land users and the presence of an existing parking lot means that it is in everyoneís interest to plow this lot: the resort wins because more parking spaces are freed up for paying customers, the forest service is better able to serve the demands of its users, the DOT has fewer concerns about pedestrians and illegal parking, and we as a user base gain easy access to a popular touring area without being beholden to the generosity of the resort.

In other words, this seems like a logical project with clear benefits and† a reasonable scope. We certainly are aware of many other pressing issues, and are open to pursuing as many as we can.

Cheers,
Conrad
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Randy
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #6 on: 10/07/17, 04:16 PM »

Hi Randy,

without being beholden to the generosity of the resort.


Given that the resort and parking lot are on USFS owned land and the area operates on a special use permit from the USFS.  I think it is the public that is granting the resort a favor...

Would plowing the PCT lot be paid for using sno-park funds and require a sno-park permit to be displayed?  Seems like this would be only partially effective in freeing up space at Summit West  -- unless Washington adopted the Oregon model where *all* skiers/riders are required to display a sno-park permit - even when parking in "ski area" lots.  I would think would be strongly opposed by ski areas -- even though it seems sensible to me.

If not where would plowing funds come from? 

Perhaps the USFS special use permit could be ammended the next time it is renewed to require plowing of the PCT lot for backountry users without a fee.

This would benefit the resort on "peak days" when close to the resort lots fill up early and resort skiers need to park in the silver fir overflow lot and ride the shuttle to reach Summit West or go home sad (and with money in their wallets)
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kthack
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #7 on: 10/07/17, 06:50 PM »

Nice Conrad, great idea. Look forward to helping support
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CBAlliance
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #8 on: 10/08/17, 10:14 AM »

Would plowing the PCT lot be paid for using sno-park funds and require a sno-park permit to be displayed?† Seems like this would be only partially effective in freeing up space at Summit West† -- unless Washington adopted the Oregon model where *all* skiers/riders are required to display a sno-park permit - even when parking in "ski area" lots.† I would think would be strongly opposed by ski areas -- even though it seems sensible to me.

If not where would plowing funds come from?†

Perhaps the USFS special use permit could be ammended the next time it is renewed to require plowing of the PCT lot for backountry users without a fee.

This would benefit the resort on "peak days" when close to the resort lots fill up early and resort skiers need to park in the silver fir overflow lot and ride the shuttle to reach Summit West or go home sad (and with money in their wallets)

Randy,

Your point about the paid vs. free parking is well taken- if there is free parking people will obviously go there first. The Oregon sno-park system is a bit more fair to all users in that sense, although Iím sure some oregonians could point out flaws. The main point here is that it takes money to make these things happen. At this point, we donít know exactly how much funding would be required, nor how much would be available from the fs/dot/etc. In an ideal world, we as the CBA will be working to close a potential funding gap through events and fundraising efforts. We will keep you posted on where our talks with the FS go.

To add on here: another big part of our mission is to help distribute user impact to different areas outside of the current overworked spots. I would love to hear from people about access points that are currently underutilized or not available in the winter that we might advocate and fundraise for plowing.
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CBAlliance
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #9 on: 10/08/17, 10:28 AM »

To publicly answer some questions we have received by email:

What about carpooling?

Sure, weíre all for it. Obviously carpooling would go a long way towards improving congestion at crowded trailheads- Stevens Pass is the most clear example. We would love for more people to carpool.  Thereís basically two ways to get people to carpool: a carrot or a stick. Carrots being better parking, faster traffic lanes, etc. We donít have much control over these sorts of big infrastructure projects, although we can certainly help resorts develop these incentives. We also might be able to partner with private companies that offer group transport to help them get the word out about their services. The only stick we have is shame: we can basically try and guilt people  into carpooling more. However, thereís only so far that goes , as people are free to ignore you and drive separately. Carpooling and transportation in the Cascades is a huge issue, and we simply donít have the tools to address such big systemic issues- although we will do what we can.

Why donít you have any projects  in the (Olympics, White Pass, Fill in the blank) area?

First, we only have the resources do so much. Second, some areas of Washington already  have non-profit advocacy groups, such as El Sendero in Wenatchee. In the Olympics, the Hurricane Ridge Winter Access coalition made a big push for opening the road more, to limited avail. If you feel you have the time and resources to make a difference in a place we havenít identified, or even in a place we already have, please let us know.

Thanks for all the responses thus far.

Cheers,
Conrad
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Randy
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #10 on: 10/08/17, 03:10 PM »

Randy,

 . I would love to hear from people about access points that are currently underutilized or not available in the winter that we might advocate and fundraise for plowing.

One access point that was recently lostvwas the East Bound Price creek rest area.   When it was open it was underutilized,   I think because only the very ancient Prater snowshoe book mentioned it and because of snowmachine usage.

Expanding the sno-park at Gold creek would help as well.
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Skier of the Hood
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #11 on: 10/08/17, 10:17 PM »

Hi Conrad,

I think a page detailing the members of your board of directors would be huge, similar to the winter wildlands alliance <https://winterwildlands.org/board/>. Speaking of which, I think it would also be telling to know how the CBA is to be structured. How will the board of directors be chosen? Do you have an executive director? Obviously you are probably still working out the details but I would be curious to know if you do have a plan.†

If you can gain statistical information about backcountry users you may be able to leverage that information into getting a piece of the pie provided by Washington's Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. I know little about the grant agency but have always been curious if we could shift a bit of the pie our way. Currently we have no representation on the Recreational Trails Program Advisory Group <http://www.rco.wa.gov/grants/advisory_committees/rtp.shtml> The pie is sure tasty if we can get a piece of it <https://secure.rco.wa.gov/prism/search/projectsnapshot.aspx?ProjectNumber=14-2094> <https://secure.rco.wa.gov/prism/search/projectsnapshot.aspx?ProjectNumber=14-1833> <https://secure.rco.wa.gov/prism/search/projectsnapshot.aspx?ProjectNumber=14-2104>. If you don't know you can search for grants using prism, you will find mucho funds appropriated to snowmobiling and cross country skiing with zero for backcountry skiers.

A whole other lift is getting state parks or the forest service to support backcountry skiing like they support cross country skiing, and snowmobiling. If you have any intention of accomplishing this lift you will have to bring in the other winter advocacy groups into the discussion.

Thank you for doing the heavy lifting of getting an advocacy group going, hope you enjoy politics (;
« Last Edit: 10/08/17, 10:20 PM by Skier of the Hood » Logged

"As we all know, the true driving force behind every early morning wake up is not necessarily safety, but the overpowering drive to be sitting on a patio by 1 pm, intoxicated, and spraying loudly about the morning's adventure."

-Andrew Wexler 2011
BRSmith
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #12 on: 10/09/17, 01:36 PM »

Super excited to see this project start to come to fruition - establishing a more unified voice to advocate for BC ski community seems long overdue in my mind and will only become more important as use increases in the years to come.

That being said, it's a big range an pretty clearly there's also a big range in opinions about where priorities stand / what the best way to increase access to the backcountry is. I would certainly be interested in hearing more folk's ideas about where and how this organization could make the most difference for our community of human-powered backcountry users.

Thanks for leading the charge on this bear of a project, Conrad.

-Brendan Smith
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kamtron
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #13 on: 10/09/17, 02:28 PM »

Excellent initiative to get this thing going!
Let us know about meetings, fundraisers, etc.
See you in the snows soon, Conrad ;-)
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CBAlliance
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #14 on: 10/09/17, 05:55 PM »

Hi Conrad,

I think a page detailing the members of your board of directors would be huge, similar to the winter wildlands alliance <https://winterwildlands.org/board/>. Speaking of which, I think it would also be telling to know how the CBA is to be structured. How will the board of directors be chosen? Do you have an executive director? Obviously you are probably still working out the details but I would be curious to know if you do have a plan.†

If you can gain statistical information about backcountry users you may be able to leverage that information into getting a piece of the pie provided by Washington's Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. I know little about the grant agency but have always been curious if we could shift a bit of the pie our way. Currently we have no representation on the Recreational Trails Program Advisory Group. If you don't know you can search for grants using prism, you will find mucho funds appropriated to snowmobiling and cross country skiing with zero for backcountry skiers.

A whole other lift is getting state parks or the forest service to support backcountry skiing like they support cross country skiing, and snowmobiling. If you have any intention of accomplishing this lift you will have to bring in the other winter advocacy groups into the discussion.

Thank you for doing the heavy lifting of getting an advocacy group going, hope you enjoy politics (;

Thanks for the response. The website is a little light on details right now, sorry. We are incorporated in Washington, which requires fairly limited disclosure of internal structure in the incorporation process. I am trying to get our internal governance documents fully in line with Washington State law before we publish them. If you are a lawyer or know one, let me know. We will work on adding a "Who we are" page to the website as well.

I greatly appreciate the heads up on the recreational trails program- that is potentially an excellent source of project funding. I note that the grants require matching, but that is hopefully within our reach for a good cause.

Your point about our relative invisibility to the Forest Service, as well as to the Washington RCO and other entities, really gets at what we are trying to accomplish: give this entire group of people with a shared set of interests a political voice. No one likes politics, but everyone like policies that benefit them, so hopefully we can keep our focus there.

An interesting note about the Forest Service in particular is that if you dig deep into the Mt. Baker/ Snoqualmie forest plan, which dates back to 1990 at this point, Backcountry skiing isn't even a named activity. Here's some of the relevant bullet points from the "Winter Recreation" section:

1. Each major winter recreation activity (Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowmobiling, and snow play) will have areas designated and managed to accommodate them. Other activities occuring within these areas should be limited or prohibited if they conflict with the primary activity, or if overcrowding develops.

On the other hand, the section also notes that

4. Different skill levels of users shall be provided for and considered when designing trails and related facilities. A spectrum of opportunities for winter recreation will be maintained, including primitive dispersed opportunities with no facilities.

and

6. Alpine ski permittees will be encouraged to integrate winter dispersed recreation into their operations if and when the opportunity and demand exists.

Here's the link to all that.
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CBAlliance
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #15 on: 10/09/17, 05:56 PM »

Excellent initiative to get this thing going!
Let us know about meetings, fundraisers, etc.
See you in the snows soon, Conrad ;-)

Thanks Kam, we will hopefully be e-mailing folks soon about fun things like beer and stoke, and not just plowing through legal documents!
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Andrew Carey
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #16 on: 10/10/17, 06:37 AM »

Conrad, thanks for the reply and info :-)
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... want your own private skintrack? Better move to the yukon dude. (B'ham Allen, 2011).
...USA: government of the people by corporate proxies for business.

Andy Carey, Nisqually Park, 3500 feet below Paradise
Randy
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #17 on: 10/10/17, 09:52 AM »

Here is a link to another human powered winter recreation advocacy group -- consider coordinating with them

https://www.snowrec.org/

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CBAlliance
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #18 on: 11/02/17, 05:29 PM »

Hi All,

Some further updates on project priorities and feedback we have received:

One of the areas folks have been most responsive about is Mt. Baker and the 542 corridor. A recurring issue that folks have mentioned is the contentious relationship between the BC community and the resort. While we are familiar with the problems that have occurred in the past (e.g. accosting BC users trying to park at the area), we are also sympathetic to the concerns of the resort. If anyone has further productive input on this, or some means of extending the olive branch and starting a productive dialogue, we would love to hear it.

Another park of relieving some of the pressure on the Bagley Lakes/Table area would be to improve access to backcountry areas along the highway, either by plowing parking for sled access or plowing the roads far enough for reasonable skinning. To that end, we've identified two key roads that the motorized community and hopefully you all are interested in: Twin Lakes/Winchester mountain road and Skyline divide road. These are obviously great options in the shoulder seasons when access is feasible, and would be great alternate options during winter. We are hoping to hear back from the Forest Service soon, and will update you all when that happens.

Thank you for all the input thus far.
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flowing alpy
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #19 on: 11/03/17, 11:57 AM »

hey conrad,
do you have any plans to help regulate the Lot4 dog park trail @Alpental.
parking, uphill traffic and dog poop are a real problem for avid downhill users of this recreation area.
 asking for a friend.
Thanks in advance and good luck with parking
 on a new snow day any weekend this winter.

may we be blessed by UllR
bobby
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CBAlliance
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #20 on: 11/03/17, 12:26 PM »

hey conrad,
do you have any plans to help regulate the Lot4 dog park trail @Alpental.
parking, uphill traffic and dog poop are a real problem for avid downhill users of this recreation area.
 asking for a friend.
Thanks in advance and good luck with parking
 on a new snow day any weekend this winter.

may we be blessed by UllR
bobby

Hi Bobby,

Glad you asked (for a friend)-just had some great conversations with folks about this.

Ah, yes, lot 4. You only dig a snow cave there once. While the dog poop and general rodeo are unpleasant, I think the central concern here is the downhill/uphill travel conflict. The resort obviously has a permit area and paying guests that suffer from clueless uphill travelers, and one collision is probably enough to threaten access for all. The resort has been exceedingly generous in its handling of the traffic lot 4 receives from non-paying customers.

Currently, we are at the stage of reaching out to the resort to see what their perception of the issues are, and areas we think we can collaborate on. Some solutions we hope to bring to the table are discussed on the snoqualmie pass projects page on our website. To elaborate further: managing the movement of people in highly traffic areas basically requires infrastructure and education. Parking has been discussed above, and some other elements we would be reliant on the resort for: creation of a dog-walking area, grooming an exit trail, etc. However, we as an uphill travel community also need to take responsibility for our actions, as well as be respectful of ski area operations. To that end, we are hopeful about signage and designating different travel areas, whether that be a marked snowshoe area, a set skintrack, an informational kiosk in the lot, or other outreach and education efforts.

As far as the dog poop: is there a doggie-bag dispenser at the trailhead? or anything about dog waste? My memory is failing me here.

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Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #21 on: 11/03/17, 10:25 PM »

Thank you for taking concrete steps on advocacy. It's a comparatively thankless job -- thank you.

I'm not certain that we need representatives to speak for us, but we absolutely need catalysts to get everyone to speak and advocate in a timely fashion as backcountry usage grows.

Looking around the CBA website, I don't see anything relating to the leadership, structure, bylaws, and financial statements. Transparency may be of critical importance when inspiring solitude-seeking skiers to coalesce as a group.

In particular, before donating to any such group, I absolutely need to know what that money might do, how decisions are made, and who is making those decisions. Such documentation needn't be complex, just clear and accurate.

Thank you again!

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mbravenboer
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #22 on: 11/04/17, 02:30 PM »

It would be great if the CBA would also include backcountry snowshoeing. They face the exact same issues with access and parking, so interests should be pretty well aligned. The typical dont-destroy-my-skin-track problem is often more front country problem with novices and hopefully those minor issues with each others mode of transportation can be overcome in the alliance. The good thing is that the 'mission' page of CBA is neutral on the mode of travel, but in the announcement here you wrote "Western Washington is finally getting its own backcountry ski and snowboard advocacy group", so I'm concerned it will mostly be for skiiers. Might be nice to also ask for feedback in places like NWHikers where many avid snowshoers hang out.
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rlsg
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #23 on: 11/07/17, 10:35 PM »

some of us would rather you walk on skin track rather than hambergering precious snow fields ...


It would be great if the CBA would also include backcountry snowshoeing. They face the exact same issues with access and parking, so interests should be pretty well aligned. The typical dont-destroy-my-skin-track problem is often more front country problem with novices and hopefully those minor issues with each others mode of transportation can be overcome in the alliance. The good thing is that the 'mission' page of CBA is neutral on the mode of travel, but in the announcement here you wrote "Western Washington is finally getting its own backcountry ski and snowboard advocacy group", so I'm concerned it will mostly be for skiiers. Might be nice to also ask for feedback in places like NWHikers where many avid snowshoers hang out.
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vogtski
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #24 on: 11/08/17, 11:52 AM »

Thanks for all your work and time!  I think your group is correct to focus initially on USFS, where the chances for skier-friendly access improvements seem greatest.
   
I don't care much for the aroma, but I smell changes coming in our National Parks' winter operations from Zinke's latest scam.  I'd expect additional fees for plowing, parking, and other traditional basic services fairly soon.  It looks as though motorized recreation advocacy groups will dominate his process, so it could lead to snowmobile tours, winter RV & sled camprounds, who knows, maybe even renting buildings out and cat-skiing at Paradise (Edith Basin & Paradise River headwaters are gerrymandered out of the official Wilderness):

"Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is moving to form a Recreation Advisory Committee to develop suggestions not only on how "public-private partnerships" can improve access and infrastructure on public lands, but also on how to generate more user fees to support sustainable operations."

"We used to have a Bureau of Recreation ‚Äď we're bringing recreation back," Secretary Zinke said. "So I've hired a former Navy SEAL captain to evaluate our public lands and look at the recreation opportunities, so the American public can enjoy our lands.
"

https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2017/11/interior-secretary-create-public-lands-advisory-committee-one-might-suggest-new-user-fees

https://themontanapost.com/2017/11/02/the-case-against-ryan-zinke/
« Last Edit: 11/09/17, 06:43 AM by vogtski » Logged

I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
Randy
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #25 on: 11/08/17, 04:04 PM »

and one collision is probably enough to threaten access for all.

How so ?  Plenty of collisions and injuries happen every  weekend at Alpental and the other ski areas.  Also Washington state law explicitly makes the descending skier responsible for any collisions.

Quote
The resort has been exceedingly generous in its handling of the traffic lot 4 receives from non-paying customers.

Huh?  The land is USFS public land.  If the resort were to try to exclude the public from using that route (which has been in use since before Alpental existed) they would need to get the forest service to agree to changes in their special use permit.
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Chuck C
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #26 on: 11/08/17, 09:37 PM »

How so ?  Plenty of collisions and injuries happen every  weekend at Alpental and the other ski areas.

There really aren‚Äôt too many collisions/injuries at Alpental, especially compared to the other areas up there. But I‚Äôve accosted numerous people skinning up the middle of the runs on weekends, a few times with their unleashed dogs. Once they told me they didn‚Äôt know the area was open.  The spandex must‚Äôve been too tight.
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Randy
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #27 on: 11/08/17, 10:19 PM »

There really aren’t too many collisions/injuries at Alpental, especially compared to the other areas up there. But I’ve accosted numerous people skinning up the middle of the runs on weekends, a few times with their unleashed dogs. Once they told me they didn’t know the area was open.  The spandex must’ve been too tight.

Point is people get hurt pretty frequently at lift served ski areas -- Those sleds get used with some frequency -- more frequently at Summit West and Central than Alpental I would agree.
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Ldawson
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #28 on: 11/09/17, 08:07 AM »

Awesome! Thanks for all the work in getting this going. I'm in full support of the projects outlined on the site. Especially the ones related to some of the "arbitrarily" locked gates around the state. What are some good ways for us to get involved and help out?
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CBAlliance
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #29 on: 11/10/17, 11:24 AM »

Thank you for taking concrete steps on advocacy. It's a comparatively thankless job -- thank you.

I'm not certain that we need representatives to speak for us, but we absolutely need catalysts to get everyone to speak and advocate in a timely fashion as backcountry usage grows.

Looking around the CBA website, I don't see anything relating to the leadership, structure, bylaws, and financial statements. Transparency may be of critical importance when inspiring solitude-seeking skiers to coalesce as a group.

In particular, before donating to any such group, I absolutely need to know what that money might do, how decisions are made, and who is making those decisions. Such documentation needn't be complex, just clear and accurate.

Thank you again!



Charlie,

Thanks for the input. You raise some good points. Regarding someone speaking for you: I really want to emphasize that we are not trying to dictate an agenda or speak arbitrarily. We want to serve as a mouthpiece and a conduit. You tell us what to say, we try and pass that message on to other organizations. The key here is that we present a somewhat organized and united front on different issues. It is much easier to engage with government entities and advocate when we act as a legitimate group. That said, we also want to encourage people to provide their own direct input during e.g. public comment periods and other times when more voices are better. To this end, we hope to keep people informed about when they should speak up, and provide tools (contact info, etc.) to do so.

Regarding the website and transparency: we've built a "who we are" page which you can check out here. Both you and Andrew suggested this, and it wasn't our intention to be obscure- we're just small and new, and have day jobs. If you'd like to view our articles of incorporation, you can look at them here.

As far as our bylaws: as I said to Andrew, I don't want to publish them until I am certain they are correct- we have a draft but are still trying to ensure they are fully compliant with Washington State law. Believe me, I would love for this documentation to be clear and simple. It inherently isn't, due to the legal requirements of the document. We will not be asking anyone for money until this document is out. We also hope to finish electing an official board soon, but we want to make sure that we get a effective and representative mix of people to serve. Our budget is also a bit of a cart and horse problem right now- we don't know exactly what projects will cost because we are still talking to the Forest Service and other entities. Any project we solicit donations for will have a published budget estimate.

Anyways, it is all a bit of a slog, but we are striving hard for legitimacy, and advocacy isn't thankless: you just thanked us!

Conrad
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #30 on: 11/10/17, 11:36 AM »

It would be great if the CBA would also include backcountry snowshoeing. They face the exact same issues with access and parking, so interests should be pretty well aligned. The typical dont-destroy-my-skin-track problem is often more front country problem with novices and hopefully those minor issues with each others mode of transportation can be overcome in the alliance. The good thing is that the 'mission' page of CBA is neutral on the mode of travel, but in the announcement here you wrote "Western Washington is finally getting its own backcountry ski and snowboard advocacy group", so I'm concerned it will mostly be for skiiers. Might be nice to also ask for feedback in places like NWHikers where many avid snowshoers hang out.

Hi,

Our primary concern is the ski and snowboard community, simply because snowshoers are somewhat under the wing of the WTA and the Mountaineers. However, we do recognize that we all use much of the same  terrain, and generally the same trailhead. I think that the issues of conflict are much less than what we share together in the grand scheme of things, and we want to have room to advocate for our shared interests. We are still working out how representation of the snowshoe community will work, whether that be a board seat or simply some tweaking of our messaging and outreach efforts. I will post on NW Hikers as well.

As a comment above makes clear, areas of conflict definitely do exist, and we do want to work to resolve them. Some positive steps here will be looking for ways to mitigate front-country conflict, hopefully through emphasizing that everyone is basically out to have a good time in the snow. You aren't alone leaving the parking lot anymore, and if ten minutes of chewed up skintrack, or downhill skier dodging is required, we want to make sure friendship and politeness rules the day. That said, we also want to implement as much infrastructure as we can (e.g. marked or suggested travel routes) to help mitigate conflict. We have to get land managers on board with this before we go around sticking signs in the snow.

Thanks for speaking up for your mode of travel!
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #31 on: 11/10/17, 11:54 AM »

Thanks for all your work and time!  I think your group is correct to focus initially on USFS, where the chances for skier-friendly access improvements seem greatest.
   
I don't care much for the aroma, but I smell changes coming in our National Parks' winter operations from Zinke's latest scam.  I'd expect additional fees for plowing, parking, and other traditional basic services fairly soon.  It looks as though motorized recreation advocacy groups will dominate his process, so it could lead to snowmobile tours, winter RV & sled camprounds, who knows, maybe even renting buildings out and cat-skiing at Paradise (Edith Basin & Paradise River headwaters are gerrymandered out of the official Wilderness):

"Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is moving to form a Recreation Advisory Committee to develop suggestions not only on how "public-private partnerships" can improve access and infrastructure on public lands, but also on how to generate more user fees to support sustainable operations."

"We used to have a Bureau of Recreation ‚Äď we're bringing recreation back," Secretary Zinke said. "So I've hired a former Navy SEAL captain to evaluate our public lands and look at the recreation opportunities, so the American public can enjoy our lands.
"


Thanks for your input. We hope the Forest Service will be responsive to our efforts. In general, the Forest Service has a bit more of utilitarian mandate, which means that speaking up can produce results. Both the Forest Service and the Park Service face the same problem, however, of being perpetually underfunded and under-resourced.

Currently, the Park Service is proposing a massive fee increase for many parks, including Mount Rainier. Single-vehicle entrance fees would be $70 under this proposal, although only during 5 peak travel months starting June 1st, 2018. You can read about the proposal on the NPS website here.

Generally, the CBA agrees with the following statement from the Winter Wildlands Alliance:

"The Park Service is proposing this fee increase, which is projected to generate $68 million, in order to address an $11 billion maintenance backlog. We accept that fees increases are appropriate or necessary in some limited circumstances but we cannot and should not address a multi-billion-dollar maintenance backlog on the backs of Park visitors. This fee increase strikes us as unreasonably high, particularly when proposed in conjunction with overall Department of Interior budget cuts to the tune of $1.5 billion, including a $380 million cut to the Park Service budget."

The public comment period is open until November 23rd. You can comment directly by going to this NPS planning site. If you join our mailing list (on our website, we will not spam you), we will send out an email reminder about this a few days before the comment period closes. We will keep an eye out for other proposed changes at MRNP.
« Last Edit: 11/10/17, 12:11 PM by CBAlliance » Logged
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #32 on: 11/10/17, 12:11 PM »

Awesome! Thanks for all the work in getting this going. I'm in full support of the projects outlined on the site. Especially the ones related to some of the "arbitrarily" locked gates around the state. What are some good ways for us to get involved and help out?

Appreciate your support and encouragement. Do you have specific gates in mind? We have some ideas, but want to hear from folks. Beyond that, a big priority for us is building relationships. If you or other people have contacts with the DOT, Forest Service, ski areas, or any other entities, awesome. We want to reach out to them and ask what their concerns are with skier usage and traffic, and establish ways to advocate for what we want as well.
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #33 on: 11/10/17, 04:29 PM »

Appreciate your support and encouragement. Do you have specific gates in mind? We have some ideas, but want to hear from folks. Beyond that, a big priority for us is building relationships. If you or other people have contacts with the DOT, Forest Service, ski areas, or any other entities, awesome. We want to reach out to them and ask what their concerns are with skier usage and traffic, and establish ways to advocate for what we want as well.

Sounds good! 

Here's a little list of gated areas that have frustrated me over the years. Many of these have already been mentioned. Of course some of those might have legitimate reasons for being locked, and many are probably outside the realm of immediate possibility. One can dream though, right?

Gates on Cascade River Road. I can't even count the number of times I've walked the last few miles on dry pavement. Also, plowing that road would be incredible.

Mowich Lake road: often gated until well after the snow is gone on the road. I've ridden my bike up there several times when it was gated, and there was no snow in sight.

410 gate and sunrise road

Skyline divide road

Twin lakes road: Not sure if this is the case anymore, but it when I lived in Bellingham a few years ago it often had a big snowbank plowed in front of the road entrance. The road would often be clear for several miles other than that. I asked the forest service and DOT about the snowbank, and if I remember correctly they said it was more of just a convenient place to put the snow. They said it was fine for me to go and shovel it out and drive over it, which I did a few times. Even if the snowbank isn't an issue anymore, getting some plowing up that road would be absolutely amazing.

It'd be great to get the paradise gate unlocked a few hours earlier in the morning, and maybe stay open later at night.

Twin sisters road (from the northern side). I know this is more of an issue with the logging company than a governmental agency. However, Having that road open would open up a pretty incredible area for skiing and other recreational opportunities.

It'd be cool to have the west side of HWY 20 gated higher up. Probably fairly unfeasible due to avalanche danger and other reasons. However, it'd be pretty rad to have snowmobile access to Washington Pass similar to what the east side has.

Colchuck lake road.
« Last Edit: 11/10/17, 04:36 PM by Ldawson » Logged

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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #34 on: 11/12/17, 10:46 AM »

Andrew,

Thanks for the response. The CBA has no affiliations besides the Winter Wildlands Alliance, which is a national nonprofit group that has helped us organize and get our paperwork in order.

As far as the primary members: I currently work for International Mountain Guides. The past 4 winters you may have seen me at Pro Ski and Mountain Service in North Bend, where I worked in the shop. Some of our key members are also in the industry, and work for guide services such as Mountain Madness and Alpine Ascents, as well as Ascent Outdoors in Seattle. Others work at resorts, other retailers, and at gear companies.

To be very clear: we do not represent the interests of any of these institutions as the CBA. We are all avid recreational skiers who want to help address the needs of the recreational community. While obviously the industry benefits from more skiers and more backcountry users, the point is that we as recreationalists have a political voice- for-profit entities already have the means and resources to advocate for themselves.

I should have signed the first post, apologies.

Cheers,
Conrad Wharton
so an organization to promote commercial interests on public land disguised as a Backcountry skier Alliance.

No thanks.
« Last Edit: 11/12/17, 10:50 AM by freeski » Logged

two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege, it will always be at the expense of truth and justice
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #35 on: 11/15/17, 06:23 AM »

Excellent!

Thanks for the efforts to those involved. I would think that being a collective of various industry professionals only adds to the legitimacy. And possibly makes it easier to gain the ears of those that need to listen.

I predominantly ski Stevens pass area through out the winter. I've racked my brain over the years on what possibilities there where for access. Other then creating a few winter parking areas as mentioned, not much you could do with a plow truck.

The underutilized areas might be Martin Creek drainage, nason ridge(a mile long ridge that rarely sees tracks east of the first lump). The low elevation start at the west side train yard. Cascade meadows. I frequent all these places, and only see Chris and Radka.  And that snowshoer guy up there. Wink..

The minor issues seem to be parking, and the occasional legal snowmobile mixing in. overcrowding of slopes and areas doesn't seem  to be a problem. I could be wrong though.. I'm sure the more astute gentlemen of the pass can or already have weighed in.

Thanks again, best of luck, and I hope I'll somehow be able to collectively chip in and do my part.
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #36 on: 11/15/17, 10:51 AM »

How so ?  Plenty of collisions and injuries happen every  weekend at Alpental and the other ski areas.  Also Washington state law explicitly makes the descending skier responsible for any collisions.

Huh?  The land is USFS public land.  If the resort were to try to exclude the public from using that route (which has been in use since before Alpental existed) they would need to get the forest service to agree to changes in their special use permit.

Hi,

Sorry for the delay in reply- I wanted to take the time to dig up some actual documentation on this. Access at ski areas is a big discussion flash point, and often generates confusion.

The scenario I was envisioning would be an uphill traveler skinning to Source lake, but within the ski area permit boundary and on a groomed exit track. In other words, a collision between a paying downhill skier and a nonpaying user. This would be a bad deal for us uphill folk, because it would create a crystal-clear public safety reason to limit access. Basically, ski resort on FS land, as dictated by their permit, have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for the public. You can read a blank version of their permit by clicking
 here. The relevant language is "The holder has the responsibility of inspecting the area authorized for use under this permit for evidence of hazardous conditions which could affect the improvements or pose a risk of injury to individuals." Secondary to this, the resort is required to create an operating plan which takes safety into account, carry an insurance policy which may further dictate their operations, etc. So they have a safety mandate dictated to them.


The resorts also have a set of rights which are available to them, which are laid out in the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act (SAROEA). This act was updated in 2014, and the update includes some information on access to ski areas by the non-paying public. I have uploaded it to our google drive, and you can read the entire document by clicking here. The relevant section is on page 20.

Basically, resorts have the right to charge for their facilities, including plowed parking lots. They also have the right to limit access for public safety reasons. However, they cannot fully restrict access by charging an "entrance fee", and they cannot "charge for the use of National Forest System lands in which they have made limited or no investments.  Holders may not charge for use of non-motorized or motorized trails that are constructed and maintained by the Forest Service." Additionally, "Authorized Officers should strive to ensure that, to the extent possible based on public safety considerations, some portions of the permit area remain open to the public without charge, so that the holder’s charges do not constitute de facto entrance fees."

Basically, the resort has a general directive to allow access by the public, but the right and in fact the responsibility to limit access in specific cases where there is a threat to public safety. In the case of the Alpental valley, there is some ambiguity. It would seem that the resort couldn't limit access to the summer trailhead for Source Lake, as it is a FS facility. On the other hand, they could easily be able to justify limiting access to Lot 4 on the basis of e.g. unsafe parking lot conditions, or on uphill travelers using their groomed trail out of the lot. It is my understanding that a similar situation exists at Baker, where the resort could technically not charge everyone for parking (as was apparently threatened), but could charge or limit access to some specific areas. This is also why Crystal now makes some provisions for uphill travel, but Silver Basin is permanently closed.

The ambiguity of the language in these documents is what leads to a lot of confusion in these discussions. However, the point I'd like to convey most clearly is that we as a community will get a lot farther by working with resorts to achieve their public safety goals. Yes, in general, we can't be barred or required to pay a private entity for access to the backcountry. However, in almost any specific case, we have a lot to lose. Acting in good faith and being understanding of the position of the resort is imperative to avoiding situations like what happened at Crystal.
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Re: Introducing Cascade Backcountry Alliance
« Reply #37 on: 11/15/17, 11:22 AM »

Sounds good! 

Here's a little list of gated areas that have frustrated me over the years. Many of these have already been mentioned. Of course some of those might have legitimate reasons for being locked, and many are probably outside the realm of immediate possibility. One can dream though, right?

Gates on Cascade River Road. I can't even count the number of times I've walked the last few miles on dry pavement. Also, plowing that road would be incredible.

Mowich Lake road: often gated until well after the snow is gone on the road. I've ridden my bike up there several times when it was gated, and there was no snow in sight.

410 gate and sunrise road

Skyline divide road

Twin lakes road: Not sure if this is the case anymore, but it when I lived in Bellingham a few years ago it often had a big snowbank plowed in front of the road entrance. The road would often be clear for several miles other than that. I asked the forest service and DOT about the snowbank, and if I remember correctly they said it was more of just a convenient place to put the snow. They said it was fine for me to go and shovel it out and drive over it, which I did a few times. Even if the snowbank isn't an issue anymore, getting some plowing up that road would be absolutely amazing.

It'd be great to get the paradise gate unlocked a few hours earlier in the morning, and maybe stay open later at night.

Twin sisters road (from the northern side). I know this is more of an issue with the logging company than a governmental agency. However, Having that road open would open up a pretty incredible area for skiing and other recreational opportunities.

It'd be cool to have the west side of HWY 20 gated higher up. Probably fairly unfeasible due to avalanche danger and other reasons. However, it'd be pretty rad to have snowmobile access to Washington Pass similar to what the east side has.

Colchuck lake road.


Louis,

Thanks for laying out a sweet "wish list." Many of these areas are on our radar already.

From north to south:

Twin lakes and Skyline divide road are our main priorities on the 542 corridor. The local sled groups feel similarly, and we are trying hard to get the attention and engagement of the FS and hopefully the DOT. If you're interested in supporting this project, send an email to Erin Uloth, the District Ranger for the area, at euloth@fs.fed.us. I'd welcome any users here reaching out to her and letting her know that you use these areas and access there is important to you. I would say that these roads are probably the most likely places for us to change the status quo, maybe in the entire state.

Twin sisters road I will look into a bit more, I am familiar with the area but we hadn't put it on our list yet.

West Side highway 20 is unfeasible to due to avalanche hazard- it has actually been moved further west in some years due to avalanche and rockslide hazard.

Cascade River road: We (the various CBA founders) have also spent much time walking on this dry road. Basically, the park doesn't have the resources to even closely monitor it, much less plow it, so it is often arbitrarily closed. This is extremely frustrating, and we are hopeful we can make some headway on this road in particular because of the incredible nature of the terrain up there. It is an underutilized resource for sure. Odds are this will be a long, uphill battle involving high-level funding problems, which is depressing.

Colchuck lake rd: I walked this entire road, dry, the day before it opened last spring. Brutal timing. We met a FS crew that had driven up there and talked to them about the road a bit. Apparently opening that road is bureaucratically very dense- I think local law enforcement is involved, many papers have to get signed, etc. We are planning to weed into that thicket a bit more next spring, as I think winter plowing of this road is threatened by avalanches and a huge long shot. Expediting the opening, or moving up the gate to temporary higher spots as the snow melts, would be more of a priority here.

MRNP roads: Again, lack of funding and resources at a high level. Right now, we really are hopeful to just get some better information out there about the state of these roads. It is often unclear which gates are locked and which are not. hopefully more to come on this soon.

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