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Trump Administration Proposes to Triple Park Entrance Fees:
Your Comments Are Needed

 

The National Park Service recently announced a drastic hike in park entrance fees for Olympic and 16 other heavily visited national parks. The Olympic fee would nearly triple from $25 per vehicle to $70. Hikers’ and bicyclists’ entry fees would shoot from $10 to $30. The fee hikes are purportedly to address an $11 billion maintenance backlog in the nation’s parks. But they are coupled with a Trump administration budget that would cut park funding by 13 percent.

 

The fee increases would impact medium and low-income visitors to the parks—and affect surrounding rural communities.

 

OPA opposes the fee hikes. Please join us in telling the National Park Service to reject this unreasonable fee increase. To comment, click hereDeadline for comment is December 22.

 

In our letter to the Park Service, OPA President Donna Osseward wrote, “Our National Park System is a gift to the American people, paid for by the American people for over 100 years. These parks preserve the beauty, culture and heritage of our land—from the Statue of Liberty to the Hawaiian volcanoes. They should be maintained and paid for by all the people.”

 

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Mountain Goat Draft Management Plan Released

 

Support is needed for the the plan’s preferred alternative (D). Comments will be accepted now through October 10 (revised date).

 

photo from NPS DEIS

At long last Olympic National Park is moving forward with a sound and far-reaching plan to address non-native mountain goats in the park and on adjacent Forest Service lands. The National Park Service, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the Washington State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), released its Mountain Goat Management Plan draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). The plan sets the course for eliminating exotic goats from the Olympics and will help restore struggling native goat populations in the North Cascades.

 

The plan’s “preferred alternative” (D) combines a period of live capture and relocation with lethal removal of non-native goats by shooting. OPA supports this compromise approach, with modifications to the timeline, to achieve the ultimate goal of eliminating all goats from the Olympics. We urge you to contact park planners and express your support as well.

 

The various alternatives are described and analyzed in the DEIS, which can be reviewed here; to comment, click on “Comment Now.” Please emphasize that non-native goats be eliminated from the park and National Forest rather than merely be reduced in number. It is essential that this problematic threat to irreplaceable park resources, as well as visitor safety, finally be resolved.

 

OPA considers non-native mountain goats to be one of the most acute management problems facing the park. A growing goat population of eight percent per year, coupled with increasing impacts on the Olympics’ alpine plant communities, and the implicit danger goats pose to hikers demand decisive action. This plan is a critical step.

 

Please comment on the plan by October 10, 2017. Comments may be made through the park planning website or mailed/hand-delivered to: Superintendent, Olympic National Park, 600 E. Park Ave., Port Angeles, WA 98362.

 

Support the park’s preferred alternative (Alternative D), with modifications proposed by OPA, and urge park planners to aim for complete removal of non-native goats from the Olympics.

 

To read OPA’s comment letter, please click here.

 

To review the Olympic National Park and WDFW PowerPoint program that was presented at the public information meetings on the plan, click here.

 

For more information on the long-standing problem of non-native mountain goats, click here.

 

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Olympic National Forest Targets Excess and Destructive Roads in the Dungeness Watershed

March 2017

 

Your help is needed.

 

Olympic National Forest is beginning to address a plethora of excess, erosion-prone logging roads in the Dungeness watershed. The Forest Service is proposing a visionary approach stemming from the collaborative Dungeness Watershed Action Plan, which OPA helped shape. In this early phase of the project, the Forest Service needs to hear from you.

 

Please express your support by April 17, 2017.

 

In its Dungeness Watershed Roads Management project, the Olympic National Forest proposes to:

  • Decommission 16 miles of high-risk or unneeded roads;
  • Close but maintain 14 miles of roads for possible future management; and
  • Convert 1.4 miles of road to trail

 

ORV abuse and dumping on an “off-system” road in Dungeness watershed

Among the unneeded roads to be decommissioned are the failing McDonald Creek Road and related spur roads; the Canyon Creek Road (2875-070), which invites illegal use by ORVs; and the end of the Silver Creek Road (2870), which provides short-cut access into Silver Lakes in the Buckhorn Wilderness and has led to overuse and severe degradation of this stunning subalpine basin.

 

1.4 miles of the lower Dungeness access road (2870-230) will be converted into a trail, enhancing recreational opportunities in that scenic and accessible area. And the 2870-270 spur that accesses the rugged Maynard Burn Trail will be maintained.

 

OPA supports all of these actions. We also urge the Forest Service to decommission the 2870-150 spur that encroaches into the wild lower Graywolf watershed, and remove several “off-system” roads that are being degraded by destructive and illegal ORV use and related trash.

 

Please contact the Forest Service and express your support before April 17, 2017.

 

To review the project and comment online, click here, and then click on “Comment/Object on Project” on the right.

 

To read OPA’s comment letter, click here.

 

These and other roads are the tragic legacy of the Forest Service’s single-minded emphasis on clearcut timber extraction over the past decades. Under the Northwest Forest Plan, Olympic is now a forest in recovery. Let’s help the agency foster ecological restoration in these areas, and resist pressure from motorized recreationists to maintain all roads everywhere, regardless of cost.

 

Thanks for your help.

 

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Forest Service Approves Navy Jet War Games
over Olympic Peninsula

December 2016

 

In a tragic and short-sighted decision, Olympic National Forest has decided to rubber-stamp a deeply flawed Navy proposal to conduct electromagnetic warfare training over the western Olympic Peninsula. The agency will permit electronic emitter trucks on Forest Service roads as contact points for fighter jet overflights. This can occur for up to 16 hours a day, on as many as 260 days a year.

 

The Forest Service ignored more than 3,500 public comments, most of which were overwhelmingly opposed to the project, and gave unquestioned blanket approval to a Navy environmental study that failed even to consider the noise impacts from jet overflights.

 

- ArtBromThe thunderous noise of Navy EA-18G Growler jets will affect the quiet and natural soundscapes for
visitors to Olympic National Park, Olympic National Forest, the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and state and private forest lands, as well as coastal Indian reservations and the communities of Forks and Amanda Park. Olympic National Park alone attracts more than three million visitors annually and is considered one of the quietest natural landscapes in the U.S. Impacts to wildlife were dismissed as not significant.

ArtBrom

 

The final Forest Service environmental review is available here.

 

This shortsighted decision cannot stand. Please contact your U.S. senators and members of Congress. Tell them the quiet and natural sounds of Olympic National Park must be preserved. Jet training can continue in areas outside one of our national treasures.

 

And, if you can, contact Forest Supervisor Reta Laford. Tell her to deny the permit to the Navy and demand a full environmental impact statement (EIS) that addresses all of the impacts to our Peninsula’s natural areas, wildlife, visitors, and communities.

 

Comments will be accepted until January 13, 2017.

 

To read OPA’s comment letter on the Navy’s flawed plan, click here.

 

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Ongoing Issues in Olympic National Park

 

Mt. Deception and Deception Basin. Photo by John Bridge.
     Mt. Deception and Deception Basin. Photo by John Bridge.

For nearly 70 years, Olympic Park Associates has worked to protect the stunning natural beauty, biological richness, and untrammeled wilderness of Olympic National Park. With your help, we’ve achieved some remarkable successes. Our ongoing efforts continue to be inspired by this extraordinary planetary preserve—and supported by our members’ active engagement.

 

The next two years will be a critical watershed in the continuing protection of Olympic National Park. Monumental decisions affecting the future ecological integrity and wilderness character of the park are about to be made. A long-awaited Wilderness Stewardship Plan will determine how park managers will protect the wilderness quality that defines the heart of the Olympic Mountains. A Mountain Goat Management Plan, on hold since the mid-1990s, will finally address the presence of non-native mountain goats and their impacts on fragile alpine environments in the park. And funding decisions in the coming year will allocate limited, reduced funds across a growing gulf between management and maintenance needs and dramatically reduced staffing.

 

OPA is actively involved in all these processes. As park managers roll out their preferred courses of action, they—and the congressional representatives who fund them—will need both our support and our strong advocacy in making decisions that put protection of park resources foremost.

 

Here are OPA’s positions on some key issues—and why we advocate for them.

 

Wilderness Plan

Photo by Llyn De Daanan
Photo by Llyn De Daanan

Olympic is one of America’s foremost wilderness parks. Presently, 10 million people live within a five-hour drive of Olympic. Last year saw 95,000 visitor nights in the Olympic Wilderness. Regulating this number of backpackers is imperative: educating them regarding minimum impacts, guiding where they can camp and build fires, and determining the level of development of trails, bridges, structures, and privies needed to serve them. OPA favors vigorous protection of Olympic’s wilderness character and placing resource protection at the forefront in all cases. As urban populations increase, more and more people will want to experience what Olympic has to offer. A strong wilderness stewardship plan is the best insurance for preserving the park’s outstanding wildness.

 

Mountain Goat Management Plan

Fall2015Pic4The proliferation of non-native mountain goats is the largest threat to Olympic’s alpine areas, particularly during a time of global warming. The goats’ feeding, trampling, and wallowing behavior is causing acute destructive impacts on sensitive alpine and subalpine environments. Olympic’s rare and endemic plants are affected. Impacts to alpine wildlife, including the endemic Olympic marmots, are unstudied and unknown. OPA strongly advocates removal of all non-native goats from the Olympics.

 

Funding

VCpic1_1Government sequesters and draconian budget cuts to national parks have eviscerated visitor services, maintenance, and staff at Olympic. ONP was underfunded by $7.7 million, or 42 percent, in 2014. Visitor center hours and interpretive programs have been reduced significantly. Permanent and seasonal ranger positions have been eliminated. This past summer, rangers were nearly impossible to find in many areas of the Olympic Wilderness, leading to group camping in closed areas, fecal contamination of camp areas, trampling of heather and sensitive vegetation in alpine areas, illegal fires, firearm use, and other destructive activities. OPA continues to pressure Congress to restore full funding, and to lobby park managers for judicious use of limited funds—with resource protection paramount.

 

Meanwhile – Other Issues

  • OPA continues to work for passage of the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act currently before Congress.
  • We are actively involved in fighting a Navy proposal to turn the airspace over Olympic National Park and Forest into a warfare training area.
  • We are participating in Congressman Kilmer’s Olympic Collaborative that seeks to promote sustainable ecological management of Olympic National Forest.