Linking to a TAY thread, but likely of interest to many of you here:
Generally, I'm in favor of huts. Huts in Canada are incredible and really open up the mountains. I've also used the Wallowa huts and thought it was fun. I don't think they ruin the Wilderness experience for me. Besides, the Cascades at large are vast and offer many other places to get into the wilderness, whereas the 542 corridor is small with the easy-access spots overcrowded. We definitely need to be looking at ways to make more areas accessible to spread people out. I am really excited in particular about Anderson/Watson and Twin Sisters areas. These are hard to get to without a snowmobile, so having huts and shuttle system will be cool. Heliotrope is also hard to get to in Winter without a sled, so I like the idea of having one there, although I mostly go to that area in Fall and Spring.
The part about the proposal (as I could see on the video) that seems odd to me is the Artist's Point hut: This area is easy to access and also overcrowded. I don't see why this hut is helpful, since private parties or guided groups can tent camp in the area without too much effort. Also, I am concerned that Twins access will not be improved for public backcountry users under this proposal and could even become worse. See more comments below.
I am concerned about the cost of these huts. I would like to be able to use them without paying for a guide. These should be accessible to the public backcountry community at large, not just users who are willing to pay >$100 per day for a guided experience. The snowmobile access is a nice feature for Anderson/Watson, Heliotrope, and N Twin zones for those of us who don't want to own sleds, but I think it should be optional for hut users like it is in the Wallowas.
Regarding the N Twin hut: Access to the area is complicated by the fact that a logging company controls who can access the road. This past year Baker Mtn Guides had a special deal with Weyerhauser that allowed them exclusive snowmobile access. I don't mind the guide company offering snowmobile access up this road and running a hut. However, access to this area differs greatly from the other hut zones which are open to everybody. The Twin Sisters range, on the other hand, is only accessible to people who either pay exorbitant fees to the timber company for a key to the gate or users that ignore the rules and pass through that land illegally.
Weyerhauser's sale of this land is an opportunity to open a dialog with the new owner and try and open up access to more backcountry users. The Twin Sisters range is an incredible area for skiing right next to Bellingham. If there was a public trailhead in the area, it could take pressure off the main ski areas of the 542 corridor. However, these public access needs may be in conflict with the interests of the guide company that wants to offer an exclusive, untracked experience in the area. I say we should be looking at ways to make a deal with the timber company to open the gate at the MF Nooksack and have designated parking for winter backcountry users who just want to pass through these private lands and access the amazing skiing in the wilderness beyond. The guides can coexist peacefully with public backcountry users.