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Tom

Snowmobiles on summit at St. Helens...

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quote:

Originally posted by wayne1112:

there is always another perspective opposite of any given veiw

Not to say I agree with the sentiment, but snowmobilers will argue feverishly that they more than pay their share for access with the taxes they pay on fuel every time they fill up. [Wazzup]

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I have a couple of comments. First of all, on the topic of whether or not snowmobiles should be allowed in Mt St Helens National Monument, I think they should be allowed to summit the mountain via sled. I like climbing and isolation as much as the next man, but I think we're being a little selfish here. Everyone pays taxes on these lands whether they're climbers, snowmobilers, or gapers. Who's to say climbers should be the only ones who should use the mountain? If you're truly looking for an isolated, serene mountain experience, you surely wouldn't have chose to climb Mt. St. Helens. The herd of gapers I often see when I've been to St. Helens is evidence of that.

 

On the other hand, charging climbers a $15 fee and allowing snowmobilers to ascend to the peak for free is absolutely ludicrous. Whoever brainstormed that idea should be in strong contention for next year's Darwin awards. If you're going to treat land users equally as was so stated in the e-mail response written a couple posts back, then treat them equally. Perhaps this was justified by the fact that snowmobilers only get to use the south side of the mountain. I don't know.

 

And finally, I'm not a snowmobiler, I never have been .. I've never even been on one. But in all fairness, I truly don't see a reason why snowmobilers shouldn't be able to recreate on St. Helens. Just my 2 cents.

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From the horses mouth, the overarching mission statement of the NPS, as laid out in the documents that created it, is:

"...to promote and regulate the use of the... national parks... which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

 

For more on this, see: http://www.nps.gov/legacy/mission.html

 

There is nothing in the mission statement that requires that climbers like snowmobiles. The issue on that regard is whether or not snowmobiles damage the environment such that the resource is not left 'unimpaired for future generations.' This is researchable mostly through water quality monitoring of snowmelt, or quantification of impacts on vegetation. This is a bit of dangerous issue to bring up with the NPS considering the way in which bolting is viewed in other parks (not much of an issue at St Helens tho).

 

As far as firearms go, the rule of thumb in the lower 48 is that they are allowed in the park, but they have to be unloaded and disassembled as reasonable. This is largely to deal with poaching issues, as it was explained to me (This has been an issue in Yosemite in recent years).

 

Having worked for the NPS for several years, I can say that writing to your congressman about this is actually effective. I can also say that the persons in the first few tiers of the system are people who are pretty similar to those on this page and are committed to doing the right thing (of course there are exceptions, but remember the bulk, not the few). As you get higher in the bureaucracy, the people you encounter become increasingly political. Since they are the ones who are in a position to affect policy directly, they are the ones to pester. Find out the phone number of the park superintendent and pester them.The number for St Helens visitor center is (360) 274-2100. Ask them for the phone # of the superintendent.

 

For congress, take your pick from:

http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials/directory/statedel.dbq?state=WA

 

I doubt that you can directly get snowmobiles off. You can probably get them to equalize the permit fee (most likely resulting in a new fee for snowmobilers) with enough hassle.

 

My 0.0000002

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“… to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein…”

 

We can all readily tell when our dog is happy; wagging tail, slobbery licks, and perhaps a bit of jumping. These things are good. Dogs clearly also sulk after being scolded for crapping on the floor. Sure pet to owner interactions can be directly compared to instinctual behavior of wolf to dominate alpha wolf in the wild. However, I think a dog’s behavior also indicates that it can feel, as every higher order animal can. If wildlife can feel, then wildlife has a right to exist such as Americans claim a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

Off-road vehicles, and for that matter a spider web of trails over a valley floor filled with hikers, are detrimental to the social interactions of wildlife. Perhaps since snowmobiles are used in winter they are a lower impact vehicle to that of a four-runner. But I could say that what wildlife exists in the area is already stressed by the cold and lack of food, not needing the added stress of a 100-decible snowmobile flying by. If people are alarmed by these machines, imagine the rare big cat that just might be in Mt. St. Helens area.

 

I am not for a total ban of off-road machines or the unlimited use of wildlands by climbers. And I definitely not saying let us extend property rights to sentient wildlife. However, can the responsibility of humans to provide a space for wildlife at least be acknowledge in a discussion of wildlands use? Clearly snowmobiles impact wildlife more than the rare winter climber. This planet is not ours alone, and a right to exist is perhaps not limited to humans.

 

[ 04-24-2002, 07:59 AM: Message edited by: HernyG ]

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St. Helens is NOT in a National Park, nor are they managed by that agency. They are a National Volcanic Monument - and thus were able to basically make up their own rules as indicated by the managenment plan communicated to me by Mr. Gardner, the Deputy Monument Manager (see earlier post).

 

Prior to the eruption, when the mountain was 10,000 feet plus, the area was a large recreation area with skiing, hiking, climbing... What is now the blast zone which was mostly forests managed for logging. The area was heavily impacted by humans... The North Cascade Nat'l Park and Wilderness was created in the 70's as the low impact area so many species could have an opportunity to re-establish themselves. When the top blew, the landscape was erased, and the monument was created to basically see what happens. The area of focus is the blast zone - where it is still very restricted. We climb in the impact zone (above 4800 feet on the south side) where access is "managed". Below 4800 feet, I think they tried to implement the same policy as was in place prior to the eruption....

 

My beef is above 4800 feet - I think the coexistence of sleds and climbers is unsafe. I witnessed a freewheeling sled run over 500 feet of vert. I think there is a chance of the noise and vibration causing an avalanche in certain conditions. It makes sense to me that sleds should be restricted to below 4800 feet. That's what I told the NVM. Communicate your views at their website, and help make a change.

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I think you're off your rocker Tom...Sleds and climbers dangerous together sure...but to say something like a sled freewheeling down the mountain, or the vibration causing an avalanche...I think thats pretty weak...Whats the difference between a sled and a rock. If the avi danger is up then you have no business there anyways right???

 

I'd be more worried about some yahoo full of Bud-lite running me over than what you've mentioned. Objective hazards while climbing exist. Man made and nature made.

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If I had several big, loud aggressive dogs, who hassled people, and left big dumps in the middle of the trail, and chased down wildlife and dug out marmot burrows and ripped down small trees, would anyone here defend my right to bring my dogs up Mt. St. Helens, or anywhere else? A snowmobile is no less obnoxious than those dogs, except that if I had the dogs, I’d still have to pay the $15 fee. Maybe I should be exempt from that fee too, since after all I have to buy dog food, and you don’t?

 

This isn’t some moral judgement that people who hike up under their own power are somehow more pure than people who ride up. I wouldn’t particularly object to a teleferique up to the top of Mt. St. Helens. What bugs me is the noise, the pollution, and the unavoidable destruction they cause. And, the “get out of my way, I’m on a snowmobile” attitude they have doesn’t help matters any.

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Tom is correct about the managing authority of St. Helens. It is administered by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. National Park rules don’t apply.

 

Reed Gardner, the Monument's Deputy Manager, took a position in his email to Tom that the monument is managed to:

quote:

allow for multiple use of the area. The feeling was that the area be used by all and that the Forest Service should not restrict use of the area to one use over another.

I am asking Mr. Gardner to reconcile that equal use concept with the notion that one user group is required to register, obtain permits and pay a fee of $15 per person (with a penalty of $100 citation if they fail to do so) to access the same land to which another user group has free and unrestricted access.

 

Mr. Gardner also mentions that the monument

quote:

administer mountain climbing within the carrying capacity of the resource.

My question is, what was determined to be the carrying capacity of climbers, the carrying capacity of snowmobiles, and how are the numbers of each monitored and enforced? I am aware of quotas only for climbers after a certain date.

 

IMHO, snowmobiles should not be permitted where they would adversely affect the Monument’s natural, scenic or aesthetic values, disturb wildlife or damage other park resources, cause safety hazards or conflict with other recreational uses. A 4800 foot elevation limit to snowmobiles is advocated by Off-Piste magazine in a link provided in the thread earlier. Sounds reasonable to me, and I’m letting the monument know that.

 

Making noise in this forum won't change much. You need to make it with the Monument and/or elected representatives to do that.

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The National Park Service and the National Forest Service readily restricts one use over the other! There are plenty of trails where mountain bikes are not allowed and even trails where mt. bikes are prohibited and horses allowed! If Mt. St. Helens is a volcanic monument and can make their own rules, they should definitely revisit the snowmobile issue. I still think they probably never imagined snowmobiles that high on the mountain and therfore didn't think to make an elevation restriction on them.

 

Jellystone is going to severely restrict snowmobile access due to the adverse impact to wildlife. The environmental impact of snowmobiles and 4-wheelers is far higher than climbers, hikers and cross country skiers. I don't think it's merely a "purity" issue. There is plenty of land for the snowmobilers and the top of Mt. St. Helens is not appropriate. They can and should restrict the elevation to which they can go.

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quote:

Originally posted by Backcountry:

How do you propose to limit a snowmobile to X altitude...Hand out altimeters in the Sno-Park?

Well, how are climbers/hikers supposed to know that they've reached the 4800+ marker and thus need the additional permit? Isn't it the same level of responsibility?

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Typically a ranger is sitting somewhere along the standard route checking all climbers and skiers permits.

The ranger would have damn near an impossible task to try to flag down every snowmobile cruising along at 50mph above the 4800ft elevation mark. You'd end up needing rangers with snowmobiles just to enforce the permit system if it was imposed on the 'bilers and you actually wanted to force compliance. I think giving snowmobiles to rangers for permit enforcement is an even worse solution to the problem that we are faced with now.

I figure at the very least everyone needs to pay for the same permit if we are all to have the same access rights, and those that choose not to buy the permit, whether you travel on skis or a snomobile, can run the risk of getting a ticket.

I'll be on St.Helens the weekend of May 11th and 12th and I think I might get a bunch of flyers printed out that I can hand out to everyone I see on the mountain asking them to write to their congressman and to the volcanic monument manager and let their opinion be known.

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quote:

Originally posted by Rodchester:

Rangers with rifles? Cheap, clean and efficient.

[Wink]

actually rod i do not beileve that letting the tool have weapons is a good idea.

 

first of all it is not cheap, currently we are paying for the us deforrest service to stock pile semi automatic weapons. it is called the nw forrest pass.

 

secondly it gives them a power trip, also apparent with dealing with a certain tool located east of the mtns. he strokes his ar-15 with a sickining pride, and i am sure someday he hopes he gets into a gun battle with some hikers for not having the proper paperwork(this is specualtion and in no way repersents the ideas, or wishes of cc.com)

 

"they pulled a ice axe sir, i had to mow them down. i felt threatend"

"did you get it on video tape?"

"not for long sir, it will disapear, along with the complaints against us and our aggreisve behaviour towards recreationists!"

"har...har...har...."

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The fees help keep our natural resources accessible to everyone. Why if it weren't for the Fee demo program, the USFS might just cease to exist as we know it. I really don't see what everyone is all bent out of shape about, we have to pay for these services somehow. Why if it weren't for someone taking care of the paperwork, organization, parking lot management, and citations imagine where we would be? [smile]

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The Tacoma News Tribune article today was great. The author, Skip Card, wrote a VERY balanced story. You wouldn't find balance like his in one of the Seattle rags!

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Do not feed The Bear.

No handouts to rangers.

No fees.

 

Last I looked fees from the demo prg went for signs, enforcement, and new outhouses. Very little to actual resource protection.

 

Contact you Lawmaker:

You should find

all the contact information you need at the Federal level.

http://www.house.gov/writerep/

http://www.senate.gov/

The State Level website is:

http://dfind.leg.wa.gov/

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quote:

Originally posted by vegetablebelay:

quote:

Originally posted by wayne1112:

there is always another perspective opposite of any given veiw

Not to say I agree with the sentiment, but snowmobilers will argue feverishly that they more than pay their share for access with the taxes they pay on fuel every time they fill up.
[Wazzup]
Of course all those hikers and climbers are gassing up their vehicles too....

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Keep in mind that the GPNF public position is that they will not consider regulating snowmobile use on St. Helens until their next forest plan review, which they say is several years away. Getting any kind of change earlier will require a lot of pressure from users and/or congress.

 

Skip Card climbed St Helens himself last Sunday, and told me 200 climbing permits were issued for that day. We are not talking about small numbers.

 

The snowmobilers are a powerful recreational group. The Forest Service receives considerable funding, much financial support, and many grants from the snowmobile industry, from state agencies, from powerful clubs and from many individual users.

 

Continued letter writing and noise to elected officials and sympathetic columnists like Skip Card is needed to make a dent.

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