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Dave_Schuldt

NW Avi center funding cuts.

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WTF, do we have to go through this every year? I thought the state had a surpluss this year.

 

 

This is an urgent plea!  The WA state legislature is finalizing the 2006 supplemental budget, and the future of the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center (NWAC) is at stake.   Without the additional funding that the legislature could provide, NWAC will be short $35,000 and have to close its doors at the end of March.  The shortage next year stands at $70,000.  To those of you who have contributed this year, thank you!!  To those who have not, please read the attached letter and consider a contribution to the Friends at this time.  We are working hard to keep NWAC functioning, and we need your help!

 

Benj

 

 

 

Benj Wadsworth

 

President

 

Friends of the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center

 

www.avalanchenw.org

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The Mountain Shop in PDX donates money from it's tele tuesday event. Come up and support the friends of the NWAC!

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$411k of which $240k is cash and $171k is in kind support. That's for FY2006 - FY'05 was $440k.

http://www.nwac.us/documents/annual_reports/NWAC_Annual_Report_June_2005.pdf

 

Wow, that's an incredible amount. The Utah Avalanche Center, for instance, had a budget of $212k for 04-05. One could argue they provide a better service through their website too.

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Wow, that's an incredible amount. The Utah Avalanche Center, for instance, had a budget of $212k for 04-05. One could argue they provide a better service through their website too.

You sure that doesn't exclude in kind donations?

 

At least in 01-02 UAC had a larger budget than NWAC (excluding in kind), and covers a smaller area

http://www.csac.org/Bulletins/reports/funding.html

And yes, I think UAC has a better website than NWAC. Even ESAC (east sierra) has a comparable website... with a budget 10% of NWAC

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I'm really not sure on that. I was just looking at the annual report the UAC has on their website.

 

I guess my point is, before donating, I want to make sure the money is being well-spent. For instance, the NWAC shuts down at the _beginning_ of "the climbing season", so it serves little use to the "typical" Cascade snow climber in Spring. Granted, they do issue special bulletins on Extreme-rated days, but they are almost always winding down when things get interesting from a climber's (and spring ski mountaineer's) perspective.

 

I like how the UAC issues their bulletins for laypeople.

 

This forecast (http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/newadvisory/advisory.php)

 

for instance is a nice summary with a stability rose. The NWAC forecast, while quite thorough, can be a chore sometimes.

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Most of their money goes to salaries it looks like... and travel to give lectures to recreation/rescue groups wink.gif Curious what some of their obligations may be to organisations that no longer contribute funds (OR, WA state, various National Parks, DOTs, etc)

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Yeah but in the Spring the avy cycle is mostly like clockwork. What exactly would the spring ski mountaineer/climber want, besides a little education?

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I'm a fan of the NWAC's style. And the UAC surely ranks at or near the top. We should be thankful we don't live in Colorado. That outfit puts out mickey mouse reports.

 

I wonder if it would be better or worse, cheaper or more expensive, to bring the various centers under common practices. Maybe then we wouldn't have the directors involved in "web-site management and development, computer management". Those are commodity skills.

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Why is this a government responsibility at all?

 

Government is beyond bankrupt. It needs to do less and spend way less.

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Im a fan of the Colorado avalanche center avy rose myself. Quick and easy read. On the other hand - I find the level of detail that NWAC provides is pretty stupendous and damn useful.

 

Here is a request for phone calls to help convince the state legislature and goverernor to increase funding for NWAC. The request lists the legislators we are targeting and key talking points when you call.

 

-----

 

We need your help today to convince the State Legislature and Governor to increase funding for the NW Weather and Avalanche Center. The legislature is currently negotiating the 2006 supplemental budget, and without additional funding, NWAC’s future is uncertain. Please take five minutes and write, email or call your legislators and the legislative targets below and ask them to increase funding for NWAC.

 

The funding and the future operation of NWAC are in jeopardy. NWAC is funded by government agencies, the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association, and the Friends of the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center thanks to your contributions. In recent years, government funds have either remained flat or declined. Combined with slowly increasing salary and equipment costs, this has placed the Center in a $35,000 budget hole this year. If this hole is not filled, NWAC will cease operating a month early. Center Director, Mark Moore, is estimating a $70,000 budget shortfall next year. If that budget gap is not plugged, the Center could cease operating next season.

 

You can help! Contact your legislators today (locate them here if you do not know how to contact your legislators). Also take an extra moment to contact the target offices listed below. Thank you for taking the time. For more information see the Background section below.

 

TALKING POINTS

->Please increase the funding for NWAC. Funding this agency is vital to public safety. 35k is needed this year and 70k is needed next year.

->Without an increase in funding, NWAC will close early this year and potentially for good.

->Closing NWAC puts the public at risk.

->Avalanche fatalities in Washington are far greater than those due to any other natural disaster related cause.

 

LEGISLATIVE TARGETS:

 

Senator Ken Jacobsen

102 Modular Building 1

PO Box 40446

Olympia, WA 98504-0446

(360) 786-7690

Fax: (360) 786-1999

 

Senator Margarita Prentice

113 Modular Building 1

PO Box 40411

Olympia, WA 98504-0411

(360) 786-7616

Fax: (360) 786-1999

 

Senator Mary Margaret Haugen

407 Legislative Building

PO Box 40410

Olympia, WA 98504-0410

(360) 786-7670

Fax: (360) 786-1999

 

Rep. Helen Sommers

204 John L. O'Brien Building

PO Box 40600

Olympia, WA 98504-0600

(360) 786-7814

 

Rep. Bill Fromhold

239 John L. O'Brien Building

PO Box 40600

Olympia, WA 98504-0600

(360) 786-7924

 

Senator Phil Rockefeller

110 Modular Building 1

PO Box 40423

Olympia, WA 98504-0423

(360) 786-7644

Fax: (360) 786-1999

 

Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles

103 Joel M. Pritchard Building

PO Box 40436

Olympia, WA 98504-0436

(360) 786-7608

Fax: (360) 786-1999

 

Senator Marilyn Rasmussen

409 Legislative Building

PO Box 40402

Olympia, WA 98504-0402

(360) 786-7602

Fax: (360) 786-1999

 

Senator Dale Brandland

203 Irv Newhouse Building

PO Box 40442

Olympia, WA 98504-0442

(360) 786-7682

Fax: (360) 786-1999

 

Governor Christine Gregoire

Office of the Governor

PO Box 40002

Olympia, WA 98504-0002

(360) 902-411

 

BACKGROUND

The NWAC now manages a comprehensive mountain data network comprised of over 40 remote weather stations and sub-stations that automatically give forecasters a variety of hourly weather data via phone, VHF, spread spectrum radio, satellite and meteor backscatter telemetry.

 

Despite the large aerial expansion and greatly increased services offered over the past 30 years of operation (the Center celebrated its 30th Anniversary on December 6, 2005), staffing of the Center has remained constant at three full-time forecasters from approximately October-June. And although the annual cost of the program is currently about $265,000, the value of the program (including in-kind support and contributed services) to all cooperators is now estimated at nearly $450,000. In this time of promoting partnerships and trying to stretch governmental dollars to the maximum, there are very few federal programs that do so much with so little.

 

Unfortunately, despite an annual federally mandated salary increase, recent cooperator contributions at both the state and federal levels have remained flat or have declined. As budget projections for future winter operations indicate, NWAC faces increasing shortfalls from 2006-2008 with deficits reaching ~$35,000 for FY 06 and $60-70,000 in FY07 and 08. Such funding shortages will result in either severe reductions in services or potential closure. With annual avalanche fatalities in Washington greater than those due to any other natural disaster related cause, and fatalities nationwide averaging almost 30/year, such reductions or a closure would have significant negative impacts on public safety.

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$411k of which $240k is cash and $171k is in kind support. That's for FY2006 - FY'05 was $440k.

http://www.nwac.us/documents/annual_reports/NWAC_Annual_Report_June_2005.pdf

 

Wow, that's an incredible amount. The Utah Avalanche Center, for instance, had a budget of $212k for 04-05. One could argue they provide a better service through their website too.

 

Some truth here. The NWAC folks do mountain "weather" forecasting too, which is nice, but expensive.

 

As for funding, I'd like to see the state step in; they benefit the most.

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A funding review/comparison on our site was mentioned above:

 

http://www.csac.org/Bulletins/reports/funding.html

 

This was just updated since the URL was first posted above. An update had begun in the fall but had never been completed and uploaded. It now goes through last season.

 

The graphs are based on the annual reports of the centers and do not include in-kind support. Most reports separate that and in the odd case where it was in their total it was subtracted for this paper. In the case of Colorado a grant specifically for services to CDOT was also subtracted and is not included in the annual totals.

 

It turned out that the Utah figures included the Moab and Logan areas for some years and not others. Whether or not these are included in the annual report and how has not been consistent over the years. The current charts include only the Salt Lake (central Wasatch) budget, any years that preciously included the other areas have been corrected.

 

Re: The comparison to Utah. There was a spike in funding due to the Olympics, so their total was higher due to that for a couple years. That was short-term funding which is no longer available now that the Olympics is over. That money did help produce many things, particularly on the website, that still offer ongoing public benefits.

 

Re: most of the NWAC funds being for salaries. This is true of most or all centers. Since their overhead is taken care of in the uncounted in-kind support the funding reflected in the graphs and in their annual reports is primarily salary. Travel probably makes up a similar small percentage of the budget for all centers. I don't know how much is to provide services to organizations, but a lot of what is spent on travel is probably for the ISSW every two years, AAA meetings, meetings between the centers, etc.

 

The main page which has links to actual online annual reports is also updated:

 

http://www.csac.org/Bulletins/reports/

 

While the NWAC reports were once notoriously difficult to obtain they have the most recent several years worth online in pdf now.

 

I just wanted to let anyone interested know that this was updated and that some figures previous to the update may have been off base or mis-interpreted for one reason or another. This was overdue to be updated and hopefully anyone referring to it now will have a better picture of the overall budget situation and comparisons than before.

 

There are variations in the centers (number of staff, services provided, etc) so this should be kept in mind when making comparisons. Colorado in particular is much different. The CAIC is a state agency and a large part of its mission is providing services to CDOT. (Exclusively, afaik CDOT does not duplicate this expense by directly hiring avalanche personnel.)

 

Jim

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What's the relationship between the WDOT/ODOT and the NWAC? Seems like the data that the center generates would have a pretty significant value for assesing hazards to freight and travelers over the passes, etc. Do WDOT/ODOT kick in any funding for the NWAC? If not they should.

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