Forum Index > Stewardship > Dosewallips Access and ONP Access in General (Cont'd from TR Thread)
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RumiDude
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PostWed Dec 12, 2018 4:38 pm 
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This is a continuation of the discussion in a TR by AncientAmbler in order to avoid spray in the Trip Reports.

coldrain108 wrote:
RumiDude wrote:
The point is that there should be access for all sort of abilities. ONP should not be available for only the fittest of us, but to a wide variety of age and fitness levels.

so pave all the trails and grade them to ADA standards?

There already is access for all abilities.

Just not everywhere.

If only available for the fittest of us then I would be excluded...

Well I don't think we have to pave everything to ADA standards to make adequate access in ONP.

The largest amount of available access in ONP is for those highly fit and skilled. They can go anywhere within the 922,650 acres of ONP. I am not worried as yet those individuals will find themselves cutoff from access.

But between wheelchair bound individuals and those highly fit and skilled, there are many gradations of access available. Families with younger children, young teens, beginners, weekenders, senior adults, etc. There should be quality destinations available without having to funnel them all through a shrinking number of access points.

Rumi

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PostWed Dec 12, 2018 11:46 pm 
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coldrain108 wrote:
so pave all the trails and grade them to ADA standards?
There already is access for all abilities.
Just not everywhere.
If only available for the fittest of us then I would be excluded...

RumiDude, responding to coldrain108's comments wrote:
The largest amount of available access in ONP is for those highly fit and skilled. They can go anywhere within the 922,650 acres of ONP. I am not worried as yet those individuals will find themselves cutoff from access.

But between wheelchair bound individuals and those highly fit and skilled, there are many gradations of access available. Families with younger children, young teens, beginners, weekenders, senior adults, etc. There should be quality destinations available without having to funnel them all through a shrinking number of access points.

No one has suggested that all the trails be paved and be made compliant with ADA standards.

Those who are willing and able can most certainly access any area of the Park they choose.

More importantly, the issue that seems to get overlooked in this conversation is the fact that (according to NPS's own numbers) over 90% of NPS visitation is "windshield tourism" - people who never venture more than a couple hundred feet from their automobiles.

Whether or not you agree with or approve of the choice made by the majority of visitors to National Parks to stay within a stone's throw of their cars isn't relevant. What is relevant is the fact that they represent the overwhelming majority - over 90% - of NPS visitors.

The opening line of the founding legislation which created Olympic National Park in 1938 begins with "For the benefit and enjoyment of the people..." It makes no mention about people who are willing and able to haul backpacks long distances, nor does it make any mention about children, minorities, or people with disabilities. The term "the people" is all inclusive - it means everyone, regardless of their ability.

Another point which has been overlooked in this recently revived conversation is the fact that the number of drive-to overnight campsites on both National Park lands and other lands in Western Washington has seen a net decrease in recent years, while the population continues to increase and outdoor recreation has become more popular. We no longer have the Sunshine Point campground at Mt. Rainier National Park, or the July Creek campground at Olympic National Park, or the overnight campground at Kopachuck State Park, or the overnight campground at Rayonier's "Promised Land" on Hwy 101 between Hoquiam and Quinault - and those are just a few in a growing list of overnight campgrounds which are no longer available.
The net result, as RumiDude has already pointed out, is that a growing population seeking recreational opportunities is becoming confined to fewer areas, the result being overcrowding, increased user impact, and a greater potential for user conflicts.

The argument that reopening the roads will result in these areas being "trashed' is simply nonsense. It's the little boy crying wolf. It is simply not a credible argument. It has no basis in fact.
There's another thread here somewhere that was active several years ago. It concerns the closure and the long-delayed reopening of the road into the upper Queets.
For several months, nwhikers.net member brownster145 and I argued back and forth about whether or not the road should be reopened.
He claimed that reopening the road would not only result in hordes of people overrunning the area (and "trashing" it), but also that the increased user load (with more people crossing the river) would have significant detrimental impacts to the anadromous salmonid runs in the Queets. He also raised the same concerns mentioned in a couple previous posts about littering and damage to the landscape.
The road was eventually reopened, and not one of brownster145's dire predictions came true. The area was not overrun with an increased user load. The anadromous salmonid runs continued their steady decline (primarily due to reasons far beyond human control), but it wasn't as a result of people crossing the river. From my own personal observations, the amount of litter up there has significantly decreased over the last decade. I cannot remember the last time I had to load the 35-gallon plastic trash bag that I carry at the bottom of my pack full of trash and pack it out.

Another issue that needs to be pointed out is the economic impact that these road closures have on local economies.
As I mentioned previously, the closure of the Dosewallips Road had a significant detrimental impact on the economies of Brinnon and Quilcene, whose economies are in part supported by tourism dollars.
The closure of the Carbon River Road at Mt. Rainier National Park had a significant detrimental effect on the economies of Wilkeson, Carbonado, and Buckley. I know this because I drove up and down Hwy 165 and interviewed every business owner in the fall of 1997. (I did the same along Hwy 706 between Elbe and Ashford during the same time period, and inexplicably the closure of the Carbon River Road negatively affected their businesses as well.)
NPS's own studies clearly show that visitation to Olympic National Park injects a huge amount of money into local gateway communities. The same is true in every gateway community outside of every National Park in the country, from Kalispell to Crescent City to Flagstaff and everywhere else.
Some local economies depend to a significant degree on those tourism dollars.
Whether or not you agree with, or approve of, the National Parks being part of a support mechanism for local economies isn't relevant - that part of the package was built in when the National Parks were first conceived, and James J. Hill made certain his Northern Pacific Railway brought trainloads of affluent tourists to Glacier National Park to keep up his end of the back-room deals he made to get his railroad right-of-ways.
The fact is that Olympic National Park is one of Washington State's most lucrative cash cows, and unquestionably the biggest cash cow on the Olympic Peninsula.
With a crippled timber economy and an ever-dwindling fishing industry and a staggering unemployment rate, the Olympic Peninsula needs that tourism revenue for survival.
The alternative is you paying higher taxes to support the increasing numbers of unemployed people availing themselves to the social welfare network.
The choice is yours.

There is nothing gained by restricting access to public recreational lands with road closures other than for a very small minority of users: hiker and backpackers. That user group accounts for less than 10% of all NPS visitation, and as a user group contributes the least in terms of tourist dollars into local economies.

It is the zenith of selfishness and arrogance to deny the vast majority of the public the opportunity to avail themselves to those public recreational lands which were set aside for the use and enjoyment of all.

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MyFootHurts
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PostThu Dec 13, 2018 2:16 am 
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They'll never reopen these so roads its time for us visitors to find workarounds.
Back around June, I rode my electric mountain bike (gasp) up the Dose Rd and then did a 10 mile round trip day hike up the West Fork.
Did you know Klapatche Park in MRNP  is an easy day hike once you e-bike to the trail head?
Carbon River Rd is another good one.
But I think a salmon saw me and I hurt its feelings, but such is the price of freedom.
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RandyHiker
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PostThu Dec 13, 2018 4:38 am 
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E-bikes and old hard tail mountain bikes seem like a great way to travel old roads too decrepit for motorists.  Riding the #56 road from Dingford to the end isn't that much slower than driving it.
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PostThu Dec 13, 2018 9:44 am 
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MyFootHurts wrote:
Carbon River Rd is another good one.

The case of the Carbon River Road is a completely different situation than what occurred on either the Dosewallips or the Elwha.
Because of changes in streambed elevation - the bottom of the streambed of the Carbon actually rose higher than the top of the road prism - there wasn't really a lot NPS could do other than construct a massive levee wall along the length of the road on the east side.
They could not move the road over to the west because there's a low marshy area just inside the Park boundary on the west side of the road, and they couldn't cut a bypass upslope (to the west) because they didn't own that real estate.
During Briggle's administration at MRNP great efforts were made to try to keep the road open to vehicle traffic, but by that point it had pretty much become a lost cause.
By the time Uberuaga took the helm up at Ashford there were only tiny remnants remaining of the original wood cribbing that had been laid in by the WPA in the 1930s along the lower length of the road, and huge chunks of the road had been taken out by successive high water events.
Uberuaga finally pulled the plug on it - partly due to the fact that it simply wasn't economically practicable to keep effecting repairs over the long term.

In the case of the Dosewallips, a bypass route can be cut up above the river - high above the flood zone where it would not be subject to repeated flooding.

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Brian R
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PostThu Dec 13, 2018 8:43 pm 
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Good points re Carbon River. Agree 100%.

Westside Road is another matter.  I biked up twice this summer and the NPS has spent what looks like a LOT of money placing a portable steel bridge over Dry Creek, pounding new pilings into the roadbed along Tahoma Creek, and staging tons of riprap and culverts near the old Tahoma Creek Campground site. I've made calls and tried to ascertain whether or not this is in preparation for a reopening, but have not received any answers. I certainly hope MRNP isn't spending what looks like hundreds of thousands of dollars for "administrative access" only.

Superintendent Randy King and Wilderness Program Manager Karen Thompson--both pro-hiker, pro access IMO--are both gone now. "Retired." And the 20 year master plan has been on hold now going on three years.

In short, except where not physically possible or exorbitantly expensive, the "old" access status quo should be maintained. This includes the Dosewallips.
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Gregory
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PostSat Dec 15, 2018 4:23 am 
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The argument that reopening the roads will result in these areas being "trashed' is simply nonsense. It's the little boy crying wolf. It is simply not a credible argument. It has no basis in fact.

I would rather be the little boy crying wolf than the Old man spending his retirement from Shucks arguing on the internet. The Hood canal national forest land with road access has been trashed, DNR has taken it away from us because...............hold it .................it has been trashed.Dude you only think you know it all.
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RumiDude
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PostSat Dec 15, 2018 8:06 am 
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The argument that taking away access cures people from trashing places is silly. It doesn't work like that. Never has and never will.

Rumi

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RumiDude
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PostSat Dec 15, 2018 9:09 am 
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Access is indeed important, especially in regards to ONP.  There is no road that goes through or even deep into ONP. Instead it basically is ringed by 101 with access spurs like the Dosewallips Rd. These access spurs are the roads at issue. Several of these roads are vulnerable to seasonal weather conditions, i.e. subject to washouts and slides. When they do become damaged, it takes a while before the repairs are made. The ongoing saga of Whiskey Bend and Olympic Hot Springs Roads is an example of that. Dosewallips is an example of delaying repairs has exacerbated the problems and made any potential solution extremely expensive. And every time these access roads are closed it only serves to crowd the remaining access ares and discourage visitation to ONP.

In the past, the Elwha offered great access to people of many fitness and experience levels. Now with the road closed at the Park boundary, just getting to the Whiskey Bend or Boulder Creek THs is a 7-8 miles (one-way) road walk. On the Dosewallips the added mileage is similar. And again, those added miles are all road walk and just gets you to the trailheads. And as noted by another, walking on the road is much more stressful on the body than trail hiking, especially with a loaded pack.

For people that only have the weekend, these added miles are a real barrier. These added miles discourage use. These added miles crowd other access points. These added road walk miles degrade the experience. These added miles are needless.

Rumi

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Brian R
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PostSat Dec 15, 2018 9:16 am 
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I suspect that much of the opposition to the Wild Olympics proposal is rooted in the correct belief that giving yet more land to wilderness and/or scenic rivers status will simply result in more restricted access, refusal to repair, and lockouts. When these folks tell us there will be "more recreation opportunities" they really mean more walking of abandoned road grades to get to the old trailhead. The Dosewallips is exhibit A.

A big NO on Wild Olympics for Patty Murray and Derek Kilmer.
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PostSat Dec 15, 2018 10:04 am 
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Gregory wrote:
"... his retirement from Shucks..."

I never worked at Schucks. And it was Schucks, btw.

They were one of my accounts later on, but that was a different gig working for another company.

Thanks for the laugh. up.gif

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostMon Dec 17, 2018 8:29 am 
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Posted a TR from this WE but thought I would comment here as well.  My history of this road/trail is a long one as well; my family and I all took our inaugural hike here back in 1973 up to Lake Constance.  Talk about an intro! dizzy.gif Only my brother (Glenoid, who came up with this hike way back when eek.gif) and I have ever hiked/backpacked since, the other 5 who came never stepped out with a backpack again (with a few minor exceptions)!  The road was open back then. Of note, A friend of mine some years later had a bad accident on the trail down and I am pretty sure his backpacking partner, who suffered a compound fracture of his leg on the Constance trail, would have died if my friend had not stumbled into the camp (open) and get help to his stranded friend.
Since the road washed out, I have to say, I have really enjoyed backpacking this trail and also up to Lake Constance (way less crowded than it used to be) as an all year destination with a great campground to enjoy.
Hiking it this weekend, with an eye to what it would take to repair, A fix would be some work.  Not being a engineer, but my sense is the big washout at the 1.5 mile mark would be the big job with a major re-routing of the road. Other than that, I don`t think the other minor wash outs would be too hard to fix.
As much as I like to hike it, I wouldn`t have a problem with fixing the road, at all, given the potential for better access (which seems to be dwindling) and to benefit local economies.
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Anne Elk
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PostMon Dec 17, 2018 3:22 pm 
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CT -  I can't believe you selected Constance for your first family outing!  eek.gif

I've been contemplating all the recent comments and read through the numerous historic threads on the Dose washout.  Now feel more informed re the complexity of both a bypass, as well as the amt of work that's required (I guess by law) for an official decommissioning. Everyone on both sides of the issue has made good points to support their POV. Thanks to those who also listed some of the other road closures in ONP/ONF and elsewhere that I was unaware of. (I don't get around enough!) Clearly a pattern here, and one could suppose most of it has to do with funding...our gov't just consistently fails to make our parks/forests a priority, and somehow, we just accept it.  rolleyes.gif

If I had to choose, restoration/relocation of the campgrounds on the Elwha should have first priority. The dam removals were an historic, positive event and every opportunity should be taken to do PR & public education re the benefits of dam removal.  New campgrounds would further that significantly.

Two points supporting re-opening the Dose road concern the historical mission of making the areas accessible "to all", and the extra pressure that's now being put on other areas because the trails to points past the Dose campground are now inaccessible to day hikers. Valid points but I wonder if accessibility and use goals should now be tempered by preservation considerations, and the Park's current maintenance budget.  I realize the differences from a wilderness designation. But it seems we're approaching a point of no return with respect to both the land's "carrying capacity" for human use as well as preserving the values that draw people there in the first place.  Perhaps the degradation isn't as noticeable unless you've been gone for a decade, as I was, and then go revisit your old favorite haunts. ONP does an excellent job of campground maintenance, if my recent stay at Mora campground was any indication. Not so much at trail destinations.  I didn't camp at 2nd Beach b/c  of weather, but the conditions there were as awful as described in this WTA trip report.

So, back to the Dose. There would have to be a lot more done at this point to make the campground accessible besides putting in the by-pass (see the photo in Double_E's TR of the landslide that's somewhere past the Constance TH).

I still like the idea of a limited access road - mostly for bikers/hikers.  Fly in two small motorized "somethings" that would run on a seasonal schedule from the far side and could transport people to the CG's (maybe with some kind of cabled device across the washout to ferry visitors' gear to the shuttle (for the equipment heavy car-camper types).

Maybe it's not practical but it would be cheaper than other solutions, and sort of a compromise between what we had and what we've got now.  It would improve access with a unique alternative that promotes bikes over full vehicle access.

That being said, the Forest Service's refusal to repair the (comparatively) small creek washout east of the main washout is outrageous.  Does anyone have a recent photo of it that they could post?

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PostMon Dec 17, 2018 4:13 pm 
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Anne Elk wrote:
That being said, the Forest Service's refusal to repair the (comparatively) small creek washout east of the main washout is outrageous.  Does anyone have a recent photo of it that they could post?

As I mentioned in my last Dosewallips TR, I feel that if the road is not going to be reopened, then the Forest Service should find some money to build a parking lot at the end of the road. The current parking situation is rather crappy. And install a vault toilet too, since Iíve seen many toilet paper flowers where the road ends, not too far off the edges of the road.

I read somewhere that the forest service didnít spending the money to keep repairing the small washout just to keep one mile of road open.

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alpendave
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PostTue Dec 18, 2018 9:00 am 
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One thing I really appreciated about the Muscott Flats trailhead is that it didnít take long to disperse the hikers who used it as a taking off point (West Fork, main fork, Sunnybrook Meadows, Grey Wolf Pass. Really, now, the only truly spectacular thing accessible (unless one has the week off) is Lake Constance and perhaps the waterfall. Only hiked the rd to Muscott Flats once since the washout, and havenít been to the lake. Just havenít had the time for it to be worth it.

I think people who have the time are going to go to the mountains no matter what. They arenít going to be deterred by crowds. Theyíll just congregate more (sure seems like they do in other areas). I think restoring the road and perhaps establishing a new trail or two might actually mitigate the impact on areas like Mt Townsend and Marmot Pass and a few others.

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