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vogtski
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vogtski
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PostSat Jan 14, 2023 5:11 am 
Probably no help this winter, but perhaps a glimmer of future hope for our benighted local NPS management: * $68 million to cover the cost of the federal employee pay raise. * An increase of $31.5 million to restore staffing across the park system * An increase of $6.9 million to construct, lease, and rehabilitate housing at parks where housing is either unaffordable or unavailable in the local community. https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2023/01/within-fine-print-consolidated-appropriations-act Might be worth urging our congress critters to explore these funding sources, but I suspect the real allocations will fall to NPS Director Sams and Interior Secretary Haalund. Anybody got email addresses for these last two, or has everybody (but me) moved to social media?

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kiliki
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Bruce Albert
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PostSat Jan 14, 2023 10:43 am 
Only found the generic ‘contact us’ pages for those agencies. Individual addresses tend to be tucked away, because nobody at that level wants to receive 50,000 emails a day on every conceivable topic, nor in fairness would such a thing be productive. I’m certain there is an avenue that will reach the boss. I have found first class mail with tracking, if it’s a big deal, to be an effective means of communication requiring a higher degree of accountability on both the sending and receiving parties than email. Hit this, though, right off the bat, a compilation of frequent nps foia requests: https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/foia/foia-frd.htm

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kiliki
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PostWed Jan 18, 2023 10:12 am 
Quote:
but the one thing I have not seen mentioned is the limitation created by not allowing for full time employees. Someone copied the details from a few of the job listings over on USA.gov (and even having to apply through that nightmare will significantly cull the herd) and they all pretty much stated half time (masked as full-time but seasonal). To me one of the bigger bottom lines is the NPS isn't allowed to hire year round full time employees (because that would require paying benefits and such).
Really excellent points in your post. The hardest jobs to fill are seasonal jobs, no matter what the occupation. Labor economists have talked a lot about that over the past year or two with the "worker shortage." Why would anyone take a seasonal job when there are good opportunities for year-round jobs? Re your other points about hiring obstacles I might have touched on that but during the Trump administration many policies were put in place to reduce the federal workforce by making it hard to hire. So the assessment test I talked about, plus they made it harder-to-impossible for NPS staff who worked winters at one park to get a summer job at another park. They strictly limited the types of appointments the NPS could use or limited how many times they could use them. Etc etc.

vogtski
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kiliki
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kiliki
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PostWed Jan 18, 2023 10:14 am 
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cascadeclimber wrote: There is no worker shortage. There is a pay shortage. And, just like has been pointed out here about MORA's conflicting statements/ads, there is a lot of double-talk. Stevens management claimed there was a worker shortage last year. Not a peep about that from them this year and they are fully open. Did they suddenly find a secret stash of workers that no one else knows about? Vail's raise of starting wage to $20 and above certainly did not hurt. Neither IMO did the change in management with a new manager experienced in operations and focused on results..
It also sounds like they doubled down on providing housing, and providing transportation from the east and west sides.

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Bruce Albert
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PostWed Jan 25, 2023 8:32 pm 
In today’s Seattle Times” https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/record-1-1-million-awarded-to-wa-national-parks/ “ Each year, park superintendents and leadership teams select priority projects for their respective parks, which fall into four core areas: advancing science and research, improving visitors’ experiences, expanding volunteerism and stewardship and embracing inclusion.” “ Mount Rainier National Park received $630,768, which will fund projects like Wonderland Trail improvements and maintenance, development of an online accessible trails guide, aquatic surveys and restoration and the park’s 200 Meadow Rover volunteers, who patrol alpine trails to teach visitors about land stewardship, WNPF said.”

vogtski
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BigBrunyon
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PostWed Jan 25, 2023 10:41 pm 
Look heres the deal: all u need to hear is that FUNDS WERE INTERCHANGED. Once you hear that FUNDS WERE INTERCHANGED you know the deals gone bad!!!!! It's all a scam once you hear that FUNDS WERE INTERCHANGED.

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Randito
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PostThu Jan 26, 2023 6:56 am 
The term "Funds were interchanged" does not appear in the Seattle Times article. What are you babbling about?

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bccarlso
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PostThu Jan 26, 2023 2:45 pm 
Randito wrote:
The term "Funds were interchanged" does not appear in the Seattle Times article. What are you babbling about?
BigBrunyon works for BigSatire.

vogtski
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vogtski
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PostFri Jan 27, 2023 2:24 pm 
For those who may not have signed the Change.org petition, here's an update by author Steve Price: Jan 27, 2023 — Greetings all signatories of the “Restore Mount Rainier Weekday Winter Access” petition. #1. I thank you for your engagement. Especially for all the heartfelt comments. You can download a (slightly edited) copy of the comments from the following link. They are a great read. http://bit.ly/3HdtMfo Comments from Petition #2. Above is a picture from a lovely ski in the sun on Snoqualmie Pass this week with fresh snow from the night before. I bet Paradise would have been AWESOME…. Sigh… #3. As you may be aware, the park service met with several outdoors grounds and local business owners on December 16. Following that, the Mountaineers published a blog post and the Seattle Times ran an article. Copies of the meeting minutes, the blog post, and the article are at the following links. http://bit.ly/3RaLi8y 12/16 Meeting Minutes http://bit.ly/3Hyn3Np Mountaineers Blog Post http://bit.ly/3kOV6Jp The Seattle Times - Paradise lost? Angst mounts over Mount Rainier National Park weekday closure #4. As of 1/27, nothing else has been heard from MORA Park HQ. There is no indication that winter weekday access will happen at all this winter/spring. They did post job openings on Twitter and FB in Mid-January for heavy equipment and snowplow operators; at a salary range of $25 to $38 per hour, higher than what they offered last fall. #5. I wrote letters a week ago to Superintendent Dudgeon, Frank Lands, the Director of the western region of NPS in San Francisco, and Shawn Benge, the Deputy Director of Operations in DC. I asked for a response to post to the petition signatories, but have received no reply from any of the three yet. #6. In his communications with the Mountaineers, Superintendent Dudgeon indicated he would like to be contacted by users. I think the primary goals should be #1) ensuring winter weekday access to Paradise next winter and all winters thereafter and #2) making daily functional and timely access to Paradise a metric of the Park’s annual performance. The 2,900 of us don’t have much leverage in this situation. I think our best shot is regular and periodic messaging between now and next November. I propose that every two months, a sizable number of us email the Superintendent’s office and remind him that we are upset about what happened this winter and that we sorely miss winter weekday access to Paradise. The emails should be brief, polite, and not look like SPAM or some automated service. I suggest a sentence saying how disappointed you are about the lack of access and ask a straightforward question about the current lack of access or their office’s plans for next winter. Attaching a photo of winter visits from years past would be a great addition. Please be polite and respectful. Superintendent Greg Dudgeon's email is MORA_Superintendent@nps.gov I prompt you now to do that. I will then prompt you to repeat it every other month. I will also write letters to electeds in early February and let you know if I receive any correspondence back from the Park Service. Be well and enjoy the rest of winter! Steve

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cascadeclimber
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PostFri Jan 27, 2023 4:20 pm 
I admire your optimism. It reminds me of me a decade ago. There is an accountability vacuum in the NPS. You're experiencing that in the lack of communication after the "tick the box" meetings. It goes all the way to the director and is ultimately, I believe, is a result of the Interior Sec position being used as window dressing: Either a 'buddy' appointment or a minority appointment, in both cases often someone with little government experience or apparent interest in or ability to change the status quo. So you end up with a Jon Jarvis running the entire NPS and being left in his position after he was found to be using it to force parks to sell his book. The interior sec at the time, maybe Sally Jewel, left him in the position but removed responsibility for ethics from him. Jarvis was, by the way, MORA Sup when Dave Uberuaga sold his house in Ashford to RMI for 300% of its value (Uberuaga was in charge of letting contracts, including RMI's, for MORA at the time). Jarvis let King off the hook and the NPS promoted Jarvis to Director, and Uberuaga to Sup. First at MORA, then Grand Canyon where he was when a massive sexual harassment scandal broke. This sh## is endemic to the NPS. Jarvis ethics thing and being told by one of Sen. Murray's staffers to quit trying to effect change took all the wind out of my sails. You're a better person than me for keeping at it. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/mount-rainier-park-ex-official-scrutinized-on-land-deal/ https://www.hcn.org/articles/grand-canyon-superintendent-retires-during-ongoing-harassment-investigation-1

If not now, when?
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vogtski
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vogtski
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PostSat Jan 28, 2023 7:44 am 
cascadeclimber wrote:
There is an accountability vacuum in the NPS. You're experiencing that in the lack of communication after the "tick the box" meetings. It goes all the way to the director and is ultimately, I believe, is a result of the Interior Sec position being used as window dressing: Either a 'buddy' appointment or a minority appointment, in both cases often someone with little government experience or apparent interest in or ability to change the status quo. So you end up with a Ron Jarvis running the entire NPS and being left in his position after he was found to be using it to force parks to sell his book. The interior sec at the time, maybe Sally Jewel, left him in the position but removed responsibility for ethics from him. Jarvis was, by the way, MORA Sup when Dave Uberuaga sold his house in Ashford to RMI for 300% of its value (Uberuaga was in charge of letting contracts, including RMI's, for MORA at the time). Jarvis let King off the hook and the NPS promoted Jarvis to Director, and Uberuaga to Sup. First at MORA, then Grand Canyon where he was when a massive sexual harassment scandal broke. This sh## is endemic to the NPS.
First off, it was Jon Jarvis, not "Ron". You are definitely correct about the NP$ accountability vacuum, tho. That house sale was far more than a "financial misstep", as an earlier comment styled it. It wasn't just that Uberuaga should have had no financial dealings with concessioners he managed. The initial version of the proposed changes to climbing concessions had all three with equal shares of the Rainier guiding business. The final version gave RMI half and split the rest between the other two guide services, a change worth millions to RMI. That's enough quid pro quo to earn the term bribery, IMO. That crime and the six-month VC construction closure of the entire park during the 2007 phony flood closure are perhaps the worst examples of NP$ corruption I have seen. Most NPS employees are honest, dedicated, creative people we are lucky to have working in the parks, but twenty years at Olympic NP showed me that when money (or career advancement) is involved, there are managers who are willing to scam the public. Sometimes the scams are small. For many years, the winning bids on park sales of surplus equipment, windfall logs cleared from roads, etc. were usually submitted by the ONP Road Foreman's brother. No wonder the locals used the shorthand 'those crooks' instead of the tongue-twisting phrase 'national park managers'. Sometimes the scams are not so small. An Elwha District Ranger was caught stealing entrance fees. The park's internal controls were so poor they had no idea how much had been taken over the years, but he owned three houses in PA and a reputed six-figure gun collection. An assistant superintendent was put in charge of planning for the Elwha Dam removals. He got a paper transfer to Denver Service Center, but continued to reside at home, filing high-roller travel expense account claims for two years. He organized a million-dollar invitation-only blowout party to kick off dam removal. When that job was done, he claimed there was no money to 'study' returning the former Lake Aldwell to the Elwha tribe, the rightful owners IMO. For many years, park maintenance foreman avoided the national OPM list and hired seasonal laborers from a special authorization list that only their families & friends seemed to know to get on. For all I know, that's still how they do it.

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Bruce Albert
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vogtski
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PostMon Feb 06, 2023 2:39 am 
Bruce Albert wrote:
In today’s Seattle Times” https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/record-1-1-million-awarded-to-wa-national-parks/ “ Each year, park superintendents and leadership teams select priority projects for their respective parks, which fall into four core areas: advancing science and research, improving visitors’ experiences, expanding volunteerism and stewardship and embracing inclusion.” “ Mount Rainier National Park received $630,768, which will fund projects like Wonderland Trail improvements and maintenance, development of an online accessible trails guide, aquatic surveys and restoration and the park’s 200 Meadow Rover volunteers, who patrol alpine trails to teach visitors about land stewardship, WNPF said.”
Thanks for posting this! It's impressive how productive WNPF fundraising is, even allowing for the incredible shrinking dollar. As I recall, the entire Rainier trail budget was about $300K (out of ~$6M) in the 70's, and there were few volunteer organiztions. If trail maintenance can be largely replaced by grants and volunteers, why not have a campaign to contract out the winter opening of Paradise? Surely there are enough retired equipment operators, police, guides and avy techs to fill all that vacant Longmire seasonal housing that has to be heated ahyway? Relieving park management of most of this apparently low-priority chore could free up their strained human resources for all that advancing, improving, developing, surveying, expanding, and embracing! I know it would "improve" quite a few winter "visitors' experience" to actually use the park they pay for ;o)

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cascadeclimber
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PostMon Feb 06, 2023 12:57 pm 
vogtski wrote:
If trail maintenance can be largely replaced by grants and volunteers, why not have a campaign to contract out the winter opening of Paradise? Surely there are enough retired equipment operators, police, guides and avy techs to fill all that vacant Longmire seasonal housing that has to be heated ahyway?
I'm not at all a fan of privatizing this sort of thing to for-profit companies. For over 100 years it cost $5 to enter MORA. I think a day pass has gone from that $5 to $35 in the last 20 years or so. I believe it would be higher if a private company was running access. Selling food in the parks for a profit is one thing. Selling access to the parks for profit is something entirely different. If it was up to me, there wouldn't be for-profit guiding (the 40% of guide fees the park keeps would be replaced with permanent funding) and the structures at Muir, aside from ranger shelter, would be removed. Ladders wouldn't be allowed (they fall under 'permanent structure in wilderness'), nor would the giant eating tent the guide services construct (or used to) in the summer. Less is more when it comes to a wilderness experience, and every little thing that gets added inevitably leads to calls for more. I don't see a unilateral solution here: They way they piss away money and the lack of accountability and widespread malfeasance don't have me cheering for them to get more: They need to clean up their collective sh##. And they need to be better funded. If it's going to happen in a way that is sustained and actually benefits the public, the culture and budget changes need to happen together.

If not now, when?

vogtski
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altasnob
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PostTue Feb 07, 2023 8:10 am 
I am against turning the Paradise plowing duties over to a for profit company. But what about turning it over to a not for profit company? Or maybe the NPS should start soliciting donations that are specifically earmarked for winter Paradise road plowing? I would gladly donate hundreds of dollars a year if it meant Paradise road was consistently open. I think there are lots of others who would do the same.

vogtski
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Randito
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PostWed Feb 08, 2023 9:18 am 
The plowing itself isn't the only factor in whether the Longmire-> Paradise road is open. Another significant factor is LE ranger staffing for patrolling the road. I'm not sure how a not for profit or any other corporation can provide law enforcement duty. Roads to places like Mt Baker and Crystal mountain are plowed and patrolled by the state and county. Those organizations have the financial incentive of the collection of sales taxes on the sale of lift tickets /seasons passes and beer / food sales at the ski area. At $120 (Crystal) or $80 (Baker) , $9 per beer and $16 per burger that a considerable amount of revenue that wouldn't be collected if the road isn't reliability open. A non-profit corporation could do it, but the entrance fees needed to fully fund plowing and patrolling would be considerable without any allocation from congress.

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