Forum Index > Trail Talk > Road to Paradise closed?
 Reply to topic
Previous :: Next Topic
Author Message
vogtski
Member
Member


Joined: 03 Dec 2022
Posts: 47 | TRs | Pics
Location: Waitgate WA
vogtski
Member
PostSun Feb 19, 2023 6:35 am 
What's with the short application period? Not gonna help the winter weekday closure much... "Housing issues for National Park Service employees have been growing for some time now, in part due to the advent of Airbnb and VRBO being more lucrative for home owners than monthly rent. One park that has encountering housing issues is Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state, where officials are seeking housing for seasonal workers. Through the end of February park staff is inviting rental property and business owners to submit leasing proposals for the months of April through November. Due to limited properties in the area, the park is looking to expand opportunities for seasonal staff to rent apartments, houses, and, or recreational vehicle trailers outside the park. The park’s housing office will coordinate the leasing agreement and payment process. Rental rates for leased facilities and RV pads should include water, sewer, and electric costs. The park hopes to identify potential leasing partners and have agreements signed no later than April 2023 for the leasing period. The park hopes to continue this program into the future depending on available funding. Interested parties can review the details of the leasing proposal by visiting the “Request for Proposals” section on the park’s website. Basic requirements include: Houses and apartments must have a separate bedroom and bathroom apart from the owner, and ideally include at least two bedrooms and one bathroom. Houses and apartments must have smoke detectors and full-sized kitchens. Pads for trailers or recreational vehicles must, at minimum, accommodate a 40-foot by 12-foot RV, and have appropriate water, sewer, and electrical hookups. Houses, apartments, and RV pads must be located within 50 miles of Paradise within Mount Rainier National Park. It must also be available for lease from April through November 2023 (eight months), or April through November 2024, or both. Individuals interested in this opportunity can find more information on the park website or by contacting the housing office at 360-569-6536, Monday-Friday." https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2023/02/housing-needed-mount-rainier-national-park-indiana-dunes-national-park-seasonal-employees

Diagonally parked in a parallel universe
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Randito
Snarky Member



Joined: 27 Jul 2008
Posts: 9512 | TRs | Pics
Location: Bellevue at the moment.
Randito
Snarky Member
PostSun Feb 19, 2023 11:18 am 
The son of some friends of mine is a LE ranger for MRNP. He and his wife and their preschool aged kiddos live in Ashford. Ashford is a lousy, lonely place to live with kiddos. They will likely be moving to Eatonville so there are more social opportunities for the kiddos (and the adults) than Ashford. A longer commute for both of them as she also works in the park.

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Bruce Albert
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Sep 2007
Posts: 160 | TRs | Pics
Bruce Albert
Member
PostSun Feb 19, 2023 7:35 pm 
vogtski wrote:
What's with the short application period? Not gonna help the winter weekday closure much...
Probably not an unreasonable assumption that they're shopping for summer seasonals (Oh duh, April-November, missed that) and any change in the winter season has been kissed goodbye. How late into spring does the gate foolishness run?

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
vogtski
Member
Member


Joined: 03 Dec 2022
Posts: 47 | TRs | Pics
Location: Waitgate WA
vogtski
Member
PostMon Feb 20, 2023 9:15 am 
Bruce Albert wrote:
Probably not an unreasonable assumption that ... any change in the winter season has been kissed goodbye. How late into spring does the gate foolishness run?
If they were serious about restoring winter weekday Paradise access, it seems park management would also be shopping for long-term housing leases for the additional staff they claim to need, but can't attract, such as plow drivers. It's disturbing that the weekday closure stressing local short-term rental businesses might force them into lease arrangements with the organization causing their financial problems. 'Nice rentals you got there, be a shame if anything happened to 'em...' Traditionally, the Longmire gate opens 24-7 when the Paradise Inn opens for business, usually mid to late May. As I recall, it opened a couple weeks before the Inn last year.

Diagonally parked in a parallel universe
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Bruce Albert
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Sep 2007
Posts: 160 | TRs | Pics
Bruce Albert
Member
PostMon Feb 20, 2023 10:33 am 
vogtski wrote:
If they were serious about restoring winter weekday Paradise access,
Big, big IF there. Color me cynical, but I think we're all walking along the path of foregone conclusions here where only enough lip service is given to objections to shoulder them aside. "Ooooooh, we're soooo sorry, but it just wouldn't be safe." Betcha every time Superintendent Dudgeon sits down for tea and cookies with his minions talk revolves around planning the optics for future winter closures and the many ways they're a good idea. Ultimately they could wind up with the land custodian's fantasy dream: full staffing, plump budgets, and zero pesky visitors. Believe me I'd love to be wrong about this, but I need to be shown. And I wanna know how many 'Meadow Rover volunteers' I am going to have to encounter and chat with to gain a few minutes peace and solitude at St. Andrews Lake. Pardon me for my bad attitude. I was not born this way; a lifetime of encounters with the NPS helped shape me into the crank I have become.

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
kiliki
Member
Member


Joined: 07 Apr 2003
Posts: 2319 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle
kiliki
Member
PostMon Feb 20, 2023 1:36 pm 
VRBO shows 299 properties listed as short term rentals in and very close to Ashford. Airbnb lists 712. They seem to have a bit wider geographic area. There is undoubtedly overlap with VRBO. But, it's hard to imagine there are very many property owners interested in renting to the NPS. For one thing, their units almost certainly have bookings for this summer.
Quote:
Big, big IF there. Color me cynical, but I think we're all walking along the path of foregone conclusions here where only enough lip service is given to objections to shoulder them aside. "Ooooooh, we're soooo sorry, but it just wouldn't be safe." Betcha every time Superintendent Dudgeon sits down for tea and cookies with his minions talk revolves around planning the optics for future winter closures and the many ways they're a good idea. Ultimately they could wind up with the land custodian's fantasy dream: full staffing, plump budgets, and zero pesky visitors. Believe me I'd love to be wrong about this, but I need to be shown.
That doesn't seem to me to be a NPS dream. Or maybe it is but as it's generally politically untenable, I don't see it. What has struck me in recent years with how unconcerned most superintendents are about safety and overcrowding and that they aren't doing enough to meter or limit access. I'n not saying the lack of winter access at Rainier isn't an issue or that they couldn't have done better but I think it is an outlier. and it's very different than what I see at NPs these days which honestly seems to me like a free for all. Some of it is political, as when the prior administration insisted parks stay open during government shutdowns. Right now we're seeing things go backwards on reservation systems put in place due to overcrowding during Covid; I thought we were going to see those stick around to remedy the hours long entrance lines and overflowing parking that has become the norm. Nope. Katmai is a great example of what I mean. There has been such an influx of visitors that rangers have said they have lost the ability to control the crowds who are mingling freely with brown bears. There have been many incidents and it's only a matter of time before people get hurt and/or the bears get pushed out. No one seems to care--the overriding sentiment among staff is that everyone deserves to be there, no matter how bad it is for the resources or personal safety. Even at Rainier--I've been disturbed by the way the park has embraced events like trail races/runs put on by concessioners, and the hogging of backcountry campsites by these. There's also no attempt to have staffing keep up with the crowds. It's shocking to me to visit the Giant Forest at Sequoia and not see a single ranger. I never see rangers anywhere anymore and commensurately, people do whatever they want (drones, litter, speed and hit wildlife, etc). The overriding concern always seems to be that they don't want to limit access.

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Bruce Albert
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Sep 2007
Posts: 160 | TRs | Pics
Bruce Albert
Member
PostMon Feb 20, 2023 8:11 pm 
Randito wrote:
Ashford is a lousy, lonely place to live with kiddos. They will likely be moving to Eatonville so there are more social opportunities for the kiddos (and the adults) than Ashford.
This begs the question of career choices and expectations. For NPS employees thinking Pierce/Lewis counties to be the ends of the earth, a transfer to Wrangell/St Elias would be informative. Few National Parks, excepting perhaps the monuments and cannonball parks back east, will be within short commuting distance of the sort of urbane charm claimed missing from the hinterlands out past Elbe. Cities everywhere on the other hand, with their many activities, events, and creature comforts, are hiring police officers as fast as they can, and yes, we need good police officers. Meanwhile down in Ashford, perhaps having been derided as a lousy, lonely place to live will help keep rents down for those who are quite happy there.

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
peter707
Member
Member


Joined: 16 Jun 2022
Posts: 136 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle, WA
peter707
Member
PostMon Feb 20, 2023 10:28 pm 
kiliki wrote:
I've been disturbed by the way the park has embraced events like trail races/runs put on by concessioners, and the hogging of backcountry campsites by these
kiliki, do you think you can elaborate where/when these trail races/runs are held, you know, so the rest of us can sign up for the trailrun avoid them on our hikes with our heavy & sturdy footwear and long pants? If you are referring to Aspire Adventure Running, https://www.aspireadventurerunning.com/wonderland-circumnavigation-run/, they don't use backcountry camps at all from what I see. They camp at Mowich Lake and White River Campground (parking lots), with one aid station / bail spot at box canyon parking lot.

zimmertr
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Randito
Snarky Member



Joined: 27 Jul 2008
Posts: 9512 | TRs | Pics
Location: Bellevue at the moment.
Randito
Snarky Member
PostMon Feb 20, 2023 11:12 pm 
Bruce Albert wrote:
This begs the question of career choices and expectations.
The issue being discussed is "why is it so hard to fill NPS jobs" The pool of people willing to give up on other aspects of life , such as raising a family is smaller than people in general. Yes many, if not most NPS locations are more isolated than Mt Rainier. But few other NPS locations have the snow removal demands of Paradise and a public that demands reliable road access while paying just $55 per year.

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Bruce Albert
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Sep 2007
Posts: 160 | TRs | Pics
Bruce Albert
Member
PostTue Feb 21, 2023 12:01 pm 
Randito wrote:
The issue being discussed is "why is it so hard to fill NPS jobs"
The issue being discussed is the midweek closure of the Longmire-Paradise road. NPS hiring issues, as a contributing factor, are a legitimate subtopic. By way of the many contributions to the thread we have learned of an affordable housing shortage in the Ashford area, fueled to some extent by a proliferation of short-term rentals. We all have also been informed, with some dissent, that wages offered may not be high enough to attract employees. And a rocky road ahead on both fronts. So far so good. The family you describe has apparently jumped both those hoops. They apparently deem NPS wages high enough to live on, and they live in the Ashford vicinity...a reasonably short commute from the park. Bingo! Hat trick. Fair winds and following seas, right?, Nope. Now we learn that they're unhappy because the social/cultural aspects of a small town like Ashford are not to their liking, enough so to consider moving further from the park. Fair enough; you like what you like; you don't like what you don't like; and you get to take your pick. That's not a condemnation of either your friends or of the Ashford community...small town or rural life anywhere in the Cascade foothills is clearly not for everyone...but it's also where reality rears its head: it's not a legitimate criticism of the NPS as an employer either...it's simply a fact of life. The places in America where one can work in a place like MRNP and simultaneously live a short, commuter-realistic distance away in a population center large enough to support a broad range of social/cultural activity are going to be few and far between. Hence my comment about career choices...probably, in the long term, gonna be one or the other but not both:working for the park service, or living how and where one wants to live. Like life's many other dilemmas, no amount of wishing will make that go away.

vogtski
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
hikingpersonnw
Member
Member


Joined: 08 Oct 2020
Posts: 21 | TRs | Pics
hikingpersonnw
Member
PostTue Feb 21, 2023 1:36 pm 
peter707 wrote:
kiliki, do you think you can elaborate where/when these trail races/runs are held, you know, so the rest of us can sign up for the trailrun avoid them on our hikes with our heavy & sturdy footwear and long pants? If you are referring to Aspire Adventure Running, https://www.aspireadventurerunning.com/wonderland-circumnavigation-run/, they don't use backcountry camps at all from what I see. They camp at Mowich Lake and White River Campground (parking lots), with one aid station / bail spot at box canyon parking lot.
I am curious too. I was volunteering at Sunrise last year and we had a reserved site at White River (the park will reserve campsites for NPS volunteers, NPS employees, WTA work groups, etc.). However, there were several sites reserved for some type of trail run that was going on. They had support vans and some canopies setup. They were respectful and good campmates, but it was a bit odd to see them getting reserved sites. I am not sure how it works but maybe with their special use permit, they also have the option of getting reserved sites.

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
peter707
Member
Member


Joined: 16 Jun 2022
Posts: 136 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle, WA
peter707
Member
PostTue Feb 21, 2023 7:06 pm 
kiliki wrote:
Even at Rainier--I've been disturbed by the way the park has embraced events like trail races/runs put on by concessioners, and the hogging of backcountry campsites by these.
Separately from the drive-in campgrounds discussed above, are there examples of this happening for backcountry campsites?

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
vogtski
Member
Member


Joined: 03 Dec 2022
Posts: 47 | TRs | Pics
Location: Waitgate WA
vogtski
Member
PostThu Mar 02, 2023 9:00 am 
Mount Rainier is not the only park with dysfunctional management. Check out this recent comment by 'E. G.' about Great Smokies NP: https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2023/03/reader-participation-day-fee-too-far "It's interesting that a year ago GSMNP administration claimed they were unable to do anything about excessive roadside parking without the funds that parking permits would generate. Yet soon after they announced they were moving forward with their parking fees (still months away from collecting) such simple remedies as posts and guardrails began appearing in the few places where such problems have been common. Obviously these inexpensive steps could have been taken years ago and funded with transportation dollars. The same ploy occurred a decade earlier at GSMNP with the administration purposefully cutting the hours, and refusing offers of help, for the backcountry office. Only a tax on backpackers could cure the problem - especially an easy-to-manufacture problem. And then there's the non-coincidental announcement on this the first day of required parking permits that visitation to GSMNP dropped by more than 1.2 million last year. Visitation was, of course, the primary justification the NPS pushed in pursuit of its parking fees, completely unverifiable and with incredible (in the word's most fundamental, not-to-be-believed sense) data. These guesstimates are available for public scrutiny (https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/SSRSReports/Park%20Specific%20Reports/Monthly...), though a majority seem willing to accept whatever numbers or assertions the NPS puts out. Surely, if only they knew, Americans wouldn't openly support their government blatantly ignoring the law of the land. From the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA): "(b) Basis for recreation fees Recreation fees shall be established in a manner consistent with the following criteria: (1) The amount of the recreation fee shall be commensurate with the benefits and services provided to the visitor." But NPS personnel are forced to admit there will be no limitation on visitors to GSMNP and that, as a result, parking availability cannot be guaranteed anywhere. The park owner/visitor gets nothing in return for his or her forfeited funds; it's simply a money grab by the administration at GSMNP. Additionally, to charge a parking fee for every parking space in GSMNP violates FLREA (d)(4) by limiting the use of recreation opportunities only to areas designated for collection of recreation fees. For this reason, arguably among others, the tax on backpackers is also illegal as there is no way - not a cross-country permit, not a walk-up permit, not an off-season permit, etc. - to avoid the fees of their backcountry reservation system. Of course, there's also the obvious point that a simple parking space doesn't rise to the level of an "Expanded Amenity" (logically, these expanded amenities include frontcountry campgrounds, elaborate boat launches, boat rentals, dump stations, special tours, and the like) but is instead specifically mentioned in FLREA as being appropriate as a "Standard Amenity" - a fee the NPS isn't authorized to charge. And even within the feewheeling NPS, with its self-proclaimed right to charge for parking, its own Reference Manual on such things (22A) includes the following: "There are limited circumstances where it is appropriate for a park to charge a parking fee as an expanded amenity fee. An example might be a park in an urban area that has metered or dispersed parking spaces. In this situation, local commuters could purchase a recreation pass and occupy parking spaces needed by park visitors. Another example is a contract for a concession-operated parking area that does not require the concessioner to honor passes." The examples given above in the NPS' own manual are, to put it bluntly, as far removed from the scenario in GSMNP as possible. At this point it seems very few people realize that their Federal Lands Pass won't be accepted in place of a parking permit at GSMNP, yet Reference Manual 22A states specifically that such passes must be accepted: "Parks have been innovative in charging fees in some areas that had not previously collected fees for entrance or a particular service. For visitors with passes, parking fees have proved to be particularly confusing. For this reason, since the purpose of parking is to gain access to the park's primary resource, the park must honor entrance passes in lieu of the parking fee." I suspect fewer still realize that GSMNP intends for its parking permits/passes to be assigned to individual vehicles, not individuals or families. Therefore, the park owner is supposed to purchase a 2nd permit/pass if he or she drives a different car into GSMNP. The obvious misapplication of simple parking as "Expanded Amenity" is evidenced as well by GSMNP inappropriately offering parking passes (weekly and annual). Few, if any, would expect to be able to purchase a frontcountry camping pass, a boat rental pass, or a special tour pass. But in case it's not self-evident where such expanded amenities are concerned, it's made perfectly clear in Reference Manual 22A: "Parks may not create passes for expanded amenity fees. Parks with existing expanded amenity passes should consult with the regional office to eliminate them. Civic engagement is required because elimination of these passes may result in financial impacts to visitors." Oops. Meanwhile, GSMNP recently issued a Finding of No Significant Impact in its environmental assessment of a mountain biking area it intends to develop. Going with the most destructive of its proposed alternatives, the parking lot will cover 2.4 acres, the access road will extend nearly a mile, and over 25 total acres will be "disturbed" when there already exists an incredible number of mountain bike trails in the area. What's to prevent zip lining from being next? After all, the case could be made that while both are, in essence, thrill-seeking activities unconducive to contemplation and appreciation of nature, zip lining might very well leave a lighter mark on the land than constructing a 12-mile network of mountain bike trails. Here we have another staple of the NPS's dysfunctional approach, expansion and construction while complaining endlessly of having insufficient funds to cover its already existing overdevelopment. Particularly in this case it strikes me that GSNMP is likely eager to further entrench the expectation in peoples' minds that any activity on their public lands carries with it an accompanying fee. At the same time GSMNP has installed license tag readers at its entrances, claiming these Orwellian measures could help locate overdue hikers. Thankfully, the ACLU has actually perked up. If the law doesn't apply to them, it certainly shouldn't come as a surprise that other regulations, restrictions, guidelines, and personal liberties are sloughed off like so much snakeskin. Unchecked, unchallenged authority equates to impudent power which invariably expands and corrupts."

Diagonally parked in a parallel universe
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
kiliki
Member
Member


Joined: 07 Apr 2003
Posts: 2319 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle
kiliki
Member
PostThu Mar 02, 2023 1:59 pm 
peter707 wrote:
kiliki wrote:
I've been disturbed by the way the park has embraced events like trail races/runs put on by concessioners, and the hogging of backcountry campsites by these
kiliki, do you think you can elaborate where/when these trail races/runs are held, you know, so the rest of us can sign up for the trailrun avoid them on our hikes with our heavy & sturdy footwear and long pants? If you are referring to Aspire Adventure Running, https://www.aspireadventurerunning.com/wonderland-circumnavigation-run/, they don't use backcountry camps at all from what I see. They camp at Mowich Lake and White River Campground (parking lots), with one aid station / bail spot at box canyon parking lot.
With Aspire in particular, I could have been confusing the situation at MRNP with that of NCNP. In recent years I was looking at permits for Stehekin-Cascade Pass and it was brought to my attention that Aspire had reserved backcountry campsites on that route. Though it seems just as bad to allow a company to take frontcountry campsites, which are in such high demand and represent the budget option for visitors, for commercial and for-profit purposes. But there are concessioner-guided backpacking tours at Rainier that use backcountry sites. Here are just a couple I snagged from a random Google. https://www.miyaradventures.com/trip/rainier-4-day-backpacking/ https://www.kafadventures.com/hiking-backpacking/mt-rainier-backpacking-yoga/

peter707, vogtski, Walkin' Fool
Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
Cyclopath
Faster than light



Joined: 20 Mar 2012
Posts: 7711 | TRs | Pics
Location: Seattle
Cyclopath
Faster than light
PostThu Mar 02, 2023 3:18 pm 
cascadeclimber wrote:
But yeah, they have money to install webcams,
Which date incredibly valuable to visitors making a go/no go decision on a 100 mile drive. But yeah, they have their own priorities instead of yours. Shocking.

Back to top Reply to topic Reply with quote Send private message
   All times are GMT - 8 Hours
 Reply to topic
Forum Index > Trail Talk > Road to Paradise closed?
  Happy Birthday Tall Hiker Man!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum