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altasnob
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PostThu Sep 07, 2023 5:45 pm 
I don't know anything about the proposal other than what is in this letter, which the Forest Service only chose to send to a select few persons:
This is apparently standard Forest Service protocol these days. They did the same thing with the Fortune Creek Huts (only tell a few select people about the idea and then they actually granted the proposal only to renege after the public found out the huts were approved without any public input).

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Randito
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PostThu Sep 07, 2023 8:50 pm 
The huts would serve an area where one can hear snowmobiles razzing uo to the Crater rim. And where in the spring sometimes there are over 500 people ascending MSH on the same day. The forest service grants SUPs to various private companies, e.g. Camp Wahoo in the Teanaway which runs a horse riding camp and to the for profit companies like Vail that run Stevens Pass ski area and the companies that run most of the lift served ski areas across the USA. People sure seem to be getting their knickers in a twist. Just another example of NIMBYism run amuck.

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Anne Elk
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PostThu Sep 07, 2023 10:38 pm 
I don't know what my feelings are about it pro or con. But I highly object if the FS is trying to fly under the radar by not making the proposal and request for comments widely available. No doubt they think there would be no impact and would like a "Determination of Non-significance" ASAP, as I recollect the lingo goes in the regulatory world. I wouldn't object if some legal beagles threw a monkey wrench into that, just on principle. prod.gif Set a precedent and these things will be popping up all over.

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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altasnob
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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 7:35 am 
^^^^. That's my main beef with this. As Randy is aware, the only reason any of us even know about this proposal is because some person posted about it on facebook. And the only reason that person knew of it was becuase they were one of those lucky select few that the Forest Service chose to send that letter to. Why doesn't the Forest Service post these proposals on their website so that all can comment on it, rather than just a select few who the Forest Service deems worthy? As to the actual proposal. Yes, the area is not wilderness and heavily used during both winter and summer. But ski huts in the PNW are the same as freeways. There is nearly unlimited demand. If you build 100 new huts in the Cascades, they will instantly be filled to capacity (particularly huts with access to backcountry skiing). If these huts are built, it will be like the Enchantments where you have to apply eight months in advance to enter a lottery to be one of the lucky people who gets to sleep in the hut in February. An already heavily used area will have even more people, with more vehicles in an already overcrowded parking lot. Are they going to increase the number of daily climbing permits by the amount of people staying in the huts? Or are the number of permits staying the same and those precious spots will be reserved for those who score a spot in the hut?

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Kim Brown
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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 9:22 am 
Looks like someone applied for a Special Use permit in an area subject to a categorical exclusion for this kind of Special Use - so while it is a National Environmental Policy Act process, no public process is required - but the public was involved in the general planning for the Monument - and part of that was this - Public processes prove the public still wants a lot of recreation there, including snowmobile use. (see Citizen Advisory Committee Recommendations & Forest Service, Community, and Partner Accomplishments in the middle of the page). There are other processes listed in paragraph 3 of the letter. Those were the public processes that allow a Categorical Exclusion on a Special Use Permit like this. It took me a few minutes to find their SOPA report, but this document isn't on it because SOPA is posted quarterly, and we're at the end of this quarter. But it should be somewhere prominent. Like on the Planning page where the SOPA report link is. "Special Use Permit Applications" could be the name of it. Or "Other Stuff Going On" The USFS website isn't exactly famous for its Ease of Use and Finding Stuff. The letter was sent to Interested persons and Stakeholders, which would be anyone signed up on their listserv - anyone can do that, by the way - and partner organizations; the letter would get to the public from the partner organizations. Not sure how else someone might expect this to get to the public - they don't have The World's email address - other than it being on the USFS website, which it certainly should be; perhaps it will be in a few days (doubt it) but I don't think many of the public check it on a regular basis; so Interested Persons and Stakeholders is more reliable, and the USFS knows that. There is a comment email link; instead of fighting the permit, which unless someone finds that it's illegal and against the management plan - is not illegal for them to do - maybe emphasize the importance of the committee tasked to ensure the environmental and other rules are followed when the resort goes in. Mt. St. Helens has historically been ringed with resorts, roads, large private camps, private cabins, so unless this is unusual for the particular area, it may be in line with the management plan. I don't know, haven't looked at it closely; probably won't. So what if you have to reserve it 8 months in advance. It's a private resort, so the beef is with the resort, not USFS.

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altasnob
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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 11:32 am 
Thank you for the explanation on NEPA applicability. I assumed the Forest Service wasn't dumb enough to do something without going through NEPA that clearly requires NEPA. It is just weird that the Forest Service will allow construction of private huts with minimal effort of notifying the public of the plans. Seems dumb, from a PR perspective, even if it is technically legal. Most of the SOPA things are stuff no one cares about (like redesigning a parking lot). But putting up several huts on the flank of an iconic volcano is definitely something a lot of people care about.
Kim Brown wrote:
So what if you have to reserve it 8 months in advance.
The demand will be so high, like the Enchantments, you will have to pay money in order for the privilege of being put on a list where you have a small chance of winning the lotto and being able to book the place 8 months in advance. That's the problem. The demand for huts will never be satisfied. Canada, with their lax environmental laws, has an abundance of huts. But those are increasingly difficult to be able to reserve a spot in (because of so many Americans heading north for winter recreation). I like that the PNW has a lack of huts and forces people to sleep in tents becuase it is a different experience than hut life. Go to Canada if you enjoy having to fight tooth and nail to reserve a spot in a hut a year in advance.

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Kim Brown
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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 11:40 am 
I don't think the USFS has ever not done anything dumb or bad for PR on a regular basis.... Well yeah the reservation system is a problem, but not subject to a public comment for a private resort problem. The only way around that is - let's have MORE RESORTS! I kinda like the idea though; I have only stayed at an Elbe Hills hut one time, and really enjoyed it, so I can imagine snowmobilers would enjoy this hut system. It's not my bag, though.

"..living on the east side of the Sierra world be ideal - except for harsher winters and the chance of apocalyptic fires burning the whole area." Bosterson, NWHiker's marketing expert
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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 11:56 am 
It really doesn't matter what it is any more - people are going to experience higher prices and longer wait times for almost all outdoor recreational activities. Take a look at availability of a cabin out at Kalaloch for the weekend of July 13-14, 2024. I just checked: ONE available for $392 a night. Same all over, whether it's ski huts or yurts or cabins at the beach: crowded and expensive. Solution: build more campgrounds and resorts. The problem, of course, is the same as Interstate 5: we cannot build our way out of over-crowding.

"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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altasnob
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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 12:22 pm 
For the last century, there has been this debate of whether the mountains of the US, and particularly the mountains of the PNW, should be developed like Europe and Canada, where people stay in huts instead of tents. The PNW has resisted the urge to build huts across our mountains even though legally, there is nothing stopping it (outside of wilderness). But in the last year all of that has changed. It's as if someone called up the Forest Service and said, mind if I build a for profit lodge on the public's land? And the Forest Service says, sure, why not.

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Randito
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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 12:41 pm 
altasnob wrote:
Go to Canada if you enjoy having to fight tooth and nail to reserve a spot in a hut a year in advance.
The fly in huts use a lottery system and it is competitive, but not as competitive as an Enchantments camping permit. Other huts no lottery. Some you can reserve in advance, others you can register for but don't get exclusive access. Some huts run by informal organizations e.g. Keith's Hut have fairly easy access (under three miles) and the hut built to house 14 will sometimes have over 40 people-- but with many sleeping outside the hut in tents. Other huts with longer approaches see much less usage , e.g. the Snow Spider hut with a capacity of 6 is rarely full and sits empty frequently enough that finding the hut even with a GPS can be challenging and involve probing with an avalanche probe and considerable shoveling to unblock the door.

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Malachai Constant
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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 12:52 pm 
We stayed in Yurts, cabins, and 4 season tents in Quebec near Ottawa they were public and economical but reservations were required and they were all booked within minutes of opening. Winter there is harsh < -20 F and the only tent campers I saw there were Canadian Special Forces on exercises. The above accommodations all had wood stoves, propane cooktops, and refrigerators (to keep stored food warm). They were the only way to overnight safely. In the past we stayed in BC huts which were free to the public and did not require reservations. According to the above post that may not have changed. BC huts included Wedge Lake and Elfin Hut in Garabaldi and were crowded.

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Anne Elk
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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 1:16 pm 
Kim Brown wrote:
the reservation system is a problem, but not subject to a public comment for a private resort problem. The only way around that is - let's have MORE RESORTS! ... Mt. St. Helens has historically been ringed with resorts, roads, large private camps, private cabins, so unless this is unusual for the particular area, it may be in line with the management plan.
I'm probably going to get in trouble for kicking this hornet's nest again, but with the huge increases in demand that have occurred in the last 20+ years I wonder if it isn't time for a reassessment of many long-on-the-books policies re what and how much should be allowed on public lands even if they're not wilderness: how much access, development and etc. I'm thinking along the lines of maintaining certain aspects of the resource for its own sake - even if it's not wilderness. We're already changing policy re fire management based on the current situation and new knowledge. I doubt few would argue that we haven't reached the land's carrying capacity even in (some) non-wilderness areas. Humans have this tendency to be so self-referential; ie, the value of something is always relative to what WE can get out of it. The historical uses allowed at Mt. St. Helens shouldn't necessarily be a green light for more of those uses without limits; without such reassessment there's the risk of special use permitting running amok. I've never investigated this, but hasn't the trend for private use of public lands gone the other way? ie., you got grandfathered in b/c you had a lease, but it expires with the death of the owner, and the land reverts to pubic property?
altasnob wrote:
Canada, with their lax environmental laws, has an abundance of huts. But those are increasingly difficult to be able to reserve a spot in (because of so many Americans heading north for winter recreation). I like that the PNW has a lack of huts and forces people to sleep in tents because it is a different experience than hut life. Go to Canada if you enjoy having to fight tooth and nail to reserve a spot in a hut a year in advance.
I'd been out of touch with what's going on in the Canadian Rockies for decades, only getting reports from old Banff friends now self-exiled to less frenetic locales in the BC interior, and was shocked to discover how much hut and lodge expansion had been occurring up there, even in the National Parks. This discussion reminded me to check on the status of a very controversial, huge ski development proposal in the BC Purcells. It probably would have been bigger than Lake Louise. Amazingly, it was abandoned, even after the courts gave a go-ahead, thanks to the efforts of First Nations tribes, and a few other agitators, like Patagonia.
Primitive shelter at lwr right built by BC Forest Svc.
Primitive shelter at lwr right built by BC Forest Svc.

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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Anne Elk
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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 1:27 pm 
altasnob wrote:
The PNW has resisted the urge to build huts across our mountains even though legally, there is nothing stopping it (outside of wilderness). But in the last year all of that has changed. It's as if someone called up the Forest Service and said, mind if I build a for profit lodge on the public's land? And the Forest Service says, sure, why not.
Yeah, I've been wondering if the FS has been taking cues from Canada (especially) on that one. As for the "debate of whether the mountains of the US, and particularly the mountains of the PNW, should be developed like Europe and Canada, where people stay in huts instead of tents", all I can say to that one is, sure, go ahead, destroy what few parts of the world still have, just so we can build more entertainment profit centers, but be prepared to kiss most of our megafauna goodbye. I'll leave it at that.

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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treeswarper
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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 1:47 pm 
I like this. I'm done pretending that any pristine areas exist. Everything's been done thanks to folks posting about places and activities. Look on the bright side. Huts will need to have....toilets, and this might decrease the poop buried under the snow.

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PostFri Sep 08, 2023 4:19 pm 
this is obviously targeted at the snowmobile user constituency - all gasoline-powered, so it's a given they're going to be hated by hikers and skiers. their gasoline taxes help to pay for trails. I'm more concerned about the ski huts turning into homeless encampments or meth labs than whatever "impact" they're going to create. and considering that Adams used to be a sheep ranch, I'm just not feelin' the rage here on the yurts.

"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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