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Kim Brown
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PostFri Nov 17, 2023 2:33 pm 
My guess is "no designated public use" means there's no specific use designated (such as hiker-only, or helo camping OK here). It's as public land with no designation is "passive recreation," meaning no designation until some user group messes up and gets ousted. Which as soon as that happens, it is designated. But if it's in Morningstar NRCA, I would think it is designated in some way.

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Anne Elk
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PostFri Nov 17, 2023 8:53 pm 
Schroder wrote:
The weird MSNRCA exclusions around that whole area as shown in in the map Schroder put up (including and especially s. of Vesper) don't make sense, unless they were excluded because of currently existing mining claims, pehaps? Anyone know?

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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Schroder
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PostSat Nov 18, 2023 9:38 am 
Anne Elk wrote:
The weird MSNRCA exclusions around that whole area as shown in in the map Schroder put up (including and especially s. of Vesper) don't make sense, unless they were excluded because of currently existing mining claims, pehaps? Anyone know?
It's ownership - some private & the rest Forest Service

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RumiDude
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PostSat Nov 18, 2023 2:21 pm 
Well I finally got around to checking this thread out and WOW. At first I was really confused as to exactly which Copper Lake this incident happened at. I was familiar with the Copper Lake in the Foss River drainage. I have been there many times but could not envision any place a helicopter could land. So I Googled it and it turns out there are at least three Copper lakes in WA, and likely more. Well looking around I finally found the Copper Lake in question and realized this lake was scrutinized during the Samantha Sayers search. Never been close to this lake. Anyway, further thoughts about the discussion: I don't much like being out in the backcountry and having to hear helicopters, Navy jets, drones, Bluetooth speakers blasting music, or other sounds alien to the natural environment. Depending on the circumstances of the particular situation, it bothers me more or less. So for me I am all about limiting heli flights like this. As far as wildlife reacting to significant noise like this, that has been studied and shown to dramatically affect wildlife breeding and foraging of many species. The pollution part of this crash is significant, even if it does not reach the water of Spada Lake. It would significantly impact the water quality at Copper Lake and down stream along Williamson Creek. Can I quantify that impact? No, but I doubt anyone can do better than an educated guess about the overall impact anyway. We know pollution negatively affects flora and fauna all up the food chain. As to the slippery slope aspect that Tom alluded to earlier in the thread, that slippery slope is sloped both ways. Be careful what you allow that dilutes your backcountry experience so much until it resembles a theme park. Designated Wilderness is just about the highest protection for our public lands. Schroder has pointed out that Copper Lake is at least in part in a Natural Resource Conservation Area, with similar protections of Wilderness. But regardless of that, we need to be mindful of lesser degrees of protection, realizing that backcountry is a limited resource and once degraded takes a long time to recover. Rumi

"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."

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Anne Elk
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PostSat Nov 18, 2023 3:05 pm 
Schroder wrote:
Anne Elk wrote:
The weird MSNRCA exclusions around that whole area as shown in in the map Schroder put up (including and especially s. of Vesper) don't make sense, unless they were excluded because of currently existing mining claims, pehaps? Anyone know?
It's ownership - some private & the rest Forest Service
I'm sure the MSNRCA was drawn as it was for purposes of expediency (ie, getting it approved as quickly as possible with the fewest agencies/private entities to negotiate with), but it would be better from an environmental POV to "fill in the squares" and start consolidating some areas. What sense is there in having half of the area around Copper Lake in the conservation area, but the other half not? Same thing for south of Vesper. But I suppose the agency has bigger fish to fry.

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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Tom
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PostSat Nov 18, 2023 4:24 pm 
Rumi, apart from the downstream reservoir impact these are essentially buffer zone arguments which the authors of the wilderness act rejected. Helicopter camping in the backcountry is allowed elsewhere outside of wilderness. I suppose you could look at how often a crash has led to impacts in the backcountry if that's the concern. Ironically, this incident supports the null hypothesis. Apart from not landing where they should have, and the reservior concerns (again, we can debate that) I don't see how it's different than anywhere else outside of wilderness they are legally allowed to land.

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RumiDude
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PostSat Nov 18, 2023 7:31 pm 
The USFS mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Mining, livestock grazing, hunting, and timber harvesting, and recreation are all allowed in National Forests. So the balancing act between these different activities is the task at hand for the USFS. I am aware that there are legal uses for USFS lands like permitted helicopter services. I am not debating their legality. I am really only expressing my personal distaste for noisy operations like this. And if in an effort to avoid overused areas brought on by the hordes of people flocking to the Instagram famous locations I had taken the time and effort to research a route and hike into this supposed "inaccessible" lake, only to be greeted midmorning by a helicopter delivering a couple making an engagement video, I would likely be super pissed. YMMV It would not be the end of the world but still not a wanted intrusion. I wonder what that couple would think if someone exercised their right to be there by intruding into their video shoot? Another thought, what would the reaction be by most people if instead of being a noisy helicopter it was a noisy Boy Scout troop descending upon the camping area around an isolated lake like this? I haven't bothered to search, but I can recall many negative comments about noisy Boy Scouts here. Boy Scouts are legal also. In the end I am suggesting that helicopter services should be scrutinized and highly restricted. Maybe this incident will prompt a reconsideration of such activities by the USFS. Anyway, just my thoughts and opinion. Rumi

"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."

Chief Joseph, SpookyKite89
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Schroder
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PostSun Nov 19, 2023 10:59 am 
Anne Elk wrote:
I'm sure the MSNRCA was drawn as it was for purposes of expediency (ie, getting it approved as quickly as possible with the fewest agencies/private entities to negotiate with), but it would be better from an environmental POV to "fill in the squares" and start consolidating some areas. What sense is there in having half of the area around Copper Lake in the conservation area, but the other half not? Same thing for south of Vesper. But I suppose the agency has bigger fish to fry.
The Natural Resource Conservation areas are State owned land administered by the Washington State Department of Nautural Resources. The State has no jurisdiction over Federal Land administered by the Forest Service. The Forest Service has to develop their own policies on how to administer these landlocked parcels within State-designated wilderness. The nearest Federal Wilderness areas are Boulder River, Jackson, and Wild Sky - all over 5 miles away.

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Anne Elk
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PostSun Nov 19, 2023 11:24 am 
^^^ Thanks, Schroder. I understand that. I guess what I'm trying to get at in a roundabout way is that the two agencies should negotiate a land transfer or whatever is practical, in the service of the area with greater protection where it makes functional sense to do so. If I recall, Wild Sky was created by consolidation of patchwork in-holdings. The NRCA in this area ought to be similarly expanded here. The current boundaries aren't optimal.

"There are yahoos out there. Itís why we canít have nice things." - Tom Mahood
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altasnob
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PostSun Nov 19, 2023 6:32 pm 
Anne Elk wrote:
The NRCA in this area ought to be similarly expanded here.
Have the feds ever given up land to a state so a state can expand their version of wilderness? For one, WA could change politically and decide they rather cut down lumber than conserve their state owned land. Federal wilderness seems much more lasting protection in that it takes congressional action to undue. And what value does WA have to give to the forest service for a land swap? Most DNR land that is not already in the conservation area is clear cut timber land. Maybe the better course is for WA to give the Morning Star Conservation Area to the feds in exchange for an all encompassing wilderness area.

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RumiDude
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PostThu Nov 23, 2023 10:31 am 
altasnob wrote:
Anne Elk wrote:
The NRCA in this area ought to be similarly expanded here.
Have the feds ever given up land to a state so a state can expand their version of wilderness? For one, WA could change politically and decide they rather cut down lumber than conserve their state owned land. Federal wilderness seems much more lasting protection in that it takes congressional action to undue. And what value does WA have to give to the forest service for a land swap? Most DNR land that is not already in the conservation area is clear cut timber land. Maybe the better course is for WA to give the Morning Star Conservation Area to the feds in exchange for an all encompassing wilderness area.
I agree that it is not likely that the USFS and DNR will not exchange lands like this for two main reasons. #1 There is no "compelling reason". The status quo works fine for both agencies. There is no big project that either agency is working on that would push either to put together some land swap. #2 There is an internal dynamic within bureaucratic groups that works against such land swaps. Whenever a particular regional department loses assets, whatever it may be, they fight against that sort of change. They fight hard and they fight dirty. I have witnessed this in both government and private business. It does not matter how much sense it makes to the outside observer, internally it is regarded as a threat. Rumi

"This is my Indian summer ... I'm far more dangerous now, because I don't care at all."
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YF65CH53E
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PostMon Mar 11, 2024 5:02 pm 
I stumbled across this thread while looking for some other informaiton on Copper Lake. A lot to process here. Full disclosure up front I was a helicopter crewman for 34 years in the Marine Corps. (CH-53A/D/E's) So, I like helicopters, I like airplanes. I am a private pilot and private helicopter pilot. From a business prespective on private helicopter tourism to these remote areas. The altitudes at which these helicopters fly into are very tricky to make safe landings. You must consider the overall weight of the helicopter with its passengers, with its total useful fuel on board as well as the "Gear" the folks are bringing in. This is what drives the question of power available over power required to make a safe landing. You may have a 100% power available in the engine/rotor system, but you need 106% power to land safely at that altitude. Hence, he crashes into the lake. ( I have not seen the completed NTSB findings as of this writing) So to do this type of "heli-camping" you need expensive jet turbine powered aircraft to do it safely. Yes I have seen the Robinson R-44's in the pictures. How much weight were they carrying into the lake environment? What was the DA/PA when attempting the landing? How close were they on the power charts to get that picture? The helicopter pilots in the forum will know what I asked. So with those very exspensive helicopters will this over run the PNW with this kind of sightseeing/camping? I do not think so. The altitudes, the weather, and the safety margins are pretty tight. Helicopter tourism in Hawaii? Easy, low altitude, lots of power availble. Heli-skiing in Canada or elsewhere? Very dangerous, very controlled, light passenger loads to ensure optimum safety margins. Yes there are aircraft out there that commercial operators have, they are turbines, and they can do this safely. So with that, you regulate where they can go and land. I get it. If someone has the expendable cash then they get to go play. However, you trash the camping area? You bring your bluetooth and noise pollute the place up? Well then USFS gets to fine you or whatever else they need to do to make that area pleasant for all who could make it up there. I am in favor of rules, and following said rules, if those rulkes are applied equally. But I have read others say on this forum to basically ban most if not all flying over state or federal lands by helicopter, drone, or fixed wing aircraft? I choose to recreate outdoors in many ways. One is to hike, One is to drive and visit, and one is to take my family in my plane and show them the beautiful mountains we have in the PNW. Its breath taking, just as many of you have posted pictures of your gorgeous hikes and breath taking views. I think there is room for all of us out there, in the air or on the land. when I hike or drive or fly, I follow the posted statues, and regulations to keep me safe, and to keep the place I visit safe for all to enjoy. Just an opinion.

Gunny Dan CH-53A/D/E Crewchief USMC 1987 - 2018

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PostWed Mar 13, 2024 7:50 am 
Copper Lake is only 3000ft elevation.

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kiliki
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PostWed Mar 13, 2024 9:07 am 
I appreciate the pilot's perspective. Following up on philfort's comment, and being a person that is afraid this type of thing will proliferate as there seems to be no shortage of people wanting to take scenic helicopter rides and be outdoors, and no shortage of people in our area with plenty of money to spend, I wonder if 3000' (or 4000' or 5000'...) is high enough to matter. I notice the Grand Canyon, to name a place that is plagued by heli tours, is over 6000'. Heli tours are huge in AK and they land on Denali so that tourists can get out and walk on a glacier; I don't know the exact elevation, but it's not nothing. I have an upcoming trip to AK and in doing general research it's amazing what the heli industry is offering up there in addition to the usual glacier tours and dogsledding. Heli trail running. Heli marriage proposals. etc etc.

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PostWed Mar 13, 2024 9:33 am 
When I backpacked the NaPali coast on Kauai in 2022, I counted 42 helicopters on the hike in and 47 on the way out. Around 12 miles in each direction.

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