Monday, April 6, 2009

Public Input

The National Park service routinely opens work and planning proposals about Mount Rainier National Park for public review and comments. it's the requirement for many of the planning activites for the NP, some of which I have written about on this blog. You can view the on-going proposals at the NPS public comment Web page.

The list of plans available for comment vary from the small, like buildings, to the large, like public transit and access in whole river valleys (eg. Carbon River road and trail). It's the way the work and because it's your national park. The money the NPS gets is public tax dollars and they need to show the management and operation of the NP is worth your money and interest. In short, you have a say.

One example of this is the work the NPS did with the public about the Carbon River road and trail. It's clearly an issue that isn't easily resoveable with engineering. The road which has existed there for most of the 20th century has frequently been damaged by floods, and now in places either is the river or is lower than the adjacent river. It's the nature of the geology and hydrology of the mountain.

So sadly the road can't be repaired and maintained any longer past the NP entrance. But the NPS offered several alternatives to the public to consider, comment and choose. After all denying the public road access, which has long been the area's advantage for access to the northwest corner of the NP, would add 5+ miles (one way) to people's hike and restrict access to less able people.

Anyone who's hiked the Carbon River trail would know and see this. But the NPS leadership was willing to keep the road if the public expressed the desire and understood the costs. We did and decided the road wasn't cost-effective, and later this year and into coming years, the NPS will be revising the route of the trail and improving the existing trail to ensure future hikers have year-around hiking access to Ipsut campground and beyond.

This is just one issue and decision that was available to the public through the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment Process. You can get other documents about the management and operation of the NP and related information about Mt. Rainier itself from the NPS Web page.

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