Friday, February 11, 2011

Carbon River Road Decison

From the NPS about the final decision for the Carbon River Road.

February 11, 2011

National Park Service Announces Decision on Access to the Carbon River Area Karen Thompson, Environmental Specialist, 360-569-2211 x3376

Chris Lehnertz, Pacific West Region Director, National Park Service, has issued a decision and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Carbon River Area Access Management Environmental Assessment (EA). Lehnertz’s decision sets the future direction for management of public access to this spectacular area of Mount Rainier National Park.

The Carbon River Area Access Management Environmental Assessment, consistent with direction provided in the Mount Rainier National Park General Management Plan, presented a description and analysis of several alternatives for the management of the Carbon River Road. The Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) authorizes implementation of Alternative 2, which includes the conversion of the road to a hiking and bicycling trail. Effort will be made to retain intact sections of the historic road and the trails connecting these sections will be improved to better accommodate bicycle use. The Ipsut Creek Campground will be converted for use by backcountry campers. When funding becomes available, a new auto campground is planned on properties in the expanded park boundary area, away from the threat of flooding.

Superintendent Dave Uberuaga acknowledged the difficulty of the decision, but emphasized the opportunity it presents, Carbon River is an incredibly special area of the park for me and many others. We think it will become a destination for bicyclists and hikers when they learn what the area has to offer. Using a bicycle to get to Ipsut Creek Campground still makes a day-trip into Carbon Glacier feasible, and provides an enjoyable way to experience the area and park.”

The historic Carbon River Road was heavily damaged during a November 2006 storm event and has been closed to vehicle use since then. Aggrading rocks and gravel from prior flood events have raised the bed of the Carbon River as much as 31 feet since the Carbon River Road was constructed next to the river in the 1920s. Several sections of the historic road are now lower than the adjacent river and increasingly vulnerable to flood damage.

Implementation of the preferred alternative will occur over the next several years as funding is available. Funding priorities include protection of the entrance and intact sections of the historic road from additional flood damage, improvement of the trail sections, and transition of some visitor services and operations out of the flood plain to nearby facilities on new lands added to the park by Congress in 2004.

The FONSI, EA, Errata and associated documents are available for viewing on-line via the Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at: For a printed copy of the FONSI, please call Mount Rainier National Park at (360) 569-2211, extension 2301.


I've added two Web pages on snowmobiles, with a map of the roads and areas. Snowmobiles are permitted in three of the four quadrants of the NP, the northeast from the northern boundary to the White River Campground, the southeast on highway 706 from the junction with highway 123 to the Box Canyon tunnel, and the southwest, the Westside Road to Dry Creek trailhead or to Round Pass when open and the Cougar Rock campground.

As with everything in the NP, remember you're sharing the road with cross-country skiers and snowshoers, so remember they slower and less nimble than you. And above all, obey the rules for the NP and folllow good safety habits with snowmobiles. Everyone can enjoy the winter in the NP if we all use common sense and respect the rights of others in the NP.

February Reports

Ok, the February reports are now available, see photo guide for the news, access and conditions and the latest monthly report, see complete list. February is a continuation of January, only with more snow, about 8' at Paradise (about 10% below normal for this season).

Most of snow now is above 3,000 feet elevation, only a few inches in parts of the NP below 3,000 feet. This is due to warmer, above freezing, weather in mid-to-late January which melted most of the snow that fell before that. There will be more snow as we're still in the middle of the winter season in the NP with another ~3 months of weather and snow left.

Otherwise, that's it. Go and enjoy.

Carbon River Road

This was reported by the Tacoma News Tribune.

"Folks who are planning to travel to the Carbon River corner of Mount Rainier National Park should be aware of a road closure next week. Fairfax Forest Reserve Road East that leads to the Carbon River entrance will be closed to through traffic for two days to repair a sinkhole.

The closure will begin at 6 a.m. on Monday. The road is scheduled to reopen at 6 a.m. on Wednesday. The closure will occur at milepost 2.5 near the old town site of Fairfax. Local and emergency vehicle access will be maintained. Drivers can expect one- to four-hour delays with one lane alternating traffic around the work zone, according to the news release. Advanced warning message signs have been posted to alert motorists of the pending closure."

The photo above is the approximate place of the repair according to the description (47.0085 Deg. N and 122.0112 Deg. W). The Carbon River is on the right. The river takes a bend from going west at the road to north along and then away from the road. It's easily found on topo maps if you look for "Fairfax".

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Being Late Again

Yeah, I'm late again. Like the winter news changes from January to February enough to warrant immediate updates? Well, not really but some small news and stuff. I'm working on the news, access and condition Web pages for February, and I'll be adding a snowmobiles Web page with a description and map. There's only four places to use snowmobiles in Mt. Rainier NP, two highways, one road and a campground. There's far more access and roads for snowmobiles in the area around the NP than in the NP.

That's it for now. I'll update this blog when things are on-line.