Mid winter and we are back to routine schedules
Gosh, no storms on the horizon and meteorological winter is drawing to a close in a few weeks (according to Cliff Mass), and we still need a bit more snow to cover up the tree debris. As a result, there is not a lot of news for on the ground operations. Still a bit of catch up here and there, but not a lot. There is some chatter of going out and getting South Loop opened. The USFS winter rangers did some tree cutting out there along with some help in Erling Stordahl. We thank them for that help.
Photo above is at beginning of ski trails at Lake Easton State Park.
Oh, almost forgot – Special Olympics are back this year! UPDATE: SPECIAL OLYMPICS WILL BE AT LAKE EASTON STATE PARK - NOT AT Hyak Sno-Park. Lake Easton State Park will be a very busy place on Saturday and Cabin Creek will be very busy on Sunday with Kongsberger Ski Club’s 2nd race – the Stampede. Erling Stordahl will be event free this weekend, but there is a decision coming on possibly keeping the easy trails with set tracks for side by side skiing every weekend. I am not sure if that will be the case this weekend, but Ski for Light is back next weekend (12th). Perfect for many! We will see how it goes. Let us know what you think about this.
I try to get a bit of news out about our program and how things go on that administrative side on occasion. The winter meeting of the non-motorized program was last Saturday, and it had an audience for the 1st time ever. It was nice to see some interest. There were a handful of new members. The makeup of the committee is 6 non-motorized individuals representing 6 areas of the state and 3 motorized at-large along with 3 agency folks. Chairs and vice-chairs help staff with budget issues and decisions that come up through the season and present requests to the State Parks and Recreation Commission.
The format for the winter meeting is typically a program review and out on the ground touring Sno-Parks and trails etc. For example one year the group was at Pearrygin Lake on a fat bike tour, another time it was out at Mt Tahoma Trails. Host areas generally organize tours of some sort. When I was on the Snowmobile Advisory Committee (SMAC) we went for long snowmobile rides. It was fun.
Here is a brief recap of the meeting:
Trees trees and more trees. Everywhere. Tipped over. One thing that came out is every agency / land manager has different requirements about volunteers using chainsaws, but on a general note, all volunteers using chainsaws cutting down trees need to be certified by the land manager. The other common unifier was no area was exempt from treefall. Lake Wenatchee had a Washington Conservation Corp crew come out to help and put in a LOT of hours (as did anyone else everywhere). I found out after the meeting Lake Easton State Park had 4 guys out for weeks cutting just as many trees. Table Mtn (between Ellensburg and Blewett Pass) won the trees down contest as many trails up there won’t even open this year. Chinook Pass (east side) has only one out of 4 Sno-Parks open. Mt Spokane reported many staffing challenges. So that gives you a small snapshot of snippets of just a few area reports.
Then snow removal. As we in the I-90 corridor know, we get plenty of snow filling up those very large and giant parking lots. The snow removal budget was hit hard (depleted) and I-90 was not the only area needing budget amendments. Funds were pulled from the emergency reserve and that was depleted, so then they opted to set aside 20% from the equipment reserve bucket. Keeping Sno-Parks open is the highest priority. Equipment reserve is for purchasing grooming machines, snowmobiles, track setters that sort of thing. Very expensive stuff.
There was a review of the Sno-Park trail grooming map which I discussed in last weeks blog (and updated a bit). Just a reminder, this was developed for auditing purposes.
One encouraging piece of news was Online sales were not what 2020 / 2021 was, but at this point, we can optimistic that the program might not have to make cutbacks next year.
Cabin Creek skiers tried hard to make their case for pulling from emergency funds to maintain same level of service until March 31st. The committee suggested reducing one day a week of grooming. In the end the Kongsberger Ski Club opted to do just that. So no more Monday grooming. Our contractor gets Monday and Tuesday off now to fix things. And maybe sleep. Head on over to the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, or Lake Easton State Park on Mondays. Tuesdays are a great day to check out Salmon La Sac or the Sled Dog Trails.