Summer 2023 funding meeting
Updated: Nov 3
Summer funding meeting, August 2023, Wenatchee
Oh my, what an animated meeting. The group asked hard questions, made tough decisions, and funded many requests!
This season I am expanding the focus a bit beyond I-90 as many of the decisions impact our beloved Sno-Parks across the state. (I also focused on statewide funding a few years back: https://www.snowrec.org/post/summer-2021-funding-meeting-decisions).
The 1-minute-attention-span version:
This budget was unprecedented: 3.1 million dollars! The committee funded a wide variety of projects; about 7-8% were new projects; about 60% were ongoing core program activities and services. The bulk of the rest of the budget went to equipment (about 28%) and a little saved for potential grant match. The committee reviewed equipment inventory extensively and considered expanded trail grooming programs all over the state.
For further details, grab your preferred beverage and read on:
· Thank you for purchasing your Sno-Park permit! When the Committee approved permit fee increases, they planned to revisit those increases in 3 years, so there will be more discussion on fee structure in the future.
· There was lively discussion regarding Nordic Pulse, an app that tracks real-time grooming. It was used last season at Cabin Creek and Erling Stordahl.
· Area reports throughout the state all mentioned increased use by backcountry skiers/ski touring, including recreating within traditional snowmobile areas.
· A new update to the Sno-Park strategic plan will be needed in the next few years.
The following points relate directly to this year’s budget:
Before considering individual line items there was a general overview of funds available, including funds for replacing old equipment, surplus protocol, and system-wide administration and operations.
Once they had a handle on core program funds, the committee decided to make some line-item adjustments, to incentivize unfilled plowing contracts.
Then the committee considered requests for new projects.
There was an overall increase in funding for groomed trails of 15% for contracted grooming (such as at Cabin Creek and Erling Stordahl) and 10% for State Park or USFS operated grooming.
Snow removal and sanitation received 5% budget increases.
Education and enforcement, which funds winter recreation rangers, increased by 4%.
Note that Sno-Park areas that require a special grooming sticker also received approximately 12% grooming fund increase last year.
Here is a list of new projects funded ( I-90) for the coming season:
Purchase of a PB100 (Pisten Bully) grooming machine to groom: Palouse to Cascades trail (Hyak to Crystal Springs); Lake Easton State Park trails; and the Sled Dog trail system. This is a big ticket item.
Full staffing for 6 snow rangers out of the Cle Elum Ranger District.
An additional $15,000 in grooming funds for Cabin Creek and Erling Stordahl.
$4500 to install trail marking signs out of Crystal Springs.
$3000 for gravel to fill trail potholes.
Analysis funds for potential I-90 shuttle service pilot project.
Funding for new programs outside of the I-90 corridor included:
NWAC – funds for hiring a new forecaster.
Mt. Baker/Salmon Ridge Sno-Park – funded a second day of grooming (2 days/week total).
Mt. Adams/Pineside Sno-Park – funded 1 day/week of grooming, dependent on volunteer trail brushing.
Lake Wenatchee – 2nd year of funding for the Kahler Glen ice rink.
Stemilt (Wenatchee) – new Stemilt Sno-Park (ungroomed) for ski touring, snowshoeing, and snow play.
Stevens Pass eastside – new White Pine Sno-Park (ungroomed) for backcountry ski and snowshoe.
Highlands Sno-Park – new track setter for snowmobile-based grooming.
Mt. Spokane State Park – expanded midweek grooming.
South Summit Sno-Park (SR-20 Loup Loup) – funded a second day of grooming (2 days/week total).
Silver Star Sno-Park (SR-20, Methow) – continuation (3rd year) of education and enforcement funding.
Mount Tahoma Trails Association - funded a weekend employee for parking lot enforcement.
Nordic Pulse funded, but final use is not determined just yet.