Paradise is closed weekdays

12/1/22
WA Cascades West Slopes South (Mt Rainier)
1366
16
Posted by Andrew Carey on 12/2/22 5:59pm

Mt. Rainier National Park has announced that the gate to Paradise at Longmire will not be open on weekdays this winter.  The gate will be open on weekends weather, equipment, and staffing permitted.  Pays your money and takes your chances; odds are not good for any inclement weather and only fair for good weather if recent history repeats itself.  The reasons given are (1) staffing; (2) it snows a lot; (3) plows are hard to drive; (4) other essential staff poisitions in law enforcement, maintenance, search, rescue  etc. etc. have not been filled.  And it is just a lot of trouble given that total winter visits during the pandemic last winter were only 4% of the rest of they year.  If you are concerned about this, you do have elected representatives in Sens. Murray and Cantwell and Congresswomen Kim Schrier represents the adjacent Congressional District that will be heavily impacted.  If you don't live there you may have a hard time emailing Dr. Schrier.

Thanks Andrew - I saw this this early today.   How lame.    Will send a note to my representatives.   I know you are close to the park - but a couple decades ago I would get down there regularly and, like others, got frustrated waiting at the gate that never opened, and kinda gave up on the trip until spring skiing.   I guess that is now the official NPS policy.     And on a sunny Saturday - closed again


Yes, with erratic openings and closings, chaotic parking while waiting for the gate to open, many of my skiing companions stopped going to Mt. Rainier during the winter.  One less recognized impact of this policy will be on senior citizens.  We also joked that, year round, Thursday was Senior Citizens day (Wednesday too, but a little less).  Many seniors don't want to deal with the weekend crowds, waits in the line to get into the park, crowded parking, and quickly torn up snow.  So they skip the weekend, including Monday and Friday and go out on Wed or Thurs when the snow and landscape has had a chance to heal a bit and a little bit of solitude and relaxation can be found and the wildness of the wilderness is somewhat restored.


That would apply to me and my friends!


You know, I agree with everything said and been doing my best on Twitter to shame MRNP for stealing OUR land, while knowing it will do no good.  I haven't written said politicians mainly because I think the level of knowledge and understanding required to fix this is WAY beyond their capabilities, but you know there is one thing in common with those three polititians and so you get what you ask for :(  


There has to be folks other than backcountry skiers that are frustrated and disappointed in the closure. What about all the businesses in Ashford, Morton and Packwood - the cabins, shops and restaurants in the area? What about guides? What about snow campers? What about the Inn at Longmire? The impact of this decision will be widespread. As has been mentioned, there will be weekends that Paradise doesn't open due to weather, staffing and whatever other "in the interest of public safety" reasons they tweet in 280 characters or less. Attendance will continue to dwindle, which will give them the rational they need to keep it closed all winter. 

The mission of the NPS is to preserve the National Park System "for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations." It's hard to enjoy the park when you can't visit it. Instead of closing Paradise, why doesn't MRNP solve their staffing issues and fulfill their mission? 

Are there other ways we can keep the pressure on MRNP staff to reopen? 


Well put for sure, but they don't care.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I really don't see much coming from all those businesses you mention.  I don't get it.......any of it.  There are Parks in Colorado that plow their roads and stay open, Yellowstone and Jackson are fully staffed and have no such issues, even Mt. Shasta manages to plow the damn road.  I'm fairly certain a new Superintendent is likely the only answer to this, but who knows.  It really is a travesty.

Boot


Some replies (1) most elected reps are not fully informed on the various agencies and their policies and managment; they usually do have a staff member who is more informed in those areas and these staff member often will be liasons to the agencies.  We had 2 reps here Sen Scoop Jackson and Rep Norm Dicks who were outstanding advocates for outdoor recreation, parks, and natural resoources.  Rep Peter DeFazion in Oregon was great too.  They are gone now.  Public pressure may gain the attention of others.

(2) The local businesses, including Air BnB/STR owners, are very upset and organizing and will be meeting with the Park Supt.  This closure could do irreparable damage to the Ashford community.

(3) Locally employed workers, exp. STR cleaners and repair people, obviously are afraid of what will happen to them.  Some will write their congress people.

(4) There are more snowshoers than skiers.  Guiding and climbing are big.  Remember it too the Sierra Club, Mazamas from Oregon, the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce, and numerous organizations and outdoor enthusiasts over 10 years to get the park created, wearing down Speaker of the House Joe Cannon  History

 


First, I'd like to point out to TAY management that two different threads about the Paradise closure are currently

active under 'Trip Reports'.  A new section is needed for 'Access.'  Also, is it possible to resurrect the old

Random Tracks thread "Changes At Mt. Rainier'?  There's a lot of useful history & discussion of this long-running

issue in the most-viewed TAY thread ever, plus numerous other threads from the many winter closures of the past.

 
I don't think changing superintendents would change much, unless perhaps it was Mike Gauthier, but I hear he's

happy fixing roads down at Mojave.  My 'Best Places 'link in the parallel thread shows the problem is that NPS

management is broken nationwide, not just at Tahoma Woods Hindquarters.  

Here's a bio of the current incumbent; note he was run out of his last stop for heavy-handed law enforcement and

insensitivity to local interests:

https://mustreadalaska.com/controversial-park-service-supervisor-promoted-to-mount-rainier-park-post/

The NPS 'Itinerant Manager Class' spends most of its energy trying to fill the eye of their supervisors and are

considered a washout if they don't get a transfer/promotion every 2-3 years.  That rarely happens if they don't get

a top score on the 'Safety' element of their annual Performance Evaluations. No annual performance bonuses,

either...

 

Andy's suggestion to reach out to other Rainier user groups is great, but it will take time 7 effort to build that coalition.

As to what can be done, I'd say not much, unless you have the tech skills to reprogram their electronic signs or

photoshop protest crowds into all their website's Paradise photos  ;o)  

Keep the issue alive by always responding to their tweets with sarcasm & humorous memes.  We need artists and

cartoonists. Turn 'National Park Service' into a punch line!


While I do tweet, I don't see twitter activism doing much in this matter.

Perhaps more effectively, we could write our congresspeople (local and national) and actually organize BC skiers, hikers, snowshoers, etc. Get WTA, Mountaineers, and other orgs involved. Get REI, who runs snowshoeing trips up there, and the guide services, and the businesses in those towns to show up with a unified message. Yeah, NPS is a big stupid bureaucracy but enough bad press and the higher ups will want to change.

Complaining on these forums helps vent and maybe organize, but the only way to do something is to take that energy into the real world


Response from Congresswoman Strickland: 

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about staffing and funding issues at Mount Rainier National Park. I appreciate hearing from you on this matter.

I want you to know that I share your enthusiasm for the outdoors, and I strongly support efforts to preserve our national parks, monuments, and outdoor spaces across Washington and the country. That’s why I supported increased federal investments in  public lands in the most recent 2022 government spending bill, which provided $79 million more in funding for the operation of our National Park System than prior years. I will continue to look for ways to increase funding for our national parks through the appropriations process and separate legislation.

I understand that you’d like to see steps taken to fully restore park operations at Mount Rainier National Park. Rest assured, I’ve directed my staff to look into this further and keep me updated on any opportunities for Congressional action that I can take to ensure that national parks, monuments, and outdoor spaces in Washington state are accessible to all. Additionally, as I work with my Congressional colleagues to finalize funding bills for the current fiscal year, I will keep your comments in mind.

Thank you, again, for reaching out to me. I welcome your thoughts, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future. To keep in touch, I encourage you to visit my website at https://strickland.house.gov/and sign up for my e-newsletter here for up-to-date information on what I’ve done on behalf of our community.


Steve Price has developed a petition for peope concerned about this:  Petition


Thanks for the petition link, Andy!  I hope everyone signs and contributes if they can.

Since this whole phony closure is supposedly about safety,

I'm a bit concerned about the photo illustrating the petition webpage, tho. 

The skiers could hardly have chosen a less safe mile-long uptrack.

I call the loaded lee slopes above them the 'Muir Wall' (E of Muir snowfield)

These are the largest and most active avalanche paths in the Paradise area and also subject to serac fall.

Many times I have seen debris half-filling the Ice Caves Valley, to the left, even across Stevens Ck.

This route is more commonly used to exit Paradise Glacier, but either way,

somebody's going to get hurt here sooner or later.


860 people have signed the petition as of this morning. Let's keep it rolling!


Here some current job postings for the park. These are for jobs starting in the spring, but I figure it gives us some idea of why winter staffing could be short.

https://www.usajobs.gov/job/691759000

https://www.usajobs.gov/job/691751700

https://www.usajobs.gov/job/691650900

Read through the qualifications and job duties, and check the pay scale. It seems hugely mismatched to me... but maybe that's in the nature of government jobs? Can someone put this in context for me?


frankfrank-

There's a lot of discussion of your question over on nwhikers, esp. the 3rd & 4th pages:
https://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8036555


As of this morning, 13 December, 1,820 people signed the petition petition to keep Paradise accessible  Paradise being plowed by two snowplows this morning at 9 a.m., closed to the public.


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paradise-is-closed-weekdays
Andrew Carey
2022-12-03 01:59:25