I doubt many of you noticed, but I've been away from the office for the past week, vacationing with my family over Spring Break. I'm still catching up on my e-mail and phone messages, and there are a few issues that have come up over the past week that need to be dealt with, mostly involving logistics for the large number of volunteers we expect to host in the historic Longmire Campground this year. Which, ultimately, is a good thing! And I have little doubt that the inevitable snags will be far less complicated to resolve that those we dealt with last year in the immediate wake of our great flood.
Meanwhile, here's a roundup of the flotsam and jetsom in my in box this morning:
Snow at Paradise... and Longmire: Washington Ski Touring Club member Lynn Tucker sent an e-mail to backcountry supervisor John Piastuck last week, asking about the schedule for their traditional removal of the poles marking ski routes at Paradise. His response: "Due to the heavy snow we are going to leave the poles up for awhile. When the road crew starts spring opening on the Canyon Rd, we will grab those poles. I imagine visitors will be using the Nisqually for another month at least. 21 feet of snow up there now." Wow, that's a lot of snow!
Our daily report says 243 inches as of this morning, including 15 inches of new snow overnight, with an estimate of 790 inches total for the snow year so far (July to June). There are still 62 inches of snow on the ground at Longmire, including 7 inches fresh overnight.
According to the Western Regional Climate Center, the average snow depth for Paradise on this date is 177.2 inches, and for Longmire, 8.1 inches. The record depth for this date is 328 inches at Paradise, in 1956, and for Longmire, 39 inches, in 1997--so our current snow depth at Longmire has shattered the old record. Average cummulative snow depth for this date at Paradise is 606 inches, so while we're on track for a banner year, it probably won't break the record of 1,122 inches set in 1972.
Guns in Parks: The issue of whether guns should be allowed in National Parks has been a very hot issue recently, with press coverage nationwide. Guns are currently not allowed in the parks, except for those carried by our law enforcement rangers, but revised regulations have been proposed that would make them legal. As a government employee, I cannot take an official position on this issue. Private citizens certainly can, however, including NPS volunteers. One of our own, George Coulbourn, an NRA member who volunteers at Carbon River, has weighed in and has generated lots of commentary in newspapers and blogs across the spectrum. Here's a sampling from my Google News alerts:
"Gun debate plays out at Mount Rainier National Park," The News Tribune, March 26 (and updated March 27 here). Reprints so far, with plenty of online responses and commentary, include Free Republic (March 27); the Casper Star-Tribune (March 29); and the Jackson Hole Star-Tribune (March 29, and updated March 31). Blog responses include "More on National Parks," Snowflakes in Hell, March 28; and "The Gun Banner Game Plan," Ride Fast & Shoot Straight, March 29.