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Monday, May 19, 2014


North Cascades National Park Complex needs volunteers to help filling multiple roles within the system.
People working in the Volunteers in the Park program can work as campground hosts, staff visitor center information desks, provide guided walks and talks, work with scientists in research operations, help with invasive species control and assist with building and grounds maintenance.
There also is an opportunity to serve as host for the summer at a boat-in/hike-in campground at Weaver Point near Stehekin.
There are opportunities at the Sedro-Woolley headquarters, Marblemount and Stehekin.
Shared housing or RV space may be available for volunteers. For more information, contact Mike Brondi at North Cascades National Service Complex Headquarters in Sedro-Woolley at 360-854-7275 or Michael_Brondi@NPS.GOV. Information is also available online at and clicking on the link to Washington State.

ad more here:

New conditions added to Granite Falls Motocross Park project

"We were pleased to see the Hearing Examiner added significant conditions on the project for noise monitoring, berm construction, and stormwater improvements that were lacking in the submittal approved by PDS. Some will come at a high financial cost to the developer…" - Mountain Loop Conservancy

The Everett Herald report:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Methow mining--comments needed this week!

A very disturbing letter from the Methow Valley Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest arrived in the NCCC mailbox last week. The letter, from Methow District Ranger Michael Liu dated April 18 is notifying us of a mining operation around Flagg Mountain  (Flagg sits directly above the town of Mazama).

Discovery Consultants will be establishing at least 15 drill sites to determine extent of mineral resources.  While all sites will use existing roads, many of the roads are now closed, overgrown and will need to be re-opened/made passable.
The project is located with Mgmt Area 25 (MA 25)--an area of Late Successional Reserve (big, old trees).
Drilling to start in August 2014.

The USFS are doing this under a categorical exclusion (CE 32.2(8), but we are trying to convince them to do a full Environmental Assessment (EA), and to "just say no" to the whole thing.  The Methow Valley, like all of the drainages of the North Cascades, is unsuitable for mining activity--one need look no further than the Azurite Mine remediation, or the Holden Mine remediation to see the devastating ecological impacts of mining, all done under the outdated "General Mining Law of 1872".  This law gives away public land and treasure for $5 per acre (yes, five dollars per acre), taxpayers get NO royalties from the extracted minerals, but are left with all of the risk and liability associated with mining.  Invariably taxpayers are left to pay the majority of cleanup costs, and when/if mining companies do pay, they underfund such efforts, leaving a toxic legacy for generations to come.

We have until May 18th to comment.
via email:

via USPS:
Michael Liu
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Methow Valley Ranger District
24 West Chewuch Road
Winthrop, WA 98862

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Snow report, May 1, 2014--The Big Meltdown

We had record high temps last week, from Tuesday to Thursday (May 1).  Thursday saw highs in the Puget Sound region hit 80+ degrees F, so I went up on the North Fork Cascade River to do snowpack analysis and film avalanches.  The local and regional mountain weather forecasts called for avalanche danger either "high" or "extreme" and even the local NWS weather forecasts made mention of the avalanche danger.  Over the course of 30 hours, through the highest temps, from May 1 10:30 until May 2 at 13:00 I was on-station at the base of Johannesburg Mountain, Cascade Mountain and The Triplets.  I was surprised and somewhat disappointed in the lack of avalanches, both in terms of frequency and intensity/size.  The average was about one respectable avalanche per hour, well short of what I've seen in about five of the 25 years I've been doing this, and really at or just below average for my experience over that time.  I did see two big avalanches, but they came off the ramps of The Triplets (about four miles up-valley from camp), thus I wasn't able to film them or enjoy the full effects of these impressive wet-snow events that caused slabs lower down to release and entrain, resulting in massive flows to the floor of the valley.  There was one small period of time, from about 14:45 to 15:30 that saw concurrent avalanches in multiple chutes--a lovely roaring symphony, even if most of the events were small.  Other than that, it was about one per hour, and not overly impressive.

None of the avalanche chutes on my side of the valley (Boston Creek, Midas Creek, Soldier Boy Creek) had any avalanche debris at all, indicative and confirming what I've observed all winter:  no snow at lower elevations (1,000-3,500 feet altitude), little snow at middle elevations (3,500 to 7,000), and about normal snow at the highest elevations.  Thus, the avalanches that did occur started up high, and as they descended through to the valley, had very little material to entrain, resulting in relatively small events.   Oh, and for perhaps the first time ever, there were no avalanches during the night.  None!

As with the past couple of years, the temperature spike in Spring resulted more in The Big Meltdown, and less big avalanches.  I've never seen so much snow turn to water instantly--the area around camp was awash with water--so much that it was noticeably loud as it coursed under, through and on the snowpack.  It was as though it was melting faster than it could percolate and trigger avalanches--layers and strata were overcome with a rush of water.  Indeed, the very hillsides were issuing water--seeps and springs appeared right out of the rocks, dirt and trees (somewhat unsettling, given the Oso event).

Saw a coyote and a mule deer down low on the road, and evidence of coyote high on the road by camp.  Also saw a large (garter?) snake--this thing was about an inch in diameter, nearly two feet long and fast as lighting.  Didn't see a single person the entire time.

Happily, I have found a new Kiddie Dome Tent--on sale at Fred Meyer for $20!  So once again I have a little 3.25 lb. mountain bivvy with woefully skinny poles (at least two of them, and not the dreaded one-pole tent!), a tiny "fly" (in reality a cute little sun parasol) and I barely fit on the diagonal.  Heh heh:  stay tuned--I'll take it many places it was never designed to go!

I'll go back up for at least one more avalanche filming stint--there's still some snow up there to tumble down, and the chance to see Mr. Big is worth every peaceful, relaxing minute.