Well, good evening everyone. My name is Greg Dudgeon. I’m the Superintendent at Mount Rainier National Park.
00:10 - Thank you for joining us this evening for the visitor use management plan for the Nisqually to Paradise Rd corridor. The purpose of his planning processes is to identify opportunities for visitors to safely use, experience and enjoy the park and develop strategies to concurrently protect park resources in values.
00:29 - This corridor management plan is needed to address.
00:33 - Congestion and to enhance the visitor enjoyment as well as access to the park, we welcome your inputs and we encourage your continued engagement as we together evolve how we protect and share Mount Rainier National Park with this and future generations, Rachel.
00:52 - As Greg said, welcome everyone to the meeting.
00:54 - Thanks for being here. My name is Rachel Collins.
00:57 - I am the project manager on this project. We wanted to invite you into this meeting since we’re seeking your input to guide the development of this planning effort. We’re in a key stage and we really do want to hear your thoughts and questions on these ideas.
01:11 - We’re going to walk through the presentation, share some thoughts and answers some questions.
01:16 - Towards the end a couple of announcements is that we, are live, we are able to take questions there.
01:22 - Is a Q&A feature on this team’s live event.
01:25 - You are welcome to drop questions into that Q&A feature at anytime.
01:29 - Throughout the meeting. Feel free to use that we’ll be collecting in the them in the background and answering them towards the end.
01:36 - Also wanted to let folks know that closed captioning for this meeting is available.
01:41 - Will post the link to the closed captioning service as well as the pass code to it into the announcements feature of the chat box so that folks can access that.
01:51 - If they need it so with that I will turn over the presentation to Kevin.
01:57 - Skerl is the acting deputy Superintendent to walk us through a little bit of background.
02:12 - Thanks, Rachel. We can move on to the next slide.
02:18 - I’m going to be starting this, uh, this presentation and giving you an introduction to the park.
02:23 - Um, as mentioned earlier, I’m Kevin Skerl. I’m the deputy Superintendent here in Mount Rainier.
02:29 - And before we dive into the issues, I’d like to start by highlighting the unique role that Mount Rainier National Park serves as part of the National Park system of over 400 park units around the country.
02:41 - I’m sure you all know that Mount Rainier is a majestic icon, visible to all who live or spend time in the Pacific Northwest, the mountain, or orients our lives and our activities and whether the mountain is out is discussed as if it’s.
02:54 - Part of the weather forecast, but you might not know, is that 97% of the park is designated wilderness and much of the rest the roads, trails, and structures are within the Mount Rainier National Historic Landmark District.
03:07 - The structures in the district includes some of the best examples of rustic style architecture, sometimes referred to as parkitecture.
03:14 - However, it’s the road network that brings you to all these resources here at the park and allows you to build your connections to them.
03:22 - The National Park Service mission is to not only preserves the awe inspiring, unique, and important a natural and cultural resources at Mount Rainier, but it also provides access to this landscape and its resources.
03:35 - These principles are core to our mission and core to every decision we make here at Mount Rainier.
03:42 - Next slide, please. Many of you are familiar with the park and for those of you who are not mount Rainier is in Western Washington state and there’s the Seattle Tacoma Olympia corridor.
03:59 - The park is mostly surrounded by National Forest lands, but several important gateway communities provide entryways into the park via state and county highways.
04:07 - The park has several key developed areas, and looking at this map starting in the northwest corner, we have our Carbon River area to the northeast.
04:15 - We have the White River in Sunrise developed area and to the southeast we have though Ohanapecosh area, including the Grove of the Patriarchs.
04:23 - And the entrance to Stevens Canyon, then in in the southwest corner of the park, the bottom left of the map is the is the town of Ashford, where are Nisqually entrance to the park is located.
04:34 - This entrance marks the start of the Nisqually corridor, which leads up to the Paradise area.
04:40 - It is this part of the park that is the subject of our planning effort.
04:44 - We’re talking about today. Next slide, please.
04:52 - So here’s a closer look to that in that corridor.
04:55 - Again, to orient you, Ashford It is on the lower left and Paradise is on the upper right.
05:01 - The Nisqually Corridor as a term that we use to describe the popular year round 17 mile transportation corridor in the southwestern section of the Park on Paradise Rd, and it starts at the Nisqually entrance and ends at Paradise.
05:14 - This is the most visited corridor in the park and also how 12 months access to the paradise areas provided due to the high importance to our visitors.
05:23 - We’ve prioritized our planning efforts to focus on this corridor.
05:26 - The road is designed to exist in harmony with the natural features and to bring you up right up close to them all while providing occasional glances at the mountain until you get to paradise for the spectacular views that are there all along the way.
05:40 - Are locations in the National Historic Landmark District to stop to learn, to Orient yourself.
05:45 - To get a permit to stay overnight in an inn or a campground shop or start adventures in front country trails or into the wilderness and all along.
05:54 - This route are also opportunities for us to improve the visitor experience and to protect those resources for visitor enjoyment.
06:02 - Next slide, please. Surrounding this corridor are remarkable nationally significant natural resources in the vast wilderness located just a few 100 feet beyond developed areas, these resources include numerous glaciers that birth dynamic rivers and streams.
06:22 - Wild flower filled Alpine meadows, swaths of never timbered old growth, forests and pristine habitats for plants and animals, the roads, access points, information centers and trails into developed area provide access to those resources for most of our visitors.
06:39 - We recognized that we needed to embark on this planning process in order to provide a sustainable future for this corridor that addresses resource protection while providing high quality visitor access.
06:50 - Now Rachel is going to walk us through the need for the plan and the issues and goals of the plan Rachel.
07:03 - Thanks Kevin. So as Kevin stated, we’re embarking on this planning process to help meet some of the challenging needs for park visitors and to support a positive visitor experience in a sustainable manner.
07:16 - Mount Rainier grows in popularity each year and experienced a 30% increase in visitation between 2008 and 2018.
07:22 - In fact, 70% of the annual visitation occurs between July and September, and most of this use is concentrated in a small number of destinations, including the Paradise area.
07:40 - This plan is needed to address a wide range of issues associated with congestion facility overuse, and visitor caused impacts to the natural resources and other resources in the corridor.
07:49 - So this slide has a summary of some of those key issues, and I’ll walk through them a little bit.
07:56 - We’re hopeful that this planning process will develop strategies to address roadway congestion and minimize safety hazards to visitors, particularly during the peak summer season.
08:05 - Roadway congestion is frequently observed along State Route 706 that Kevin showed on the map previously leading up to the Nisqually entrance.
08:12 - The high demand for parking at trailheads leads to visitor created parking along the roadway, and this raises safety concerns for both Visitors and park managers.
08:23 - This planning process will address the parking lot, congestion and facility overuse that occurs on summer weekend days at Paradise, and another pullouts along the road during the summer months.
08:32 - There are more cars parked on Paradise Valley Rd than in any other park designated lot.
08:38 - These use levels also impact facilities such as bathrooms and visitor centers where high use levels during peak periods, results in increased need for maintenance and repairs.
08:48 - This planning process is designed to minimize and mitigate impacts to the Alpine Meadow environments and other natural resources in the corridor.
08:56 - These mid to high elevation ecological communities of Mount Rainier are significant feature of the park impacts to these resources are occurring primarily at paradise meadows but also at other viewing areas along Rd shoulders and near the parking areas.
09:10 - These are attractions because of the wild flowers, the views of Mount Rainier, the photo taking opportunities and picnics but off trail used to get to some of these areas results in trampling, impacts to sensitive subalpine vegetation, the associated soils, aquatic resources and causes.
09:26 - Wildlife disturbances we want this planning effort to enhance the quality of your visitor experience at these scenic viewpoints and along trails.
09:36 - High use levels at Paradise Meadow, Comet Falls and Carter Falls, just to name a few result in crowded conditions in these locations and this can diminish the quality of the experience.
09:46 - Additionally, these crowds create a condition where visitors might need to walk off trail to navigate around other people around crowds or find a viewpoint to get that iconic Mount Rainier shot therefore impacted but that.
09:59 - Off trail travel also can impact Alpine meadows and the associated vegetation.
10:05 - Kevin mentioned as well that this is an iconic cultural resource.
10:09 - We wanted to provide careful and thoughtful attention to the protection of the culturally significant transportation features of the park.
10:16 - The roads in the Nisqually corridor are part of the National Historic Landmark District and Preserve it, preserving the historic integrity and the importance of these roadway systems is crucial to maintaining their historic significance within the park and the region.
10:33 - So what are we trying to achieve in this process? The popularity of Mount Rainier National Park is growing as revealed by their regular increase in visitation from year to year based on a range of studies and predictive factors, we expect that visitation will continue to grow for national parks, including Mount Rainier National Park.
10:51 - This plan is about protecting the future of the park so that we can sustainably accommodate those future increases in visitation and still provide a meaningful quality experience for our visitors.
11:02 - This proactive planning for visitor use helps to provide access, improve experiences and protect resource conditions and values.
11:09 - Unmanaged visitor use can inadvertently damage the very natural and cultural resources and qualities that attract people to these places in the 1st place.
11:18 - So this plan, as we’ve said before and will probably say again it’s about developing a sustainable and collaborative path forward.
11:28 - So a question that might be raised, that is, how do we go about doing this? One of our goals of this planning process is to develop a comprehensive strategy for how to manage this corridor going forward.
11:40 - To do this, we are using the visitor use management framework from the interagency visitor Use Management Council.
11:46 - The VUM framework is a framework shared by all six federal Land Management and water management agencies, and is the framework the Park Service uses for guiding us through visitor use management decisions.
11:57 - To learn more about the Council and the framework, you can follow the link that we’re sending.
12:03 - into the chat. To give you a little bit more context, when we enter into this process, we start by defining desired conditions which paint a picture of how an area will look, feel, sound and function into the future.
12:16 - Your comments last summer about what you value about mount the Mount Rainier experience were instrumental to helping us develop these desired conditions.
12:23 - For especially for this area of the park. So to learn more about the desired conditions for this corridor, we’d encourage you to visit the story map where there’s more information on those.
12:35 - Indicators are another part of the framework that allow park management to monitor if we’re achieving desired conditions and maintaining them through time, and the thresholds are identified for each indicator as the point at which park management should take action to correct or maintain a condition that is departing from its desired state.
12:54 - The ideas and draft strategies presented in this civic engagement period include those things that we think could help the park maintain desired conditions.
13:03 - Overtime, consistent with our thresholds. Additionally, this process will help us to identify visitor capacities.
13:10 - The interagency Visitor Use Management Council defines capacities as the maximum amounts and types of visitor use than an area can accommodate while achieving and maintaining desired resource conditions, and visitor experience is consistent with the purposes for which the area was established.
13:29 - As this planning process makes decisions about visitor use will be using and including in this plan visitor capacity for the areas in the corridor consistent with NPS law and related policies.
13:40 - We’re looking forward to sharing more information with you on these indicators, strategies, and capacities as we develop the draft plans to stay tuned For more information.
13:53 - We also wanted to share with you what we heard from last summer last summer over 1000.
13:58 - Past current and future Mount Rainier visitors wrote in to tell us about their desired park experience and what ideas they would like us to consider.
14:06 - We wanted to share. What if some of what we heard with you? One of the questions we asked last summer was what issues interfere with your desired park experiences.
14:15 - You can see a summary of them on the slide and I’ll walk through them and give you a little bit more information.
14:23 - One of the things we heard is that at sometimes it’s a pretty crowded experience.
14:27 - These crowds happen on trails and viewpoints and other facilities through the corridor.
14:32 - This impacted folks ability to experience solitude and wilderness, and they said that it was worse at its worst.
14:39 - On clear summer. Weekend days. We also heard that entrance station queues were problematic, that waiting to over 2 hours to enter is frustrating, especially when there’s no where to use the restroom and folks felt bad for those who live and work along these roadways.
14:55 - We heard from visitors that they could see impacts.
14:58 - Alpine meadows and other resources and other related resources including littering, dog waste, picking, flowers, stepping off trails for photos and to let others pass.
15:08 - Some commenters attributed this issue potentially to overcrowding.
15:11 - May be limited knowledge about these impacts, and potentially about limited staffing to enforce regulations on trails.
15:18 - Visitors also noticed that parking in undesignated areas, the creation of social shortcut, trails, drone use, poor interactions with wildlife, poaching of plants were impacting their resources negatively.
15:32 - Visitors also let us know that the facilities in some places didn’t meet current needs.
15:37 - Sometimes waiting up to 30 minutes to use a restroom.
15:41 - They noted that there were more. There was more parking needed in specific locations and that when parking lots were full and visitors parked along the roadway, it created unsafe traffic patterns when pedestrians were forced to use the roadways to get to trailheads.
15:56 - Commenters also suggested that there could be ways to expand overnight use in the park and, and because of limited overnight in the park that maybe folks were doing more day trips instead of overnights and camping in undesignated areas.
16:10 - We also heard a fair bit about parking congestion and roadway congestion.
16:14 - We heard that it’s seasonal that there were concerns with RV and bicycle use when pedestrians were walking in the roads.
16:22 - Visitors also told us that they observed inconsistent speeds, either cars traveling too fast or too slow.
16:29 - And visitors were concerned about emergency vehicles being able to move in out and around the park due to roadway congestion.
16:36 - We heard you. You didn’t come to Mount Rainier to be stuck in your car at the entrance or and then have no place to Park.
16:43 - We also heard from visitors about staffing levels.
16:45 - Visitors notice a low presence of Rangers on trails throughout the corridor, and folks told us that they suspect that visitors just might be really busy and they said that they hoped that Ranger staffing could increase proportionally as visitation increases.
17:02 - We also asked last summer what strategies you would like us to consider in this process.
17:09 - We heard so many great ideas. Please keep them coming during this comment period.
17:13 - We’ll spend more time on some of these in the next few slides, but here’s a quick summary.
17:18 - Some folks suggested that a range a range of ways that we could improve entrance stations and other facilities.
17:24 - These included being able to buy passes online ahead of time, or designating lanes for pass holders.
17:30 - Folks said that they would love to see more pullouts along roadways increase bicycle infrastructure, more trails, more camping and poor restrooms overall.
17:39 - Commentors suggested a range of different education and enforcement strategies, including education or fragile ecosystems and webcams, to show traffic before entering.
17:47 - Commenters also suggested that a timed entry or vehicle reservation system could improve conditions.
17:52 - There were many different ideas on how to best implement timed entry and where this strategy might be most needed and what times of day or days of the year it would be most needed. Visitor capacity also came up in the comments. Commenters expressed.
18:10 - The visitor capacities were needed to be identified, and that strategy should align with these capacities.
18:15 - Similarly, some commenters expressed that times of the year and times of the day there were strategies needed to help potentially limit or manage the number of visitors in in the park at one time to manage the net to help protect the natural and cultural resources.
18:33 - Visitors also told us about opportunities for visitor dispersal about other areas of the park or the region and how we might encourage weekday visitation to take the pressure off the weekends.
18:44 - We also heard a wide range of comments about shuttles.
18:47 - Many shuttle system suggestions had different goals, like reducing congestion or providing opportunities for one way hikes.
18:54 - Some commenters suggested a shuttle system for the entire corridor, others a paradise only shuttle.
19:01 - Others, a parkwide shuttle, others a statewide system.
19:05 - While some want shuttles to be available year round, others expressed that this could be the primary way to enter the park, so others suggests it could have a higher frequency in summer months and others suggest that may only be required when paradise is full.
19:25 - One of our commitments in this process is that we wanted to bring you along with us.
19:30 - Last summer we spent time as a collective group of park staff, stakeholders and the public thinking about problem statements, setting goals, and brainstorming.
19:37 - And now we’re turning the corner and starting to think about how we might refine the ideas to be working towards a strategy for the future.
19:49 - As we work since last summer, we’ve been working to identify draft ideas and strategies that could help us meet our goals and resolve issues throughout this.
19:57 - Throughout the park, you’ll notice in the upcoming slides, many of these strategies were suggested by you all during the public comment period last summer.
20:05 - And again, we’re so grateful for that. This summer is your opportunity to share with us your thoughts on these ideas.
20:12 - With these strategies, we encourage you to consider the tradeoffs associated with each of these ideas, such as user fees, associated costs, changes to travel times, and other considerations.
20:21 - As we present these ideas, we encourage you all to think about the pros and cons, the positive and negative effects associated with each idea, and how they may impact your visit to Mount Rainier.
20:33 - As we start to think about these things, we think that these three filters are really helpful.
20:38 - The first one is thinking about how effective a strategy might be.
20:41 - How will this strategy help us resolve our key issues? How will it help us meet our project goals? We also want to think about how feasible this strategy might be.
20:51 - How will this? How much will this idea cost? What are potential sources of funding, including whether user fees would be required? What sources will be, what resources will be needed to implement the strategy, and who might be our partners in that? We also want to think about strategies that are desirable for our users.
21:10 - We want to think about where and when the strategy would be most useful, how much it would improve visitor experiences or resource conditions, and whether they’re likely to be any tradeoffs to trip planning or wait times or other access to the corridor.
21:25 - So for example, as we analyze the potential for shuttle service into the park, there may be the need for user fees associated with this service to make it feasible.
21:34 - At some point a user fee might make the shuttle less desirable to enough visitors and the shuttle is no longer effective at reducing roadway congestion.
21:43 - Or if we use messaging to encourage visitors to use less popular trails in the park, are those experiences more or less desirable than the one they were seeking? Is it feasible for that less popular trail to accommodate more users than it currently has? Our goal here is to find those ideal strategies, the one that sit at the confluence of these factors.
22:03 - And here’s how you can help. One of the project goals is to provide safe and clear traffic flows.
22:13 - Address vehicle congestion at the Nisqually entrance station along the Road paradise and unpopular parking lots as we discuss some individuals and stakeholders have encouraged the Park Service to consider reservations and other timed entry systems to better manage the distribution and flow of vehicles into the park.
22:30 - Based on what we have learned over time, other public lands and recreational resources.
22:34 - Well designed reservation systems have been shown to increase the quality of visitor experiences.
22:38 - Proactively distribute, use across time and space, and serve as a useful tool for visitors to help them plan their trips in the park.
22:46 - Throughout this comment period, we’d love to hear from you.
22:49 - How would a system like this improve your trip? How could we design a system like this to make it less impactful on your trip? We would love to learn more from you about how and when you would use a system like this.
23:05 - Another set of ideas we are exploring is related to trip planning and travel forecasting tools.
23:10 - These tools could help improve visitor experiences by giving visitors the information when and where they need it to make an informed choice about their visit.
23:18 - So we’re curious what resources do you currently use to plan your trip in and around Mount Rainier? What resources or tools do you wish you had to help you plan your trip and how would you use these tools? In recent years, the park has experienced an increase in visitation during the winter months.
23:38 - Winter visitation, though not as busy as summer at Mount Rainier, has increased in recent years, resulting in congestion on icy roads and competition for reduced parking capacity during peak weekends.
23:50 - For instance, in January 2020, the park received approximately 12,000 visitors when it came to January 2021.
23:56 - This increased by over 200%. An increase in visitation.
24:02 - While winter offers a different experience with snow covered landscapes, winter recreation activities such as snowshoeing, sledding, and skiing, we really want to think about what is the greatest experiences of winter at Mount Rainier.
24:14 - So we’re wondering, would opening the road to Cougar Rock on days when the road to Paradise can’t be opened to be helpful or desirable? Would visitors use a longer season of camping at Cougar Rock? And what other ideas do you have to improve experiences and conditions along this road corridor during the winter? We’ve talked a lot about Paradise.
24:39 - We’ve got ideas for Paradise too. And we also want to hear yours at Paradise for managing for a high quality access where the natural ecological functions, components and processes are provided are preserved and maintained as we consider strategies for this area, we want to think about how we can provide an experience where visitors can move along trails relatively freely.
25:01 - Experience Park resources and experience those.
25:03 - Resources in a way that crowding and congestion doesn’t distract from that experience or distract from the access to those experiences.
25:10 - So we’re wondering what would additional signage or wayfinding information improve your experience, and where is that information in the most useful to you? How might we design? How might we designate some parking areas or sites to improve access for a range of types of visitors to paradise? And what other ideas would you like us to consider in this area of the park? Well, there’s a net parking shortage in the Nisqually to Paradise Corridor.
25:38 - During peak hours, a typically busy summer days, there is often unoccupied parking spaces in the Cougar Rock picnic lot area.
25:47 - So on this slide, or some ideas that were considering for this area, but we want to hear your ideas too.
25:53 - We’re hoping to learn how you currently use this area and how you would like to be using the Cougar Rock picnic area.
26:04 - Because of several decades of severe flooding and damage on the West side Rd, private vehicle access has been restricted here since 1989 and is now limited to a three mile section of the West Side Rd from the Nisqually Road to Dry Creek. The National Park Service RE examines the hazards to this area every few years.
26:23 - Currently West Side Rd is a low density recreation opportunity within the corridor, which is a valued option by some visitors as it currently is.
26:31 - If more Rd sections could safely be open to vehicle traffic, what would you like that access to look like? If we could make a change to how Westside Rd is managed, how would that improve or impact your experience to this area of the park? Additionally, shuttles are being considered to help visitors move around the Paradise area without having to rely exclusively on personal vehicles, potentially resulting in less traffic and congestion in Paradise.
27:02 - These systems require a significant investment in operating costs.
27:06 - Shuttles may be used with their economically feasible and help the Parc achieved resource protection and experience goals.
27:13 - Two potential shuttle ideas are presented on this slide.
27:16 - The first idea includes a shuttle service from Cougar Rock Picnic area to Paradise with stops at Narada Falls and the three parking lots at Paradise Picnic Lower and upper.
27:27 - The estimated round trip time for this idea is 60 to 70 minutes and is represented in green.
27:35 - The second idea is a circulator shuttle that only services paradise at the picnic lot lower lot, upper lot in the Lower Valley Rd.
27:43 - There might be 2 loops along this area, one that includes Lower Valley Rd and another one that primarily services the picnic area.
27:51 - The estimated round trip time for the long loop of that is 45 minutes and is represented on your screen in purple during the civic engagement period.
27:59 - We would love to hear from you about how you would use a shuttle and how a shuttle would improve or distract from your experience of the park.
28:11 - So with that I will turn it back over to Kevin to share with you how you can participate during this round of civic engagement.
28:23 - Thanks, Rachel. Alright, so this project has three phases.
28:29 - And we’re currently in phase two specifically into 2 bullets that are highlighted in purple here during phase one we established the purpose in need for the project and reviewed data and previous studies and conducted rigorous civic engagement, engagement to get public input on key issues within the corridor, and to inform strategy development.
28:50 - Thank you for your participation in that phase.
28:53 - Phase two is dedicated to exploring these solutions in our planning team with your input.
28:59 - Is already exploring viable concepts and strategies and assembling these into preliminary alternatives and actions.
29:05 - This current round of civic engagement is for public review of these potential strategies.
29:09 - We thank you for being part of this new round of input and and and your ideas are really interesting to us and we are excited to hear from you.
29:21 - In phase three, we’re going to confirm the strategies and engage all of you again in a review of our proposed plan, and then work to finalize the plan next slide.
29:39 - We all know we know that all of you experienced the park differently, whether by car mostly or on foot.
29:45 - With a backpack alone or with your friends or your families may be on a single visit on vacation or regular regular weekend trips from nearby summiting the mountain or relaxing at one of the inns. . We want to hear from all of you, and from all of your perspectives.
29:59 - We have digested the input we received earlier into the strategies we share today, and we would not have such a broad set of strategies.
30:07 - To consider without your assistance, this is your National Park and we really encourage you to and continue to engage and provide your feedback on the strategies we put together for the Nisqually corridor.
30:18 - You will have until September 14th to get engaged and provide comments and suggestions at the link that is shown on this slide.
30:27 - Fine. So we do want to hear from you and we’re when providing comment and feedback to us on these strategies that we shared.
30:40 - We ask that you help us by not simply just telling us what you support or don’t support, but add some detail to that input.
30:47 - You know we’re not simply counting votes yay or nay on these ideas, but we’re looking to modify and improve the ideas that we’ve shared and to understand what needs refinement or clarification, or to fill in any gaps that that we may have missed.
31:01 - You’ll see on the slide a variety of questions you might use to help frame your feedback.
31:06 - Do you have any questions we can answer? We want to make sure we address those.
31:10 - Would you like any of these ideas? Would any of these ideas change how you visit the park? Be specific on what would change and why it would change.
31:18 - What should we consider when it fully evaluating these these ideas? What consequences do you think we need to make sure we are considering? What tools do you use? Or do you plan to use to plan a visit here? How might this planning effort enhance those? What what combination of ideas do you think best meets the goals we have set for ourselves here? And if we missed anything that should be considered and any other comments you want to share, we do really happy to hear we have a team assembled here today to answer your questions and provide additional information that might help you provide the robust feedback on the strategies that we discussed today.
31:57 - And so now what I’m going to do is I’m going to pass off to Darby Robinson.
32:03 - He’s a park Ranger here in our interpretation and education division, and he’s going to facilitate our question and answer period Darby. Hello everybody. So we’re going to take a quick break just about a minute or so to kind of organize some of the questions that we’ve already had coming in.
32:25 - If you do have any questions, please submit them.
32:28 - We’re going to try to get to as many as possible and answering with our fantastic panel.
32:34 - So I’m going to take a very quick break. Stand up. Don’t go anywhere, just stretch those legs and submit more questions and we will be right back to begin the Q&A. OK, welcome back everybody.
32:48 - We’re going to get into the Q&A section of our program.
32:52 - So again, if you have any questions, please throw them in and we will try to get to as many as possible.
32:59 - If we do not get to your question live, we will do our best to send a response as well.
33:05 - But yeah, please submit your questions and we’ll try to get to as many as possible with our panel.
33:11 - So without further ado, let’s jump in the very first question is going to be for Terry.
33:18 - Uh, in this question comes in as do some of these plans include education for tourists about leave, no trace principles and trail etiquette.
33:27 - Mostly about how when when you know kind of visitors, do you know kind of is the park and some of these areas.
33:36 - Often times there can be some spreading out on off trail picking flowers.
33:41 - Things like that could potentially damage resources or violate leave no trace principles.
33:46 - So is there an educational component about those? Things for this project.
33:54 - Thank you, Darby. First of all, that’s a great question.
33:57 - One of the purposes of this conversation is to help us understand how visitors are experiencing the park and what they value.
34:04 - And you know, many folks value that kind of experience where they can have a great walk on the trails.
34:11 - We do see a lot of congestion on the trails and we do have continuous educational efforts that.
34:18 - Exist outside of this planning effort, so we continuously send our Rangers roving on trails.
34:24 - We have about 100 volunteers give or take at the Paradise area we call the Meadow Rovers and they are out there to help with safety to help folks plan their trip to help folks understand the importance of staying on trails.
34:43 - So it is true that our trails are very busy in the paradise.
34:49 - Area and that we do have. Concerns and educational needs associated with congestion.
34:55 - But our efforts continue before, during, and after this visitor use.
35:00 - Managing management planning process. Great question. Thank you.
35:04 - We hope you get a chance to come back and do some more hiking another time.
35:11 - Thank you. Alright, and while we have you Terry, we do have another question.
35:18 - I think you could handle here and this is sort of about one of the plans or goals of this plan.
35:25 - Is examining potential visitor opportunities and this question is sort of about what what place would suggestions from maybe non athletic visitors and those type of experiences have here.
35:35 - And if there’s a place for that in this plan.
35:40 - So another great question. I think the park as a whole, even outside this planning process, we try to make sure that we have experiences available for folks of all interests and abilities just last week, for example, the park hosted a series of experts that came out to the park to assess the accessibility of the park and what I mean by accessibility is.
36:10 - For folks with various. Physical abilities, how accessible is the park.
36:17 - How accessible or trails parking areas, restrooms, etc.
36:21 - So that is an effort that is separate from the visitor.
36:26 - Use management planning that we’re doing tonight, but it does demonstrate that the park is very much interested in the feedback and experience for folks at all levels, so we continue to solicit that outside of.
36:44 - The channels that are here happy to get any feedback on that and we do want experiences for folks that are very athletic and want to hike all the trails.
36:54 - The park is equally valid experience for folks who may just want to sit out at the the rim of the paradise inn and and have an ice cream and look out over the mountains.
37:06 - So thank you for the feedback. Thank you alright.
37:12 - Our next question is for Kevin. This is a question about congestion.
37:18 - Outside of the park, kind of in those gateway communities.
37:22 - Kind of leading in Morton. Mineral LB.
37:27 - Alder Lake and Ashford. UM the obviously there can be quite a lot of traffic leading through those.
37:34 - Those places on those roads backing up quite considerably.
37:38 - They were wondering if there was any opportunity for partnership between Mount Rainier and Washington Department of Transportation to include some sort of weekend only stop light or some ways to alleviate this congestion outside of the park rather than just functions inside the park.
37:57 - Well, that’s a great question, and that’s a great suggestion.
38:01 - I mean we this idea is something that we can consider, and that’s the kind of thing we’re looking for is is that kind of input you know? We recognize that our planning efforts for this effort inside the park require us to cooperate with our partners in the region to help identify, you know, the problems and solutions to you know, traffic concerns, congestion, you know communication, trip planning as well as infrastructure like lights and.
38:28 - Signage and it’s our understanding that was dot is conducting a regional study of traffic patterns to address some of these issues already, and we have been engaging with them as well as the local counties in this planning effort, and this collaboration is really the key to our success, and we can’t just start planning at at our entrance stations and so we’re going to continue to do that.
38:50 - I don’t know what those solutions are going to actually be at this point, but we will continue to work with those agencies to find solutions.
38:58 - These problems. Now this next question is for Terry Tucker. We have two Terry’s, so keep them Organized by this is for Terry Tucker.
39:13 - It’s about parking in the parking in the park and of where to find parking information.
39:17 - Person is saying they love to use some of these less popular trails.
39:21 - We always suggest but could never find the information about like where to park for some of those trailheads.
39:26 - So where would they go to? Kind of figure that out.
39:30 - Yeah, thanks Darby. So we’re going to drop a couple of links into the chat to get started on that.
39:36 - That thought process and so there is information that we try to provide on our park website.
39:41 - There’s also really helpful information on some of the local organizational websites like the Washington Trail Association.
39:46 - I would encourage you to go ahead and share that kind of feedback through the public comment process here.
39:52 - Some of the ideas that we heard last summer include things like doing a better job of designating specifically where folks can park.
40:00 - Per day, use or overnight use, so those are some of the ideas that we’re considering.
40:05 - We’ve also talked about the thought process of having some level of parking spaces that could be reserved.
40:11 - This is all just the idea stage right now. We’d really like to hear how would those ideas work or not work for you and why.
40:19 - So really think it’s a great question. 1st and the the limits to parking.
40:24 - And yeah, please tell us what you think. What you think would work and what wouldn’t and why thanks.
40:31 - Alright, thank you Terry. Uh, this next question is for Rachel.
40:39 - So one of the kind of hot topics in a lot of parks right now for kind of the amount of visitation that they’re getting is going to reservation systems.
40:49 - Several parks have done that. This question is about if there’s any concerns about if we were to go towards a reservation system for this corridor project.
40:59 - If no, shows how would we handle the percentage of people that reserve a spot but do not show up and then kind of limit the amount of people that can actually go in that day, saying some other places might have a.
41:15 - Are there any stats to sort of backup how that is worked in other places so far? Yeah, thanks Darby. So there are a number of timed entry reservation systems that are being pilot tested across the agency and other Land Management agencies as well.
41:35 - Actually some of them are in response to the COVID pandemic and in response to trying to create optimal conditions for people to have an opportunity to physically distance and others are in response to longstanding crowding congestion issues.
41:52 - Uhm, you know one of the things is that we’ve actually been managing access to other resources for a long time, and all the federal agencies.
42:00 - This is, but we’re experimenting with what does it look like to do that for private vehicles? And a lot of those systems are being coordinated by folks within the agency, and we’re learning a lot from each other as we go into this process, and from those pilots, one of the big things that we’ve learned is that there are some similarities, and where we can share learning with each other one of the.
42:22 - And another thing we’re learning is that you can’t pick up glacier system for example, and drop in a Rocky Mountain.
42:29 - These systems are designed to be context specific, designed to meet visitors where they are to adapt to the conditions of the park and to think about that so, but more specifically to the idea of do we have statistics on these things? Yes, we can start to look at what a no show rate might look like before it and make sure that the permit sales are robust to that.
42:50 - There’s also opportunities to design systems so that.
42:53 - Passes that are sold and returned can be added back into the inventory so that there isn’t the opportunity lost to use that.
43:00 - So a lot of different things to think about, but again, would love to hear more thoughts from y’all about how would you use a system like that.
43:09 - What would an ideal system look like as you think about it? And we’re also doing some sharing amongst the agency folks about how those systems are going in other parks across the nation.
43:21 - Thank you so much. Uhm, this next question, uh? Also pretty interesting one.
43:28 - This is for Terry Wieldy. UM, has there been any consideration of including in equity lens along with the effectiveness, desirability, and feasibility? Kind of triangle there beyond helping to shape strategies, an equity lens could help evaluate the unintended consequences of some of the strategies that have already been floated.
44:02 - Thanks, Darby. Folders for the delay. As I was figuring out where my my mute button was.
44:09 - So equity is A is A is a. Major consideration of all public lands.
44:16 - So we are looking at that through all the strategies proposed through this plan and will have continued discussions on that throughout the entire process.
44:26 - I don’t. I can’t point to one thing, one proposal or another that I would single out when it comes to equity, but it is true that we try to make public lands as accessible as possible to all people, regardless of.
44:44 - Their abilities, their background, UM national parks.
44:48 - Our public lands or public spaces. So I really appreciate the individual that wrote this, pointing out that equity does need to be considered, and that absolutely will be part of the process as we determine what, if any, kinds of solutions proposed here we can implement.
45:12 - Awesome, thank you so much and thank you for that question.
45:16 - This uh next couple questions. We have a lot of good ones about shuttles.
45:22 - That was a big part of so far. The planning and some of the suggestions.
45:27 - So let’s go to Rachel for these. This one in particular, I’m also curious about, so it’s a really good question of what.
45:37 - So other parks similar to Rainier maybe in size or fewer lodging other facilities, does this lack of infrastructure or their size impact shuttle use at other places? This is another one where UM, design has to be really context specific, so I don’t know that in other system service wide that the available infrastructure necessarily UM.
46:05 - Com it has a huge impact about how people use it or not.
46:09 - I think some of the things that that we hear from visitors when it comes to use of shuttles is wait times for the shuttle.
46:19 - So how does it impact their overall trip duration? The travel time on the shuttle? So what is the point to point time and how long does it take them to get from their car to their destination? We also hear that one people are waiting for a shuttle depending on whether they were to hub or the destination.
46:37 - They might desire those different kinds of facilities, so it’s another opportunity for us to say that when it comes to Mount Rainier and the potential for that strategy in that location, what are some of the things that we could be thinking about? And I’m really sorry about my screen.
46:52 - I don’t know why that just happened. Yeah.
46:57 - Uh, my computer, and so you know on this objective of shuttles. Has there been any consideration or or comments or kind of things brought into the the factor about some kind of using outside the park areas as the drop off and pickup points of the gateway communities as well? And kind of having utilizing their parking areas outside of the park and then having that shuttle kind of take photos into the park? Yeah, that is definitely something that came up in the correspondence and then the public comment from last summer, so I think it’s a really interesting idea for us to continue to play with and think about.
47:41 - We’d love to hear from folks you know where might be the most desirable place for you to park outside the park.
47:48 - What are the gateway communities that maybe have the ability to host those vehicles outside the park? The one of the challenges with having a shuttle that comes from outside the park into the park is that it has to get.
48:00 - Through the gate with all the other private vehicles, and so it might not actually speed up up your trip to transition to a shuttle outside of the park and to get through there might not be really the room and then just slowly entrance station to make that much wider than it already is to get a shuttle through any faster.
48:18 - Especially since a lot of that roadway system is actually outside of the Park Service to be able to widen the road there.
48:25 - So a lot of different factors go into thinking about a shuttle coming from outside of the park.
48:30 - Uhm, but would love to hear from folks who think that that’s a really great idea and that they would definitely ride it up.
48:38 - What does that shuttle look like to you, and how frequently would it need to come to be useful for you and and how does it impact your overall day to be that far from your car? I think that’s another thing we hear a lot from folks on those longer ride shuttles is that that is potentially a very long time to be away from there.
49:00 - Personal vehicle and the resources that might be in their personal vehicle.
49:06 - Excellent and then come. We did have another question of sort of a clarifying one.
49:12 - While I have you sort of about the Paradise Loop shuttle in particular and kind of how that I guess the question is sort of about if that if we invested in that.
49:24 - If that could potentially hinder opportunities, invest in other park operations and sort of kind of clarifying what you meant in that regard.
49:37 - Yeah, so I did the Paradise loop shuttle. UM would go from Paradise and I should.
49:44 - I should clarify first that these are ideas.
49:47 - These shuttles aren’t currently in operation.
49:49 - We are not currently pilot testing these ideas, so those maps are purely conceptual in nature, but the Paradise loop shuttle would go from Paradise down Lower Valley Rd.
50:01 - Backup paradise to collect people who might be using Lower Valley Rd as.
50:06 - Parking and then also go through the Paradise Picnic area to pick up folks who are using that as day.
50:12 - Use parking as well and in the other lots. So the hope there is that that shuttle could help reduce some of The Walking along the roadways and help make it easier.
50:21 - Entrance into the Jackson Visitor Center and those other Paradise resources from folks who are having to park further out.
50:28 - I think, as with any strategy, this one is an investment and there is a limited amount of park resources to invest in high cost strategies.
50:38 - And this is one of the higher cost strategies that we’re considering at this time, and so we wanted really, really thoughtful about how we analyze that option.
50:48 - Thoughtful as we consider who would use it and how folks would use it to make sure that that investment is something that people find really desirable and we think.
50:58 - Would be very effective in mitigating some of the issues.
51:03 - Awesome, thanks so much this this. Next one is for Terri will D.
51:11 - This this questions coming in somebody with their son had a service dog.
51:18 - He was given a piece of paper, kind of explaining about dogs in the park, kind of where the rules and where they’re allowed to go where they’re not.
51:28 - And kind of clarifying that is, and this question is.
51:31 - Has there been any thought about giving out a similar piece of information? Kind of paper that explains park rules, something that kind of maybe summarizes those rules that are able to kind of be short, sweet to the. 2 visitors about other park rules? Yeah, that’s another great question.
51:49 - I think there’s always a struggle that the park might have with providing either too much or too little information.
51:57 - Sometimes it’s hard to find that sweet spot.
52:00 - We do try to provide the park newspaper to every individual that comes in, and we do highlight the most important safety and information and regulations in that newspaper.
52:12 - We try to make sure that gets to everybody.
52:18 - It folks cannot pick that up. We do try to provide signage at each trailhead that provides information and we also provide information online so there’s a mix of information.
52:31 - You know, for some visitors there may or may not be the exact piece of information they like, so that’s one reason why we also employ our Rangers and volunteers Meadow Rovers to help meet folks on the trail.
52:44 - So there are mixed options for information.
52:46 - I’m glad you’re able to come out. I hope you had a great visit and thank you for your comment.
52:58 - Oh righty, UM. This next question is for Terry Tucker.
53:08 - And this is sort of about kind of areas in the park.
53:13 - Kind of. Basically, in general the question is, do we make any recommendations or does a website? Or do we make any recommendations on which the best days are to travel to the park, but usually kind of focus on you know the times that are really, really bad that you’re going to have a long wait and it’s really congested, but what are the what are the days that are good? What’s the best time should people come? But thanks, so I I can’t tell you exactly what’s going to be the perfect time of day and the perfect day of the week, but I think a lot of folks know that you know, it’s it’s usually busiest on the the the good weather days on the weekends.
53:52 - But I do want to ask though, is we really at the at the park? Try to get a lot of information out through our website through social media.
54:00 - One of the things that we’re talking about through this process is how can we provide the information that people are looking for so that they can plan their trip most effectively? And where do you want to find that? Information, and so I would really encourage folks to to let us know like what kind of information do you feel like you’re not seeing, and how would you like to be able to have access to that information? ‘cause ‘cause that’s really gonna play in strongly to whatever other strategies that we develop here.
54:27 - So again, really want to hear your thoughts and questions and it helps us to know not only you know what’s working well, what isn’t working well, and with the newsletter that went out with those strategies.
54:38 - Again, what are the ideas that would work for you? And why would they work for you? And if there are things that you’re reading in there that are giving you pause, what are the things that you’d want us to consider moving forward? So hope that helps but Yes, definitely like to hear where you get your information.
54:54 - Thanks, Darby, absolutely. Uhm, so another question for Rachel.
54:58 - Somebody who sort of was curious about your kind of position in connection with this project.
55:06 - Are you physically here at Mount Rainier and kind of what your role is with this Nisqually corridor project? They also thought you were quite knowledgeable as well, so is it the.
55:22 - As part of it. Uhm I am Rachel Collins. I am a project manager with the National Park Service and I support parks on helping resolve issues with visitor use management as well as traffic, transportation and and congestion management and so that I do that for Park Service wide.
55:43 - I work on the national team that comes in to help support parks on these things so I don’t work at Mount Rainier all day.
55:54 - Everyday unfortunately for me, but I have been working with mount rainier on this project since 2018.
56:00 - Have had multiple trips up to the park to visit with the staff and work with them and this project does take up a significant portion of my workload and my week, so I’m pretty dedicated to this project and to seeing it through the other advantage.
56:15 - UM, that’s really nice. Is that I because I work on project service wide is I’m able to help kind of cross pollinate some of those different ideas from other projects.
56:24 - And other parks that are working on similar issues so that we’re able to really bring the best of what the Park Service and the industry and the interagency visitor use.
56:33 - Management Council has to the table to work on these issues. OK, and.
56:39 - Uh, the another question for you. I think while we have, you might be the best one to answer this.
56:48 - How, if at all, could pop people volunteer to be more involved in this project team.
56:55 - Ah well, one of the best ways to be involved is, like Kevin said, to be providing us really detailed thoughts, comments, considerations to weigh in on the planning process, and the questions that we have.
57:13 - I will flip back over those to those on the screen.
57:18 - I would say and for folks if there is a more specific question, uh.
57:25 - That isn’t related to this part of the process, or ideas, or ways that you would like to contribute to the process.
57:31 - We’d love to hear about it, and one of my colleagues will drop it into the chat.
57:36 - There is an inbox associated with this planning effort.
57:39 - It is MORA_VUM@nps. gov and so hopefully someone will drop it into the announcements box for me.
57:45 - So folks can click on that. But if you’ve got other ideas about ways that you’d like to contribute to this process, we’d love to hear them.
57:52 - And you’re welcome to drop us an email to that inbox.
57:55 - And someone will get back to you. Alright UM. Let’s see, uh, this question is about Westside Rd, so maybe Kevin can can speak to this.
58:09 - Is there any data? Could be somebody else as well if they know it, but is there any data on the kind of the use of Westside Rd? Kind of? Hikers, bikers, strollers, electric bikes, etc and it kind of knowing this data could be important in helping guide our decisions with how the road is used.
58:29 - Do we have that data on hand? Is that part of the kind of the process? Well, I’m not sure that we have really accurate data.
58:39 - We know that on Westside Rd is used by a different, you know, group of individuals because it has the the cycling access and it is a little bit away from some of the more congested areas of the park.
58:51 - We kind of look at Westside Rd as a as a potential relief valve for all those congested areas, and it provides for a different kind of experience there.
59:00 - And so you know the West Side Rd is part of the corridor.
59:04 - It’s connected to the corridor, so any ideas or thoughts about? How West Side Rd might be used differently, or you know, informed.
59:12 - This planning process is something we’d welcome.
59:19 - Right? Come, let’s see we have another. Another question is kind of about shuttles and so this one to Rachel.
59:37 - Why not limit cars into the park altogether? Maybe make something more sweeping and this is sort of similar to kind of Denali National Park setup and only utilizes a shuttle bus service.
59:54 - Yeah, thanks Derby, uh so there are some parks who do this who limit parts of their roadways or some roadways to shuttle only access.
60:02 - And I think that would really goes back to the desired conditions that are associated with what are we managing for and why in some of those roadway corridors a lot of those systems are not Denali, but some of the other ones are relatively short roadway segments that are shuttle only access to, so those those trips are pretty short and so for someone to be able to jump.
60:24 - Back on the shuttle and return back to their vehicle or to exit that system is a fairly low commitment of time, and so that’s a different a little bit of a different kind of system, and some of the other systems that are a little bit longer, a little bit different.
60:41 - I think another key component to think about here is that the Nisqually Rd the road to Paradise was one of the first roads established in the National Park Service system and and at the risk of sounding cliche, it was meant to be driven.
60:56 - And to some extent we change the nature of that roadway when we take private vehicles off of it as a cultural resources and as a part of the Mount Rainier story.
61:06 - So we would really like to feel protect that value where we can.
61:10 - I think the other thing is we think about the sheer volume of people that would need to be moved onto a bus to replace all of those vehicles in the system would be a lot of shuttles running very frequently in that system would be very expensive.
61:27 - We’ve analyzed systems like that in the past, and for folks who will remember there was a Mount Rainier shuttle system in the past.
61:35 - Those were significant investments and it would be really challenging for the National Park Service to have a system that extensive either in length or in quantity of people to move without other partners who are helped supporting that strategy and supporting it.
61:51 - Less resources to make that a viable strategy for us, so any ideas on how we could partner to make that happen about different ways that we could fund a system like that would be very welcome to here, since it is a a pretty weighty financial investment to have a system that expensive.
62:11 - Thank you a question for Terry will be a more of a clarification, so we kind of mentioned a lot of things like upper lot, lower lot.
62:23 - Paradise Valley Rd and and those type of things this.
62:27 - This question is sort of about like where those those locations are.
62:31 - If we could kind of clarify what we mean by upper lot, lower lot, there’s you know where those are in relation to say, the old Jackson Visitor Center.
62:41 - The current Henry M Jackson Memorial Visitor Center, the Paradise synthetic, that type of thing.
62:46 - So more of a clarification. Yes, a great question.
62:51 - And apologies to folks that we have slipped into the jargon mode up here on the staff.
62:59 - So sorry for the confusion. So when we use the term upper lot, that is the parking lot that is adjacent to the visitor center to the to paradise in.
63:13 - It’s basically the lot at the top of the mountain it is.
63:19 - The closest you can get to any current building up their paradise, so that is what we refer to as upper lot.
63:27 - It is the most popular parking lot that we have because it’s the closest to trailheads and facilities upper left.
63:36 - Lower lot when we say lower lot what we’re referring to is the parking lot as you’re driving up to paradise, it will be on your left hand side.
63:46 - It is where the old visitor center used to be.
63:50 - If you’ve come to the park in years past when that’ll visitor center was there when you park there, you cannot see the visitor center, so it is the next lot down and typically will fill up next.
64:04 - So that’s what we refer to it. As the lower lot.
64:08 - Hopefully that makes sense. UM, and somebody had mentioned in the chat they were talking about.
64:15 - Well, there’s three parking lots you may be referring to the picnic area which folks use for picnicking and also for parking.
64:23 - And that is the furthest away from the visitor center and is on your right hand side as you approach and then Valley Rd.
64:33 - You may have heard that term and folks parked alongside the Valley Rd.
64:38 - So upper lot. Lower lot Picnic area Valley Rd.
64:43 - I hope that helps clarify a few pieces of our jargon that we’re using.
64:49 - Apologies for the confusion. Absolutely thank you for that.
64:55 - UM, this is a question for Kevin. Aside from the potential of reopening Westside Rd traffic, are there specific plans or funding for additional trap trail construction? This would be besides like a new trail slash parking area thing? Yeah, yeah. So yeah, I think that in this planning effort we have identified that that trail you mentioned and we’ve talked about Westside Rd options and and there are some other discussions about potential connector trails within the Paradise area.
65:36 - As part of this solution making. And we have had other discussions during our infrastructure project development efforts about some other small.
65:45 - You know, things like that connector trails things to create to make our trail systems a little bit more efficient, and potentially to create additional loop opportunities.
65:56 - But but none of those projects are funded at this time.
66:00 - Their ideas, and that’s what this planning process is about is is getting those ideas because once we developed this plan and we identify.
66:10 - The actions were willing to take then will start to pursue funding to implement those actions, and so this is the time to suggest those things.
66:19 - And if there’s something that you think would contribute to and benefit your experience, and the Nisqually corridor from a trail perspective, please do suggest it.
66:32 - Thank you, uh, next question is for Rachel.
66:37 - You mentioned that the reservation system is being pilot tested.
66:42 - It can you kind of maybe clarify that and elsewhere where reservation systems are or timed entries are in effect.
66:53 - Are these things that have been efficient? What’s our feedback, like elsewhere in the NPS? Sure, thanks Derby.
67:03 - I’ll clarify that there are some systems that are being pilot tested.
67:08 - What I mean when I say pilot tested is that no long term decisions have been made about making those systems permanent or making those systems a long term management strategy for those parks.
67:22 - So a lot of the. Temporary systems or pilot testing systems were stood up during summer of 2022 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and summer continuing into this summer, and those are not long term systems.
67:38 - They’re considered temporary systems, so we call them pilot tests.
67:41 - There are other systems that are out there in the Park Service world that are considered long term systems.
67:49 - They are not in testing phase or pilot testing.
67:52 - They went through a planning process. To evaluate those strategies as well as public, comment on those options.
67:59 - They also have built a robust set of strategies, ideas, companion ideas along with the reservation systems to help support that idea.
68:08 - I think it’s really important to think about as we approach timed entering reservations that they aren’t single solutions and and that just by themselves they don’t solve all problems, but it really takes a collection of strategies of which that.
68:25 - Might be one to solve those issues and so a good example of long term reservation systems that have been stood up is the system at near Woods that was a part of the year Woods planning process and the system at Acadia.
68:38 - There was a part of the Acadia Transportation plan, or different systems and they have different other strategies that go along with them that help support the success of that strategy is a part of a longer term solution and as a part of a more robust package of strategies.
68:56 - Awesome, thank you next question for Terry will be, uh, if a shuttle service was implemented.
69:05 - Could there be volunteers or Rangers that tell the Rainier story along the way? So I guess making it more of a kind of an interpretive program type of ride wall while you travel from destination to destination.
69:26 - Yeah, that’s a great idea. Uhm, I nominate Darby because he’s amazing.
69:32 - Uh, so yeah, uh, there are a couple of options there.
69:37 - It is a great idea. We do continuously recruit volunteers for various tasks, so if we got to the point of using a shuttle, I think that is an idea worth considering.
69:50 - One other option that we’re currently working on just for folks general knowledge or about 95% done with this short video that we’ve created for use for orientation.
70:03 - For folks that are coming in on tour buses.
70:05 - So if we got to the point where we’re using shuttles, that is potentially an option, we could consider too.
70:12 - Good idea, thank you. So thank you, UM, and OK, there’s no question more of a concern, so maybe we can alleviate some concern.
70:27 - There, they’re curious if this plan is just going to end up being something that restricts access for visitors who are frequent visitors to the park and are careful visitors to the park who have done a lot of planning and prep that some of the.
70:44 - Outcomes of this plan could potentially hinder folks who have been trying to to kind of visit in off peak times and ways frequently that could be hindered.
70:55 - So can anybody who wants to speak to, I guess this concern about this plan and what this plan is kind of true kind of mission is.
71:15 - Sorry can I, can you hear me? Again, hey, you’ve been doing a great job and.
71:23 - Team Mountaineer excellent. Yeah, let me weigh in on that.
71:27 - You know any. Anytime you take on an exercise like this.
71:33 - And that exercise becomes real world. You know that there are a lot of sensitivities. There are a lot of.
71:42 - There’s a lot of information you have to take into a try to avoid those things to the extent possible, but really, what we’re looking at again is how do we reduce congestion? Pain and negative impacts that come with the popularity of a place like Mountaineer and continue to provide those kinds of experiences that connect people with the resource while protecting the resource in the values.
72:04 - And so undoubtedly there will be times where there will be some people, unfortunately that bill.
72:10 - As though they run unimpeded access to an extent, I guess a way people look at it up to this point.
72:19 - It could be impacted, but then again, that unimpeded is there is an interesting concept, because if you’re stuck in traffic, if you’re having to park a long distance from the the place that you’re trying to experience or access, that’s a form of impediment two.
72:35 - And so we have to be thoughtful. We have to be thorough and again there may be times where people feel that they don’t essentially have the access for freedom.
72:49 - That they might have had in the past, but that’s where careful, thoughtful planning comes in, and we’ll do our best again to provide those kinds of experiences, reduce congestion, and protect the park resource and values.
73:06 - All right, thank you Greg. So we have a couple more as we kind of perched the end of our day.
73:16 - Lots of fantastic questions. I definitely want to thank everybody for being so active and participating in this and helping kind of helping.
73:25 - Kind of make this plan and project work. It definitely does rely on people like you asking questions and offering opportunities.
73:36 - So next question here is, do we have any resources to share that kind of dig into things that happened at other parks experiencing similar? Overuse resource constraints.
73:49 - Heavy surges in visitation. This is definitely not a Mount Rainier exclusive concern, Yosemite Zion, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone.
73:57 - All all these big parks have had similar kind of things.
74:02 - What are some lessons learned from there or resources that maybe folks can can dig into? So this is Rachel.
74:19 - I can jump in on that one Derby. So there are definitely range of completed visitor use management plans by the National Park Service that has been recently completed and are publicly available.
74:35 - You can find those on the parkplanning. nps. gov site.
74:39 - A couple of them that you can look at that have crowding and congestion related concerns in them.
74:49 - I just mentioned it. The two one from.
74:53 - Your woods and another one from Acadia Transportation plan was recently completed.
74:57 - Acadia Transportation plan also fully includes the visitor use management framework.
75:00 - The same framework we’re using in this planning process, so you can see how that shows up in that kind of a process.
75:08 - You can also just search under visitor use management on that part.
75:12 - Planningthatnps. gov page in a number of plans will come up.
75:15 - There are other planning processes that are currently underway, so no final decisions have been made on them, but they’re active in decision making.
75:23 - Processes those will come up on that park planningthatnps. gov site as well.
75:28 - If you look for them and search for them they are listed there.
75:33 - I think when it comes to the mix of shuttles and potentially reservation systems and what those look like, the goal of a lot of these is against really wanting to look at what is quality access look like.
75:49 - Feel like sound like for our visitors in these specific locations.
75:53 - And what’s the right mix of access or mix of views and so Yosemite is a good example.
75:59 - As was mentioned in the question up, they actually have a bunch of different types of shuttles that serve different purposes.
76:06 - They have a circulator shuttle for the valley that serves a different purpose then their regional.
76:13 - Access and transportation, which is called the arts, which is a different type of transit system.
76:18 - And then they also have tours that are a type of shuttle that get you to different parts of the park at each of those have different goals associated with them and serve different roles in their system.
76:30 - And so I think it’s a really good point to help us to start to think about the combinations of strategies, how strategies may work together and how we might design strategies that are consistent with how people want to experience.
76:43 - And access Mount Rainier National Park and and what is going to facilitate that best experience for them? So that’s one of the reasons we’re really excited about this comment period.
76:53 - This summer is to be able to hear more from you about what combination of strategies makes for your best experience and why.
77:03 - Fantastic. Uhm, wow, we’re we’re kind of reaching the end now.
77:09 - Are there any sort of final thoughts from our team Greg or Kevin? Do you want to kind of close this out and take us into the docs on this part of the quality corridor project? It’s ongoing project.
77:26 - Kevin, would you like to weigh in? Sure, you know.
77:35 - Thank you everybody for joining us today. This planning efforts been going on for almost two years and we’ve been engaging at each of these steps along the way with you to get your ideas to use your ideas.
77:48 - And I hope that you see that the input you provided in earlier phases have been has been, you know, used and massage it into some solutions and strategies that we shared with you today.
78:00 - And you know, I hope you take the time to. Come to look at what we proposed.
78:06 - The idea is we have on the table and and answer those questions I outlined earlier.
78:11 - You know what you know, which of these things are really important to you or any of them going to change the way you look at visiting the park? Or there are other things that we need to add or modify? And if we’re going to choose a set of these strategies, which ones are the ones are most important to you? I really appreciate you taking the time today to learn more.
78:30 - We’re happy to continue to answer questions and posted more information on our website about the project.
78:35 - And please do visit there for more more resources and and to dive in a little deeper on some of the topics today.
78:42 - So thanks again everyone. And I would again just like to say thank you to Rachel to Kevin Darby the entire team.
78:52 - There’s been a lot of thoughtful. Expression this evening, and I think a lot of good information that has been captured and conveyed at most importantly, stay engaged with those of you who who have been involved.
79:07 - Thank you and we are going to continue to look to you for wisdom, botanist and your perspectives and how we can continue to provide the kind of experience that you and the in in local communities park state stakeholders are looking forward meeting, wanting while at the same time thinking about.
79:26 - And I’m done protecting and sharing that resource and in value for not only today’s generation, but for those yet to come.
79:34 - So thank you for being a part of this. Stay engaged and we look forward to the conversations to be coming in the future.
79:42 - Thank you. .