OUTHOUSE – Maintaining historic cabins with helicopter support is OK in wilderness, according to a federal judge who has rejected efforts by an environmental group to force Olympic National Park to remove five wilderness cabins it recently rebuilt or repaired.
Montana-based Wilderness Watch argued that park officials violated the purpose of the federal Wilderness Act when they decided to restore Botten Cabin, Canyon Creek Shelter, Wilder Shelter, Bear Camp Shelter and Elk Lake Shelter since 2009. The group also took issue with how the work was done, because it used helicopters and motorized tools.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma rejected those arguments in a decision Wednesday. He said it’s ambiguous whether restoring such structures can be considered a purpose of the Wilderness Act, but deference was due to the National Park Service because it reasonably interpreted the law.
“The court’s ruling has far-reaching implications,” said Chris Moore, executive director of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. “It enables the National Park Service and other federal agencies that manage America’s wilderness to meet their stewardship mission related to historic and cultural resources in a manner that complies with the Wilderness Act.”
Falling fish fries
Seattle power line
OUTSHORTED – Utility officials say a falling fish knocked out power to nearly 200 customers this week in Seattle. While the city is famous for throwing and catching fish in Pike Place Market, this fish apparently was fumbled by a wild bird of prey.
Seattle City Light says a witness reported seeing a bird drop the fish. It was presumably one of the bald eagles or ospreys that hunt in the nearby Duwamish River.
A crew investigating the outage walked the power lines and found what workers described as an electrocuted salmon, or perhaps a bird’s attempt at a fish fry.
Power was out for about 2 1/2 hours.
City Light says birds often cause power outages – 162 of them in Seattle last year, including two by bald eagles. Raccoons are another common culprit. But spokeswoman Connie McDougall told the Associated Press that this is the first time she’s heard of a fish knocking out power.
Similarly, wild turkeys have been the culprits in several power outages recently in Medford, Oregon.
Ski area closes
citing snowmobile issues
OUTSHARED –The owner of an Oregon ski area said he won’t open this season because of concerns about snowmobiles creating an unsafe environment in his parking lot.
Spout Springs Ski Area owner John Murray said the slopes are otherwise ready to open, but the machines have made the parking area too dangerous for customers.
The family-owned ski area operates under a special use permit with the Umatilla National Forest. It is also a designated Sno-Park area, allowing it to be used as a launch point for snowmobiles to access trails.
Murray said there have already been some close calls and he doesn’t want to be responsible for anyone getting hurt.
Walla Walla District Ranger Mike Rassbach said the forest is trying to make sure everyone plays by the rules.
The ski area offers opportunities for the beginning skier as well as the advanced. The ski area, favored by beginners and families looking for a day on the snow, boasts four lifts serving 11 downhill trails and 21 Nordic tracks on 250 skiable acres.
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