WINTERSPORTS – The owner of an Oregon ski area says 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 says the slopes are otherwise ready to open but that 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 says 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 says the forest is trying to make sure everyone plays by the rules.
“Policy that has been set by the USFS regarding snow removal in the parking area and the use of high speed snowmobiles around the general public has created a hazardous situation,” Murray said in a post on the Spout Springs website.
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.
Info: Walla Walla Ranger District, (509) 522-6290.
Mountain goats increase in Olympics
WILDLIFE – Non-native mountain goats in the Olympic Mountains have more than doubled over the past 12 years, according to a new report.
The U.S. Geological Survey says there are approximately 620 goats and the population has increased by an average rate of 8 percent each year from 2004 to 2016.
Biologists with USGS, the National Park Service and state Department of Fish and Wildlife used low-flying helicopters to count goats in Olympic National Park and surrounding forest areas over the summer. The data will help inform the park’s mountain goat management plan, which is currently being developed.
Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics decades ago, before the park was established, and have long posed a problem for park officials.
In 2010, a goat fatally gored a park visitor. Helicopters were used in the 1980s to capture and remove goats because they were damaging the park’s fragile alpine vegetation and soil.
Launch permits out for Lake Roosevelt
BOATING – The 2017 annual boat launching permits for Lake Roosevelt are available, but the National Park Service no longer offers discounts for early purchases.
A permit is required for launching any type of vessel at all designated National Park Service-managed launch ramps on the reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam.
Boaters may go to any Park Service launch and pay $8 on site for a weekly permit that allows unlimited launches for up to seven days from the date of purchase.
A season permit costs $45 and allows unlimited launches from time of purchase to Dec. 31, 2017.
Purchase launch permits online or from six regional dealers.
The permits can also be purchased by mail. Send a check or money order for $45 – along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope – to Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, 1008 Crest Dr., Coulee Dam, WA 99116.
Golden Age, Golden Access and Interagency Senior or Access Pass cardholders discounts no longer apply for the annual boat launch pass. However, the half-price discount for these pass holders does apply to the seven-day permit available at the launch ramps.
Info: Maria Jay, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area fee coordinator, (509) 754-7889.
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