Working Within Reduced Budget, Park Staff Prepares for Visitor Season
Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
As Olympic National Park staff begins the annual process of preparing for the main visitor season, effects of the mandatory five percent budget sequester are becoming more apparent.At Olympic, five percent amounts to an approximate $640,000 loss from the park's $12.9 million annual operating budget, resulting in fewer staff and less funding for supplies and materials.Most park facilities will remain open, but some campgrounds, roads and visitor centers will open later than in previous years, provide fewer services or remain closed.
In applying the five percent cut, park staff has given highest priority to protecting public, staff and partner safety.Park staff is also working hard to minimize impacts on park visitors and local communities.
"While it's true that sequestration is requiring us to reduce services, we still have 95% of our annual operating budget and are continuing to use it as effectively and efficiently as possible."
"We're looking forward to welcoming our summer visitors to Olympic," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.
An update on the spring and summer seasons at Olympic National Park follows.
Hurricane Ridge and Heart O' the Hills
Beginning May 1, the road typically is open 24 hours a day, but late spring snow storms may close the road temporarily.The last 1.5 mile of the road, which leads to the Hurricane Ridge picnic area and Hurricane Hill trailhead and is covered with snow drifts well over 12 feet deep, will be plowed and is expected to open by mid-June.
The timeline for opening the Obstruction Point Road is dependent on natural snowmelt.The road will not be plowed because of reductions in supplies and materials funding, as well as reduced maintenance staffing.The Obstruction Point Road will open when and if the winter snowpack melts enough to allow opening.
Beginning May 4, Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center will be staffed on weekends and will be staffed daily beginning June 14.
The Olympic National Park Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Summer hours (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) will begin June 17.
Heart O' the Hills Campground is open year-round.
Whiskey Bend Road is open.
A permanent maintenance worker position will not be filled this year, diminishing staff capacity to clean and maintain facilities and seasonal utility systems and leading to some reductions in visitor services.
The Elwha Campground is open for primitive camping (pit toilets and no running water.)Running water and flush toilets will not be available at Elwha Campground this year.
Altair Campground will be open from May 22 through September 16, with drinking water and flush toilets.
Reduced maintenance staffing will result in La Poel Picnic Area remaining closed this year.
Sol Duc Valley
Hoh Rain Forest & Forks Information Center
The Park and Forest Information Center in Forks is open Friday and Saturday. The center will be open Thursday through Sunday, four days each week, beginning on June 19.Due to the elimination of a seasonal interpretative position, the center will not be open daily this summer.
Loss of a seasonal maintenance worker position at Mora will result in less frequent cleaning of that area's facilities.
Kalaloch Lodge is open year-round.
The Queets Campground is open for primitive camping.
Quinault Rain Forest
One seasonal maintenance worker position has been eliminated in the Quinault area, reducing staff capacity to clean and maintain facilities and seasonal utility systems.As a result, the seven-site North Fork campground will remain closed this season and the campground's two portable toilets will be removed. The Graves Creek Road and campground are open, but running water and flush toilets will not be available at Graves Creek Campground this year.
Park Trails & Wilderness Information Center
Deep snow remains at elevations above 3,000 to 3,500 feet. Expert navigation skills and ice axes and self-arrest skills are a must for snow travel. Avalanche danger may also exist this time of year.Even at low elevations, hikers are reminded to use caution and be aware of downed trees, trail damage, high and swift creek crossings, and changing tide and weather conditions.
The Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center (WIC), located at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles is open daily from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. through May 13.Beginning May 14, the WIC will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays.
Effective March 1, 2013, Olympic National Park was required by sequestration (a series of automatic, across-the-board permanent spending cuts) to reduce its annual budget by five percent.The mandatory reduction resulted in a loss of approximately $640,000 from the park's annual budget, resulting in a reduction from $12,875,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 to an estimated $12,235,000 in FY2013.