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#3473 - 04/08/10 04:54 PM SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7191
Loc: Fresno, CA
Searching for any news on the recent rescue in Sequoia, I found this news item regarding plans to replace three backcountry ranger cabins in Sequoia N.P.: Crabtree, Rae Lakes and Le Conte Canyon.

From the National Parks Traveler:
  Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park Officials Want To Replace Three Backcountry Cabins Located in Wilderness Areas

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#3512 - 04/09/10 09:16 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: Steve C]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Yes. That was what some of the informational meetings were about at Bishop, Fresno & Visalia (maybe other places)... .

I'm more than a bit biased. I also wrote a good chunk of the Environmental Assessment. These cabins will be built on the same "footprint" as the original ones, so no increased impact. Except the one at LeConte. That's currently on a major archeological site. Rather than disturb that, the location will be moved about 50 feet and the old site rehabilitated and closed to camping.

The Rae Lakes tent station, especially, really needs to be replaced. It's using the same struts from the original tent frame from 1970. Really ugly... .

The main idea and justification is that a a ranger & station in the backcountry increases the ability of the NPS to protect the area through more immediate contact with people; longer time to pick up garbage and rehab campsites; as well as shorter response times for SARs and medicals; etc. The cabin itself, of course, is an intrusion on Wilderness, but the balance is that the ranger makes up for that by having the ability to do more protection of the area than without the station.

That, the wine cellar and hot tub will make our being stationed there more bearable... . (just to make sure: small joke...).

g.
_________________________
None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

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#3514 - 04/09/10 09:51 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: Steve C]
RoguePhotonic Offline


Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Bakersfield CA
I find it a bit comical to hear that they are replacing the Rae Lakes Cabin, I had to comment I was surprised how it was a crappy little cabin compared to others I had seen in less prominent areas.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/roguephotonic/3809279604/sizes/l/in/set-72157621984496668/

I bet the ranger in Leconte Canyon will be happy, he told me he stays there 8 months out of the year.


Edited by RoguePhotonic (04/09/10 09:52 PM)
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#3515 - 04/09/10 09:53 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: George]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
George, I'll be sure to make sure I visit for the opening of the new cabins. I prefer white wine, myself. smile

Seriously, though.

For me, the issue of having the backcountry cabins is not controversial...is there a lot of pushback on that issue? I'd imagine that some purists would object, but few reasonable people, when the case is laid out.

However, the issue of all the helicopter transport (and it must cost a fortune) is the "thing", for me. The sheer number of them, IN ADDITION to all the pack trips, seems to be way over the top. I can't imagine the budget for these...hundreds of thousands apiece--it SHOULD include hot tubs and wine cellars!

I read through the entire EA, I think, and I could not find a budget. Probably frightening.

However, the big picture of this, is the ASTONISHING WASTE of gov't resources on this project. Just looking at the list of all those consulted is terrifying. The "ologists" alone is amazing! It is no wonder that this has been "in process" for 4 years. If one added up the time of the people involved, I'm sure between a quarter and a half million dollars has been spent, already.

It is hard to imagine a simpler project.

6 year, hundreds of people, probably over a million dollars from start to finish.

And we wonder why our country is falling apart.

(shaking my head)

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#3524 - 04/10/10 06:25 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: Ken]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7191
Loc: Fresno, CA
I agree with you Ken. Only the cost of mule trains is expensive, too. You have to count both the immediate cost AND the cost to maintain the trail after so many hooves have torn it up.

That Rae Lakes cabin isn't a cabin -- It's a storage box!

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#3525 - 04/10/10 07:19 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: Steve C]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2203
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
Please order the following back-country building esthetics compared to the Rae Lakes shack. Feel free to add examples.

What do they have in common?

Ostrander
Mt. Whitney (pre Starbucks)
Sequoia Museum
Pear Lake


Edited by wagga (04/10/10 07:24 PM)
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Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

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#3526 - 04/10/10 07:36 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: Ken]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Ken:

Good new/bad news. It is expensive for all three stations, but nowhere near what you fear. NPS is so paranoid about lawsuits, I thought they delayed this a bit more than necessary. The conservation organizations were, generally, supportive because, like you, they recognized the trade offs.

We purposely wrote it such that there would be a trade off for helicopter vs. mules. On the whole, helicopter would only be used for material that couldn't be transported efficiently with mules, as well as to reduce some of the ecological impact of mules. We planned it to hold the stock in a restricted area and carry all their feed in. It'll still create an impact zone, but will be limited.

The 'ologists' were close to free in the sense that they were already working and just read drafts and made comments. Hard to compute the cost there, but it's slight. Nothing over their regular salary, so maybe some other work is delayed slightly.

I am totally (!) winging it here. I've not been involved for over a year, but the entire project is probably less than $300,000 -- that's planning, tearing down the old stations and building new ones. We're probably talking a life of at least 50 years -- likely more -- for each station, so that seems semi-reasonable (still a lot of money, but consider the location to get stuff in).

Since I contributed to what I also thought was often overkill, part of the problem is agencies get sued all the time. They have to show that every potential impact was considered and those impacts mitigated, where possible. In the best case, this is the agency making a real effort to be as careful as possible about how we treat the land. Worst case, of course, is just filling up pages for CYA. Again, one of those balance things... . It was, though, taken over by someone who knows more about planning documents than I did, so it's now pretty bomb-proof and even better represents the impacts and alternatives.

The truly bad news is one of my great lines was edited out. One of the phrases that looks cool is "traditional fenestration", which just means windows that look good in a rustic setting vs., say, aluminum frames. So: the LeConte station's sink doesn't drain. This requires rangers to "defenestrate the gray water through the non-traditional fenestration" (throw the dish water out the window). A sad loss to EA literature... .

g.
_________________________
None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

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#3532 - 04/10/10 11:30 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: George]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7191
Loc: Fresno, CA
Truly a sad loss, George.  Truly!   cry

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#3533 - 04/10/10 11:54 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: George]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
George, thanks for your considered response. I am sure that I could not function in the environment that you must, although I live in a world of litigation fear, myself.

The dollars are FAR more reasonable than I would have thought.
At an amortized cost of about $2,000/hut/year, that is awfully reasonable.

Wish there was some way to generate money from them, like the ski huts (although that is probably not a money maker, anyway).

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#3537 - 04/11/10 04:28 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: Ken]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Don't you just love Government speak? Couldn't they for once speak plain English?

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#3566 - 04/13/10 09:04 AM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: Rod]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Quote:
Don't you just love Government speak? Couldn't they for once speak plain English?


A great question, of course. But it's not just the government -- it's any organization, including English departments. Maybe especially English departments. When writing this stuff, I get sucked into many of these phrases too.

I'm not real sure why tortured syntax and impenetrable prose take over so easily. If you're half way serious about it, you know you're writing something to explain to the public what it is you're doing, why, and what the effects of that action are. The conscious writer knows that the Anglo Saxon words are, with few exceptions, always going to be the best choice. For the entire genre (what's the Anglo Saxon equivalent??) I think it's a combination of laziness -- just copying and pasting from other documents that have been approved; wanting to sound educated (the priesthood/man behind the curtain effect); and really not knowing any better -- not having an ear for what sounds good and makes your point effectively yet simply. Of course, you can poke some fun at the style to see if anyone's paying attention (fenestration), but sometimes it confirms your worst fears.

One time, I put this into a draft:

Quote:
This alternative calls for the complete removal
of a monarch giant sequoia in the Big Stump
Grove. As part of the larger sequoia grove
ecosystem, the loss of one tree has a negligible
adverse impact on sequoia groves in the Sierra or
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The
removal of one of the few ancient survivors from
the Big Stump Grove logging of the late 1800s
would have a minor adverse impact on sequoia
groves. At death, a great keening and lamentation
for a fallen monarch is taken up by giant
sequoias throughout the Sierra. Many are scarred
forever and become morose and apathetic, refusing
to pose for photos or provide for the enjoyment
of future generations. Why bother? A very few go
renegade, knowing that time is on their side.
They plot vengeance. Waiting, waiting, waiting... .


It went through four edits and no one picked up on it!! Finally one of the Sequoia experts wrote me a "hey, wait a minute" note. The utterly humorless compliance specialist just crossed it out without comment. Sigh... .

I'll see if OldRanger from the High Sierra Topix Forum wants to weigh in. He's written a bunch of compliance documents and might have some thoughts.

g.

PS: just found the note from the second guy to spot it:

Quote:
This kind of reminds me of when a group of us were tasked by Management (notice the capital letter) with drafting SEKI's Strategic Plan back in the 1990s. My bleary recollection is that in the draft document someone (Annie?) replaced all occurrences of "cross-training" with "cross-dressing," and it went utterly unnoticed by Management. So we had nice phrases like "management will support and encourage employee cross-dressing ...."

It's the only way to stay sane when producing deathly bureaucratic documents that otherwise crush the spirit and stifle anything resembling creativity. At least that's what I tell myself.
_________________________
None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

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#3567 - 04/13/10 09:30 AM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: George]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7191
Loc: Fresno, CA
Tell me George, have you ever been taunted by a morose and apathetic renegade monarch while defenestrating contaminated waste water through a non-traditional orifice?

Probably would not be an enjoyable experience.

But it is the paradigm shifts that I worry about. Be wary. Be very wary!

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#3569 - 04/13/10 11:16 AM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: Steve C]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
George, you have had THIS compliance expert laughing all morning. That is just too funny, and so illustrative of how useful backup systems can be. (and how diligent editors can be)

I've often wondered how a typo could make it's way into a book, when you know it has been read many times. I suppose the book, being a product of a tree, is also waiting, waiting, waiting.......

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#3572 - 04/13/10 04:13 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: Ken]
Jim Offline


Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 1
Loc: Long Beach, California
The document seems about 20x longer than required- but I read or skimmed it all and generally agree the recommended alternative. In my comment I mentioned that a modern USFS outhouse would be a big step up in accomodations over the current cabins.

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#3574 - 04/13/10 05:21 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: Jim]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2203
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)


That eyesore could easily by demolished by this. Probably a good bear training tool, too.
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

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#3585 - 04/14/10 08:34 AM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: wagga]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
I wonder if he'd make those available on a GSA contract? I think every station should have one to repel boarders after 5PM or so (after my laborious climb up from the wine cellar with the evening's vintage, I'm done for the day...).

What a great demo -- boys and explosives! And what a glorious end to the venerable Rae station it would be!

g.
_________________________
None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

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#3744 - 04/25/10 06:51 PM Re: SEKI to replace backcountry ranger quarters [Re: George]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2203
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
It's only appropriate that this thread should end with a bang.
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

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