Due to previously unknown federal permit requirements we will be unable to make a vehicle crossing of the river to provide transport for volunteer workers and equipment. The lead time for receiving one of the fisheries permits is 30-45 days minimum, six months possible. By the start of October we are likely to see the Forest Service hazmat closure begin and the water level rising.
We are reassessing our situation, hoping to have both group and individual opportunities to take down and store interpretive signs and cut brush prior to the start of the exclusion, which is likely to keep people out until at least the start of summer 2015.
Check in soon for more information!
Due to complexities with the Washington State Department of Fisheries & Wildlife application process, we have decided to postpone this Saturday’s work party. Instead, we are requesting our third crossing be moved to Saturday September 7and we be allowed to cross the river as planned on Saturdays August 24 and 31.
Yesterday Bill Rawlins and David Cameron accompanied state fisheries agent Wendy Cole and Jeremy Gilman of the Forest Service in inspecting our proposed crossing area below Twin Bridges. This is where we have forded before. There are no physical problems, although endangered bull trout have a 2012 redd (nesting site) below the second bridge. The trout usually will come back to the same spot, necessitating our keeping up on the bridge rather than fording that smaller channel.
However, there now are issues as to whether we should also have consulted with federal fisheries agencies as well as the state. This is new information for us and grows out of the 2007 listing of the chinook salmon as an endangered species, joining the steelhead and bull trout. We have no idea as to how this will sort out but are hoping to have a permit this coming week. Again, we will let you know as soon as we hear, which was this morning in today’s case.
Bill and David later talked with Forest Service On-Site Director Joe Gibbens at Verlot. He said that Palm Construction Co. of Winthrop has the contract, and their trucks were hauling top dressing for the first 3000′ of the pioneer road. Starting this coming week their full crew will be working seven days per week on the project, starting with construction of the first of three stream crossing bridges between the end of the pioneer road and the junction with the existing county road atop Hap’s Hill. How well the first bridge goes together will determine the speed at which the following two might be assembled and indicate if the road might be completed by the onset of autumn rains in October. All three will have precast concrete sills with log stringers. The first two are 45-50′ long, the second 60′.
There is a possibility that we might be allowed to drive in on the road late this fall once it is completed to the townsite. That will be for removal of cabin items and MCPA supplies which might otherwise have to be left until we are allowed back in come he summer of 2015. If the road is incomplete that option will not exist.
Public access as before will end once the construction reaches the top of Hap’s Hill, as equipment will be operating on the final two miles of the county road. The major spot for widening will be the section where the river has eroded a hole under the grade and exposed the old railroad rails. At this point we probably will be able to hike in until the end of September/start of October. We will post updates as we receive them from project director Gibbens.
As soon as we know the results of the river examination on Thursday by the Washington State Department of Fisheries and Wildlife we will post the results. Approval of our request to make a single vehicle crossing forth and back to transport volunteer workers and equipment from Twin Bridges to the townsite depends on that check. As in previous years, volunteers will hike the mile to the bridges (whose approach is washed out), cross the river on foot, and then have a ride the three remaining miles to Monte Cristo, with rides out to the bridges in late afternoon.
To join us in our work preparing the townsite for the upcoming winters and summer/s of public exclusion we will be taking down and storing interpretive signs, brushing, and doing small maintenance tasks. To save room, please bring your own sack lunch and snacks, water, and appropriate tools and clothing for what you would like to do. If you have questions, call (360) 793-1534 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org before Saturday morning.
We hope to repeat this the two following Saturdays.
We have been advised by On-Site Coordinator Joe Gibbens that work constructing the new hazmat access road from Mowich (below Barlow Pass on the Darrington side) will begin this week. It had been expected to begin as soon as snow and soil conditions allowed. Further, foot and bike travel into Monte Cristo should be possible through the end of September rather than “early summer” as originally forecast. Closure remains predicated on the completion of the new road three miles to its intersection with the existing county road at its mile post 2, atop Hap’s Hill. At this point it is unknown how this delay will affect the overall schedule for the cleanup, which was planned to be completed in 2014.