Thursday, December 29, 2011

Biggest Dam News Stories for 2011: Olympic Peninsula Version

In the Spirit of year end lists, I decided to compile a list of the top 5 news events from the Olympic Peninsula this year. Many of these slide through the new cycle, as the population is so low that few people ever hear about the events from the Olympic National Park. The National Park does have a newspaper of it's own, but generally, The Bugler fails to cover all the aspects of the park. This list isn't about me, the hikes I went on, the R2D2 climbing helmet I have or my political views; this list is about my favorite news for the park. Without further delay, here we go.

5) We start with something cool, which I didn't hear about until I happened to go to the bank one day and my usual teller told me she had
something that I would be
excited to see. Hoping someone donated millions of dollars, I quickly rushed to the front (but not quickly enough to arouse suspicion, as I always am wearing sunglasses) where she was waiting for me, holding something in her hand.
In her hand was one of the first pressed Olympic National Park Quarters! I was beyond stoked. Rarely does my nerdy side cross paths with my outdoor side so here, in her hand was a great surprise.
If I were you, I'd keep an eye out for these guys, are they are rare and awesome, giving the holder a quick lesson in beauty and the history of the park.

4) Driving out to the Hoh Rainforest, you may get tired and need a break to stretch your legs and use the bathroom. Lake Quinault gives you this, plus amazing views and delicious snacks. However, around this area you may see signage in people's yards, similar to the sign you see on the left. This is huge news, as the Wild Olympics strives to keep land protected from exploitation and use of resources.

Now, I could launch into a tirade about how land needs to be saved and such, but one must remember that the economies of these areas were hit quite hard 30 years ago with timber restrictions and
the spotted owl, so their argument has a lot of merit behind it as well. Whether you agree with land protection from the government, or
responsible use by the people, the Wild Olympics/Stop Wild Olympics movement was a great story. This will also probably be a huge story in 2012, so set up an alert for this, as it could get ugly in this upcoming election year.

3) Thanks to the bad economy, mismanagement of our tax dollars and an antiquated tax code, the State of Washington tried to help with the budget cuts by charging to access
State Parks. While this has it's merits in good intentions, the DISCOVER PASS was a huge failure, resulting in the layoffs of over 80 park rangers. While I feel strongly about access to the park for everyone, both sides have good arguments and something needs to be done to keep roads open, campsites clean and safe and access given to ALL citizens of the world, not just those who can afford it.

2) In a story of human stupidity meeting greed, we have our 2nd best story. In 2010, a man was killed by a mountain goat by Hurricane Ridge and his family decide to sue the national park.
While death is bad, especially when it is not due to old age, this is just ridiculous. The man was killed by a goat that was aggressive. To me, most wild animals are indeed WILD ANIMALS. This means that their actions can't be predicted and one should deal with them as if they could kill you. If you can get bit by a raccoon and get rabies, I assume a mountain goat can gore me; seems logical to me. The man is dead and can't speak, but I assume he is looking down (or up...I didn't know the man) at his family thinking that the 10 million dollar suit against the park is retarded. I don't toss that word around much, but the family of the man must have serious mental deficiencies to think that a) the park was at fault and b) that the park has $10,000,000.
There is a lot more to this suit and while I know the family is hurting, they need to remember that any time you enter nature, you may die. Do you sue the highway because a family member dies in an accident?

1) Finally, we have the biggest Dam Story of the year. According to NewsHour, the Elwha Dam removal is a huge project. They say that "The world's biggest dam removal project -- and the second-largest environmental restoration project in U.S. history -- is in progress on the Elwha River on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State"
99 years ago, the damn Dam was started, and 100 years later, it is being torn down. In fact, this project is so big, I am only going to highlight it now and write a bigger blog on this issue later. Dam removals are important and restoring a river where Coho salmon used to run is always great, but what I am most excited for are the new trails and animals in the area.

With new birds, less people and more nature, I am sure I am going to be recommending this area to everyone I know. In fact, check out these links below and enjoy!

-Everything else about this Dam Project (Seriously...everything)

With that, my list is done. I am thankful for all of you who have helped make this the best year for Exotic Hikes. Without you, without this park, I would not be able to make this possible, so thank you.
I look forward to another great year and safe happy hiking!

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