Olympic Hot Springs Road inside Olympic National Park will be closed for a month this fall.
The road running through the Elwha River valley is expected to be closed for about a month beginning Sept. 8. The closure is necessary to allow the park’s maintenance crew to make improvements to protect the road before the fall and winter rains arrive.
The road will be closed to all public access during the project to protect both public and employee safety, said park spokeswoman Barb Maynes. The daily work, including weekends, will involve heavy truck and equipment traffic.
“We understand that September is still a popular travel month, but it’s critical that we stabilize the road before rains and river flows increase this autumn,” park superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said in a news release.
The road was seriously damaged during last winter’s heavy rains and floods. Interim repairs were made in the spring, allowing visitor access throughout the summer.
September’s work is intended to complete flood repairs that began last February, immediately after the damage was incurred. With low water levels, crews will have access to portions of the river bank that were not accessible in winter and spring. Crews will place additional materials along the bank to provide erosion protection, Maynes said. Stabilization materials will include rock and gravel, along with logs, root wads and willow stakes to improve and protect fish habitat while protecting the road.
Also expected to be repaired this fall is the 4.5-mile Whiskey Bend Road. The road was extensively damaged last winter and has been closed to vehicles ever since, preventing vehicle access to the new viewpoint on the east side of the old Glines Canyon Dam.
Maynes said dates for this project have not yet been set.
OLYMPIC PARK MAP PROJECT
The National Park Service has awarded a $29,767 cooperative agreement to Portland State University for a vegetation inventory map project at the Olympic National Park.
As part of a national effort to develop baseline information about the status of existing natural resources, the Park Service is developing vegetation maps for all the national park units in the North Coast and Cascades Network, according to a news release.
While assessing the accuracy of a similar map for Mount Rainier National Park, it became apparent that determinations of plant associations made by various crews in the field over the years of data collection were inconsistent and not reliable enough to generate clear relationships among the computer based models and ground-collected data, according to the release. This predicament was particularly true for forested and subalpine areas. Because the map classes for the two parks are designed to be similar, this problem also applies to creating the Olympic vegetation map at acceptable levels of accuracy.
The school and agency will collaborate to conduct a thorough evaluation of Olympic mapping input and accuracy assessment field data, using the field data to refine and update map classes.
Portland State also will use new mapping techniques to improve the final map products and summarize project results to meet Park Service mapping standards.
June 2015: 160,878.
June 2014: 161,513.
Difference: -0.4 percent.
Year to date 2015: 357,446.
Year to date 2014: 303,159.
Difference: 17.9 percent.
The park is using five-year averages at the Nisqually entrance, its busiest, until the counter there is repaired in September or October. There also was a 34.4 percent decline in the number of visitors in the White River area, when compared to June 2014.
June 2015: 550,337.
June 2014: 396,184.
Difference: 38.9 percent.
Year to date 2015: 1,287,422.
Year to date 2014: 1,107,315.
Difference: 16.3 percent.
Last month’s recreation visit total was the highest for June in records going back to 1979. The big jump in June’s total, when compared to June 2014, was driven by large increases in visitors to the Lake Crescent, Elwha and Ozette districts.
National Park Service
June 2015: 35,666,012.
June 2014: 35,154,871.
Difference: 1.45 percent.
Year to date 2015: 134,456,366.
Year to date 2014: 129,888,651.
Difference: 3.52 percent.