|Friday, Jul 26, 2013|
A ribbon-cutting ceremony can signify an ending or launch a new venture. Sometimes it does both, as was the case when neighbors, partners and national park staff gathered on July 6th at Mount Rainier National Park for the grand opening of the Carbon River Ranger Station. The event marked a major milestone for new park lands recently acquired in the northwest corner of the park.
Former property owner John Thompson and family members held the giant scissors that severed the green ribbon in front of the newly renovated ranger station, which had been his family’s home from 1954 until 2010. Acquisition of the Thompson house and its 188 acres are part of what will eventually be an 800-acre boundary expansion that was authorized by Congress in 2004.
Goals of the expansion included allowing the park to move the Carbon River administrative facilities to a more sustainable location. Future plans could include development of a drive-in campground and picnic area – these to replace the popular Ipsut Creek campground that is no longer accessible by vehicles due to a road washout in 2006.
“This is a celebration of a significant accomplishment for the park, and for all the people who care about the Carbon and have worked for the last twenty years to make this place, this day, possible,” said Superintendent Randy King, who added that the new ranger station represents the park’s long-term commitment to the Carbon River corridor. To date, the NPS has acquired approximately 755 acres in the Carbon River Valley, all from willing sellers.
Located a few miles from the park boundary, the former Thompson House is situated on high ground along the road used by those accessing public lands in the region. And unlike the river-side contact station it replaces, the new facility is a well-lighted, airy place for visitors to talk with park staff, get books and maps, obtain permits … and use the last flush toilet along the road. It will also serve as a base for search and rescue operations, and provide some housing for seasonal staff.
King emphasized that future development will take time, patience and persistence. “Nothing here happened in a hurry,” he said. “But with most lands now acquired, planning to achieve long term conservation and recreation goals within the Carbon River area of the park can move forward.”
Key stakeholders and partners in the land acquisition process include John and Yolanda Thompson, the Marsh Family, Forterra, Pierce County officials, Pierce County Department of Parks and Recreation, the Trust for Public Lands, the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition, and the state’s Congressional delegation. A special note of congratulations to the park’s maintenance team, and PWR’s Columbia-Cascades Land Resources Program Center staff.