What should be done with Camp Muir high on Mount Rainier? That's the question Mount Rainier National Park officials are grappling with. The facility is extremely strained by climbers and day hikers, and improvements are needed.
With as many as 500 folks visiting the facility some days during the peak season, and perhaps 110 of them spending the night, it's not hard to imagine the demands on the camp that is located along the route that John Muir followed in 1888 when he climbed to the mountain's summit.
"The popularity of Camp Muir as a climbing base camp and destination day hike strains existing toilet and overnight facilities, and has contributed to erosion of the pumice soils on the ridge. Extreme environmental conditions also contribute to the deterioration of structures and challenge park managers in their efforts to maintain the site and its public facilities," park officials note in the narrative of their draft environmental assessment that analyzes four alternatives for rehabilitating the camp.
The alternatives consider potential impacts and benefits of various approaches to rehabilitate the Camp Muir Historic District, which is located at an elevation of 10,080 feet.
Four alternatives were analyzed: Alternative 1 (No Action); Alternative 2, representing minimum development in which structures that are not historic would be removed; Alternative 3, in which non-historic structures are replaced with new structures compatible with the Historic District near their current locations; and Alternative 4, which also replaces non-historic structures with new compatible structures, but with a modified spatial arrangement.
The park's preferred alternative "would replace non-historic shelters with new structures that are compatible with the Historic District. The Client and Butler shelters would be removed and replaced. The new shelters would be designed to consider enclosures for utilities to minimize visual impact to the Historic District. The shelters would also be designed to provide more efficient storage."
Public comment on the alternatives is being sought through September 10. Several public meetings are scheduled, including one in Ashford, Washington, at the park's headquarters-Education Center on August 9, and another in Tacoma at a date to be determined.
You can find the entire EA at this site.