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Hiker Headlines: Marmot Meteorologist, Permit Planning, Face Masks, New Statue

Posted by cwakenshaw at Feb 04, 2021 01:42 PM |

It’s February 4. A groundhog forecasts 6 more weeks of winter. Applications for backcountry permits will open soon with some changes due to the pandemic. The National Park Service announced a mask requirement in buildings, facilities and outside where physical distancing is not possible. A statue of Billy Frank Jr. may replace the current statue that represents Washington State at the National Capitol.

It’s February 4. A groundhog forecasts 6 more weeks of winter. Applications for backcountry permits will open soon. The National Park Service announced a mask requirement. A statue of Billy Frank Jr. may replace the current statue that represents Washington State at the National Capitol. Here’s some news you may have missed while out on trail this week.

A marmot sits on top of a rock
The famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil is a species of marmot, similar to hoary marmots found sunbathing in the Cascades.

6 more weeks of winter: The forecast from Groundhog Day this past Tuesday is for 6 more weeks of winter. Stay safe by following these winter safety tips, which includes checking a source other than a groundhog for a detailed forecast (Northwest Avalanche Center is a good bet). A groundhog is a type of marmot similar to the furry creatures known by Washington hikers for sunbathing on rocks in the mountains. We’ve never known one to predict the weather though.

Backcountry Permits: A backcountry or wilderness permit is required to spend the night in certain areas, and applications are opening soon. The permit system varies between land managers (and many land managers have made changes this year due to covid), so it’s a good idea to start researching and planning now. Learn more about how permits work and when applications open for each area.

Mask Requirement: In compliance with a recent executive order, the National Park Service announced new mask requirements. Masks must be worn in all federal buildings and facilities as well as anywhere on land managed by the Park Service where physical distancing is not possible, like narrow trails and crowded viewpoints. Learn more about hiking in the time of coronavirus.

New statue: State legislators are proposing replacing the statue that represents Washington at the National Capitol in D.C. with one of Billy Frank Jr, Native American activist. The outdoor recreation community expressed support for the bill when it was heard in the House Committee on State Government and Tribal Relations Monday. It will need to move out of committee before moving forward.


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