Seaplane pilots will continue to enjoy camping on Ross Lake in the North Cascades National Park as the National Park Service released the Final Ross Lake National Recreation Area General Management Plan (GMP) and Environmental Impact Statement Dec. 1.
Officials with the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association (WSPA) said they were very pleased to see the outcome of this effort to produce a plan for the lake and surrounding area, which will guide operations for the next 15 to 20 years. WSPA applauds the work of the Park Service in reaching a compromise among their visitors.
Ross Lake is a man-made lake in the North Cascades which provides power to a large portion of the City of Seattle. While officially a National Recreation Area, it is surrounded by the North Cascades National Park and is managed by the NPS. Ross Lake is not generally accessible via automobile and most visitors reach the lake via a hike and a boat trip on a lower lake (Diablo), then travel to campsites via a fleet of 30 motorboats managed by the Ross Lake Resort. Ross Lake has over 20 campsites maintained by the NPS which are a favorite destination for many WSPA’s members, along with the 10 cabins owned and managed by the Ross Lake Resort. The resort was founded by Wayne Dameron, a seaplane pilot who used an Aeronca Champ and a Cessna 195 as his preferred method to access the lake.
The initial draft of the plan limited seaplane access to campsites and the vast majority of the lake. Furthermore it would have created an unsafe situation for flying into and out of a small section of the lake.
Upon realizing the GMP process was little known by seaplane pilots, WSPA jumped in to provide input from its members. WSPA created a core team of approximately 30 members who had personal interest in Ross Lake. The NPS readily accepted the input and adapted their plans with a compromise that addressed pilot concerns. WSPA also worked to alleviate any concerns about excessive noise by developing a document advising procedures for noise abatement on Ross Lake (available here) and is providing training to members on these procedures. Other organizations jumped in to help, including AOPA-Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, CSPA-Columbia Seaplane Pilots Association, RAF-Recreational Aviation Foundation, SPA-Seaplane Pilots Association, WPA-Washington Pilots Association and others.
WSPA strongly supports the Final GMP and applauds the personnel of the NPS for their dedication in completing the plan. Stephen Ratzlaff, president of the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association, stated, “We were very impressed with the professionalism demonstrated by the personnel of the National Park Service and their sincere desire to understand our concerns and work out a fair comprise for all visitors.”