An Update Regarding the Future Return of TMSP to the Table Mountain Site

The most frequent question the Directors of TMSPA have been asked since 2013 is "When are we going back to Table Mountain?"

The honest answer is, at this point we really don't know when - if ever - we'll be issued a permit from the Forest Service to use the Table Mountain site.

Since the fire in September of 2012, we have been in ongoing talks with our representative at the Forest Service regarding obtaining the Special Use Permit we would need to return to our traditional site. In the last round of talks through the end of 2016 and into 2017, the general consensus of the Forest Service has been a continuing "wait and see" mentality about issuing permits. We have filed applications with the Forest Service with several options for areas of possible usage for the Table Mountain site, and the feedback on those options was that it would be the most restrictive of the options that they would possibly consider, which would limit our attendance to approximately 200. Our application was tabled through 2017 as the Forest Service declined issuing us a permit.

Looking to the future, it seems somewhat unlikely that the Forest Service will relent and issue us a permit moving forward. We will continue our efforts to obtain a permit, but we are not hopeful. The major concern of the Forest Service is risk to attendees from dead, burned trees (termed "dead-falls") falling on people using the area. We're now entering the time period after a major fire - seven to twelve years post-fire - for dead-falls to peak. The Forest Service is also concerned about any large group using a site because of the impact it may have on an area in the process of recovering from a major fire.

Thus, it would seem, that the Table Mountain Star Party is going to be in a prolonged period of displacement from our namesake site.

TMSPA has known that, since theTable Mountain / Lion Rock area was opened to public access, there have been informal gatherings for an "alternate Table Mountain star party" put together through messaging on the various astronomy forums. Which is fine with us at TMSPA - we hold no dominion over the site and the public is free to do as they wish. Our only concern is that gatherings like that give the impression that it's fine for TMSPA to use the site but that we don't want to go back. That's no the case. TMSPA is at the mercy of the Forest Service for issuing us a Special Use Permit.

When we began searching for an alterate site, we knew there were going to have to be compromises made. Increased distance from Seattle and the Greater Puget Sound area where the bulk of our historic attendee base hails from was going to be the biggest problem. We looked at sites as far south as the Satus Pass area, east to the Quincy region and up through the Okanogan basin. When we found Eden Valley, it was the best site in terms of size, access and facilities. But it also added three hours to the travel time of our attendee base. We hoped that the pluses of the Eden Valley location would help offset the detraction of distance; that turned out not to be

Since the founding of TMSP, members of the Board continued searching the Kittitas County area for an alternate location that would suit our needs and be free of some the restrictions imposed by being on Forest Service land. No such suitable site was ever located after weeks and hundreds of miles driven through the area. When we were forced to find an

We are grateful for the support from the community of our attendees, and we look forward to serving you for many years to come.

The TMSPA Board of Directors