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9 Conclusions and Recommendations Snow avalanches are a multifaceted, complex component of the national ground-failure problem (National Research Council, 1985) and the international natural hazard problem (National Research Council, 1987~. While snow avalanches do not affect the overall U.~. population as much as other ground failure hazards, they are a problem that requires greater attention and it deserves increased and sustained funding. Avalanches are the most frequent catastrophic mass movement in the nation and the single greatest natural hazard to winter activities in mountainous areas. Avalanche hazard is becoming more significant as development and recreation increase in mountain regions. The U.S. scientific and technological effort in avalanche work is minimal, and the nation lags other countries managing this problem. Existing avalanche programs in the United States are small and, on the whole, are declining in response to the withdrawal of previously limited but critical federal funding. There is no national program for avalanche prediction, mitigation, education, or research, nor any formal coordination of these activities at other levels of government. Whereas avalanche management is accorded some local emphasis, current strategies are carried out on an ad hoc reactive basis rather than comprehensively; standardization does not exist from one region to another. Although several agencies are involved in some aspects of avalanche forecasting, including the U.S. Forest Service, the National Weather Service, and the National Park Service, no unifying policy exists. No federal agency carries out or actively supports avalanche research; develops hazard- delineation or hazard-mitigation methodologies; or provides technical assistance to state, local, and private organizations wishing to reciuce avalanche hazards. Research of this kind is carried out by the U.S. Geological Survey for other kinds of slope failures, but the results of such studies have not yet been adapted to slope problems involving snow. Avalanche control methods, especially those involving explosives, present serious hazards both to the public and to operators and can be properly addressed only at the national level. The following findings and recommendations are presented as a basis for addressing key problems. 69

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70 NATIONAL LEADERSIIIP There is no overall organization or focus on this increasingly significant natural hazard. As a result, mechanisms for communication, regulation, and support are not well developed. No government agency accepts overall responsibility or takes a leadership position in matters related to avalanche hazard identification, mitigation, relief, or research. Resolution of this issue is of highest priority. The provisions of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, as applied to snow avalanches, are not at present adequately addressed: it is one matter to establish such a directive and another for agencies to possess the wall, institutional capability, and funding resources for its effective implementation. The International and the United States Decade for Natural Hazard Reduction provide a timely opportunity to focus on these issues, but it remains to he seen whether the opportunity is converted into action. Recommendations I. The federal government should assume specific but limited responsibilities for avalanche hazard delineation and control. These could include (a) the development of methodologies for delineation and control on a variety of scales, (b) pilot mapping ant! control demonstrations, and (c) avalanche mapping and control in support of the missions of federal agencies. In addition, the federal government should work with other parties to provide cooperative support, information, and technical assistance to state, local, and private organizations. 2. Research under national leadership should be undertaken to improve the technical base for avalanche forecasting, control, land-use planning, and public warning systems. A modest program including field, laboratory, and theoretical research on avalanche initia- tion and dynamics, coupled with avalanche prediction and meteorological moclels, control measures, and risk appraisal, should be carried out through (a) interdisciplinary research in appropriate federal agencies and (b) support and maintenance of a research capability in universities through funding by the National Science Foundation. 3. To assist, review, and delineate the above tasks within the federal establishment, the federal government should establish a mechanism for program initza~on and coordination among the federal agencies having responsibilities related to slope failure, snow research, ad- minzstration of federal lands containing avalanche hazards, and administration of forecasting centers. A short-lived interagency task force or interagency coordinating committee might be an appropriate way to accomplish this important purpose. Agency representatives shouIcl include the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and National Weather Service, among others. 4. Effective nationwide coordination of avalanche management and research programs is necessary. The coordination entity should not be a federal agency but rather a U.S. national-level committee consisting of representatives from government, academia, industry, and professional organizations. Whatever its nature, the specific interests of federal, state, or local agencies as well as private institutions having responsibility for various aspects of avalanche mitigation should be represented. 5. The purpose of the committee would be to provide sustained momentum and guidance toward the solution of these problems. Such a committee, analogous to the advisory Swiss Federal Commission for Snow and Avalanche Research, could be organized and maintained over the long term under a committee of the National Research Council

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71 - ~ charged with reduction of natural hazards or, alternatively, as a pane! within the Committee on Glaciology of the NRC's Polar Research Board. (The former may seem preferable inasmuch as avalanches are not strictly a "polar" problem, but the latter may offer advantages of long-term stability). 6. This committee could provide a central focus now absent and offer guidance within the following tasks: . a. Provide sustained authoritative support for federal programs. b. Provide guidelines for appropriate areas of research at universities and in the private sector. c. Establish and coordinate a program of technology transfer that will closely monitor the extensive avalanche work being done in other parts of the world and make it available to domestic research and application communities. This wall provide a cost-effective method for maintaining a state-of-the-art expertise in the United States. d. Establish a centralized information archive to manage the wide range of technical data and educational materials pertinent to avalanche work. e. Provide a forum to encourage legislative innovation. HAZARD DELINEATION AND REGULATION One of the most effective ways to reduce avalanche damage is to locate development only on low-hazard ground and to dedicate high-hazard ground to open space and low- intensity use. Where land values are high, expensive engineering solutions may be justified. Land-use control programs are best carried out at the local level, but they require adequate mapping and enabling legislation that may involve state or federal entities. The development and implementation of design and building practices that minimize avalanche damage are to some extent complicated by geographic (climate zone) variations on the nature of avalanche risk, the small number of trained geotechnical engineers assigned to code development and enforcement, and the lack of national leadership. Greater emphasis could be placed on the application of current knowledge as a basis for code development. Recommendations I. The federal government should encourage the consideration and effective use of land-use controls bv state and local governments to mitigate avalanche hazards. 2. , ~ ~ States should mandate, enable, or otherwise provide encouragement to local gov- ernments to adopt regulations that wait lead to the identification of avalanche hazards and to their avoidance through the control of land development. 3. Local governments should require developers to map and disclose information about hazardous areas. 4. Local governments should post readily visible warning signs to alert prospective developers and purchasers to an avalanche hazard. Such warnings should be based on adequate data and be posted where avalanche areas intersect or abut public rights-of-way, such as "slide area" signs along highways. Warnings can also take the form of rubber- stamped notations on subdivision plots or on building or zoning permits. 5. The technical base for code development should be maintained by technology transfer. The codes themselves should be developed at state and local levels in response to regional and local conditions.

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72 CONTROL MEASURES Much avalanche incidence and damage can be reduced by prudent and innovative structural control measures. Critical issues involving public and user safety arise in the case of explosive control measures, particularly with regard to the use of artillery weapons. Recommendations 1. Pilot studies of structural control effectiveness should be conducted in a variety of settings to establish the adequacy of design criteria and to identify appropriate practices in terms of costs and benefits. 2. The results should be applied at state and local levels in response to regional and local conditions, with technology transfer made available through federal agencies. 3. A federal program should be established to ensure the safe use of explosive systems, including military artillery, in avalanche control programs. This program should consider such issues as safety training and certification standards for users, inventory of critical munitions, spare parts, aging ammunition, ammunition storage and transportation, and the problem of lost and unexploded but fully armed shells (duds). 4. Many of the operational problems associated with artillery control are eliminated by use of cable delivery systems. Further attention to cable delivery technology is therefore encouraged. FORECASTING Forecasting provides information about current mountain conditions that helps people to avoid or to minimize exposure to avalanches. Despite the valuable service provided by regional forecast centers in the United States, the administration and funding of these centers are fragmented, and several centers have financial problems and concern for survival. Development of new forecasting methodologies for avalanche forecasting is now carried out mainly in Europe, where government financial support is available. Recommendations I. Regional avalanche hazard forecasting centers should receive adequate federal assistance, in compliance with the directive to issue warnings in the Disaster Relief Act of 1974. 2. A data base essential to future computer-based forecasting in the United States is being maintained at minimum levels by the regional centers and by the Westwide data network. This data base should at least be maintained and, if possible, upgraded. Addi- tional federal funding is needed now for equipment maintenance, repair, replacement, and modernization. RESEARCH While there are many practical working models of avalanche initiation and dynamic behavior, quantitative unclerstanding of the process is limited. Related topics include snow mechanics, mountain meteorology, and flow modeling, which have direct impact on fore- casting and the avoidance and control of avalanche hazards. Research is also needed to

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73 develop and test new control methods for reinforcing the snowpack, for releasing subcritical snow slabs by safe explosive procedures, and for designing structures to resist avalanche damage. New developments in geophysics such as acoustics, frequency moclulated, con- tinuous wave (FMCW) and Doppler radar, and satellite microwave radiometry are being developed and have potential application in avalanche hazard reduction. Automated data collection systems based on electronic instrumentation are available for remote measure- ment of snow conditions, movement, and meteorology. Such systems could serve the dual roles of monitoring and early warning. Re commen da don s I. Existing avalanche forecasting centers should be funded at a higher level to allow a modest program of research that would include gathering information for a national data base on avalanches. Such information is essential for statistically based forecast procedures. 2. Additional funding sources for inclividual project research should be clearly desig- nated to encourage university participation. Funding should be made available for address- ing the key issues of the avalanche problem. 3. An ideal solution would be the establishment of a national research center dedicated to avalanche research. 4. A more cost-effective alternative would be to attach avalanche research to an ex- isting laboratory or center dedicated to a relevant but broader-based program, as presently accomplished by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute. The U.S. Geological Survey Lanci- sTide Program is suggested as a crime candidate. Other candidates include the regional O 00 ~ ~ experiment stations of the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Coic! Regions Research Laboratory in New Hampshire. 5. Research carried out by state, local, or private entities should be encouraged, particularly in regard to control measures and field sites. 6. Cooperative investigations between U.S. and foreign research institutions should be encouraged. COMMUNICATIONS There is currently inadequate transfer and dissemination of existing and new technolo- gies and of stored data applicable to avalanche identification, analysis, and control. With research support approaching zero in the United States, the information gap triggered by the U.S. Forest Servicers withdrawal from technology transfer has not been filled. Activities of the American Association of Avalanche Professionals, the International Snow Science Workshop, and the National Ski Patrol System help reduce this information gap as well as the incidence of recreational accidents, but all are in need of additional support. Recommendations I. Existing information dissemination programs should be supported with increased federal and state funding. 2. Partnerships and cost-sharing enterprises between public and private sector special interest groups should be encouraged.

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74 3. Programs should be established to translate significant foreign research findings for wider use in the United States and to publish and disseminate key technical documents. CONCLUDING REMARKS Snow avalanche risk is increasing measurably in the United States as development and recreational use of mountain areas accelerate. Despite the destructive nature of snow avalanches and the dangers they pose for mountain residents ant! tourists, there is no coordinated national leadership in avalanche hazard management. There is no national program to set policy, define standards and guidelines, or establish effective communication in such critical areas as prediction, education, land-use planning, and basic research. No government agency assumes responsibility for coordination of the existing ad hoc efforts of government and the private sector. There is a void of leadership, and individuals and groups involved in the identification, evaluation, and solution of problems related to avalanche hazard no longer have a specific agency or facility to consult for guidance and expertise. The cost-effective solutions proposed here include the establishment of a national-level committee representing government, academia, and industry to encourage, coordinate, and assist the federal government in assuming its specific but limited responsibilities for hazard delineation and mitigation and modest agency support for research and communication programs aimed at hazard mitigation.