Retiring forester remembers 'territorial bees'

The Hood River County Forestry Department honored Keith Zacha on Tuesday for 30 years of service.

Zacha, 52, retired this week for relocation to Sedalia, Mo., where his wife Amy’s family will help him settle in as a farmer and rancher. But first the Zachas, including daughter Nadia, 5, plan to enjoy a leisurely driving trip across the states to take advantage of the freedom from the company clock.

“We’re going to raise a garden, raise horses and just a little bit of everything,” said Zacha, who began his career with the county in 1972 as a forestry technician.

At that time he was working with two fellow employees, a number that has risen to seven during his tenure to meet the growing work schedule and regulatory conditions imposed by the Forest Practices Act.

“I think the way Ken Galloway has set the direction for management of the county forests has been really good because he is maximizing both growth and revenue,” said Zacha, who has acted as a timber cruiser to survey forest parcels and set the value and costs for logging operations. He has also served on fire crews and helped inventory the county’s woodland holdings.

Over the three-decade span of his career, Zacha said timber harvest has changed dramatically, from a downsizing of equipment to more selective logging and greater protection of riparian areas. The methodology for his job has also become more efficient. Hand-held computers have replaced the paper, pencil and slide rules that were once used to determine timber volumes. Now a central computer generates an assortment of reports and maps to pinpoint acreage.

Although working with natural resources has always appealed to the Hood River native, he admits that being in the great outdoors has been physically challenging at times.

“I remember the time a swarm of territorial bees was chasing me through the woods,” said Zacha. “There have been a lot of interesting challenges with this job and I was lucky to work with such a great bunch of guys.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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