County looks at forest rec regulations

The Hood River County Commission learned on Monday that a new culture has taken root beneath the canopy of its public forests.

More than 30 mountain bikers and motorcycle riders briefed the elected body on the numerous recreational activities taking place simultaneously in the woods. In one voice, they agreed the varied uses, from hiking to “extreme” stunts, needed to be regulated — but not without more of an understanding about their individual merits.

“I think there needs to be a collaboration to ensure that trail use is responsible,” said Richard Lee, a mountain biker.

Under discussion was the proposed Forest Trail Recreation Ordinance that is intended to set the framework for future rules. Forester Ken Galloway, who manages 31,000 acres of county timber, wants to increase tourism opportunities but, at the same time, safeguard natural resources. The county also wants to prevent liability from any injuries that are incurred from the construction of elaborate ramp systems built by “extreme” bikers.

The draft plan is being revised to incorporate language suggested by several state agencies. The county also wants it to state that first priority will be given to the protection of timber that yields $4 million in revenue each year. The updated ordinance will be posted on the county Web site,, in about two weeks. It is scheduled to be given a final review at a hearing on Oct. 20.

Several audience members informed the commission on Sept. 15 that “beauty was in the eye of the beholder.” They said most of the ramps — some more than 20 feet high — are not as dangerous as they might appear to a novice in the sport. They said “free riders” typically wear heavy padding and are frequently assisted by other individuals on the ground. In addition, they said less daring riders also routinely use the lower ramps during their cross country biking adventures.

Shane Wilson, owner of Discover Bicycles, suggested that the structures be built in a manner that lowered the possibility of injury and didn’t damage trees by being permanently fastened to branches and trunks.

“All of these uses are viable and can be managed in a safe way,” said Wilson.

One mountain biker recommended that the county develop a stunt park modeled after structures in Canada. Although county officials declined an introductory riding lesson, Galloway plans to form a seven to nine member advisory committee to address issues related to trail use. He wants that group to include a spectrum of interests from the outdoor recreation community.

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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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