Recreation Review Forest Service users help agency look forward for next five years

By SUE RYAN

News staff writer

February 10, 2007

People from Tygh Valley to Portland came to Hood River Wednesday night to help shape recreation on the Mt. Hood National Forest for the next five years.

The U.S. Forest Service invited the public to be involved at the beginning level of updating the master plan for recreation sites and facilities. The process is known officially as Recreation Site Facility Master Planning, or RSFMP. A second meeting will be held Tuesday night in Sandy.

Forest Supervisor Gary Larsen said that Mt. Hood is one of the first national forests to involve the public from the beginning. The other is El Dorado National Forest in California, which also began its planning process this week.

“In reality, we’re faced with flat or declining budgets since 1985, although that is not part of the RSFMP program,” Larsen said.

The agency maintains 169 recreation sites on the Mt. Hood National Forest. The area covers more than 60 miles from the Gorge to Olallie Scenic Area, a total of 1,067,043 acres.

The RSFMP program is how the Forest Service analyzes and ranks recreation sites. The meeting was the second step in a five-step process.

“Tonight’s meeting is not about those (169) sites but for you to share all the places you go and use in the forest and why you do it,” said Malcolm Hamilton, project coordinator.

The audience divided into four smaller groups to draw colored squiggles on clear plastic overlaying forest maps. Odell resident Jerry Thomas circled Lost, Timothy and Clear lakes. He serves as president of the Gorge Good Timers Snowmobile Club.

“The Lost Lake area is really important to me because I snowmobile up there a lot,” he said. “I also think there need to be some improvements at the boat ramp facility (at Timothy and Clear lakes) because it’s less than adequate for the handicapped.”

Participants also wrote on posters around the room answering seven different questions ranging from how important having water was at campsites, paying for recreation, and what they would value most about the forest 25 years from now.

The process is a tool the agency has used since 2002 to evaluate and prioritize sites for action. While the letter the Forest Service sent out stated that the process is not a way to get rid of recreation sites, it also stated that some sites could be permanently closed after “an appropriate level of public involvement.”

One section read:

“The Forest Service may change the level of services provided at a site, such as removing a toilet or a water system at a campground, but the public will still be able to camp in the same location with a more rustic experience.”

Alex P. Brown is executive director of the Portland-based watchdog group BARK. The group’s immediate goal is to preserve the Mt. Hood National Forest. Brown said BARK is opposed to any closures.

“The process according to the (agency’s) guidebook is very clear,” Brown said.

He referred to a line from Page 5 of the book stating that “If a site cannot be operated to at least meet the regionally required standards, it must be closed.”

BARK advocates that people contact their Congressmen and tell them the RSFMP is a flawed process that should be withdrawn as it directly conflicts with the Mt. Hood Wilderness bills introduced.

Larsen said at the beginning of the meeting that the process was not being done with a preconceived outcome in mind.

Comments on the RSFMP should be sent in by Feb. 20, which is when the Forest Service will meet to draft the “recreation niche” for Mt. Hood National Forest.

People can do so online at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/mthood/projects/rsfmp.shtml, or by mail to: Mt. Hood National Forest, RSFMP, 16400 Champion Way, Sandy, OR 97055 or call Malcolm Hamilton, (503) 668-1792.

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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 www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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