County forests a mess after storm

February 4, 2012

With tens of thousands of trees split in two, broken at the top or blown over entirely, Hood River County Forestry is assessing the extent of the damage to acreage caused by recent snow and ice storms. HRCF staff took an aerial survey of its forests Thursday to get an idea of what areas were damaged most and where to focus efforts first.

Although not specifically good news, County Forest Manager Doug Thiesies said, "It wasn't worse than we feared. The damage is pretty patchy. There are areas that were hit pretty extensively, particularly on the west side in the Riordan Hill area."

From the flyover, Thiesies estimated about 600 acres of county forest land sustained 10 percent or more stand damage.

From a timber standpoint, HRCF is assessing what salvage opportunities are feasible and where priorities should be set. Roads in the upper hills still have enough snow to be largely impassable, so getting on-the-ground assessments will take a while.

"Our roads and trails are going to be significantly impacted for a while," Thiesies said. "For now, the weather is going to affect what and how much we can get done out there. It's going to take us a little while to assess the whole situation and figure out our best plan of attack."

Thiesies said he expects the county will be able to make significant progress on clearing roads and trails from downed trees before summer, but that forest users will need to be patient for a while. For hikers, mountain bikers and motorcycle/ATV users who utilize the popular trails in the Post Canyon and Riordan Hill areas, that means many trails are going to be in rough shape for a while.

"We want to get the word out for people to please not go out and start cutting downed trees," he said, explaining that to be salvaged, downed trees need to be cut to certain lengths. "We really don't want people out there trying to clear roads and trails on their own without permission."

Thiesies acknowledged the importance of the area's recreational trails and said HRCF staff will work with local trail builders and the county forest recreational trails committee to get things cleaned up as soon as possible.

"We want to make sure things are safe for people out there, and right now that's not the case," Thiesies said. "There's a lot of stuff on the ground and it's going to take a little while to get things corrected."

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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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