‘Sabotage’ on FMX, again

Destruction of county property leaves trail builder determined, not deterred

For the third time in the last five years, man-made features along a popular mountain biking trail in the Northwest Area Trails System have been hit by vandalism. The trail, called FMX, is located in the Riordan Hill area and features two advanced jump lines made of large wood ramps and dirt landings. As builder and the trail’s official adopter, Hood River resident Douglas Johnson is in charge of maintaining the trail and its features. Much to his dismay, when he checked on the trail earlier this week he found several of the features partially dismantled or destroyed.

“It has happened again,” Johnson said with marked frustration. “The first time this happened someone set little fires under the stunts. The second time someone smashed the supports with an ATV. They were pretty crafty this time, and it obviously took someone a long time to do.”

Along with removing material and destroying ramps, Johnson said the culprits removed lag bolts holding jumps together, but left them standing.

“That’s the sinister part of this,” Johnson said. “Whoever did this left the first jumps intact and others that looked okay. If someone would have come down the hill and hit one of them, they could have really gotten hurt. To me that’s more than vandalism; it’s sabotage.”

As with all official trails in the Northwest Area system — roughly between Kingsley Reservoir and the bottom of Post Canyon — Hood River County Forestry facilitates the construction and maintenance of them. As such, features are approved by the county system and become county property once they are installed.

“It’s very unfortunate that things like this are happening up there,” said Doug Thiesies, HRCF manager. “We experience vandalism in other areas as well, but in this case it could have really hurt someone and that’s just not okay. Unfortunately there’s only so much we can do about it. People need to be aware that conditions in the forest change constantly so they really need to pay attention.”

For Johnson, who has spent countless hours working on county trails for many years, the discouragement of the latest damage isn’t going to stop him from doing what he loves, and what thousands of people come to the area to enjoy.

“I’m going to rebuild it,” he said. “Someone is trying to make a statement, but it’s not working. Fortunately we have a system set up to help fund non-motorized trail projects and maintenance.”

The funds Johnson is referring to come from sales receipts of a trail map put out by the county, and partners, and sold at local bike shops.

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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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