Latest update: 7/25/2012
Current trail conditions, as of 4/18/13
|Seven Streams / 100||Open. Please water the baby trees along the trail.|
|Toilet Bowl||Open and riding great.|
|12 Bridges||Closed at Oregon State Parks request. But open and clear of trees. Green or red?|
|Charlie’s uphill/downhill to Blue Car||Open, and beautiful as always.|
|Charlie’s Loop||Not open.|
|Spaghetti Factory||Reroute mostly done. Trail open.|
|GP / 158||Newly open and newly awesome. Thank you, Jason Wells, for the huge donation of time and energy!|
|Baby GP / 158||Newly open and awesome. Thank you, Jason Wells!|
|Lower 8 Track / 150||Open.|
|Middle 8 Track / 150||Open and great.|
|Upper 8 Track / 150||Open and about to get a great reroute!|
|140 from Mitchell Ridge down to Blue Car||Open but rutted.|
|140 from Blue car to switchbacks.||Rebuilding in progress – open and getting better all the time. Motorized trail. Yield to motos.|
|Top of 140 Switchbacks to Riorden Hill Road||Clear of downed trees. Motorized trail. Yield to motos.|
|140 Riorden Hill Rd. to FMX||Open and muddy and rutted, as usual. Motorized trail. Yield to motos.|
|140 from FMX to Binn’s Hill Rd / top of 140||Good to go. Motorized trail. Yield to motos.|
|160 / Super D||Baby Head Alley. Motorized trail. Yield to motos.|
|Bad Motor Scooter / 158||Always be prepared for Pinner working on the trail!|
|Hidden Trail / 163||Not for the faint of heart. Motorized trail. Yield to motos.|
|Borderline / 133||Open. Motorized trail. Yield to motos.|
|Dirt Surfer / 170||Small patches of snow. Motorized trail. Yield to motos.|
|Antoine’s Trail / Blade Runner / 135||Open|
|Sexy Beast / 171: unknown, but likely has a few small patches of snow.|
|Family Man / 109||New features being added all the time.|
|3 Blind Mice|
|2 Chair 2|
|FMX||Right side open. Left side closed.|
|Drop Out||Better than ever.|
Previous Post Canyon blog posts regarding logging and ice storm damage:
Many of you have probably heard through the grapevine that the likely start date for logging on Seven Streams is July 17th. We received more information on the morning of 7/13. The trail will now close on 7/20. Cutting will begin on 7/23. There’s a lot of confusion out there about why it’s being cut, and we’d like to help everyone understand the details. We’re planning a last ride party. Stay tuned for details.
Everyone’s first question is, “Why are they cutting?”
This winter’s ice storm caused massive damage in the Seven Streams trail corridor. It was the hardest hit elevation, with the most damaged trees. Total timber loss in the stand was over 30%. This is not good.
Leaving forestry practices aside for another day (selective harvest vs. clearcut vs. the age of trees in a stand), let’s talk about a bigger issue, the main reason this cut has to happen: bark beetles. You’re probably heard of them. They’re decimating forests across the country. Bark beetles love damaged timber, and they’re already in the dead and dying trees along Seven Streams. Look for little piles of shavings on the downed logs, and you’ve found a bark beetle home. Leave all those damaged trees on the ground (and standing dead, if the tops are broken off), and you’ll soon have bark beetles moving into surrounding healthy trees. We just can’t risk that happening. You’ve seen the dead forests in the news. We don’t want that here.
The next question we get is, “Well, why can’t the county leave a protected trail corridor? Don’t they realize the trail brings in money?” Yes, we assure you the county sees the tourism generated by the trail system. But remember, this is county land, and it’s a tree farm. A sustainable tree farm, but a tree farm that provides around 35% of county revenue. Back to the trail corridor question: each tree is worth $200-$500. If you were to leave a trail corridor with just one tree every 20 feet, and value that tree at $200, that would be a loss to the county coffers of $52,800 per mile of trail. And that’s just leaving one tree every 20 feet. A trail corridor would cost the county several hundred thousand dollars. It would take an awful lot of tourism to make up for that.
That’s one way to look at it. Here’s another, straight from the mouth of Doug Thiesies, your forest manager:
HRC has a sustainable tree farm with a fixed amount of acres. To be sustainable and even flow we have to measure what we grow/acre and then stay within that biological limit of growth. That sets our allowable cut (harvest rate), currently estimated at an average 9.5 million board feet/year.
However, it also assumes that the # of acres that you grow trees on remains the same. If you set aside a 100 foot buffer on every trail, with approximately 100 miles of recognized trails in the HRC Northwest Area you would effectively remove 2,424 Acres from production on paper. That’s about 24% of the NW area which is also much more productive in terms of tree growing capacity. In a practical sense it’s actually much more, even double, because you cut off access to adjacent ground, especially on steep cable ground.
So, it doesn’t take long on the set aside of acres before it takes a big chunk out of what you can produce on the forest. We already account for set asides for stream buffers and protected wildlife species to follow the forest practices act.
Another concern people have is that the trail runs near a stream, in what should be a protected riparian zone. Questions have been raised about the Riparian Management Area and whether that should protect the trail. The RMA requires a 50′ corridor on either side of a stream. The county forest manager, in order to help protect the trail, gave us a 60′ corridor on either side of the stream, at some cost to the county. On this count, he did more than he had to for us, and we thank him. As for the safety of the trail, it is inside this corridor at some places and outside at others, but it’s going to get torn up as they drag trees across it.
We’ve also fielded questions along the lines of, “Why don’t they have the loggers protect or rebuild the trail?” According to Ian Caldwell at Oregon State Parks, when loggers are required to protect or rebuild trails, it lowers the price of the timber sale. With no trail corridor (see above for reasons why), we’re looking at a rebuild as logs get dragged across the trail and machines drive over the tread. Rebuilding is expensive. Really expensive.
Why? Loggers contract out to professional trailbuilders (you really don’t want lumberjacks building your trails, do you?), who cost a ton of money. For example, the section of Seven Streams built by IMBA (from the Mobius entrance to the T intersection of Cardiac Hill) cost about $40,000. Loggers would factor that into their bid for the timber, costing the county money. And really, wouldn’t you rather rebuild your trails and make them better, and take ownership of them after logging happens? There’s more control, more flow and better riding if you’re involved!
Many people have expressed the concern that, “The county is just doing this for the money.” We assure you that isn’t the case. When damaged trees are harvested, or trees that aren’t full-grown, they don’t bring in top dollar. In the long run, this ice storm is costing the county and taxpayers a lot of money. And trust us, Hood River County isn’t rich, and they can’t seem to pass any sort of tax increase to raise more revenue.
Finally, we’d like to remind people that Hood River County, at significant cost, hired a local contractor to come in and clear the logs from Seven Streams so we could ride it for a few months before the start of logging operations.
Hopefully that answers most of the questions out there. Feel free to comment below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can with answers to any other questions.
If you’d like to learn more about how the trails are managed, we encourage you to come to the county trails meeting. The next is Tuesday, July 31st, at 4pm at 601 State in Hood River.
Disclaimer: This blog post does not reflect the views of Hood River County. It reflects the HRATS’ best understanding of county forest practices. Some of the information contained within may change upon editing by county forestry personnel. We’ll track those changes.
Post Canyon update: 5/15/2012
It’s time for a Post Canyon update. We’re a few months out now from the collective realization that we had a huge mess to clean up from the winter ice storm. The trails are looking better, but we definitely have a mix of good news and bad news.
First, here’s the list of open trails as of May 15th: Seven Streams (minus Toilet Bowl), The Boot, Lower 8-Track, Middle 8-Track (but not the connector double-track between the two), Spaghetti Factory, Charlie’s uphill/downhill (one tree down), 140 above the switchbacks, minus the section between FMX and Riorden Hill Road, 140 from Blue Car to Mitchell Ridge (not open), 133 (Borderline), 130, 170 (Dirt Surfer and Sexy Beast), some of the jumps from FMX on up. If it’s not listed, consider it covered in storm debris and downed trees.
Now, here’s the salvage logging news. There are two types of salvage going on. There’s salvage logging, where only the damaged trees are taken out, and there’s the timber sale, where all the trees are going away, also known as the clearcut.
Slated for salvage: GP, 140, all of 8-Track, Twin Peaks. Hopefully this will be done by November.
Slated for timber sale: Seven Streams, Mobius. Hopefully this will be cut this summer sometime.
Yes, I feel your pain. Let’s talk about why this needs to happen.
Concern 1) Bark beetles. Bark beetles are killing forests all over the USA. They’re pests. They’re evil. They love dead trees. Downed trees are perfect hosts for bark beetles, and they’re already burrowing into the trees along Seven Streams (look for little sawdust piles on the downed logs). If the bark beetles make a happy home in the dead and damaged timber, Hood River County (HRC) will no longer have a forest; they’ll have a bark beetle haven. You don’t like paying taxes? Wait until the county has no timber money coming in!
Concern 2) The health of the forest. Let’s step back for a moment and remember that our trails run on HRC forest land. Think of this land as a farm, working on a really long time scale. The trees are there to be cut. Want to ride virgin forest? Go ride in a Wilderness Area (oh wait, you can’t, can you?) Okay, go ride in a National Recreation Area. But I digress. Forests are healthier when all the trees are about the same age. When a section of forest has damage to about 30 percent of the trees, it just makes more sense to cut it and start over, because replanting isn’t going to work.
No, this isn’t about money. The County is losing a ton of money on these timber sales. Well, “losing” isn’t quite right, but they’re making a small percentage of what they’d make if the trees had made it to maturity. This will hit us hard in the long run, and it’s a bummer for all involved: County coffers, mountain bikers, dirt bikers, even the bark beetles, because they’ll have to find another place to live.
That’s your Post Canyon update. Want more information? Hood River County has a trails meeting once a month. Show up and get educated.
Post Canyon update: 2/29/2012
On 2/28/2012, I attended the Hood River County trail meeting to get an update on Post Canyon. The news isn’t great, I’m sorry to say. First, salvage logging has begun in the Riorden Hill and Family Man areas. That’s fine, but there will be more salvage in the GP/8-Track area, and those will be cable salvage. That means the forestry folks will hook a cable to the logs and drag them up the hillside to a landing area. I’ll let you imagine what that will do to those trails. Salvage operations won’t be done until the road dries out enough for trucks to drive on it without destroying it.
Additional salvage sales will be in the Post Canyon, Binns Hill, Partlow Road, Kingsley, Eastside, and Middle Mountain areas. Those sales will take place around March 15th, and salvage operations probably won’t begin until November.
In addition, very sadly, the most extensive damage to the forest is in the 7 Streams and Mobius area. Because of the extensive damage, these areas are most likely targeted for a large timber sale, meaning a clearcut. I know this is bad news to all trail users, and even worse news for all the people who have put time and energy into building trails. The sale will happen some time this summer, and the logging probably won’t happen until next year.
This leaves us a bit short on trails. HRC is looking into a short-term solution of possibly bucking some trees off 7 Streams so we can ride, but it’s important you understand the implications of this. Also, understand that this isn’t settled yet, and may not happen. Clearing trails will cost the county somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000. That they are thinking of helping us in this way is incredibly generous, so if you decide to contact the county forestry department, please acknowledge this and thank them. Please don’t cut any trees. Please. That will only hurt our chances of the county working with us.
All that said, I’d like to share some of the background to these decisions. First, Hood River County brings in money through timber sales, and our trail system runs through their profitable timber. We are lucky to have the trails. Second, damaged trees are bad. They become cozy homes for bark beetles, and that endangers the living, healthy trees. Third, lands that have more than 30% damage really need to be cut and replanted. Cutting trees before they are mature isn’t the most profitable solution for the County, but in some cases, it’s the only solution. That’s the logic behind the potential clearcuts.
Finally, again, please, please, please do not cut trees that are on trails. Each tree is worth $200-$500 to the County, and when you cut the trees, you are removing money from county coffers. The county supports us. Support them.
And show up for work parties!
During January 2012, a once-in-a-decade ice storm hit the Hood River Valley, coating everything in up to an inch of ice, tearing branches from trees, and knocking whole trees to the ground. Needless to say, this storm did a lot of damage to the Post Canyon trail system. At a meeting on February 8th, the Hood River County Forestry department summarized a plan for salvage logging in and around the Post Canyon / Riorden Hill area.
First off, I want to make it clear that they’ll be doing salvage logging, not clear-cutting. Downed trees and those with tops completely broken off (no green left on the tree, trees that will certainly die) will be removed. Total damage is estimated at 10-15% of the forest (although I did a walk-through, and that’s probably a high estimate), and damage is worst below 2000’. Above this elevation, moisture fell as rain or snow, not ice.
Second, understand that the county has taken the interests of Post Canyon users into account. The first salvage sales will be in the Riorden Hill (GP, 8-Track, Family Man) area, with the intent of clearing up the trail system quickly. If you have time to thank your county reps or forest manager, do so!
Third, remember that the lower sections of trail along Post Canyon road belong to private landowners. Discussions are in progress with them regarding reopening the trails, but in the meantime, please don’t cut anything or work on those trails.
You’re probably wondering about the status of the trails. They’re a mess, quite frankly, but they’re not destroyed. If you want to see photos of lower Post Canyon, click here, and feel free to share the link. Yes, it’s bad, but a few work parties, a few chainsaws, and a lot of people tossing fallen branches will clear the trails in no time. Some areas will probably require rerouting around fallen tress that are out of reach of salvage operations, but it could be worse. On the bright side, lots of wood split by the ice will be available for building bridges and features.
Everyone is excited to get working on the trails. What can you do first? Well, you can start by “liking” the Hood River Area Trail Stewards on Facebook. And then you can join our chapter of IMBA when the page is set up. If you want to do something now, grab your snowshoes (you’ll need them) and start tossing brush off the trails. Don’t cut any logs without checking with trail adopters. Also, if you’re a chainsaw user, please don’t cut anything over 5”, as we want Hood River County to be able to salvage as much as possible. The county needs the money, and we need their support. Help them out on this one.
What’s our time frame? Expect salvage operations to start by March 1st, hopefully when there’s still snow on the ground to minimize soil damage. Expect salvage ops to last a month or so. Then expect lots of work parties, both midweek or on weekends. If you want to help, you can check the County trails page for upcoming work parties, or check the recreation forecast page on this website.
Thanks for all your help!