The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
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Guy
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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by Guy » December 4th, 2017, 3:44 pm

RobinB wrote: I realize that this will be unpopular, but in the very long term - like, on the scale of several hundred years - I think it makes sense to incentivize people and businesses to leave these border communities, and relocate to places more thoroughly separate from wilderness. We've already seen some of this in areas with extreme flooding, where insurance difficulties incentivize potential new residents to look elsewhere. I could imagine something similar happening with the risks posed by fires.
Keeping it local, if by this you mean isolated individual houses in the Gorge then I can agree. If you mean towns like Cascade Locks then I definitely don't!
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retired jerry
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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by retired jerry » December 4th, 2017, 3:50 pm

I thought Guy and I were supposed to be diametrically opposed. How confusing :)

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Guy
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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by Guy » December 4th, 2017, 4:12 pm

retired jerry wrote:I thought Guy and I were supposed to be diametrically opposed. How confusing :)
:lol: :lol:
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RobinB
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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by RobinB » December 4th, 2017, 4:57 pm

Guy wrote:
RobinB wrote: I realize that this will be unpopular, but in the very long term - like, on the scale of several hundred years - I think it makes sense to incentivize people and businesses to leave these border communities, and relocate to places more thoroughly separate from wilderness. We've already seen some of this in areas with extreme flooding, where insurance difficulties incentivize potential new residents to look elsewhere. I could imagine something similar happening with the risks posed by fires.
Keeping it local, if by this you mean isolated individual houses in the Gorge then I can agree. If you mean towns like Cascade Locks then I definitely don't!
I'm definitely more comfortable applying that to isolated individual houses - and maybe communities of just a few houses - than to places like Cascade Locks, though, as you seemed to suggest earlier in the discussion of remoteness, figuring out exactly where you draw that line could be difficult.

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retired jerry
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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by retired jerry » December 4th, 2017, 5:24 pm

The other thing is to work with houses on the edge to make them fireproof. They have numerous programs like this. Things like making sure your gutters don't have fir needles in them. I've heard interviews of people whose houses survived fire that burned houses next door.

More money should be devoted to this. Hiring people to go to individual houses, inspect, work with the owners.

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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by drm » December 7th, 2017, 8:35 am

So regarding the hope that areas not so severely burned would open sooner, I was told that one issue with that is it then opens connections to closed areas that will be very hard to enforce. It's a lot easier keeping trailheads closed by closing the parking area. If Herman Ck is open, then it is essentially impossible to prevent people from taking the Herman Bridge connector. But I also wonder about Wahtum Lake. If they open the road next year, the Eagle Creek trail is right there. At some point they are just going to have to (1) trust us, (2) let people decide on their own risks, which in fact they do all the time in other situations in the NF.

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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by chrisca » December 22nd, 2017, 8:23 pm

drm wrote:So regarding the hope that areas not so severely burned would open sooner, I was told that one issue with that is it then opens connections to closed areas that will be very hard to enforce. It's a lot easier keeping trailheads closed by closing the parking area. If Herman Ck is open, then it is essentially impossible to prevent people from taking the Herman Bridge connector. But I also wonder about Wahtum Lake. If they open the road next year, the Eagle Creek trail is right there. At some point they are just going to have to (1) trust us, (2) let people decide on their own risks, which in fact they do all the time in other situations in the NF.
It may be time for some radical thinking: to deliberately not connect trails together. With lots of separate trails, it's easier to open access after a fire without fear of people sneaking in to a closed area. Unconnected trails also might provide more solitude by separating trail users. Trail networks also encourage the spread of invasive species. For us hikers they are inviting, but in an area with high use as the gorge is developing into, they could be a liability rather than an asset. It might also be easier to do temporary trail closures in high fire danger if trails are separated. Some could be opened if they have good firefighting access or lower fire risk, while the most dangerous could be closed.

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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by Aimless » December 23rd, 2017, 10:41 am

The idea of removing connections between trails seems to me to be unduly focused on solving one very narrow problem at the expense of everything else. Of the hundreds of thousands of hikes done in the gorge in the past decade, many tens of thousands of hikes benefitted from connecting more than one trail. That's a lot of benefit to toss aside for the potential benefit of reopening some trails a bit faster after a major burn, which happens only intermittently and at unpredictable intervals.

My preference would be for the FS to conduct accurate trail damage and hazard assessments over the winter and early spring, repair and open any trails that are reasonably safe to hike, then place signage at connector trail junctions that clearly state whether the connector trail is "closed due to high risks of injury or fatality, posed by [a list of the risks, such as falling snags, washouts, falling rocks] and other potential risks not listed here." I'm sure the FS has lawyers who could vet the specific language for them, so as to protect them from lawsuits.

They could even place general warnings at trailheads, too, about how risky hiking is and how you are taking your life in your hands the moment you leave the safety of your vehicle. :shock:

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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by Guy » December 23rd, 2017, 11:15 am

chrisca wrote: Trail networks also encourage the spread of invasive species. .
Can you explain this theory Chrisca because I just don't buy it!

The vast majority of invasive plants are spread by wind, bird / Animal feces or on the birds or animals bodies, beaks etc. Unless someone can give give me a specific example here in a PNW climate I'm going to say that the number of invasives spread by hikers is infinitesimally small and discontenting trail networks has no effect either way.

Even if seeds are brought in on a persons boot they are more than likely going to become dislodged on the trail it then has to germinate and grow in a place where other hikers are walking on it!
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Guy
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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by Guy » December 23rd, 2017, 11:17 am

drm wrote:So regarding the hope that areas not so severely burned would open sooner, I was told that one issue with that is it then opens connections to closed areas that will be very hard to enforce. It's a lot easier keeping trailheads closed by closing the parking area. If Herman Ck is open, then it is essentially impossible to prevent people from taking the Herman Bridge connector. But I also wonder about Wahtum Lake. If they open the road next year, the Eagle Creek trail is right there. At some point they are just going to have to (1) trust us, (2) let people decide on their own risks, which in fact they do all the time in other situations in the NF.
I've heard this from an "inside source" too Dean. I can live with it through this winter but it's an unacceptable solution if the USFS try to enforce it all next summer & beyond too.
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