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

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

Post by chrisca » January 3rd, 2018, 7:19 pm

Guy wrote:
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 person's 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!
Because of gorge topography, north-south trails cross many life zones. When an invasive plant comes in on boots, it's vertically confined along the trail in the altitude range it grows. That gives a better chance of finding and removing the infestation. When trails are connected, especially in the east-west direction, that natural confinement by altitude goes away. Gorge winds blowing east-west also will move species quickly along east-west trails. Connections are nice for hikers to make loops and I'm not saying they should all be eliminated. But the newly restored Historic Columbia River Highway trail is going to be a major experiment in how east-west trails can spread invasives and fire. We should be very careful about the risks this trail will create. So far, I've heard no effort to plan for these risks, or to find a funding source to mitigate any damage from a careless smoker or plant material that could spread along this route.

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

Post by Guy » January 3rd, 2018, 9:40 pm

chrisca wrote: Because of gorge topography, north-south trails cross many life zones. When an invasive plant comes in on boots, it's vertically confined along the trail in the altitude range it grows. That gives a better chance of finding and removing the infestation. When trails are connected, especially in the east-west direction, that natural confinement by altitude goes away. Gorge winds blowing east-west also will move species quickly along east-west trails. Connections are nice for hikers to make loops and I'm not saying they should all be eliminated. But the newly restored Historic Columbia River Highway trail is going to be a major experiment in how east-west trails can spread invasives and fire. We should be very careful about the risks this trail will create. So far, I've heard no effort to plan for these risks, or to find a funding source to mitigate any damage from a careless smoker or plant material that could spread along this route.
chrisca, do you have any data to support this or is it just a theory? I'm afraid it doesn't make much sense to me. Compared to animals, birds and wind all of which exist in abundance in the Gorge Hikers are a particularly poor method of weed seed dispersal. I can see the danger more with soil born borne disease like Phytophthora or SOD in Southern Oregon but not with invasive plants.

Also re the Restored highway trail being a new risk, it basically runs right next to I84 how will this change whats already happening?
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drm
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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by drm » January 4th, 2018, 8:37 am

I've definitely read that there is research that shows that linear human routes (roads and trails) are how exotics get in. Much of this research that I saw was in the tropics and I don't know how well it applies to our trails.

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

Post by Guy » January 4th, 2018, 8:46 am

drm wrote:I've definitely read that there is research that shows that linear human routes (roads and trails) are how exotics get in. Much of this research that I saw was in the tropics and I don't know how well it applies to our trails.
Yes I agree Dean in a tropical climate it's much more likely because it's generally so much easier for plants to establish and root from vegetative pieces as well as seed than it is in our climate.
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RobinB
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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by RobinB » January 4th, 2018, 8:33 pm

chrisca wrote: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.
Which connectors would you want to close? Connecting widely separated areas - say, Eagle Creek and Herman Creek, or Oneonta and Tanner - requires either a very long day or a short backpack. Both tend to weed (heh) out casual hikers. Like, I don't think I've ever seen another human anywhere between Bell Creek and Tanner Ridge. I doubt that your proposal would thus do much about invasive species - do we even have data that trails are really the problem here? - and, if anything, would vastly decrease the possibility of solitude.

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

Post by Webfoot » January 4th, 2018, 10:28 pm

so basically...
feelbad.jpg
j/k :lol:

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

Post by Bosterson » February 8th, 2018, 12:21 pm

I definitely don't want to revive the previous discussion about whether east-west trails contribute to or reduce fire damage ( :roll: ), so instead here's an article by Tom about the fire damage, and, somewhat peripherally, "hiking's future."

https://wyeastblog.org/2018/01/31/after ... rt-1-of-2/

There's a lot of blame given to "teenagers" for various ills. (Yes, I know a teenager actually started the fire.) It's pretty absurd to blanket blame upon "young people" for broader problems of metro growth; surely people from all ages (proportionate to hiker demographics in general; fewer older people hike than younger people, for obvious reasons) equally are responsible for whatever usage problems the Gorge has.

Two specific policy suggestions Tom makes stand out to me:
The aftermath of the fire also provides the Forest Service with an opportunity to finally close Oneonta Gorge to swarms of teenage waders who overwhelm this place each summer. It’s time give this precious place a much needed rest from the crush of people who have “discovered” it in recent years, and in the long-term, severely restrict access with an enforced permit system.
And regarding the Oneonta tunnel:
ODOT should absolutely rebuild the historic wood lining, but as thousands of young people proved by thoughtlessly carving their names and messages into the soft cedar surface, the public can’t be trusted with uncontrolled access to this restored treasure.

If it is rebuilt, the tunnel must be securely gated, and only opened on weekends when visitors can be monitored by agency staff or volunteer. This is one of many examples where we have a unique opportunity to set limits on how we use the Gorge, and ensure we pass it along to future generations in better shape than what we inherited.
Suffice to say, enforcing permits on the Oneonta Gorge (will they cost money? how will they be distributed? how will administration and enforcement be funded?) is not something that seems acceptable, unless we also start permitting, say, the top viewing platform at Multnomah Falls (or maybe the lower viewing platform, or even the parking area?!), Angel's Rest, and numerous other popular places.

The Oneonta tunnel is man-made, not original, and it was hardly "destroyed" (in a structural sense) by graffiti. Spending money to rebuild it, only to then gate it and then police it on the weekends, sounds like folly. At that point, we should just leave the burned out shell as a historical artifact.

I find it hard to see how the Gorge fire has any new implications for usage and future planning, aside from, say, pressuring Washington to ban fireworks. None of the usage issues have changed since before the fire, so unless these nonprofit advocacy groups advocate a "disaster capitalism" model of using this as an excuse to push through drastic changes, permits and gates and other usage mitigation features are irrelevant from the standpoint of simply rebuilding and reopening the Gorge, which, it seems, is not going to happen very quickly.

Please discuss. :)
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Guy
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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by Guy » February 8th, 2018, 12:35 pm

Bosterson wrote:
Two specific policy suggestions Tom makes stand out to me:

The aftermath of the fire also provides the Forest Service with an opportunity to finally close Oneonta Gorge to swarms of teenage waders who overwhelm this place each summer. It’s time give this precious place a much needed rest from the crush of people who have “discovered” it in recent years, and in the long-term, severely restrict access with an enforced permit system.
We often here about the need to cut access to Oneonta Gorge. Is there any actual data though that shows it has been damaged by such high use levels? Yes I know the photos look terrible but what has been damaged / lost? When I walked up Oneonta Gorge on at 6:00am on August 13th last year, there were no other people, 2 pieces of Garbage and fish swimming all around my feet. Unless there is data that shows damage is actually being done then I for one would not suport a permit, entry fee system. In this case though I think it's a moot point, I think there is evey possibility it will become impassable for decades to all but the most intrepid individual if it fills up with logs.
And regarding the Oneonta tunnel:

ODOT should absolutely rebuild the historic wood lining, but as thousands of young people proved by thoughtlessly carving their names and messages into the soft cedar surface, the public can’t be trusted with uncontrolled access to this restored treasure.

If it is rebuilt, the tunnel must be securely gated, and only opened on weekends when visitors can be monitored by agency staff or volunteer. This is one of many examples where we have a unique opportunity to set limits on how we use the Gorge, and ensure we pass it along to future generations in better shape than what we inherited.
Perhaps selfishly but I would hate to see money being spent on a restored and then gated man made tunnel if trails were still closed to the public.
I find it hard to see how the Gorge fire has any new implications for usage and future planning, aside from, say, pressuring Washington to ban fireworks. None of the usage issues have changed since before the fire, so unless these nonprofit advocacy groups advocate a "disaster capitalism" model of using this as an excuse to push through drastic changes, permits and gates and other usage mitigation features are irrelevant from the standpoint of simply rebuilding and reopening the Gorge, which, it seems, is not going to happen very quickly.
It's my hope that government agencies and advocacy groups will not be using the fire as an excuse to further their own views & ideas on how the Gorge should be managed in a way that would not have been popular or possible without the fire.
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pcg
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Re: The Gorge's Fire Management Plan and Hiking's Future

Post by pcg » February 8th, 2018, 3:04 pm

drm wrote:I've definitely read that there is research that shows that linear human routes (roads and trails) are how exotics get in. Much of this research that I saw was in the tropics and I don't know how well it applies to our trails.
My anecdotal observation... I have a rural home and am constantly battling exotics. There are no trails and no other human walks through the woods other than myself. Some is open meadow, but most of the property is wooded with natives. Every year I pull up roughly 30 seedlings/acre of Himalayan blackberry, English ivy, laurel, and holly. I believe these are mostly spread by birds from neighboring property - certainly not by humans.

I'm not discounting the fact that trails might be a problem for spreading exotics by humans, just relating my experience. I've been very surprised at how invasive these things are. It's a wonder more of our woods haven't been heavily invaded.

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

Post by Aimless » February 8th, 2018, 4:08 pm

Plants have used animals of all sorts to spread their seeds (and pollen) for countless millions of years. Humans are just one seed carrier among hundreds and hundreds, we just travel much further and much faster than most animals and therefore can spread exotics further and faster than squirrels, deer or birds. Exotics like English ivy or garlic mustard that already exist locally probably arrived via humans, but don't require any further human help to get around locally.

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