ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

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retired jerry
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by retired jerry » December 29th, 2018, 6:49 am

good points

or make Multnomah Falls trail wider?

yeah, that's a mob scene but that can be a fun experience too. You go there to watch people as much as anything. The people that go there won't be going somewhere else making it more crowded.

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Splintercat
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Splintercat » December 29th, 2018, 8:35 am

After brunch crowd? I resemble that remark! Night owls, unite! :D
At a bare minimum, Perdition trail should be restored (I've never seen a convincing argument why that trail can't be opened).
Yes, I totally agree, Chip! Needed now more than ever, too.

Tom :)

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Peabody
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Peabody » December 29th, 2018, 10:43 am

Splintercat wrote:
December 27th, 2018, 10:01 am
On the "pave more of the Gorge for parking" plan (just kidding... sort of...), the problem with putting that parking at Multnomah Falls is that there's only one lodge, one Benson Bridge and one 6-foot trail to the top of the falls. In the proven "build it and they will come" school of transportation behavior, more parking will simply bring more people to places like Multnomah Falls at the times when crowding is most destructive (weekends and holidays). So, that's the balancing act ODOT is navigating with the USFS.
“Aw, nobody ever goes there. It’s too crowded.” -Yogi Berra
If parking truly drove demand, then KMart would still be relevant.
What is being "destroyed" due to crowding? I would think most vandalism occurs when there's no one around. Can you provide one example of "crowding causes destruction" as opposed to "use causes wear" I'd like to understand what your referring to.
Splintercat wrote:
December 27th, 2018, 10:01 am
One idea that I think I floated on the blog was added parking capacity at the old Bridal Veil Mill site and at the Ainsworth Interchange, where the post-fire logs were stacked. These would be serve a free shuttle though Waterfall Alley during peak periods and also overflow for Angels Rest currently parked on the shoulder of the HCRH (see another blog post where I proposed a 1-way loop trail to Angels Rest that would cut the trail impacts in half, overnight -- and make for better hiking experiences during peak periods).
Above you use "one lodge, one Benson Bridge and one 6-foot trail to the top of the falls" as an argument against expanding parking near Multnomah Falls....but here you seem fine with expanding parking in the gorge as long as ODOT/USFS or some other agency gets to buy and operate buses. There is no problem in the gorge that can't be mitigated by simple approaches. P-PEP :-) adds ~100 parking spots for ~300k or less.
Splintercat wrote:
December 27th, 2018, 10:01 am
IMHO, the Gorge has plenty of capacity to serve our growing population with quality, sustainable trail recreation for decades or even centuries to come. But this means building more trails that offer great experiences, so that's one of my main motivations for being involved in TKO. Right now because of Republican rule over much of the past 38 years in DC, our federal land agencies are decimated and mostly focused on selling off timber and mining rights to corporations. Their meager recreation staff are scraping along, with very little appetite to actually expand trails and trail heads to better serve people. In the Gorge, the Forest Service trail crews have dwindled two one quarter of what they were as recently as the 1990s.
This again is a "more government" is what we need approach. Do you really think that with a bigger budget the USFS would suddenly be in the mood to create new trails? They seem more interested in creating excuses to abandoning / ignore them, Perdition, Vista Ridge, Chetwood, Foxglove come to mind. I think for starters a "wish list" of new gorge trails/trail heads/improvements should be developed by the USFS or TKO. A "if we only had the budget this is what we would do" list. If I had this, I'd be more motivated to call my congressperson to lobby for more funds. Although nice, I don't think more trails helps with crowding, the major issue is lack of parking at existing trail heads.

I love a good debate and for some reason this popped into my head. :lol: ............https://youtu.be/c91XUyg9iWM
"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
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Bosterson
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Bosterson » December 29th, 2018, 6:39 pm

Peabody wrote:
December 29th, 2018, 10:43 am
What is being "destroyed" due to crowding? I would think most vandalism occurs when there's no one around. Can you provide one example of "crowding causes destruction" as opposed to "use causes wear" I'd like to understand what your referring to.
@Splintercat, I would also like to know what you mean. I think adding parking to the Mult Falls lot would be a great idea, if it were paired with reduced parking (and/or short time limit parking) at the Historic Hwy lot in front of the Lodge. The paved route up to the top of Mult Falls is not "wilderness" in any shape or form - we should definitely concentrate as many people there as possible. If parking were increased at the Mult Falls 84 lot, overflow parking at Wahkeena could also be restricted to drive more people to park at the 84 lot to do the Multnomah-Wahkeena loop. In terms of normal crowds clustering around the bottom of Mult Falls or cluttering up the "trail" to the top of the falls, this is a tourist area and better to have these people concentrated in a paved area where their impact can do little damage. Hikers can easily escape crowds in this area by getting an early start, before the "after brunch" crowd (*ahem!* ;) ) arrives.

Peabody wrote:Although nice, I don't think more trails helps with crowding, the major issue is lack of parking at existing trail heads.
Disagree. "Crowding" is a function of usage, which in turn is a function of availability. More parking = more people. But more trails = more space, so if parking is held constant, then people who find area X full could move on to a newly opened area Y, in which case the total number of people would increase, but the person-density in each area wouldn't. If instead you allowed 2x the current number of people to visit area X (via expanded parking), then the "crowding" of area X increases. (Of course, if Area X is some kind of alien biosphere, this may not be true. #annihilation)

This is why it'd be important to reduce Historic Hwy parking at the Lodge and/or Wahkeena for the P-PEP plan to work best. Though, realistically, I suspect most of the increase in "crowding" at Mult Falls would be the people who only go to the bottom of the falls, or possibly the top, which again is not a "wilderness" and thus overcrowding of these places is irrelevant. If people want to wait in line to see Multnomah Falls, go wild.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Splintercat » December 29th, 2018, 7:52 pm

Okay, so good questions:
If parking truly drove demand, then KMart would still be relevant.
The key is the difference between supply and demand. K-mart provided supply, nobody demanded it, thus the empty parking lots. Demand for visiting Multnomah Falls ranges from light (middle of an ice storm) to heavy (Spring through Fall, especially Friday-Sun and Holidays) and during these periods the number of parking spaces are the "supply", since the Forest Service places no limits on how many people can stomp up the trail. Thus, adding parking would induce more visits from what we transportation planners call latent demand, that the trip desired but not traveled due to congestion, lack of parking, cost of parking, etc.
What is being "destroyed" due to crowding? I would think most vandalism occurs when there's no one around.
First off, trail treads (new trail that TKO built at 36" on Angels Rest in 2008 is now eight feet wide from overcrowding and especially up/down groups of hikers passing one another). This is happening all through the Waterfall Alley area, and will be worse now the the fire has destabilized the slopes in many areas. The trails can only handle so much traffic before they fall apart. In addition, there are dozens of boot paths that have developed in the past 15 years in places that were once green and are now muddy slopes, causing long-term erosion and obviously harming the forest. I blame some of these on social media (geocaches, posting your face on Facebook in a place nobody before you has thought of, etc), though some of it is just the mass of people and hikers who don't know better than to to stay on the trail.

A really good example (before the fire) was the Triple Falls overlook. It was on the brink of collapsing into Onetona Creek (a tree fell off the end of the overlook a couple years ago) from being trampled to death. The overlook at Punch Bowl Falls is similarly thrashed. Tragedy of the Commons... but it doesn't have to be that way if we simply admit that these places can't take unlimited traffic. But we Americans don't like limits so much...

Above you use "one lodge, one Benson Bridge and one 6-foot trail to the top of the falls" as an argument against expanding parking near Multnomah Falls....but here you seem fine with expanding parking in the gorge as long as ODOT/USFS or some other agency gets to buy and operate buses.

Exactly! So, for starters, most of the crush of people coming to the gorge are literally stumbling in. They go to Multnomah Falls because (a) who hasn't heard of it? and (b) it has it's own freeway ramp. The idea of bookend parking with a shuttle is spread people out a bit along waterfall alley while also keeping some of the cars off the HCRH. Adding to the MF freeway lot doesn't have those benefits.
I think for starters a "wish list" of new gorge trails/trail heads/improvements should be developed by the USFS or TKO.
Done! TKO advocates for several new trails in 2014 as part of the update to the State of Oregon's Gorge Parks Plan, and almost all made it into the place, so that's a start. Here's what made it in:

Bridal Veil Creek Trail
Angels Rest Loop (partial -- the USFS has not signed on to the last 1/2 mile at the summit)
Viento Bluffs Loop Trail
Wygant Peak Connector Trail
Mitchell Point Loop Trail

I'm pretty sure restoring the Chetwoot made it in, too -- not sure. These are all on State Park lands. You're right that the USFS is much more reluctant to add trails, but TKO will continue to advocate for that. We persuaded them to bring Old Vista Ridge back into the system, right? It can happen.
Do you really think that with a bigger budget the USFS would suddenly be in the mood to create new trails? They seem more interested in creating excuses to abandoning / ignore them
Well, that's certainly true of the USFS as a whole, but the Gorge Scenic area is a different creature, borne of its own legislation. Unlike a typical USFS entity, they are not in the business of selling off timber, minerals and grazing rights, so they're more focused on recreation as a result. Also, the USFS budget is highly stratified, with very specific (and dwindling) funds limited to recreation. Congress can earmark the color of money for the USFS budget, but at the moment (and for three more days) Congress is controlled by Republicans, and recreation/conservation isn't quite their priority for our public lands... that they want to sell off... ;-)
The paved route up to the top of Mult Falls is not "wilderness" in any shape or form - we should definitely concentrate as many people there as possible.
I realize this is subjective, but I don't think most people drive to the Gorge to have a crowded mall experience. This is a debate that the National Park Service has weathered for decades, and in the end, their mission is to protect the environment and physical place for future generations, not ensure that every person who drives up can immediately jump on a trail. I'm of that school of thought. Again, Tragedy of the Commons.

One of the advantages/disadvantages (works both ways) of spending 50+ years in the Gorge is that I remember just how pristine places like Multnomah Falls and Wahkeena Falls used to be. I've been more diligent over the past 20 years to capture the conditions in more detail to show the loss, as new or younger hikers simply don't have a comparable to judge the impact. Of course, the Gorge Fire has changed all of that -- I don't think anyone knows how the recovery will unfold in terms of trail impacts. We'll just have to watch and see...

Tom :-)

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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Guy » December 29th, 2018, 8:27 pm

Splintercat wrote:
December 29th, 2018, 7:52 pm
Okay, so good questions:

First off, trail treads (new trail that TKO built at 36" on Angels Rest in 2008 is now eight feet wide from overcrowding and especially up/down groups of hikers passing one another). This is happening all through the Waterfall Alley area, and will be worse now the the fire has destabilized the slopes in many areas.
Come on Tom I don't have your 50 years of Gorge experience (though I don't know what data you were collecting when you were 7 years old). But the Angels Rest trail was in far worse shape 15 years ago than it is today that I do know.

You seem intent on painting a picture of a Gorge destroyed by people, In my opinion the facts don't support your opinion.
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Bosterson » December 29th, 2018, 9:26 pm

Splintercat wrote:
December 29th, 2018, 7:52 pm
The paved route up to the top of Mult Falls is not "wilderness" in any shape or form - we should definitely concentrate as many people there as possible.
I realize this is subjective, but I don't think most people drive to the Gorge to have a crowded mall experience. This is a debate that the National Park Service has weathered for decades, and in the end, their mission is to protect the environment and physical place for future generations, not ensure that every person who drives up can immediately jump on a trail. I'm of that school of thought. Again, Tragedy of the Commons.
Multnomah Falls is already a "crowded mall experience." Unless you put a fence in front of the Lodge and only allow 20 people in at a time, it is far far too late to change this. As that area is already hardened via pavement, there is little to "protect" from more people, unless you want to get aesthetic about the experience and lack of solitude. And as Multnomah Falls is not in a wilderness area, and already is a tourist destination, I would contend we should use that as a means of concentrating impact in a high demand place that is hard to damage. Most of the crowds in the Gorge are tourists and are interested in photos from the safety of their car (so to speak), not hiking - if you want to keep hordes from damaging trails, give them someplace paved to go.

The USFS strategy (not sure how you're brining the NPS into this...) of treating all areas as if they were equal and enforcing wilderness solitude aesthetics across them as a whole is idiotic. This is what they're trying to do with the Central Cascades plan. If you push the crowds out of Green Lakes - an area that is already maxed out by their restrictive metric - they will just be pushed into the other areas until all areas are maxed out. If, instead, you allow Green Lakes to be the "crowded mall" that it already is, more people will continue to crowd into it because it is a coveted Instagrammable destination, leaving other areas as places of (relative) solitude. Obviously, this is not a perfect analogy because Green Lakes actually is in a wilderness area. However, in contrast, no one is (rationally) going to Multnomah Falls expecting a wilderness experience, or solitude on a nice high season weekend during the after-brunch hour, so decrying the lack of "solitude" there is a solution in search of a problem, and comes at the cost of a degraded experience (parking reservations for the wilderness!) everywhere else.
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retired jerry
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by retired jerry » December 30th, 2018, 6:24 am

trails and parking are separate subjects, either or both can be over crowded. And, for example, if you add parking, then the trails will tend to get more crowded.

"new trail that TKO built at 36" on Angels Rest in 2008 is now eight feet wide from overcrowding and especially up/down groups of hikers passing one another"

Crowded trails need to be wider so groups can pass.

The material has to be more robust, like gravel or pavement.

The trail will wear out so require more frequent repair.

Another problem with trail over crowding is switchback short cuts are more likely to happen. You have to put up barriers or route the trail so the switched back segments aren't too close to each other.

I worked on that 2008 TKO project. That was interesting how trails are made - angles of slopes and such, tools, people,...

I think there's room for TKO and oregonhikers.org. TKO requires organized groups of people, bureaucracy, funding,... oregonhikers.org is more individual, sharing information about hiking. There's natural conflict between the two missions.

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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by kepPNW » December 30th, 2018, 8:02 am

Hmmmm... Just gonna throw this out, for a little calibration...
In December 2018, Splintercat wrote:
December 29th, 2018, 7:52 pm
What is being "destroyed" due to crowding? I would think most vandalism occurs when there's no one around.
First off, trail treads (new trail that TKO built at 36" on Angels Rest in 2008 is now eight feet wide from overcrowding and especially up/down groups of hikers passing one another).
In April 2007, Splintercat wrote: The current trail could sure use the rest. It's getting hammered by overuse, unfortunately.
Cite: https://www.oregonhikers.org/archive/view/16909

Guy wrote:
December 29th, 2018, 8:27 pm
Come on Tom I don't have your 50 years of Gorge experience (though I don't know what data you were collecting when you were 7 years old). But the Angels Rest trail was in far worse shape 15 years ago than it is today that I do know.

You seem intent on painting a picture of a Gorge destroyed by people, In my opinion the facts don't support your opinion.
Tend to agree. But I didn't move here until 1973, so have only been privy to Gorge trammeling for 45 years.

(If Oneonta was still in play, I'd concede the point there! Alas...)
Karl
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Re: ODOT proposes fees for Gorge waterfall corridor

Post by Bug » December 30th, 2018, 5:58 pm

I ain't paying no extra fee for the privilege of hiking on public lands that I already pay taxes to have administered. Not going to happen. I am well-off enough that I can afford a decent lawyer, and I'll fight it. Screw them.

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