The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

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rabbit
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by rabbit » May 19th, 2019, 11:50 am

chrisca wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 6:21 pm

I would like the Forest Service and State Parks to take more of a zero-tolerance approach to overuse, and close areas for restoration quickly with signage stating why.
I don't think you'll get much support for that idea here. The forest service is addressing overuse in the central cascades with their permit proposal and it seems like most people here are really really opposed to that plan.
chrisca wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 6:21 pm

Where on this website is there information about respectful use of recreation sites? Why isn't it more in-your-face?

Human nature is such that the in-your-face approach seems doomed to fail. People will do what they want to do. If someone ignores a "leashes required" sign, for example, and lets their dog go off-leash, nothing that is posted on this site or any other is going to make them change their behavior.

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drm
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by drm » May 19th, 2019, 12:02 pm

On the one hand, I'm like the few people who posted here that they go hiking all the time and don't have a problem avoiding crowds. Even though I don't do much XC or really hard terrain, I usually can find uncrowded places to go. I do have at least an occasionally opportunity to go on weekdays, but even on weekends I can usually find something. So for those who for whatever reason are drawn to the popular areas that lack solitude, it is their choice. If it's a problem for them, they need to make the effort to find something else.

But I would also second the comment about human aesthetics vs ecological concerns. If excessive hikers is harming wildlife, who have already been chased out of the vast majority of their original habitat, or the environment, then I am pretty hardcore as saying too bad if you don't like the restrictions. Then you have to find some place else and just get used to it.

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kepPNW
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by kepPNW » May 19th, 2019, 12:04 pm

chrisca wrote:
May 17th, 2019, 6:21 pm
I would like the Forest Service and State Parks to take more of a zero-tolerance approach to overuse, and close areas for restoration quickly with signage stating why.
Good grief, I missed this earlier. Overuse? Zero-tolerance? :lol:

What a damned joke! By whose standards? To what end?

Get a grip, man. :roll:
drm wrote:
May 19th, 2019, 12:02 pm
But I would also second the comment about human aesthetics vs ecological concerns. If excessive hikers is harming wildlife, who have already been chased out of the vast majority of their original habitat, or the environment, then I am pretty hardcore as saying too bad if you don't like the restrictions. Then you have to find some place else and just get used to it.
That's more sensible, yep. (A bare patch of dirt doesn't rate at all.)
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drm
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by drm » May 19th, 2019, 2:49 pm

A bare patch of dirt may not typically rate, but there will be cases where a significant impact is not intuitively obvious to the layperson. An example might be an endangered species that is small, not cute, maybe not much seen by most of us, but is still an indicator of an ecosystem under stress. Then the question is whether human visitation is what is actually causing that stress.

I would add that trying to educate wilderness travelers to behave differently is usually a lost cause. There are a few exceptions, mostly when their safety is an issue, but most people are wedded to experiencing the wilderness the way they like to. If we can't stop people from building campfires on a 95 degree day when it is light till 10pm, I don't see how we can get them to change other behaviors either.

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retired jerry
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by retired jerry » May 19th, 2019, 2:56 pm

"If excessive hikers is harming wildlife, who have already been chased out of the vast majority of their original habitat, or the environment, then I am pretty hardcore as saying too bad if you don't like the restrictions. Then you have to find some place else and just get used to it."

definitely

but sometimes that's just used as an argument to close off areas. In many cases if there are no humans its better for wildlife, but maybe not or maybe it's not significant. Certainly, wildlife benefit by having human constructed trails.

if you want to preserve wildlife, first identify wildlife to track, normally the big ones like bears, cougars, deer, coyotes, wolves,... They're usually the ones that suffer the worst. Include some others like amphibians and fish because we know they're having problems. And some plants. Then study them population wise. See if the size of population is decreasing. Make sure there's enough genetic diversity. Enough habitat.

Then, get to the impact of humans in the wilderness and determine if this is a significant factor.

Normally, the humans in the wilderness are confined to trails and occupy a tiny fraction of the area so don't have much impact. Until they start riding snow mobiles or motor bikes. But that has to be studied to determine if what makes sense is actually true.

What impacts animals more is converting wilderness to developments. Harvesting timber, although there are ways to do that to have less impact or even a positive impact. Pollution...

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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by Aimless » May 19th, 2019, 7:27 pm

Normally, the humans in the wilderness are confined to trails and occupy a tiny fraction of the area so don't have much impact.

I agree with this in a broad way, but humans tend to congregate at lakes and sometime these are the primary water sources for animals after the snow melts. Our obvious and continued presence around a lake can disrupt access to water and that can be a problem for larger animals. Also, what humans would consider to be minimal levels of chemical pollution in lakes and streams can cause problems for non-humans, especially amphibians. But, other than access to lake water, humans tend to have impacts that are concentrated in trail corridors, leaving very large areas of designated wilderness undisturbed by human presence.

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Charley
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by Charley » May 19th, 2019, 9:52 pm

This is a terrific conversation!

1. Though I have enjoyed PortlandHikers on Facebook, this kind of experienced, knowledgeable, in-depth debating is really a Oregonhikers.org forum specialty, and I'm glad to see it flourish.

2. TLDR: the Park Service basically has this problem solved, and it annoys me to no end that the Forest Service can't use the same techniques.

I'm generally in favor of active management, as well as more access. In the absence of a critical environmental concern (such as the Larch Mountain Salamander), I believe that we should encourage access by citizens. However, the management component is important. In the case of Memaloose Hills, interpretive and LNT signage, trailside fencing and hardscaping, and even ranger patrolling might ameliorate the likelihood of flower trampling. These solutions are far short of excessive, meddlesome permit processes or area closures, and would look familiar if you've visited Paradise at Mt Rainier, or Rim Village at Crater Lake. In short, these are tried and true methods that the Park Service uses to manage crowds effectively.

For an experienced hiker, these solutions offer little barrier to enjoyment. I hiked in Zion Canyon National Park last month and had an absolute blast. It was crowded, and there were a few unfortunate boot paths, but they're taking great care of the park. I'm sure you can find examples of failure to contradict me, and that's fine if you're inclined. But can you find a better model of crowd control? Seattleites have been used to their backyard mountain being a tourist destination for decades (dear Aimless: great point about the distinction between hiker and tourist). We in the Portland area are just getting used to seeing our backyard mountain and Gorge experience the same discovery and impact, with the distinction between our two cases being that our most beloved local destinations are USDA forest farms with small wilderness areas dotted around, not well-managed Parks.

I think we can all agree that the FS doesn't have enough money to do its job, and that all of my potential active-management solutions require funding currently unavailable. Another issue is the speed of change: without adequate boots-on-the-ground staff keeping an eye on their properties, the Forest Service could not possible react quickly enough to prevent the sudden influx of tourists after an Instagram bomb of a formerly lonely place like Memaloose Hills. Similarly, the time required to complete an EIS and public outreach processes would be an impediment to saving beautiful hillsides. It'd take so long to get approval to put up some fencing that all the flowers would be gone by the time it's approved. :(

All I can say for myself is that my solution is dead on arrival, but it ain't my fault! We coulda had a lot of rangers and trail building for what we paid for the Iraq War or the last round of tax cuts for billionaires.

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Charley
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by Charley » May 19th, 2019, 10:55 pm

Addendum:

I'm not sure that our impacts (whether touristic, die-hard "hiker," or other human uses) are greater now than they used to be. For example, doesn't the Memloose Hills area have a history of ranching? Wouldn't the impacts from that land use have been greater?

For an example that hits close to home: though I'm becoming accustomed to finding bootpaths toward out-of-the-way mountain tops that happen to be in Fred Beckey's books, how would those narrow ribbons of compacted soil compare to a single outing of the olden-days Mazamas or Mountaineers? We no longer carry large dining tents, dig latrines, or use stock animals in the high alpine! And don't get me started about wood fires!

Sure, the braided trails in the high alpine areas are an eyesore and an erosion nightmare (I wish the FS would make clear paths and decommission pointless alternate routes in areas where there are no official trails), but how do those impacts compare to the not-so-distant history of sheep herding in the Cascades?

I'm not excusing the current impacts, and I still advocate far active management techniques that will solve these problems, but it's helpful to maintain some sense of scale.

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drm
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by drm » May 20th, 2019, 6:43 am

I don't think the fact that the footprint - trail and campsites - of our visitation is a tiny percentage of the land is at all representative of our impacts. Wikipedia has a page on "edge effects" and there is a rather extensive study in the scientific literature on it, though a lot of that focuses on long roads through the wilderness, not trails.

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Guy
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Re: The Memaloose Hills and Social Media

Post by Guy » May 20th, 2019, 7:10 am

Also to limit impact put the trail where people want to walk!

A good example is the friends Moisure plateau. (Their land, they can do what they want I know.) The new official trail though is far from the edge and the best views. I'm sure that's deliberate for safety reasons etc but people will still walk to the edge for a look! causing numerous boot paths from the main trail to the edge. If the main trail had been built closer to where people wanted to be to start with the overall impact by people on the flowers etc would be less.

The same can be said about the new trail along the cape horn bluffs, moving the trail away from the edge has just made 2 trails where before there was one.

Complicated issues I know!
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