throngs of rogue hikers trespassing/vandalizing in waterfall corridor

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Chip Down
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throngs of rogue hikers trespassing/vandalizing in waterfall corridor

Post by Chip Down » April 8th, 2020, 4:56 pm

Oregonlive headline 4/7:
Gorge highway closure extended after trespassers violate barricades, throw signs off road.
All public land is closed within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area due to the coronavirus outbreak, but that hasn’t stopped crowds from showing up, with some people going so far as to trespass onto parks and trails.

The Oregon Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that it will shut down seven additional miles of the Historic Columbia River Highway, which leads to many of the area’s most popular hikes and waterfalls, following an influx of unruly crowds.

The highway will now be closed from Larch Mountain to Angels Rest from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The department previously closed the scenic highway from Angels Rest to Ainsworth.


Existing closures haven’t stopped some 200 cars an hour from showing up, according to transportation officials. Many visitors have also violated barricades, thrown signs off the road and trespassed into closed parks and trails.

Officials trying to maintain the widespread closure report contacting visitors about once every four minutes.

Following an earlier decision by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, the U.S. Forest Service closed all public land in the Columbia Gorge on March 26, supporting Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order banning all nonessential travel, issued March 23.

Since then, local, state and federal officials have been urging the public to “do the right thing” and stay home during the coronavirus outbreak. The new highway closure extends that message.

“Given what’s been happening in this corridor despite the governor’s executive order, this day-time closure has become necessary to protect forest service, sheriff’s office and state parks staffs and for protecting the public,” Rian Windsheimer, a regional manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said in a news release. “Please follow the governor’s guidance and stay home, save lives.”

The new road closures will be staffed by state park rangers. Roads will be kept open for local residents and emergency services.
source: https://www.oregonlive.com/travel/2020/ ... -road.html

It warms my heart to see people defying government, but this has a bit of a wrong-place-wrong-time feel.

I don't recall it being like this after the Eagle Creek fire. Maybe because roads were closed right from the start, with posted sentries.

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Re: throngs of rogue hikers trespassing/vandalizing in waterfall corridor

Post by justpeachy » April 8th, 2020, 8:30 pm

Chip Down wrote:
April 8th, 2020, 4:56 pm
I don't recall it being like this after the Eagle Creek fire. Maybe because roads were closed right from the start, with posted sentries.
Lots of people are not working and kids are not in school, so I'm sure that is playing a role here. People are antsy to get outside after the winter, not to mention being antsy after several weeks of being cooped up at home.

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Re: throngs of rogue hikers trespassing/vandalizing in waterfall corridor

Post by adamschneider » April 8th, 2020, 10:28 pm

When the fire happened, the ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD was still open, so there was no strong reason for anyone to try to get in.

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Re: throngs of rogue hikers trespassing/vandalizing in waterfall corridor

Post by aiwetir » April 9th, 2020, 10:02 am

It’s not like Eagle Creek isn’t being used either. Heatmap data is over the last 2 years ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Screen Region 2020-04-09 at 11.26.36.png
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Re: throngs of rogue hikers trespassing/vandalizing in waterfall corridor

Post by Aimless » April 9th, 2020, 10:14 am

There have been damage assessors and trail crews on the Eagle Creek trail as authorized users, so a heat map image is bound to show some use.

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Re: throngs of rogue hikers trespassing/vandalizing in waterfall corridor

Post by BigBear » April 10th, 2020, 8:38 am

This is the big Catch-22 that I mentioned a month ago: you close millions of acres of public lands, tell people to social distance, and encourage them to get outside to keep healthy. So, we're all confined to the densely-populated cities and and somehow exercise in solitude. If they thought the trails were crowded before the closures, what are they thinking now with the sidewalks and streets of Portland?

I'm not usually a fan of social disobedience, but I think the ban on all public lands has gone way too far. In fact the Forest Service has gone well beyond their administrative mandate when it prohibited public access to all land in the Gorge whether it was their's to manage or not. Ironically, if you carry a gun or fishing pole, you are free to hike the trails - you just have to look hungry. m Ironically, the picture in The Oregonian of the two hunters decked in camo and with all the gear did not look like they were too poor to buy hamburger at the local grocer (maybe it was a file photo).

The worst part of the closure of public land to the public is that we now know how USFS will enforce their new wilderness restrictions: if you have the money to buy all the passes, you can re-enter public land, if you can't pony up the bills, you can stay at home. Hope you enjoyed your last hike in the forests...it may be your last hike. That's my prediction on the USFS entry system after the coronavirus has ended.

Prove me wrong.

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Re: throngs of rogue hikers trespassing/vandalizing in waterfall corridor

Post by Aimless » April 10th, 2020, 11:02 am

Challenging us to prove you wrong makes no sense, except as a rhetorical flourish. Statements about the future can't be proved to be wrong or right in the present, unless they are statements about the continued operation of physical laws. Otherwise, the future only exists as a set of probabilities, which only resolve into facts as time unfolds.

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Re: throngs of rogue hikers trespassing/vandalizing in waterfall corridor

Post by retired jerry » April 10th, 2020, 11:19 am

that is almost poetic :)

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Chip Down
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Re: throngs of rogue hikers trespassing/vandalizing in waterfall corridor

Post by Chip Down » April 10th, 2020, 1:05 pm

BigBear wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 8:38 am
That's my prediction on the USFS entry system after the coronavirus has ended.

Prove me wrong.
Aimless wrote:
April 10th, 2020, 11:02 am
Challenging us to prove you wrong makes no sense, except as a rhetorical flourish. Statements about the future can't be proved to be wrong or right in the present, unless they are statements about the continued operation of physical laws. Otherwise, the future only exists as a set of probabilities, which only resolve into facts as time unfolds.
I guess you showed him! :D
Anyway, one possibility is that the bear was addressing USFS, challenging them to demonstrate (eventually) that his prediction was wrong.

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Re: throngs of rogue hikers trespassing/vandalizing in waterfall corridor

Post by drm » April 10th, 2020, 2:31 pm

With the exception of crowded trails like Dog Mtn and waterfall alley, the broad closures had more to do with the small towns we go through to get there afraid of city folks bringing the disease to their area, or spraining their ankle or getting lost and needing a rescue when the responders might be real busy. They didn't need to close trailheads to Mt Adams and Hood to prevent crowds when the only people going up there now are going up into the snow, which we know means very few people.

The bigger question for the more remote areas will be reopening. It's one thing to suggest that bars and soccer stadiums and large music festivals are risky even well after the first wave peaks. But remote wilderness is another story. Keep in mind that after the MSH eruption, Mt Adams was closed for two years. That drove more than a few local business into bankruptcy I would guess.

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