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Team efforts speed trail cleanup

April 21, 2012

Although volunteers have already done hundreds of hours' worth of trail cleanup, the picture still isn't pretty.

In areas worst-hit by January's ice storm, trees, branches and debris line hillsides across dozens of acres, leaving massive holes in the canopy where thick forest once towered above.

With the outdoor season at the doorstep, the masses -- both residents and visitors -- who take advantage of the Post Canyon area's network of smooth trails, fast lines, technical features and big hits will find that many of their favorite trails are not as they remember them.

Despite the widespread damage, however, the efforts of Hood River County Forestry, trail stewards and volunteers mean that many of the most popular trails will at least be cleared off and passable once the dirt dries out for the sunny half of spring.

The best-known trail in the system (and one of the most popular in the county), Seven Streams, is a good example. Sections of the trail were crisscrossed by so much debris that a person could walk about half a mile on downed trees without touching the ground.

HRCF has plotted about 70 acres of the area for salvage logging. Due to the extent of the damage and its relatively limited access for heavy equipment, the area will be clear cut by whatever company buys the timber.

In a nod to the importance of the trail system and the large number of people who use it, HRCF hired professionals to buck logs in the area so volunteers can clear the trail and get it opened for the season; at least until the timber sale goes through and logging begins.

"County Forestry has been incredibly responsive and proactive in reaching out to the user communities," said Matt Klee, president of the newly formed Hood River Area Trail Stewards. "They have clearly gone out of their way to help get trails open."

"The goal is to get Seven Streams open to where it connects with Riordan Hill," said Doug Thiesies, HRCF manager. "I think that's still a couple weeks out, but they're making good progress. I would expect more and more trails to open up as we go, but there's still a lot of salvage going on."

Thiesies said he expects the two Seven Streams timber units to be sold sometime around June and that he will try to put incentives in the sale to encourage the buyer to harvest it this year.

"The biggest reason we want to get those trees out this year is (bug) infestation," he said. "They'll hit the downed timber this spring and will lay eggs that will hatch by April of next spring. They'll then attack the other trees in the area. With white fir you have one year and with Douglas fir you have two years before you start to lose value from it."

In addition to smaller salvage operations, HRCF is planning seven large sales this year that target storm damaged areas.

In a recent post on the HRATS web page (www.hrats.org), the association gave this update on the status of other trails in the area:

"A crew of volunteers cleared the upper #140 trail for the shuttle crowd. You can now ride down to Three Blind Mice and 2-Chairs-2; not too sure beyond that.

"Seven Streams is free of debris, but has many obstacles. In the next couple of days we hope to report this trail is rideable by bike.

"Extended Play has a log blocking the landing of the last feature so beware.

"Bad Motor Scooter's entry has changed a little bit. We will fix the damage after the logs are salvaged.

"Lower GP is still to be avoided and anything down to Blue Car and Spaghetti Factory is being logged; same with Charlie's Trail. Upper 8-Track has some sections blocked as well, but it's rideable.

"Lastly: HRATS is holiding another trail work party this Saturday, Aprl 21. Meet at the new 10 Speed Coffee at 8:30 a.m. Bring gloves, helmet, food and water. We will break everyone into groups and will head out to two work locations.

"Exciting stuff is happening -- come be a part of it."

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