For the third time in the last five years, man-made features along a popular mountain biking trail in the Northwest Area Trails System have been hit by vandalism. The trail, called FMX, is located in the Riordan Hill area and features two advanced jump lines made of large wood ramps and dirt landings. As builder and the trail’s official adopter, Hood River resident Douglas Johnson is in charge of maintaining the trail and its features. Much to his dismay, when he checked on the trail earlier this week he found several of the features partially dismantled or destroyed.
“It has happened again,” Johnson said with marked frustration. “The first time this happened someone set little fires under the stunts. The second time someone smashed the supports with an ATV. They were pretty crafty this time, and it obviously took someone a long time to do.”
Along with removing material and destroying ramps, Johnson said the culprits removed lag bolts holding jumps together, but left them standing.
“That’s the sinister part of this,” Johnson said. “Whoever did this left the first jumps intact and others that looked okay. If someone would have come down the hill and hit one of them, they could have really gotten hurt. To me that’s more than vandalism; it’s sabotage.”
As with all official trails in the Northwest Area system — roughly between Kingsley Reservoir and the bottom of Post Canyon — Hood River County Forestry facilitates the construction and maintenance of them. As such, features are approved by the county system and become county property once they are installed.
“It’s very unfortunate that things like this are happening up there,” said Doug Thiesies, HRCF manager. “We experience vandalism in other areas as well, but in this case it could have really hurt someone and that’s just not okay. Unfortunately there’s only so much we can do about it. People need to be aware that conditions in the forest change constantly so they really need to pay attention.”
For Johnson, who has spent countless hours working on county trails for many years, the discouragement of the latest damage isn’t going to stop him from doing what he loves, and what thousands of people come to the area to enjoy.
“I’m going to rebuild it,” he said. “Someone is trying to make a statement, but it’s not working. Fortunately we have a system set up to help fund non-motorized trail projects and maintenance.”
The funds Johnson is referring to come from sales receipts of a trail map put out by the county, and partners, and sold at local bike shops.