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Mt. Hood Rally will go on, but with significant changes

The Mt. Hood Rally race seemed destined for cancellation after Hood River County raised concerns over the event’s impacts on county roads, but organizers say a truncated version of the race will be held next month after all.

Race organizer Jeff Lemley said the Oregon Rally Group, which puts on the annual rally car race, has decided “to proceed with a limited version” of the rally, which will be held Saturday, Oct. 26.

The rally has been held for the past decade on portions of Bald Butte, Elder, Huskey, Gilhouley, and Fir Mountain roads, but Hood River County officials say rising road refurbishment costs and neighbor complaints have made hosting the race on county roads untenable.

During a Hood River County Board of Commissioners meeting last week, County Forestry Manager Doug Thiesies and County Engineer Don Wiley recommended that commissioners either disallow the races on county roads or charge organizers a road refurbishment fee that was up to 80 times more expensive than the current rate.

Commissioners decided to table the issue for further discussion at a later date, while the Forestry Department declined to take action on the application submitted by rally organizers to use county roads for the event.

Lemley reported during the meeting that the Mt. Hood Rally, which was originally scheduled for Oct. 19, was “going to probably end up getting canceled.” However, Lemley recently announced that a scaled-down version of the rally would be held without using county roads.

“The Mt. Hood Rally usually features over 60 miles of competitive stages, but this year’s version will only have about 27 miles total,” he said. “None of these stages will take place on Hood River County roads; only on U.S. Forest Service roads and private property.”

Lemley added that Oregon Rally Group has “assurances” from the Forest Service that it will be issued a permit to use portions of F.S. Road 17 in the Mt. Hood National Forest for the event, which he expected would draw approximately 20 to 25 teams — about 10 fewer than typically attend.

For more information on the event, go to www.mthoodrally.com.

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