Oh say it ain't so...but it is.
It has taken us Trailadvocates 6 years to get Rho back on the district list. It is now a gorgeous trail snaking thru oldgrowth like it's 1935. 2 months ago, it was pristine.
Last weekend however, I see that a few merry lawbreakers have torn their way thru, all the way to the Tumble Creek area. The damage was quite fresh, and becoming all to common: loose shredded soils, trenches forming on steep hills, a stream diverted in the ruts, ruts where a poor rider slipped off the tread in places.
Perhaps we made the trail too nice with the painstaking tread improvements and many cut out logs. Perhaps the shiny new Forest Service sign has something to do with it, now advertising a once obscure trail. I have dedicated much of my life and the salt of my sweat trying to make the Clackamas a little more special, and to make the history a bit more accessible. Perhaps this is why some of our volunteers have retired, assuredly seeing this same story repeated in their favorite haunt. Huxley Lake, for example: once a narrow nearly abandoned strip of history is now a virtual ATV highway, illegal of course, and completely unchecked.
Something has to change, and I'll be damned if I know what it is. Even the Rho Camp was recently trashed - trash bag hanging from a tree, young saplings crudely cut down, MOUNDS and MOUNDS of poop paper piles, some RIGHT ON THE CREEK, even an animal spine hung from tree branches.
Is this what we've become, or have imported to this once pure land? With degraded cities, wilderness is soon to follow. It is sad to see a civilization seemingly in decline, and yet we still stand helpless as the barn burns.
Would a table at Ripplebrook during the busiest weekends help? I considered providing free trash bags, poop shovels and basic instruction just to give the woods a CHANCE at surviving another summer. It would also give me a chance to promote Green Cascadia (though I STILL await my guide permit, promised in May....) I should give SOLV a holler and see if they have any ideas.
At the very least, it breaks my heart to see the most beautiful and important places ruined in a flash of spontaneous vandalism.
I hate to say it, but I think removing the trailhead signs and letting the first little bit of trail grow over would be the most effective method of deterring this kind of vandalism. Unless something changes with the Forest Service, I see no need for their "help" publicizing trail locations. As I understand it, the Trail Advocates are the ones doing most of the trail maintenance. What do you think Don, would you like the Forest Service to post a sign at the Cougar Creek trailhead?
As soon as I saw that sign I went "Wow!", then, "uh oh...."
I honestly thought about losing it, but then that would be vandalism! Crazy. Most of the "lost" trails we know about are kept vague like that to deter ATVs. I think the blazing chainsaws didn't help either, there were some damn big old growth trees down before.
What kind of person thinks it's OK to take a destructive machine down a lightly used trail into wilderness?
A couple of seasons should knock some trees down. How strange to hope for that.
The last time I went to a certain trail it had been tore up by off roaders. It is ruined for me and I will not go back.
Several trails that I helped salvage are now wrecked by lawlessness.
Until the FS can police the woods, it would be a good matter of course to let the trails deteriorate.
Perhaps we should request the signs removed pending adequate ORV enforcement.
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