Sunday, July 15, 2007

PNW trails and storm damage

I've been hiking the local trails since April this year, mostly in the Cascade Mountains near Highway 2. I have seen a lot of trail and road damage from last winter's windstorm and flooding. Several trailheads are inaccessible because the access roads washed out. After a couple of detours, I found that Washington Trails Association's website had a more up-to-date list of status than the Forest Service sites (storm damage). I've been surprised and pleased at how quickly the Forest Service has done the simpler kinds of road and trail maintenance. Of course other groups also do trail maintenance, notably the Washington Trails Association, the Student Conservation Association, and the Mountaineers, and are working hard to repair trails. I feel guilty because I don't volunteer for trail maintenance work although I do donate money. I have several reasons, at this point the most relevant being my health.

Many trails are inaccessible and the roads won't be repaired soon. Some of the roads have washed out before, I remember at least once before the Index-Galena road washed out and was inaccessible for years. Some roads should be abandoned but many serve popular areas and probably should and will be re-opened. I hope when the most damaged roads are rebuilt they are rerouted to minimize future chances of washout.

I don't have a real point here except that damage occurred and groups are working to repair the damage. Various governmental fees and taxes as well as non-governmental organizations provide the financial means. My Forest Pass fee (actually I get the Interagency Annual Pass, formerly called the Golden Eagle) seems reasonable given the amount of money required. And there are many users of the forests besides hikers, some of whom pay fees and some do not so I think it is reasonable for general tax revenue to be spent on maintenance.



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