I am writing to you to let you know how the two failed Hood River County Tax Measures will affect local trails.
Hood River County is in the process of winding down their trail program on Hood River County property because of severe budget issues. They are not replacing the Trail Coordinator when he retires July 31st of this year. The Hood River County Trail Committee met for the last official time this Tuesday.
The County cannot run the trail program without filling the Trail Coordinator position.
The retiring trail coordinator has been working very hard to get everything in order for the system to run into the fall after he leaves. The Forestry Dept. has agreed to keep things going through the fall.
It is unclear what will happen next Spring though. This will be up to the Hood River County Board of Commissioners. We have been told that if no new financial solution is reached, restrictions to trail use, maintenance and building is likely. To what extent is unknown.
HRATS and other users have been communicating with the County and each other to find a solution. No easy answer has been found, but we are sure the solution will require significantly increased financial and volunteer support from users and businesses.
The Hood River County Trail system is more complex than most realize. The system handles Motorcycles, Quads, Side by Sides, Equestrian, Mt Bikes, runners and Hikers. The good news is that the trails that allow motorized vehicles are fully funded through an OHV grant, but the county may be leaving this money on the table without a trail coordinator solution, further adding complexity to the situation.
It is the non-motorized portion of the trail system that lacks funds. Mt Bikers make up the huge majority of non-motorized trail use, so HRATS is making a huge effort to find a solution.
Initial conversations with the Forestry Dept. indicate that $100k to $150k per year would keep the system running. This is a huge amount of money and HRATS is looking for other solutions. Let me be clear: This is not a problem that will be fixed by $10K per year. The realistic number is much higher than this with a lot of user support and trust by the County.
So what can you do?
1. Dive In: HRATS is always looking for motivated people with spare time to help out. If this issue strikes a chord with you and you have time and want to help, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ironically, HRATS is currently lacking on fundraising experts!
2. Donate: Please donate because the money will help fund a solution plus a huge supporter list will tell the county that we have the public behind us. Donating via Paypal is simple at https://www.hrats.org/get_involved/donations
3. Spread the word. Make sure everyone on every group ride knows the situation and is on the HRATS mailing list. People can “Join Our Mailing List” at hrats.org
4. Let the County know how much the trails mean to you. This must be done respectfully though. Our community just rejected both of their pleas for a budget fix. If you want to write a letter now, please encourage them to work with the user community and to think outside the box. When we think we have a feasible solution we will encourage users to support the plan and show up at Commissioner meetings.
HRATS is continuing our “Supporter Sticker” program. Everyone who donates $50 or more dollars gets HRATS Supporter stickers. Small stickers for your bike and large stickers for your car. You can pick up your stickers at any Hood River Bike Shop a few days after you donate. They will have your name on the Supporters List. The list is now at 225 people. We need this number to jump significantly. This list will also include those that have put in big efforts for trails over the years.
Show your support for our trails by donating and putting an HRATS Supporter sticker on your bike and car to let people know you care.
We hope you are enjoying Eldorado, our last big project. A project like this is not possible in the future if we do not find a budget solution.
Upper 8 track is still up for cutting in the coming year. A reroute is in the works.
The County is also selling timber around Hidden (163) and Borderline (133). Timing is not known, but the trails will be affected when the logging happens. Repairing trails like this after logging will likely not be allowed if a solution to the budget is not found.
The gravel road to family man will be closed for 3-5 weeks in the coming months for maintenance and widening so log trucks can come through. Timing is not exactly known, but it is likely to start between Aug and Nov. This has nothing to do with the failed tax measures and budget issues.
Please respect all fire notices the county/state put out. Let’s keep the big fire a one-time event. Do you know what fire level we are at now? https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx
Take care and spread the word,