FEDERAL TRAILS NO UPKEEP

(KPTV image)

MT. HOOD, OR (KPTV) - The United States Forest Service has stopped trash pickups along trails in the Mt. Hood National Forest and some local hikers say, garbage is beginning to pile up.

Oregon State Park employees have stepped in to help maintain federal trailheads, like Angel’s Rest and Wahkeena Falls, according to one worker.

He said they picked up 32 bags of trash along the most popular federally maintained trails, Wednesday. And they also replenished toilet paper at many of the public bathrooms.

Nonprofit partners, who regularly go out and help federal workers clean up, said they cannot do so during the shutdown.

“We have agreements in place that the forest service oversees and manages our stewardship of their lands,” Steve Kruger, Executive Director of Trailkeepers of Oregon said. He also told FOX 12, “Our work, is under their definition not essential, and is suspended because they can’t thoughtfully oversee it.”

The federal employees who normally oversee the non-profit’s projects have all been furloughed, according to Kruger.

“Every weekend, every week of the shutdown we’ve had to cancel one to three trail event days, with volunteer leaders, volunteer groups of sizes from eight to 15 people, volunteering to do work in places impacted by the Eagle Creek Fire.”

Kruger also said their work goes way past just picking up trash. Trailkeepers also remove small rock slides, clear drainage and even help secure funds for future projects through grant writing. But, even that is in a holding pattern.

The shutdown is having a trickle-down effect on spring and summer projects, according to Kruger.

“We had work planning meetings that were scheduled that were cancelled now.”

He’s worried the work will not be finished before the peak of Oregon’s hiking season and hikers will have to wait much longer for trails affected by the Eagle Creek Fire to reopen.

The massive fire forced officials to close 122 miles of trails. So far, just over half have reopened, Kruger said.

He and his volunteers are ready to do their part to repair the trails still closed, but with no end in sight to the shutdown all they can do is wait.

“Every week, every month that goes by, means that we’re that much further behind.”

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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