MOTOCROSS FANS: How NUMB ARE YOU?

Here is the theme song for MX “fans” who fail to understand why the world closes ranks against their nasty “sport”:

“I’m numb as a statue
I may have to beg, borrow or steal
Some feelings from you
So I can have some feelings too…

I don’t care if it’s superficial
You don’t have to dig down deep
Just bring enough for the ritual
Get here before I fall asleep….”

(Warren Zevon, “Numb as a Statue”)

As comments piled up about Timber, aka Idiot, Ridge Motocross “park”, I found most didn’t deserve an answer. Profanity, misogyny, threats, and hate speak are the hallmarks of the motocross hulks and hulkettes when anyone gets in the way of their “NEED TO RIDE”. Most of those MX “fans” are truly “NUMB AS A STATUE” when it comes to empathy for the nuisance problems they cause in the world.

If you need to read those offensive and threatening comments, go to the Clackamas County planning files where they have been copied verbatim for the hearings officer. I hope he isn’t faint at heart, but he needs to understand how motocross “fans” think and how they threaten to act when they aren’t getting their way. What’s funny is that most failed to even understand that at this point it is considered by the County an ILLEGALLY CONSTRUCTED EVENT  TRACK – and that once the County says NO to the conditional use, as it surely will, there is no going back to the “friends and family” baloney. Cat’s out of the commercial bag and once out it won’t be getting back in.

Anyway, one of the few comments I’ll bother to respond to came from someone called JJ. When I looked him up I found out – surprise of surprises – he apparently creates graphics for MX up in Washougal Wa.  JJ’s question was: “You know, I checked out this blog….and got to wonder. Why do you care? Is this really going to bug you personally that much?”

JJ’s sad question is exactly what has been wrong all throughout history when people who weren’t “personally bugged” looked the other way – about civil rights, about the holocaust, about illegal wars fought for corporate interests, about gay rights and women’s rights, about any über force exploiting an underdog… about social injustice.

But the MX hulks don’t care about the “abouts” – the roar of dirt bikes and the puking fossil fuel air pollution and the $$$$$ to be made are all they know or care about.  No one else matters, right? If you can’t see someone’s eyes – or know their name – then they don’t exist and their problems, even if YOU CAUSE THEM  – don’t count. PHEW ON THAT!

Motocross hulks might be “numb as statues” but the rest of us aren’t!

“Action on the environment comes from thinking about it–comes from real conversations about the real facts, our real lives, our real hopes … they’re a vital part of the change we need to see.”

– Bill McKibben  – Author, Deep Economy and The End of Nature

The list of abuses in our culture is far too long to list.  If we ignore our neighbor’s problems, or environmental problems or social justice problems, then callous, me first people like Mr. Idiot Ridge win.

JJ’s self-serving view of life, which allows him to even ask such a pathetic question, matches right up with self-serving MX promoter/dirt bike saleswoman Elaine Derrick and her idiotic comment “It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere” about Idiot Ridge (Elaine, there are REAL PEOPLE LIVING ON REAL LAND SURROUNDING IDIOT RIDGE  – you were just too stupid and lazy to look – or too callous!).  Elaine and JJ, joined with self-serving track builder Steve Corrie’s destruction of local land WITHOUT PERMITS, joined with abusive “I don’t even live there” Mr. Idiot Ridge’s years of code violations makes MX EVERYONE’S PROBLEM.

And from the new friends I have made and the extensive information I have gathered it is clear that MX has been poisoning its own well around the world for years.

People like JJ and his band of clueless MX “fans” – who have to ask why anyone would care about environmental destruction and the theft of a neighborhood’s quality of life for their CARPETBAGGING nasty “fun” – need to have the full force of connected activists around the world ready to stop them in their tracks (forgive the pun).

One other “subscriber” named “Lynn” is fond of writing in and saying “Get a life”. Well, Lynn, guess what: the great people here south of Molalla had GREAT LIVES until they had to step up to stop you and your MX pig friends from STEALING THEIR LIVES.

Lynn, it is overdue for the MX hordes to GET A LIFE SOMEWHERE WHERE NO ONE HAS TO HEAR THEM, SEE THEM OR WORRY ABOUT THE DESTRUCTION THEIR STUPID FAKE “SPORT” CAUSES.

That’s the message the hearing officer will soon deliver, just as County staff already said: INTENSIVE MX has no place in farm/forestry zoned lands. Go look in the mirror and see the empty eyes that stare back at you, numb MX “fans”. You only see yourselves and your childish wants. It is obvious to us all by now that you don’t give a crap about “neighbors” or “environment” – it’s only about you, your dumb dirt bikes and making money. Period.

Here’s another entry from the Kill Timber Ridge Files:

Clackamas County Hearings Officer

c/o Sandy Ingalls, Land Use and Zoning

Development Services Bldg.

150 Beavercreek Road

Oregon City, OR 97045

October 2, 2010

RE:  File #Z0348-10-C, Thomas “private park”

Dear Members of the Commission:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the above-referenced application. I live about a mile from the Thomas motocross site. I bought 20 acres of EFU land post logging in 1991 and have spent the past 19 years replanting with a variety of site appropriate tree species and enhancing Kaiser Creek using organic conservation methods. My husband and I highly value the peace, quiet, beauty and privacy our land has afforded us and we believe that peace, quiet, beauty and privacy is a hallmark of rural life in Clackamas County.

In 2007, I was very proud to have my entire property accepted in Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Habitat program. In 2008, my husband and I were honored by Clackamas County with the Heritage Tree Stewardship Excellence Award for maintaining and protecting our large collection of diverse riparian woodland trees and Oregon white oaks. In 2010, I was honored by the Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society with their private landowner Conservation Award “For enhancing habitat for all wildlife, supporting wildlife management and maintaining Oregon’s wildlife heritage”.

In addition to my wildlife habitat activities, I am a dressage oriented horsewoman who is very familiar with the needs of domestic farm animals. I have worked since 2007 on diverse civic projects that have connected me intimately with the tapestry of lives and lands south of the City of Molalla. I am a member of the Molalla CPO and have done community organizing for a number of local causes. I support the work of 1000 Friends of Oregon to protect our natural resources and I am highly aware of Oregon’s land use goals.

I have extreme concerns about the Thomas “private park” conditional use proposal and the negative impacts the established track has already had on our rural neighborhood and on natural resources. In my life experience and from my contacts with rural people at local and County levels, I believe that our common sense of place – our desire for peace, quiet, privacy, and a love for the beauty of the land and animals that share our rural properties – is a binding force. The Thomas conditional use private motocross/campground proposal represents a highly intensive commercial use on prime soils that has no respect for our local sense of place. It would seriously degrade our local quality of life. Our County can’t risk setting a precedent by allowing this conditional use.

INTRODUCTION:

File # Z0348-10-STC is a request for conditional use approval for an existing motocross track and campground as a “private park.” The subject property is a 20.75-acre property identified as 5S-2E-32 Tax Lot 400.  The subject property has a Clackamas County Comprehensive Plan (Plan) designation of Forest and a zoning designation of AG/Forest (AG/F).

IMPACTS:

History and Character of the Neighborhood:

In 2003, interested in buying a companion animal for my horse, I answered an ad and went to a property on S. Wilhoit Rd. to learn about miniature horses and donkeys. I met the owner of the horses and had a delightful time meeting her 80+ herd of miniature donkeys and horses. She was relaxed, happy, and very proud of her breeding operation. The lands were tranquil, the views idyllic, and the herd was friendly, healthy and flourishing. I did not hear from this landowner again until March of 2010 when she called with the anguished story of a motocross track that had been systematically built and used next to her Wilhoit Road farm.

I visited in March 2010 and saw the carnage created at the Thomas property by professional track builders. The neighbors next to the Thomas motocross site were filled with anxiety and fear as they anticipated another season of motocross racing. I learned the herd had been severely reduced since they couldn’t successfully breed and market horses or donkeys with the disruption of the noise and dust from the motocross “park” activities. I learned the neighbors had made many and repeated complaints over several years to numerous agencies, including Clackamas County code enforcement, DEQ, the Water Master, and the Forest Service about Thomas’s land use and the motocross noise, dust, erosion and water use. I saw that Thomas had a security camera trained not on his own land and entrance, but instead at the windows of the of the neighbor’s residence in an apparent attempt to intimidate the family.

When the racing activities commenced on May 16, I went with a camera and began to document the huge motocross event from the public margin of S.Wilhoit Road. I was menaced by a motocross attendee who got out of his truck and yelled and threatened me for photographing his arrival with a truck trailer load of dirt bikes. I saw a great number of large trailers, covered vans with racing dirt bike logos and an event tent on site. I spent a horrible hour walking the fence line taking pictures of the hordes of timed dirt bike racers, with numbered riders jumping large berms, riding up and down wide vertical tracks, circling flat track areas at high speeds, destroying high value farmland and creating clouds of dust. The noise was absolutely deafening.

In marked contrast to my experience in 2003, the usually very friendly and contented herd of miniature horses and donkeys was cowering at the far north end of their field, trying to escape the horrific noise by huddling as far away from the track action as possible on their 7 acre site. Although it was spring, large clouds of dust went up all over the Thomas site and dusted the fields. We were all extremely upset and we could barely hold a conversation due to the noise.

If I had been a potential customer for a domestic animal on that motocross racing event day in May, I would never have been able to stay long enough on site to consider an animal; given the fear and anxiety the animals showed during that motocross event, they would not have been marketable. Customers for animals like horses want the animals to come from calm and relaxed people in a peaceful environment where the seller and buyer can spend a lot of patient time together to see how friendly, contented and well bred the domestic animals are – and the ongoing motocross event made that kind of marketing impossible.

A Clackamas County Sheriff came about noon and recorded 81.7 decibels near the neighbor’s back door, almost 22 decibels above the legal limit. I reached a County official at home and held my cell phone up so the official could hear the horrible din of the dirt bikes; the official was shocked. The entire field where the horses and donkeys graze would also have been well over the legal limit. I expect the herd must have suffered hearing damage by now due to the decibel levels they have been subjected to for long periods of time over the past years. I observed that, even after Deputy Helmer issued a noise citation and left, the motocross activities continued unabated. I was very relieved to return to my quiet farm and I was incensed that the neighbors to Thomas would be forced to endure an entire day of that horrible noise, dust and traffic.

I heard from the neighbor a couple of weeks later, when another large motocross event commenced. I understand that a Sergeant Mura arrived and was angry to find that Mr. Thomas had flim flamed the Clackamas County Sheriff Dept. into issuing a variance for a “birthday party” which would have “some” motorbike riding. I was incredulous that the Sheriff could have allowed a variance. When I obtained and read the facts, I came to understand that Mr. Thomas had failed to ask his neighbors for permission for the “birthday/motocross” event. I understand after talking to the Sergeant Mura that no such variances will be available to Thomas in the future.

Motocross “Culture” Puts Local Residents at Risk:

Now, with no other course for legal riding after alienating the Clackamas County Sheriff, Mr. Thomas, after years of community complaints, is attempting to go backward to permit an already highly developed and professionally promoted motocross facility. We have found multiple websites that introduce us to Thomas’s commercial track builder, Steve Corrie, who built the professional track and to professional motocross event promoter Elaine Derrick; both are obviously already well-connected to the Thomas property.  “Timber Ridge Motocross Park” was ready to sell $30 “playdates” for summer of 2010 via professional promoter Elaine Derrick, who works for a motorcycle store in Vancouver Wa. When questioned about where this new facility might be and how it could be permitted, Derrick told me on the phone “It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere”. Derricks comment is highly insulting to our community of rural residents – we aren’t by any stretch living in “the middle of nowhere”. Most residents who are lucky enough to find land here stay for decades – and many families have owned sites for generations, dating back to the 1850 arrival of European settlers.

In essence, the lack of code enforcement, the total disregard Thomas has shown for the land and the lives of the people who surround the site, Thomas’s failure to get permits before creating a facility and the fact that this “park” has already been commercially promoted now has created a state of high anxiety between local residents and the motocross users. Thomas has no connection to the local community since he lives in Happy Valley instead of at the subject property.

The tension and fear caused by the motocross users has completely changed the way local residents must live their lives. The culture of commercial motocross is not conducive to the safety, piece of mind, commercial farm/forest activities and the general well being of local long time residents.

The hundred’s of motocross “fans” connected to the Timber Ridge facebook page and to Derrick’s and Corrie’s promotional web pages already consider this an established “park’. The growing numbers of community members – the local residents – who have stepped up to protect our community and to protest this noxious “use” have received public threats on motocross blogs.

A thread was posted about me on “Thumper Talk”, after I spoke out against this motocross park proposal at a CPO meeting; the content over and over says: “Someone should burn that bitch’s car”. I have seen nasty internet posts from motocross “fans” calling our community members “hillbillies”. Thomas has attempted to question my right as a citizen to participate in land use actions and told me in a threatening way it was “game on” when he found out I asked for public information regarding the forestry status of his property. Thomas also demeans the neighbors by calling in groundless complaints in attempts to intimidate and to stop neighbors from complaining against his activities.

At the South Clackamas CPO meeting that voted to oppose this conditional use, the motocross fans appeared to be highly surprised that more families than the visible residences had been negatively impacted by the track for the past several years. Rather than being sensitive as a distraught mother described how her family’s lives had been ruined by the track, the promoters and motocross riders smirked as the anguished neighbor spoke. The motocross supporters obviously were oblivious to the fact that far more local residents than just the couple of houses they could see had been negatively impacted and were angry about the track. In short, the motocross “culture” only cares about the selfish need to “ride and race” and is totally callous about the impact the “sport” has on the local community. The “fans” and Thomas have shown ZERO regard for addressing community concerns.

All of the neighbors I have met are distressed about the years they have had to endure the noise, dust, trash, worries about fire and general disruption to their legal farm/forest activities due to the motocross track in their midst. Rural people like to spend lots of time outdoors, especially in the dry months, now families hesitate to invite visitors over for summer events for fear of being subjected to noise and dust. Families can’t trust the safety of children playing in the woods and fields adjoining tracks; if the motocross “fans’ are willing to verbally abuse and menace neighbors, what might they do to children or adults who confront them if trespassing should occur? Given the camping with up to 250 site users/4 days week proposed by Thomas, and the location near private adjoining woods and fields that aren’t readily visible from owners’ residences, there is little doubt that “camping” use would eventually spill over fence lines as park “users” seek new grounds to explore.

Motocross/Campground Puts Neighbors in the Position of Acting as Code Enforcement “Police”:

Thomas has had a variety of permitting issues over several years and the neighbors have been forced to call repeatedly with concerns to numerous agencies, including DEQ, County code enforcement, the Forest Service, the Clackamas County Sheriff and the Water Master. Given the limited resources of our State and County agencies, it is disruptive to rural life for the community to have to call over and over about permitting issues. If conditional use were granted in any form, all the same above agencies would only respond to complaint driven problems.

I contacted numerous other Counties about existing motocross facilities and it is obvious that even permitted facilities have on going problems with complaints from neighbors. The growing piles of complaints against Mr. Thomas, including the finding of “guilty” on a noise violation in May, prove that the community would have little faith in Mr. Thomas’s interest in complying with “conditions, and that the community would further endanger itself by having to serve as the conditional use code “police’ in a place far from the offices of code enforcement, agency reps, and the Sheriff.

The August 5, 2010 “Findings and Final Order” for the Thomas Noise Control Citation No. 10-2531 noted “five pages of CCOM detail reports showing numerous complaints of noise” on the Thomas property – yet Thomas, who failed to appear, sent a message that he was “not aware of the noise ordinance”.

Community members have already had numerous verbal and web posted treats because they question and oppose this motocross “park”.

Since the proposed camping/motocross activities would go well beyond regular business hours and would occur on weekends, there is little chance that the proper authorities would even be available to observe scoff law activities even if complaints were filed. The neighborhood should not have to endure any more threats that might come from our need to question practices on a conditional use facility that has no compatibility with local uses of land or respect for community concerns. Absolutely no concern for community environment to date has been shown by anyone connected to the Thomas site.

Motocross is Unwelcome in Communities and on Public Lands Around the State and Nation:

I have done a great deal of research on motocross facilities/activities and the problems that come to neighbors when they are forced to live near such facilities. In Clackamas County, only Mt. View near Sandy may legally hold motocross events; that facility was “grandfathered” via establishment in the early 1970’s. Clackamas County found code violations at that facility when the owners attempted to annex more acres to the existing “park” in the 1980’s and the facility was forced to stop using the new land due to strict land use rules.

I found a “Eugene Motocross” facility permitted because of “grandfathering” in Lane County. The Eugene Motocross website features this less than friendly notice to neighbors (quoted exactly from the business posting):

“Attention Disgruntled Neighbors: We Understand that there are some folks living near Eugene MX that don’t like Motorcycles, Racing, Kids or whatever else makes them complain about the Track.. Location, Location, Location, You choose to locate yourself near an existing Sports Park that serves Lane County & surrounding areas. It is situated where it is because that’s the best area for this type of recreation (in Lane County). The track has witnesses, in its lifetime, a total attendance rivaling the population of Springfield -coming to the events, either spectating or participating. So please, if you live near Eugene MX and are upset for any reason, contact us, we can help direct you to a person who can help you sell your home and find you a Location that better suits you. We know a whole lot of people that would pay a good price to live near an MX Track. Thank Eugene MX for helping to increase the value of your home. You should work with them and help to make it a better community for all us that Live here in the Beautiful Willamette Valley..”  (end quote)

After reading that “notice” I contacted Lane County Code Enforcement to see how that facility was getting along with the “neighbors” and received this email from Lane County Code Enforcement’s Jane Burgess:

—–Original Message—–
From: jane.burgess@co.lane.or.us
Sent: Wed, 15 Sep 2010 10:57:11 -0700
Subject: Eugene Motocross – PA03-5676 TRS 16 05 21 TL 900

The verification of non-conforming use resulted in the following Hearing’s Official decision:

1) The racing season shall run on alternate Sundays from late September through May

2) The track can be prepared on Saturdays but no organized practices shall occur on that day

3) Practice racing shall not begin prior to 10 AM and racing shall not start prior to noon

4) The motocross facility includes the present track configuration and size, a tower and admissions both, a concession stand and a Radio Shack              PA system with three speakers on poles.  No lights are used.

5) Camping on Saturday night is limited to participants (and immediate family) in the races only.

Complaints from neighboring properties have included:

Trash cans not being emptied

Portable toilets not being pumped

Camping on non-race weekends

Loud stereos from campers

Racing on “non” race days

Loudspeaker noise

The file and HO record is available in our office for review.

Jane Burgess, Compliance Officer

Lane County Land Management Division

125 E. 8th Avenue

Eugene, OR 97401

541-682-3724 desk

541-682-3947 fax

jane.burgess@co.lane.or.u

It is apparent from these Eugene comments that there is no way motocross can compatibly co-exist with local residents, even when the motocross track is “grandfathered” and highly restricted in scope. Unlike the Eugene Motocross facility, the south Molalla neighbors were here first!

I also found a four year, ongoing motocross siting struggle in Granite Falls, WA. A Snohomish County planner furnished me with extensive noise studies (attached) that were generated in an attempt to establish a 75 acre motocross facility in the middle of over 400 acres of forestland. That siting struggle is far from over. In recognizing that the motocross siting would cause significant concerns, Snohomish County has established detailed new conditional use rules just for motocross facilities. The most telling part of the new code has lowered  noise decibel standards for rural areas to 49/day and 39/ night to reflect the expected very low natural noise levels in rural areas (rural residents accept noise spikes related to legitimate farm/forestry practices, but motocross dirt bike noise is not a noise source related to farming or forestry).

The Snohomish County planner, when asked if more proposals had sprung up since the new conditional use code when into effect, laughed and said “NO”! He said that given the expensive, prolonged, and still far from resolved Granite Falls struggle he doubted that anyone will try to site other motocross tracks in his County.  Snohomish County, after reading two detailed noise studies (one from the commercial promoters and one from angry residents and environmentalists who oppose the project and question the veracity of the promoter’s study) now has this project on hold until a new, independent noise study is done.

This summer, a Crook County motocross track proposal was defeated by the local planning commission 6-0. Neighbors cited noise, dust, weed introduction, loss of ability to perform normal rural commercial activities like horse breeding and training, cattle raising, and general loss of quality of life as reasons they wished the County to deny the proposal.

This summer, the US Forest Service severely limited “off highway vehicles”, including dirt bikes, in the Mount Hood National Forest because of concerns about the destruction and noise caused by the OHVs, as outlined in the Oregonian (quote):

“Mount Hood National Forest restricts off-road vehicles to four areas
Published: Friday, August 27, 2010, 4:47 PM
Eric Mortenson, The Oregonian Eric Mortenson, The Oregonian
The Mount Hood National Forest will severely limit off-road vehicles in the woods under a decision announced this week. Responding to a Forest Service directive to get a handle on the noise, damage and intrusive nature of four-wheel-drive rigs and dirt bikes in the nation’s forests, Mount Hood is limiting drivers to four areas.

The Mount Hood plan prohibits cross-country travel and restricts off-highway vehicles, or OHVs, to 146 miles of roads and trails within the sprawling forest, which covers parts of Clackamas, Hood River, Wasco and Multnomah counties, and small portions of Marion and Jefferson counties. Previously, the forest operated on an “open unless posted closed” policy and off-roaders had access to nearly 2,500 miles of roads and trails.

Conservation groups support the decision. Off-highway vehicle drivers in the Mount Hood National Forest cause environmental damage, noise and other problems far out of proportion to their numbers, said Lori Ann Burd, staff attorney for Bark, a Portland-based group that monitors forest management. Some drivers on motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and four-wheel drive rigs tear through streams and meadows, create illegal trails and endanger hikers, Burd said.” (End quote)

In summary, no matter what community is faced with motocross facilities, motocross culture is never compatible with rural uses or residential areas and the residents end up with endless code problems. All the motocross fan blogs talk endlessly about conflicts with residents and vilify citizens who oppose the tracks and the riders.

To borrow from the Oregonian article, our community should NOT be set up for endless conflicts or to have to be the ongoing conditional use permit “police” to “get a handle on the noise, damage and intrusive nature of … dirt bikes” in our formerly  peaceful, safe, insular and tranquil rural neighborhood.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS NOT ADDRESSED BY THE THOMAS CONDITIONAL USE APPLICATION:

ZDO 1002 Protection of Natural Features:

Erosion/Soil Classes/ Weed introduction:  Thomas has failed to provide professional engineering studies to outline how erosion and sediment would be addressed. The site currently features large, wide and extensive bare dirt tracks and mounded jumps. It is likely that no engineering study was commissioned because the applicant knows there is no way to fully mitigate erosion/sediment problems with the ongoing use of bare earth tracks and the proposed intensive use. Vertical tracks on lands that weep water in the winter and spring will erode. The “work” already done to mound up jumps and create tracks has destroyed topsoil.

The bare earth tracks are ongoing vectors for invasive weeds and the multitude of proposed users would carry weed seeds from outside areas to infect our rural lands. Local residents can’t afford the time and money necessary to arrest invasives from these bare dirt tracks to neighboring properties.

The steep 30-60% slopes with 72E Ritner soils are highly subject to erosion; the soil survey notes that it is necessary to immediately seed cuts and fills. The 89D Witzel soils with 3-40% slopes are in areas where extreme vertical bare dirt tracks and jumps have been “created” – the soil survey notes that on this type of soil it is necessary to preserve plant cover to prevent erosion, yet no plan is in place.  The prime 64C Nekia soils have already been seriously degraded and eroded with bare tracks on the North West section of the site, yet the soil survey says that soil needs a cover crop because it is highly subject to compaction, excessive runoff and the creation of a tillage pan. The prime class McBee soils on flat land by Rock Creek are easily compacted and need heavy rock to be suitable for roads, yet these soils would be the most compromised by intensive traffic coming and going on the site.

With the bare earth tracks and heavy intensive traffic with trailers, trucks and multiple car trips, Rock Creek would be continually threatened by sediment from the erosion. The extensive network of roads and campsites proposed would degrade and compact high quality soils.

State land use goals clearly state that campgrounds are prohibited on prime soils; prime McBee and Nekia soils comprise about 58% of the Thomas site and therefore on that alone the motocross/campground should be denied.

1002.06 Wildlife Habitats and Distinctive Resource Areas:

Wildlife: From my work with ODFW on habitat, I know that our south Molalla rural lands are host to a wide variety of species, some of concern. A 20 acre intensive use campground/motocross facility with its associated noise, deforestation, bare earth, invasive weeds, changes in drainage patterns and concentrated human foot and vehicular traffic would be like a giant pimple in the middle of a wonderful bowl-like, relatively sparsely populated land mass. The Thomas site should naturally be host to a wide variety of species which are regularly seen just a mile away on my site (which has similar features to the Thomas property, with creek, wet woods, seasonal springs, open pastures).

This motocross/campground proposal can’t meet the requirements of ZDO 1002.06 in any way. It is not a “low intensity” proposal. Rock Creek, an important full season riparian area runs through the property. Wet meadows, springs and wet woods also are present. The proposed Thomas conditional use would:

1. Degrade local wildlife habitats; including declining Oregon white oak habitat (which supports up to 140 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians) and wetland/wet meadow habitat (359 wildlife species use riparian areas or wetlands during part of their life cycle). Associated native trees, native herbaceous plants, native wildflowers, and native shrubs all provide habitat and have already been destroyed on the current use bare earth track facility.

2. Prevent ground dwelling species from safe transit because of the wide, bare earth tracks; species like the red-legged frog which depend upon wet woods for most of their life cycle are deprived of wet woodland habitat by the wide bare earth tracks and are prevented from traveling to Rock Creek for seasonal breeding by the wide, denuded, scarred, eroded bare earth tracks.

3. Negatively affect many species of concern, including raptors, acorn woodpeckers, red-legged frogs, western bluebirds, owls, western grey squirrels, Nashville warblers, Merlin, band-tailed pigeons, pileated woodpeckers (*all of which have been observed a mile from the Thomas site). Cougar, deer, elk and other mammals range in this area. It is on a bird migration route. The Camas pocket gopher could be expected to be found as well.

Extensive wildlife studies easily available on the internet prove that roads, noise, and concentrated human activities have very negative impacts on wildlife habitats.

*Wildlife habitat/species narrative via ODFW Wildlife Habitat Conservation and Management Plan 9-2007 xxxx at xxxx S. Sawtell Rd approx. one mile from Thomas property – similar habitat occurs on both the Thomas and xxxx. Both are 20 acre parcels with riparian zones, both have mature trees including Oregon white oak, ash, big leaf maple, Doug fir and both have wet meadows/wetlands in forest openings. Consultant/author for referenced Habitat Plan was Lisa Renan, Masters Degree: Wildlife Biology/Wetland Restoration/Ecology .

Forestry – Not Compatible With Motocross:

Forestry is not a compatible use with motocross tracks. Once any seedling tree grows large enough to be a fire danger it would have to be cut down, since fire laws demand that trees be limbed up very high so sparks from dirt bikes don’t catch low branches on fire.

The obviously “for show” seedlings on the Thomas site won’t flourish next to dusty bare earth tracks and once they reach 2-3 feet they would become fire hazards and would have to be removed. A recent Oregon Dept of Forestry inspection noted the bare minimum of trees and seedlings and noted that they would prefer other species to be planted, especially the highly flammable valley ponderosa pine, which would be impossible to maintain near spark producing racing dirt bikes.

Older trees will also be stressed and perhaps killed by the erosion and the exposure of roots near the tracks. Oregon white oaks are a focus of a large recovery effort and foresters are encouraging landowners to allow the white oaks to have low branches and plenty of room to spread, since that is their natural growth habit and is the way that the most acorns are produced. The removal of low limbs necessary to prevent fire from sparks from dirt bikes is not a desirable practice since it inhibits growth; even if trees were grown the low branches would have to be removed to prevent fire.

I have read motocross discussion blogs about this Thomas site and “fans” already are saying there are “too many trees” – so if a conditional use were approved there would surely be far less tress on site as trees are obviously not a usual or desired feature near motocross tracks.

There is no visual screen around most of the property and a hastily planted “hedge” is already turning brown. Code 1002.04 (7) requires that there be the “use of trees and wooded areas to buffer, screen, or provide transition between different or conflicting uses on and off the site”. It would take over a decade for this site to heal and grow trees large and dense enough to provide a real screen as required by the code – low hedges and fences are not adequate buffers in a forest zone.

Fire Danger:

Fire danger would be huge during motocross and camping activities. With our seasonally tall dry grasses and the presence of highly flammable species like Doug fir and valley ponderosa pine, neighbors would live in fear all summer long. The motorcycles would need on site flammable fuels for refueling, people would likely be careless with matches and cigarettes, campers would attempt to use barbeques, camp stoves and campfires to cook meals. All those activities would constitute increased fire risk.

Thomas has already proved to be disrespectful of the Oregon Dept. of Forestry fire permit rules, since he only obtained a FS fire permit in 2008 after the ODF observed intensive dirt bike activities. Mr. Thomas failed to renew his permit as legally required in 2009, yet held numerous well documented motocross events during high fire season in 2009.

Water Limitations:

Thomas’s permit for groundwater retention in a small pond will be worthless as the summer progresses, since seasonal springs that fill such ponds cease to flow in summer – and given the extent of sprinklers needed to try to suppress dust, there would be no way dust and fire suppression could be accommodated by a surface water permit. Does Mr. Thomas expect to drain Rock Creek or endanger local ground water to sprinkle bare earth tracks and maintain a fire suppression reservoir? The domestic well and Rock Creek would be the only water source options in the late summer months. There is no permit for creek or well sources for dust or fire abatement and Rock Creek and groundwater resources can’t be risked for non-farm/forest/legal domestic use.

Emergency services/ Insurance coverage:

At a community meeting regarding motocross, a motocross fan suggested that “Timber Ridge” would give the fans a closer to emergency services place to ride because his “sport” was so dangerous. Motocross is a very dangerous sport – two Oregonians were killed in two separate motocross events this summer, a thirteen year old and a father of several young children. The 4 years in the works and still without permits Granite Falls Motocross project in Snohomish County, WA is proposing full time on site medical coverage so that it has self contained emergency services.

Our farm/forest based rural community has very limited emergency services and those services are largely provided by local volunteers. In the course of regular farm/forest activities – to earn money from legally permitted normal rural pursuits – many dangerous jobs must be done involving tractors, chain saws, heavy machinery, tree felling and interaction with large domestic animals. Our south Molalla land mass is right on top of the fault that caused the destructive Spring Break Quake in the early 1990’s and we have very limited roads to get out of these “box canyon” lands in the event of a natural disaster.

The very dangerous “sport” of motocross would seriously tax our limited emergency services. I want our limited medical and emergency services to be readily available to our residents. I don’t want to compete with the evacuation of up to 250 “extra” camping non-residents if my neighbors and I and our animals have to quickly evacuate in case of a natural disaster.

I read a news story where a motocross facility user wandered off the event site, was injured on private property and tried to sue not only the motocross facility but also the private landowner. What kind of very large and very expensive insurance policy is Thomas proposing to protect the neighbors if a motocross/camp user starts a catastrophic fire or trespasses and gets injured or does any other damage to surrounding properties or to people?

Noise Issues:

The noise citation violation during the May 16 motocross event measured 81.7 decibels at the nearest off site residence about 200 feet from the motocross noise source. That is nearly 22 decibels over the legal daytime Clackamas County/State limit of 60 decibels and is dangerous for hearing and for the general well being of humans and animals.

Extensive studies on the danger of noise pollution are available. Attached is a “Non-auditory Health Effects of Noise” study that outlines how far more health effects than hearing damage occur when living organisms are subjected to noise – and that includes noise levels below the “legal” limit. The physiological effects of noise pollution include stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and fear. Those effects are greater in children and in senior citizens. The stress, anxiety, and fear are all present in the residents who have been living near the track for the past several years. Home schooling children have been impacted and seniors make up the majority of long time residents in the area.

An American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) document (attached) backs up all the above effects and notes under “Physical Changes” (page 5) that noise (quote) “can negatively impact a developing fetus, perhaps contributing to premature birth” (end quote). Given the presence of domestic and wild animals as well as humans exposed to the high noise levels created by motocross, the reproduction of humans and animals is put at risk.

ASHA notes many other effects of noise we should be concerned about under “Other Changes” (page 6) and states (quote): “Noise can also hamper performance of daily tasks, increase fatigue, and cause irritability” (end quote).  This section explains that noise can actually cause humans to have callous disregard for others in distress (quote): “One demonstration of the effects of noise on behavior was done by recording how passers-by responded to a person-in-need in the presence of noise. While a noisy lawnmower was running, a woman with a broken arm dropped some books and tried to pick them up. No one stopped to help her. When the lawnmower was turned off and the scene repeated, several people stopped to help her retrieve the books.” (End quote).

In rural areas, the normal decibel levels of background noise would be in the 35-45 decibel level. As mentioned previously, to protect its rural residents from noise stress and to recognize the naturally low noise levels in rural areas, Shonomish Co. WA has mandated new rural noise codes of 49/day and 39/night to protect residents from a proposed motocross facility.

Noise is obviously one of greatest reasons residents fear and oppose the track. The Shonomish Co. planner who is dealing with the “Granite Falls” track proposal forwarded two extensive professional noise study documents regarding motocross. The first study by *ENVIRON (attached) measured various motocross events at 2 legal tracks, from various sized and types of vehicles (revving bikes; 65cc, 85cc, 250cc and 450cc races; ATVs revving and operating) from “150 feet from Edge of Active Race Area” . The two charts prove that the noise from various dirt bikes at 150 feet from source is from 83 to almost 90 decibels. Those findings closely matched the 81.7 reading generated by the dirt bikes at the Thomas track recorded by Deputy Helmer on May 16 at the neighboring residence. *(See ENVIRON document page 34, Figure A-1 “Sound Level Measurement at Hannegan Speedway” and page 35, Figure A-2 “Sound Level Measurement at Pacific Raceways”).

Noise transmission is affected by the geography, weather, and bodies of water but is minimally blocked by vegetation and fences. It takes very high berms to effectively mitigate noise *(See ENVIRON document page 12, section 6.4.6 Intervening Barriers, Berms): “The proposed facility” (i.e. Granite Falls, Wa. motocross) “includes a 25-foot tall sound berm around the perimeter of most of the area of the site…”.  The Thomas site would likely transmit higher than usual noise levels because it is in a bowl-like area, with upper tracks that would transmit to the higher plateau areas and with the downhill tracks and flat tracks by Rock Creek that would reflect off the hills.

Under ideal conditions, noise is only reduced 6 decibels each time a distance is doubled. In the Thomas case, the 81.7 decibel reading was taken 200 feet off the track. Given the land forms that magnify and cause an echo effect in our area, we have heard from neighbors much farther away who have noted unwanted background noise from the track.

Furthermore, depending on conditions, using with noise travel formulas and keeping in mind that normal ambient rural noise is 35-45 decibels, there would be noise pollution for perhaps miles off all the Thomas property borders. We know the noise generated by the Thomas property would cause noise pollution that also involves vibrations and background mechanical noise.

Ironically, the very ENVIRON study that proves that the relatively tiny Thomas property would noise pollute a wide rural area, including many local residences, is contested by angry citizens in Washington who formed the Mountain Loop Conservancy (MLC) to stop the Granite Falls track. Professional review by Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc. “Review of Granite Falls Motocross Park Noise Evaluation”(attached) points out that many geographical and atmospheric factors could increase noise levels above those cited in the ENVIRON study.

Shonomish Co. has put any decision about the Granite Falls track on hold until a third party independent noise study is produced; keep in mind that the Granite Falls site is over 400 acres of forest with a proposed 75 acre track complex to be sited in the middle of the forest, with proposed 25 foot tall berms to mitigate noise. This proposal is in an area where residences are distant to the forested property. In contrast, the Thomas track/campground site is only 20 acres in size and has residences within 200 feet of the tracks. Therefore, no noise mitigation is possible for the Thomas proposal, given the close proximity to residences, domestic animals, and wildlife.

Even a campground alone would cause significant noise pollution with generators, traffic, music playing, and general human noise with up to 250 people a day on site. Trash pick-up and porta potty trucks would add to the din.

At a recent South Clackamas CPO meeting, Thomas seemed to believe that “noise” is the only issue and claimed there is a magic muffler he could make track users install. I checked with two different motorcycle salesmen, as well as with Steve Clark, a local race car hobbyist. All three parties explained that any muffler capable of reducing sound effectively would so diminish power that the dirt bikes would not be capable of racing up hills and up and over jumps. Both motorcycle salesmen confirmed that all dirt bikes produce noise from 85-100 decibels 6 feet from the back of the moving or revving motorcycle. One salesman laughed and said “If you buy a dirt bike, PLEASE don’t ride it near MY PROPERTY”.

Given Thomas’s and the track users’ proven callous lack of concern for the community after subjecting the neighbors to years of abject noise pollution, it is impossible to believe any of the track users would comply with any muffler standards, even if adequate mufflers were available. Again, local residents and the Sheriff should not be put in the position of having to be the constant noise police.

Thomas has presented nothing to show how intrusive, intense motocross noise would be contained on site. No “magic” mufflers are commercially available to mitigate noise on dirt bikes that would allow enough power transmission to perform the activities on the tracks. No 25 foot berms have been proposed. No dense, wide, tall conifer buffers are in place. Please carefully review all the submitted noise information so that our community isn’t subjected to degraded health from noise pollution, including loss of hearing, fear, anxiety, high blood pressure and anger. Those effects were clearly visible in concerned neighbors attending the South Clackamas CPO meeting. Those noise stress effects transmit to domestic animals and wildlife as well.

SUMMARY:

The South Molalla rural area is relatively isolated and populated by long term residents who expect peace, quiet, privacy and a great quality of life. A conditional use motocross/campground operating 4 days a week/ 8 months a year would degrade our quality of life and violate multiple Oregon and Clackamas County land use goals and ordinances. I support the filed comments of Thousand Friends of Oregon, DLCD and Salem Audubon which state that this is an illegal land use proposal because of the following:

1.   OAR 660-033-0120: Private campgrounds can’t be approved on high value farmland (approximately 58% of the Thomas site is high value soils).

2.   Goal 4, CCZ0 1203.01 (E), OAR 660-033-0130 (19), 660-006-0025 (4) (e), and CCZ0 407.06 (B) (4) (b) all prohibit development of the motocross track, which is an “intensive recreational use”.

3.   The motocross track can’t comply with ORS 215.296 and CCZ0 407.06 (A) (1).

4.   The motocross track does not comply with general conditional use criteria in CCZ0 1203.01.

5.   There is no information filed or ability for the track to comply with DEQ noise standards.

6.   The campground/motocross track would alter the character of the surrounding area in a very negative way and would impair legitimate uses of local lands.

7.   If such a use was granted, a dangerous precedent would be set and rural residents all over Oregon would be faced with similar nuisance intensive motocross activities. As I have discussed this conditional use proposal with County residents, almost to a person citizens decry the destruction of farm/forest land when shown pictures of the site and wonder how Clackamas County could have let such an inappropriate land use get so entrenched in our community.

Please deny this application.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this proposal. I request notice and a copy of any decision and findings regarding this proposal.

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One Response to MOTOCROSS FANS: How NUMB ARE YOU?

  1. Jon says:

    You’ve compiled an impressive amount of information. I just recently came across your blog, and still haven’t been able to peruse all of it.

    I’ve been involved with the proposed MX track in King William county (VA), and can happily say that so far it is only a proposal.

    MX supporters all seem to use the same playbook (kids, family, jobs, etc.). Too bad it is a dissembling political argument rather than a logical debate based on facts – if it were, the fight would be over before the sound of the bell had ceased. Keep up the good work – after a while even a MX supporter has to grow weary of “catipulting the propaganda.”

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