Skamania County sheriff warns hikers, criticizes congress

Skamania County sheriff warns Gorge hikers

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Skamania County Sheriff, Dave Brown, is warning hikers and criticizing congress.

It comes during a spike in a call for search and rescue services in the county.

Brown’s office issued a report showing 11 calls for search and rescue over seven days starting on June 27.

He said it’s caused quite a problem.

“We’re already shorthanded. And have been the last five years. We’re down seven positions in patrol. A lot of the people that left were my search and rescue coordinators,” Sheriff Brown said.

The sheriff blames congress.

“The reason we’re in a bind is congress has been negligent in getting secure rural schools funding passed. They’re working on it but it’s not happening and we have to have something,” he said.

The federal government used to send counties like Skamania money when it started putting trees off limits.

In the year 2000 the sheriff says the county got $10 million, split between county government and schools. Search and rescue got some of that.

But three years ago it was down to $3 million.

Last year and right now its zero, he said, as congress has not passed the bill that authorizes the payment.

“We will not survive if something doesn’t change legislatively to get us back on the ground and harvesting,” said Sheriff Brown.

He also warned hikers to beware that heavy snow from last winter still sits in the high country, covering the trail back into the forest from Mt. St. Helens, over parts of the Pacific Crest Trail and on other high elevations.
 

© 2017 KGW-TV


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