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Non-profit’s trail-building machine, tools stolen from state park

Posted by on November 30th, 2011 at 10:47 am

Detail of flyer produced by NWTA.

The Portland-based non-profit Northwest Trail Alliance is scrambling this morning after finding out that a trailer full of trail-building equipment — including a $75,000 tractor for building singeltrack — was stolen last night.

According to the group’s president Tom Archer, the trailer was parked in the maintenance yard of Stub Stewart State Park (about 35 miles northwest of Portland near Vernonia). Archer is asking everyone to keep their eyes peeled in hopes that they can track it down.

Please be on the lookout for an 18-foot, enclosed, gray utility trailer with the “Northwest Trail Alliance” black logo and the IMBA logo on both sides of trailer (license plate of U449427).

Here’s a closer look at (click to enlarge and share in your networks):

Click to enlarge

The NW Trail Alliance received a grant to purchase the ST240 machine in September 2010 and they’ve been actively building a network of mountain bike trails at Stub Stewart. Archer says there are only five ST240 machines in existence (they’re made nearby in North Plains) and they’ll eventually need parts and service.

Please call (503) 877-5637 immediately if you see the trailer or have any information.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • BURR November 30, 2011 at 11:02 am

    when are people going to learn to lock/secure their trailers?

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    • Alan 1.0 November 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      I’m reading BURR’s comment in the same vein as tongue-in-cheek quips like “was the driver wearing a helmet?” …like blaming the victim of bike theft.

      Was the equipment insured against theft?

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  • Tom Archer November 30, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Trailer was locked, with hitch lock, behind a locked gate. If some one wants to steal something, they can find a way.

    I have to believe they didn’t know what they were stealing. This machine is only one of 5 in existence and they would ultimately need service and parts.

    Hopefully we’ll get it back soon.

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  • kittens November 30, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Is it just me, or this part of an epidemic of theft? Must be the economy.

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    • Hugh Johnson November 30, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      it definitely is. And expect people to get more desperate in the times ahead.

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    • esther c December 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      Its the economy and the rampant meth and oxycontin addiction problems.

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  • Tony Pereira November 30, 2011 at 11:53 am

    When are people going to stop jumping to conclusions and making sweeping criticisms every time a story appears on this blog? grrr

    Tom, This stinks. Seems a unique enough piece of equipment that you’ll be likely to see it again. Good luck.

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    • BURR November 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      jonathan didn’t mention locks or security in his story, and I assume even with the locks and security this occurred in a relatively remote, unguarded location. Trailers and construction equipment are high-value targets. Obviously the hitch lock and the fence weren’t enough.

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    • Alex Reed November 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm

      I agree with Tony, it seems a little rude to tut-tut the victim. Especially right after the crime happened, when it’s unlikely we’ll know the whole story.

      Sorry to hear about this setback! Given the great positive energy that NW Trails has, I know you’ll pull through though.

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  • matt savage November 30, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Sorry to hear about this Tom. Acquiring that machine was such a huge deal! I’m sure you’ll find it!

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  • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    “…Seems a unique enough piece of equipment that you’ll be likely to see it again. …” Tony Pereira

    Possibly in the form of more cars. It’s possible this trail building machine will be cut up and scrapped or parted out.

    From many points, I never thought this trail building machine was a good idea. It’s use to do work that people need goes counter to issues the Occupy movement has raised.

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    • Tom Archer November 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      As a general supporter of the OWS movement (and at the risk of getting way off track here), I have to heartily disagree with your assessment of the need for this machine. I read your arguments previously and they make no more sense now. Sidestepping the argument as to whether more trails need to be built (which I strongly support), there are a number of reasons that using a machine is necessary to get this work done – to list only a couple:

      It is very difficult to find people who are willing to do the backbreaking work required to cut a trail. As a non-profit, we can’t simple go out and hire a labor pool, and the supervision it requires. Nor can we rely on our members to build several miles of trail we have planned over several projects. Having built many miles of trail myself over the years, I can tell you from experience there are few people willing or able to do it. Our experience, and others as well, is that building trail by hand with volunteer labor is extremely time and resource intensive. Even with the machine doing most of the work, there is still plenty of labor required to finish and maintain the trail over time.

      This doesn’t even take into account the energy (i.e. gasoline) that would be required to transport the labor pool in and out of the woods over a period off several months, or even years to complete a significant trail system (or the food required to “fuel” laborers).

      The reality is it’s not practical to accomplish what we’re doing entirely with labor in a reasonable timeframe. If it was, we’d have done it. We didn’t buy this piece of equipment just so we’d have a new toy to play with. It comes with a signfiicant initial and on-going expense and we didn’t enter into the endeavor lightly.

      I appreciate your concern for people’s welfare and the environment, but your arguments just don’t add up.

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      • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm

        “…I read your arguments previously and they make no more sense now. …” Tom Archer

        It makes no sense to you, because you’ve apparently grown accustomed to thinking of getting work done and assigning value to work done from the bean counter way of thinking. Same way as big corporate execs think. You and your organization appear to be content with having machines do work that people need, so you’ll most likely continue the practice.

        I won’t dispute that your trail building machine can probably build more miles of trail for less money, in less time than it would take people to do the work. Quicker and cheaper is not necessarily the best way to do things.

        I hear you about your difficulties in getting people to do actual physical work. It’s a sad thing that people have lost the recognition and understanding of how good this type of work can be for them. At least as good as riding a bike.

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        • Tom Archer November 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm

          Our groups mission is to build trail and create recretional opportunities, not to help the unemployed and solve social issues. That’s a different board. It’s great if/when those missions overlap, but in this case they don’t.

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          • sorebore December 3, 2011 at 11:59 am

            Tom, Sorry that this had to happen, I have free time and would happily help in any way to recover this for the NWTA. People on this blog are out of their minds!! Recently a friend lost his work trailer and equipt. Working with cops, scouring CL, we were able to locate it in the region very soon. Call me if I can help at all. Also, can’t wait to help at New Columbia!!!
            And to everyone else here scummin’ on Tom A, IMO, You need to take a step back!! He works very hard to bring things to our community. If you have a different point of view , get of your blogging butt’s and get involved with the policy’s his non profit addresses. JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZZZZZZ,people!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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        • davemess November 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm

          I agree, your comments really don’t make any sense?
          Are you saying that the machine is taking work (you know this is a volunteer gig?) away from people who want to do it?
          Or are you just saying that the trails don’t need to be built?
          Or are you saying that mountain biking and the Bougeois trails shouldn’t be built until income inequality is overcome?

          They got the machine through a grant to buy the machine, it wasn’t a grant that said here’s a bunch of free money do what you want with it?

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          • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm

            “…Are you saying that the machine is taking work (you know this is a volunteer gig?) away from people who want to do it? …” daveness

            I’m saying the $75,000+ could have been used to pay people to build trail.

            I’m speaking in principle here, because though I’m not a numbers guy, I’m aware that the amount of money people are paid doesn’t fully reflect the amount of money an employer has to shell out to hire an employee. For simplicity’s sake, think of 7 people employed for 9 months to a year, at $10,000 each.

            Not much money, but times are tough. People without anything are glad for something, even when it’s lean pickings. There’s far worse work environments than being camped out, working in the woods.

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            • davemess November 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm

              Using this same argument you would potentially want to rid the world of any machine that makes a job easier/faster/cheaper to do? This would certainly free up more jobs. Let’s scrap those job-killing jack hammers, I mean we can pay 2 employees to bust up cement with a pick ax.

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              • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm

                Using this same argument you would potentially want to rid the world of any machine that makes a job easier/faster/cheaper to do? This would certainly free up more jobs. Let’s scrap those job-killing jack hammers, I mean we can pay 2 employees to bust up cement with a pick ax.
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                The trail machine was purchased to build recreational trail, rather than utilitarian travel infrastructure such as streets and roads. There’s a much, much stronger argument favoring the use of machines for building streets and roads than there is for building off-road bike trail.

                As a civilization, we’ve gone to using machines far beyond essential need to use them.

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      • Barney November 30, 2011 at 3:54 pm

        I have a solution. Tom, why don’t you stay in charge of building great local singletrack and deciding how best that can be done. Wsbob, why don’t you take charge of rolling back the industrial revolution and making the world less productive. There, now everybody is happy!

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        • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm

          Aw-w-w-w! Be that way if you want then. This discussion seems to have been a great opportunity for all of you off-road bike enthusiasts to clap yourselves on the back, giving each others comments a whole bunch of points for supporting the introduction of another internal combustion machine into the forest.

          If you consider that my having reservations about the use of this machine to make non-motorized off-road vehicle trail will have even the slightest movement towards”…rolling back the industrial revolution and making the world less productive. …”, I guess that’s o.k. with me, though it’s hard to imagine how they possibly could.

          Taking a hint from your icon…Fred Flintstone’s buddy, some people might figure you’ could be the kind of guy that likes things pre-industrial revolution.

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    • rwl1776 December 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm

      wsbob: we all know your real name is Bob Sallinger, the anti mountainbike Audobon leader. I remember being attacked verbally by you at a PDX City Hall meeting, and I had never personally met you.

      Machinery is bad? It takes the jobs of people? What, is this the 1800’s or something? Without machinery being invented, and BUILT by workers, you would not be able to drive to your office.

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      • wsbob December 2, 2011 at 11:13 am

        “…wsbob: we all know your real name is Bob Sallinger, the anti mountainbike Audobon leader. …” rwl1776

        rwl1776…just noticed your comment this morning. I’m not Bob Salinger and have never met him. Most likely have never met you either.

        I’m not necessarily opposed to mountain bike use in the forest either, at least, certainly not in places like Stubb Stewart that was conceived from its outset to be a place to ride off-road bikes.

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  • dan November 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    what are you EVEN talking about.

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  • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Think about it. It’s not too hard to figure out that NWTA could have taken the $75,000+ money it paid for this machine and employed people to do trail work. Many people are out of work. They need work, just to put food on the table so they don’t have hang out for hand outs at social movements like Occupy Portland.

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    • Tom Archer November 30, 2011 at 12:30 pm

      At going rates, $75,000 would get us about 2 miles of trail. We’ve leveraged that investment into many miles over a period of years.

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      • DK December 2, 2011 at 8:15 am


        You don’t have to defend NWTA’s methods. The grant was given and the NWTA members decided how best to use the money to serve their group’s needs and interests…The End.

        For the critics, start your own non-profit and you’ll be able to raise and distribute funds how you see fit. Thicken your skin, as I’m sure whatever YOU end up funding will have it’s own set of critics.


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    • Chris I November 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      Do you really think that the people occupying Portland would be interested in back-breaking trail building jobs for $8 and hour? How would they commute out to Stubb Stewart?

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      • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 12:55 pm

        Vernonia is close to Stubb Stewart. People there might be able to use some work. Forest Grove isn’t far away.

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        • Eric November 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm


          We’ll all enjoy your company at the next trail building/maintenance day 😉

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          • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm

            I guess “…;-)…” is a little winkie. Cute! Exercise is good! I’m not so interested in off-road biking though. If you guys want trail to ride, you build it.

            Hey look everybody…I’m not trying to be a big meanie here, but simply trying to encourage people to think beyond their immediate concerns. I’m not happy your gear got ripped off, and I hope it’s recovered in one piece allowing yout to be able to put it back to work ASAP.

            It’s not the end of the world that a machine is being used to help build recreational trail that people could certainly be able to build without power tools. Doing this way though, gives pause for lots of things to consider.

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        • Tom M November 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm

          Somehow I don’t think you’ve handled a pick axe or shovel for more than a few minutes. As someone who dug a small pit over a week when I was a teenager I can tell you I *still* have callouses 30 years later. And honestly it doesn’t get any easier the older you get.

          There’s a reason the Army Corp of Engineers exists as a whole division unto itself. Think about that. The Army is designed to fight but they devote a whole division to the Engineers *with* heavy equipment.

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          • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm

            “Somehow I don’t think you’ve handled a pick axe or shovel for more than a few minutes. …” Tom M

            I’ve worked with shovel and grubhoe, hoe, rakes…still can…still do. It’s good work. It’s good work that true…many people don’t know how to, or can’t do. I don’t know that I’d want do that work 8-12 hours a day 40-60 hours a week…but if there wasn’t other work…sure, why not?

            It’s amazing to me that people that can ride a bike from the valley up to Skyline and back somehow think methodically picking away the dirt to establish a trail is some kind of torturous labor. It’s all muscles and conditioning and pacing just like any other physical exercise. Takes time to build up to longer days, but most physically fit people could probably get there without landing in a hospital or winding up with an early onset of chronic arthritis or other ailments.

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            • Barney November 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm

              Geez Bob take a break! 12 or more posts on this topic in 2 hours? I think we get your position.

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              • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm

                It’s a discussion. Rules are anyone can post as many comments as they want or feel is right, as long as they’re civil. Keep posting Barney. Let’s hear what other thoughts on this subject you have

                yeah…anyway….taking a break was a good idea. Just back from a ride. It’s more like spring out tonight than a winter, almost December day.

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    • davemess November 30, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      I also think you missed most of the point of the Occupy movement.

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    • JF November 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      I do not quite follow your logic completely. The ST240 machine was made in oregon by oregonians who have/keep jobs in oregon because of a grant to help purchase this machine. The NWTA hired/using locals to build the trail with equipment purchased locally and funded by a grant that gets money from a gas tax on vehicles in oregon.

      The $75k investment to purchase and use the piece of equipment was much more sustainable to the oregon economy compared to hiring temporary workers to do the work.

      Overall it is a tradgety that the equipment was stolen. I hope that it is returned and the people who stole it are caught.

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      • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm

        Alright…I’m afraid that type of comparative sustainability is over my head for the most part. Too many details to keep track of. You may be right that using this machine is economically better for Oregon, at least under the current way of doing things.

        That a machine can be a more efficient, faster way of doing things than humans through their own muscles may be responsible for many of the problems we all face today.

        Why does Oregon and the entire nation for that matter, have so many hundreds and thousands of miles of road that it now finds it’s unable to maintain? Machines.

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        • A.K. November 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm

          It’s not machines that create the problems. Machines don’t have desires or motives. People create the problem, and they’d create problems with or without machines. You’re using machines as an easy scapegoat for a human problem, not a machine problem.

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          • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm

            Yeah, I know…’Guns don’t kill people…People use guns to kill people’. Or something on that order.

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        • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 2:25 pm

          “…Also last time I checked was a whole category of unemployed folks who have no interest in the type of labor and pay that goes into farming. If you read accounts from folks who do work those types of jobs, you find that the typical Americans that show up for that type of *hard* work last about half a day before quitting because they can’t handle it. …” A.K.

          A.K., I’m not being general, but rather, very specific about this being physical labor building recreational trail. Work on this type of trail would not, or should not be the type of hard farm type labor that you’re referring to. For sure, it would be a workout, but the type of workout people need and want, and they’d get paid for it. In raising objections to the use of a machine to build recreational trail, I’m not suggesting that need doesn’t exists for the use of machines.

          And I’m not picking on poor old Tom., or at least I’m not trying to. He’s the guy that’s carrying the flag for the great idea others besides him seem to consider the use of this machine to be. He seems to be fielding comments just fine.

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          • Greg November 30, 2011 at 9:33 pm

            Wow. You’ve clearly never dug a ditch.

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            • Tom M December 1, 2011 at 12:42 am

              Thank you Greg for reiterating my point exactly.

              Made that point earlier and he chose to ignore the pertinent points.

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            • peoples republic December 2, 2011 at 12:23 pm

              Sure he has, what do you think he’s been doing in his series of off base posts 😉

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    • A.K. November 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      Last time I checked, there were plenty of farm jobs available each and every year, and new laws designed to help prevent the use of illegal immigrant labor for such work.

      Also last time I checked was a whole category of unemployed folks who have no interest in the type of labor and pay that goes into farming. If you read accounts from folks who do work those types of jobs, you find that the typical Americans that show up for that type of *hard* work last about half a day before quitting because they can’t handle it.

      It we want to take your argument to the ridiculous logical places you insist on taking it, I hope any cotton you’re wearing wasn’t collected and processed by a machine – by George, that evil cotton gin put all those people out of work collecting cotton by hand!

      I also hope you do not enjoy the benefits of low prices at the supermarket because large shipments of food can be more economically moved from point A to point B once it has been palletized. I hope you personally employ at least four people who deliver your food to you by hand, to help create those badly needed jobs.

      And the computer, with access to the internet on it! Surely you forgo such technology to keep all the newspaper writers and editors employed, yes? We wouldn’t want to Internet to take their jobs!

      And on and on…

      (my point is: picking on Tom for his use of a machine to build trails rather than hiring unemployed people is silly at best and pretty far off-base – there are better targets for anger regarding out of work people.)

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    • Brian November 30, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      Apparently it is. The machine was paid for with a grant. The grant was not for hiring people, it was for buying the machine. No machine, no money.

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  • Hagen November 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Probably the same tweakers who stole my catalytic converter while I was mtn biking the Wilson River Trail 2 years ago.

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  • Tom M November 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    This is very unfortunate but I’ve heard of more than one case of this in more remote areas. Thieves are brazen because they are unlikely to get caught.

    Tom Archer:
    I would highly recommend you start talking to construction equipment auction yards. That would seem to be the most likely place to see that tractor. Hopefully you have things like the serial/VIN number to help identify it.

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  • Amy November 30, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Hopefully you recover the machine quickly!

    WSBob, the biggest destroyer of industries in the last few decades has been the internet. In order to valiantly save jobs, perhaps hand delivery of hand written materials would be in order.

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    • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      Lamentably, handwriting has always been very difficult for me, and it’s never been anything a person with the slightest aesthetic sensibility would want to look at for more than a second. Something I can say though for computers, is that they’ve helped me develop my writing and expressive abilities. Mixed feelings.

      Prior to computers though (hopefully people still do pursue it.), handwriting reached high levels of creative and artistic expression. Until relatively recently…middle of last century….people used to commonly develop their ability to write in very beautiful cursive. Who needs that anymore? Not many people apparently.

      So computers are gradually eradicating people’s handwriting skill, putting the post office out of business and postal workers out of work. Definitely something to think about.

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  • Chris November 30, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Has anyone gotten this to the media yet? Should be a great “hit-piece” for the 5pm news!

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  • GorgeDon November 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    wsbob, your point is that $75K could be used to pay 7 people $10K each for 1 year. The other view is the $75K could be used to buy the ST240 which will build trails for years & years. In terms of getting trails built the ST240 was the right choice.

    If you really wanted to spend the money to somehow get people building trails you’d get a better ROI by using the money to buy quality microbrews for the volunteers after a back-breaking day of trail building. That way you get the double benefit of incentivizing your volunteers & keeping your local brewmeisters employed. Talk about a win-win.

    : ) (this means I’m a happy guy)

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  • chris November 30, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Terrible news! Hopefully it’ll be tracked down, recovered, and that it doesn’t hold up the amazing trail work that’s been done in the last year.

    As for the rest of the irrelevance in these posts – wtf?

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  • Carl November 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Jonathan, I know you love your comments sections (and I see you’ve shown this one some love). While you’re keeping it constructive, I’d appreciate if you considered relocating all discussion of the ST240’s place in the Occupy Wall Street movement…elsewhere.

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  • Fat Tire November 30, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    “For simplicity’s sake, think of 7 people employed for 9 months to a year, at $10,000 each. ”

    This made me laugh out loud.

    hmmm, so people are willing to do back breaking labor for less than $7.00 an hour pretax, sans benefits (health ins.)

    Theory meet reality.

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    • Kristen December 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Yeah, that didn’t make sense to me either.

      State and fed laws say you’d have to pay at least minimum wage– in Oregon in 2011, that’s 8.50 per hour. Next year, it’s 8.80 per hour.

      So, call it 4 or 5 people at minimum wage; it wouldn’t be cost-effective, factoring in employer taxes and time frame for getting stuff done, to hire people to break trails when you can do it with a piece of machinery and leave the finish work to the humans.

      Besides, maybe the grant was equipment-specific, and they couldn’t use it to hire people to do the hard labor.

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  • DaHoos November 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    I will be on the lookout. Hopefully the trailer and all contents will be found. Sorry Tom that a simple notification posting and plea for help regarding an unfortunate theft has become a political rant.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Hey everyone. Seems many of you are annoyed by the comments made by wsbob.

    I realize the volume of his comments and perspective he is sharing aren’t well-liked, but he seems to just be trying to make a point. He comments here all the time, not just about MTB trails. He’s not being insensitive or uncivil in my opinion so I don’t plan on shutting him down or deleting his comments.

    Not sure what to do. I’m torn. I obviously don’t like when one reader makes a bunch of other readers irritated, but again, I haven’t seen anything from wsbob to make me delete/moderate his posts.

    I don’t think he’s doing it just to be annoying… My hunch is that he really just wants to make a point and his commenting style is to comment as many times as it takes to do so.

    wsbob, please take people’s feedback into account.

    I’m watching this thread closely and no matter what, anyone that insults or makes insensitive comments will have their comment deleted.


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    • Bjorn November 30, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      I recognize you are in a tough spot Jonathan, and I am not convinced you should just delete the comments as that is a slippery slope, but I can’t believe that you honestly believe that wsbob is an honest commentator trying to contribute to the discussion and not a troll.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 30, 2011 at 8:43 pm

        I have read about 95% of the over 160,000 or so comments left on this site and I am not convinced wsbob is a “troll”. Unlike many of the people in this thread who came here for the NWTA story alone, or who visit infrequently, wsbob has commented hundreds and hundreds of times going back to May of 2007. While his style might be unique, I haven’t found his comments to be purposefully mean.

        To me, a troll is a mean person who just comes in to bomb a particular thread.

        I realize wsbob’s comments are annoying (they annoy me too to some extent), but they haven’t risen to the point of me deleted them or putting him on automatic moderation like I’ve done with some other commenters. I’m open to being convinced that I should.

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        • Bjorn November 30, 2011 at 9:36 pm

          I do have to say this is where I kind of wish your comment threads were more like slashdot, and I could set it so that comments that were rated lower than
          -10 didn’t show up. I am sure that many offtopic comments would just evaporate with such a system without the need for you to be actively censoring comments.

          As far as bob, I guess we are going to just have to agree to disagree. I have read hundreds of his posts, and I have yet to see him add to a discussion in a positive way. He is clearly anti mountain biking although he likes to pretend he isn’t and his posts are more than likely to be far flung from the topic in an attempt to disrupt rather than add to any discussion.

          Personally I became an engineer in hopes of automating more manual labor so that people would not need to work so long, or do tasks that result in repetitive strain injuries. I think the idea that we should all go back to being ditch diggers if it was put forward genuinely would be dead wrong, but again it isn’t a genuine point, it is just a distraction. This story is about theft and he wants to make it about how the efforts of the NWTA are causing the economic downfall of impoverished portlanders. Take a step back and you see the whole thing would be comical even if he didn’t also constitute more than 1/4 of the total posts.

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    • wsbob November 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm

      Maus…thanks for your input. The thoughts you’ve expressed seem fair enough.

      True that this is basically a story about the theft of a machine built and designed to build or at least rough out single track. It seems to me that there are broader issues associated with the use of such a machine, related to certain current events. I decided to make a casual reference to this effect, here:

      Beyond that comment, most of what I’ve posted have been replies to posts in response to the point I related in that original post, and to related perspectives, some of which other people commenting here have introduced, arising from that original point.

      Personally, I think this has generally been a fairly constructive, civil discussion in which at least some of the people reading here have considered the concept of using a machine to build recreational single track from other than the standard perspective. I choose to encourage people to think a bit beyond conventional limits, because it seems to me, their doing this can sometimes help understanding of various issues.

      I appreciate some of the thoughtful answers posted, including those of…GorgeDon, JF, A.K., BURR, davemess, and of Tom Archer.

      Questioning the advisability of using a machine rather than human labor has been tossed around enough in response to this story. If people here prefer to confine discussion just to the theft…fine. Be nice to catch the suckers that grabbed this thing.

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      • Joe R December 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm

        I noticed most of the people have been giving thumbs up to the counter replies to every one of your politically bent comments… That needs to tell you something.

        Don’t really have time to deal with responding to someone taking opportunity to stand upon our misfortune and use as a soapbox. however…

        Bottom-line is that NWTA volunteers are engaged with land management agencies who rely on volunteer labor to fill the gaps (when there is *not* funding to pay for contractor) – not taking job away from contractor but doing job that wouldn’t get done otherwise. Period. My experience as a volunteer trail steward/crew leader in the past has been that hand built trail is nice but it takes MANY MANY more work days to build it… much gas and driving time to site… disturbing the project area (the forest ecology – flora and fauna) for years before project done. Building with mechanized equipment does the job in less time and is much less disruptive overall.

        With the ST240 machine (which just got this summer) I was doing work of 10 – 20 volunteers depending on the soil type, terrain, and vegetation. Typically, there’s only 3 or 4 volunteers who come to help build by hand – they are needed badly… we need more hand labor volunteers to finish out tasks (with all hand labor we will be disturbing the woods for 3 to 4 more years and burning lots of gas driving out there repeatedly). If had ST240 still (and I hope it is recovered by State Police this winter) then would have started again in Spring and been done with bulk of work to do.

        Sadly, the victim here isn’t me, one of the trail steward volunteers at Stub, nor is it truly NW Trail Alliance… but instead it’s the local community of hikers and riders who now lack an important tool to build and maintain trails in a sustainable manner.

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        • wsbob December 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm

          Joe R…I liked the info you provided in your comment, as I mentioned somewhere yesterday. Only thing I take exception to is your remark:

          “… taking opportunity to stand upon our misfortune and use as a soapbox. however…” Joe R

          …as I’d already said on the 30th, I wasn’t happy the NWTA had lost it’s gear (link below).

          I don’t feel I’m standing on a ‘soapbox’ but am simply bringing forward the issue of increasing employment opportunities for people today…any kind of employment opportunities or opportunities leading to future career and personal development.

          I’m sorry to read that hiring people to build trail by hand doesn’t pencil out compared to using the trail building machine, but with the relatively ‘baggage free’ info you and a couple other people have presented here, that reality is a little more evident, if nevertheless, still regrettable in some fundamental human respects.

          Once again, I hope the NWTA gets its gear back in one piece. Hopefully, people reading here will search ebay, equipment auctions, generally spread the word, and get some leads on the people that stole it.

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    • matthew vilhauer December 1, 2011 at 1:26 pm

      i miss vance. now that guy could really stir thing up!

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      • Dabby December 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm

        Vance does seem to have disappeared.
        As i know him from way back (he is an old messenger) I would like to know that he is still grumpy and ok…

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      • q`Tzal December 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm

        Occasionally I try to be contrary but I’m nowhere near as good/bad as Vance.

        I do suspect I’m on auto-moderate though:(

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  • Bama December 1, 2011 at 7:27 am

    During the 2011 build season, I logged over 1,000 hours of build time at Sandy Ridge, courtesy of primarily the Fat Tire Farm, but also the Salem District BLM.

    A few points on trailbuilding:
    –it’s very skilled labor and requires extensive knowledge and continuing education
    –it requires machine work as well as human labor, probably in a 10:1 ratio favoring machinery
    –there are many pursuits in the course of trail-work that cannot be reasonably accomplished via human labor, such as the mobilization of rocks, boulders, or trees
    –there are many pursuits requiring people, such as advocacy, fund-raising, and paperwork
    –in terms of speed and efficiency in building, the Portland area has a very large (and growing) mt. bike population with a very small area of dissemination (ie few local trails)…

    So, from my own observation, areas such as the Sandy Ridge Trail System could greatly benefit from more local mileage. The only feasible way of catching up to the miles/mt.-biker ratio is to employ an experienced operator paired with a small, 2-3 person, experienced build crew.

    In terms of labor compensation, please consider the following costs:
    –the cost of transportation to and from the trail, which round trip, is typically 60+ miles
    –labor rates are not simply $8/hr and must include liability insurance, workers comp, income tax, etc.
    –shovels, wheel barrows, McLeods, and gloves are “disposable” items
    –in my experience, low wage workers are not worth the effort; $12/hr is minimum required for sober workers (with the exception of my drunk friends, who do alright running on a 50/50 mix of Rainier/PBR)

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  • davemess December 1, 2011 at 7:28 am

    To sumise wsbob’s position:
    A non-profit grassroots organization should have used the specific funds they got in a grant for a machine to pay workers to build a finite amount of trail (significantly less trail than the machine would build over it’s lifespan).
    They could have gone downtown and rounded up some Occupy Portlanders for this task.
    I don’t think he realizes that OP was not really about low wage jobs. The entire point of the movement is about income inequality and trying to eliminate low paying jobs (as well as corporate influence in politics).

    I do find it kind of odd that he waits until the machine was stolen to make these comments though. There were a couple stories about the machine last summer, and I don’t really remember him making a fuss then.

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    • wsbob December 1, 2011 at 10:57 am

      “…There were a couple stories about the machine last summer, and I don’t really remember him making a fuss then. …” daveness

      Not true. I in fact did question the advisability of using this trail machine in numerous comments to bikeportland stories from the very first time I heard about the machine. First announcement of the machine was in the Monday Roundup…maybe a year or two ago.

      At any rate, in terms of the subject of the stolen NWTA trail machine, some people in comments here yesterday, have expressed an interest in confining the discussion to issues relating to the theft itself.

      With this in mind, I’m going to disregard a number of nonconstructive, disrespectful and antagonistic remarks made in reference to me and the discussion line of yesterday…just this morning, as well as further remarks of the same kind to this thread.

      I suggest we redirect thought to who or what type of person might have stolen this machine and the trailer that housed it? In a word ‘Profiling’. Tom Archer said here:

      Trailer was locked, with hitch lock, behind a locked gate. If some one wants to steal something, they can find a way. …” Tom Archer

      I tend to differ with the rest of his thought in that comment that the thieves didn’t know what they were stealing. I imagine that the thieves knew exactly what they were stealing and what they could likely get for it on the market. Some of the reasons I think this, is that first of all, not just any vehicle will do to haul this trailer away. Probably has to be at least a 3/4 ton pickup with hitch and hookup for the lights.

      Secondly, it takes tools and know how to defeat the locks. Third, the big NWTA alliance sign is right there on the side of the trailer. Fourth…had the machine already been in use at the park? Thieves might have seen it in operation there.

      A theft like this one isn’t so unique. There are thieves that steal heavy equipment, much heavier than this trail machine, and resell it. News articles have been written about this. The machine’s uniqueness won’t necessarily spare it if thieves decide to tear the machine down and sell the parts…wheels, tracks, hydraulics, motor, scrap steel and iron.

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  • Mike December 1, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Let’s keep our eye on the ball here. The issue here is that single track is not being built at this time because some A-hole stole this machine.

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  • Aaronf December 1, 2011 at 9:08 am

    I am glad that they bought the trail clearing machine. If there had been 7 unskilled trail builders in the trailer instead, I would fear for their safety.

    Seriously, I get the impression NWTA are a hard working group. I hope you recover your trail machine.

    wsbob, I think that your comments are insensitive and inappropriate. I realize that you don’t seem to agree, but I encourage you to examine your rationale for reminding us that you have a low opinion of mountain biking at this time, right after they face a major setback. Since everybody but you (99% even) seems to think your comments are out of line, they might be onto something.

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  • Aaronf December 1, 2011 at 9:19 am

    I should add that if that “type of comparative sustainability” is over your head, pipe down. Basically you are saying “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but if I was in charge I would do it better.”

    That might be an appropriate digression in a story about applying for the grant. Not now.

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  • sswannab December 1, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Checked the comments hoping for an update but wow… if all the energy and time spent discussing ditch digging was spent re-posting/networking we might have found the trailer by now.

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  • Kenji December 1, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Having suffered the same issue, I am hoping that NWTA gets back their equipment. I’ve already put out a notice to my crew. wsbob- while I do respect your opinion I see the logic as fundamentally flawed. For example, my job would be next to impossible without computers. One could argue that I could do all of what I do manually (without computers) and hire a large number of people to do it. However, based on our budget and size growth- that would make it impossible. That analogy can be directly applied to the NWTA. A better idea would be to have the trail machine and have the money to hire people to do it. Then you can create trails both efficiently and get people employed.

    Recreation is a crucial part of our biking. Recreation helps gain social acceptance of our mode of transportation. Why? It gets more people on bikes. The more people on bikes, the more racers and commuters there will be. Bifurcating the cycling community based on the reason for use is a bad idea. Why? Because we’re on the same side.

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  • Dabby December 1, 2011 at 11:38 am

    This is sad news.
    Is also too bad that this thread was misdirected, as the point of it is to get the equipment back…

    It is specialized enough however that I am sure it will turn up.

    I am maintenance digging at Ventura Park pump track this afternoon.
    Bring your shovel…..

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  • rwl1776 December 1, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Please tell me NWTA had this rig and the trailer heavily insured. Insurance, hope for the best, but plan for the worst. It’s a necessary expense.

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  • Doc C December 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    This anecdote may apply: While touring China, [a businessman] came upon a team of nearly 100 workers building an earthen dam with shovels. The businessman commented to a local official that, with an earth-moving machine, a single worker could create the dam in an afternoon. The official’s curious response was, “Yes, but think of all the unemployment that would create.” “Oh,” said the businessman, “I thought you were building a dam. If it’s jobs you want to create, then take away their shovels and give them spoons!”

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  • jered December 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    We should all be on the look out for new single track. Follow new single track to find the machine!

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  • DK December 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I’m sorry to hear of this.

    My eyes are peeled.

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  • Joe R December 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    “I also think you missed most of the point of the Occupy movement.”

    Didn’t everyone miss the point of that movement? Oh, it’s still a movement? *shrug*

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  • Lisa G. December 1, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    @ Matt V.: I don’t miss

    I think this is an interesting thread, as someone who has both dug a ditch (and built a fence, with posts, from scratch). Yes, the trail-building is done by volunteers. Without machinery this sort of thing takes is satisfying work..something about the therapy of that sort of thing. A different sort of exercise..endorphins..makes you feel alive. OK if you’re not in a big hurry. I don’t always see the need for a big hurry, instant gratification, overnight success, etc.

    I think the discussion is really about people walking their talk, not about unemployment vs machinery. There are many different walks. Personally, I prefer my experience on the trail to be free of diesel fumes and noise pollution (and possible spread of disease to Western Red Cedar trees?), but I’m one of those people who’s not in a hurry.. reminds me of a recent bike ride through the Laurelhurst and Sunnyside neighborhoods where people are scrambling to either comply with or beat the city’s leaf removal fees. Leaf blowers outnumbered rakes last Saturday by over two-to-one. I saw one great example of a curbside compost bin built from scratch. (The leaf blowers were largely ineffectual as the wet leaves were already pasted to the streets.)

    Don’t forget to check E-Bay!

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  • Adam December 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I’m really sorry to hear about this. I’m not from the area, I’m from Iowa and rode Sandy Ridge last summer. I loved the trails, some of the best I’ve ever ridden. I work on local mountain bike trails here and was and was impressed by the video of the Sandy Ridge trail work days.

    Machine built trails are really the way to go if you have the means, I hope you find the stolen equipment.

    Keep building great trails, thank you!

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  • q`Tzal December 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Obviously checking for sales of this unique item is a good idea but has anyone considered what it would take to disassemble it and recycle it?

    Yes it can be cut up and taken to a single scrap recycler but:
    () Can cutting the heavy gauge steel be done with Home Depot level gear?
    …..} If a metal thief stole this I expect (erroneously?) that they will need an industrial cutting torch. Wouldn’t this narrow down potential places it could have been scrapped?
    () Won’t a large pile of identical looking metal be a tip off to a metal recycler?

    The trailer is probably much easier to sell on the black market but I imagine that a public plea to the thief promising that no charges will be made for the theft of the construction equipment if it is returned within the next week might be most successful.

    It’s hot and it is kinda like trying to hock the Lassiter.

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    • wsbob December 2, 2011 at 10:53 pm

      q`Tzal…I think the points you raise about tools required are good ones. From the limited info that can be gathered from reading the news, I’ve come to understand though that thieves can be very determined in efforts to steal and resell. Since thieves steal every conceivable type of item, they could have stolen tools to do the job. Or maybe be in partnership with a shop that has them.

      Haven’t seen one of these rigs in real life, but some of its components look to be off the shelf. From reading over at bikeforums about resale of used bike parts, I understand that at least with bikes, sale of parts can exceed the profit from assembled bikes. May or may not relate to this machine.

      It could be helpful to know what investigation of the theft police have done so far, and what general type of person or persons they’re looking for. If anyone in the area heard or saw something strange during the night hours, police should want to know this.

      They may know of individuals in the area that have been involved in thefts of trailers and equipment. Hopefully, details of the theft and investigation of it have been sent out to other law enforcement agencies across the northwest and the nation so they all can be on the alert for suspects.

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      • q`Tzal December 3, 2011 at 5:10 pm

        … they could have stolen tools to do the job. Or maybe be in partnership with a shop that has them.

        Some quick searches show that this is doable with oxy-propane or oxy-acetylene equipment. It seems that most handheld oxy-acetylene equipment and plasma cutters stop describing functionality at 1 inch thickness of steel. On the NW Trail Alliance website you can see pre-assembly pictures. A portion of these pieces are in the 1.5 ~ 2 inch range. Above 1.5 inches machine controlled cutters seem to be the norm due to the metal’s tendency to conduct away cutting heat faster with more thickness. As a matter of practicality cutting time per inch goes up in a higher than proportion than linearly. A hand held unit could be used but on thicker cuts the user would be more prone to burns and toxic gasses from combustion byproducts. Unexplained garage fires and emergency room burn visits would be an indicator of suspects.

        … some of its components look to be off the shelf.

        From Tom Archer “This machine is only one of 5 in existence and they would ultimately need service and parts”. Some of these parts will also be quite custom and won’t be profitable as anything other than scrap metal

        They may know of individuals in the area that have been involved in thefts of trailers …

        I suspect that despite the prevalence of theft of trailers of this type, and thus the ease of resale, that the thieves are most likely to screw up unloading this item. From NWTA’s page Trail machine status “NWTA has also purchased an enclosed trailer, and that’s having some customizations done to accommodate the ST240 (steel reinforcement, tie downs in deck, etc). In the panic to unload the ST240 it would be easy to overlook unique modifications to the trailer.

        I really think it is worth tracking new registrations trailers for OR and WA, fire related incidents and metal recyclers are taking large chunks of steel.

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    • wsbob December 12, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      Here’s another story about the theft of the NWTA trail building machine and additional reward money beyond that previously offered for tips on its recovery, posted to today at 5:35 PM. Not a single comment yet posted in response to the o-live story.

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  • wsbob December 5, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    maus…o.k. …someone has thought to let the Oregonian know that a reward has been put up for the recovery of the NWTA’s trailer, tools and trail building machine within.

    Noticing there has been no update posted to this story, that may suggest that apparently, nobody has thought to let bikeportland know about this development in response to the theft of NWTA’s gear.

    Here’s the link to the O story, posted 3:05, updated 3:30 today:

    Sometimes, through poor editing, the Oregon’s reporting can be unintentionally amusing. Check out this line from the brief story:

    “…The Northwest Trail Alliance, which owns the trailer, is offering up to $500 for the recovery of the trailer-construction machine and trailer, …” oregonian/Rebecca Woolington

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  • Champs December 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Just an update: the trailer in a North Portland alley that you may have seen or heard about is NOT the stolen one. There’s an NWTA member in our house, and that driveway happens to be a place where we can park it.

    It’s too bad this conversation got hijacked. Nobody will ever see this.

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