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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 welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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BURR
Guest
BURR

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

Tom Archer
Guest

BURR
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.

kittens
Guest
kittens

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

Tony Pereira
Guest

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.

matt savage
Guest
matt savage

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

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

dan
Guest
dan

what are you EVEN talking about.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

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.

Hagen
Guest
Hagen

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

Tom M
Guest
Tom M

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.

Amy
Guest
Amy

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.

Chris
Guest
Chris

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

GorgeDon
Guest
GorgeDon

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)

chris
Guest
chris

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?

Carl
Guest
Carl

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.

Fat Tire
Guest
Fat Tire

“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.

DaHoos
Guest
DaHoos

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.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

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.

Thanks.

Bama
Guest
Bama

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)

davemess
Guest
davemess

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.

Mike
Guest
Mike

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.

Aaronf
Guest
Aaronf

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.

Aaronf
Guest
Aaronf

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.

sswannab
Guest
sswannab

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.

Kenji
Guest

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.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

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.

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

rwl1776
Guest
rwl1776

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.

Doc C
Guest
Doc C

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!”

jered
Guest
jered

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

DK
Guest
DK

I’m sorry to hear of this.

My eyes are peeled.

Joe R
Guest

“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*

Lisa G.
Guest
Lisa G.

@ Matt V.: I don’t miss Vance..lol

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 longer..it 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!

Adam
Guest

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!

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

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:

http://www.oregonlive.com/north-of-26/index.ssf/2011/12/oregon_state_police_say_reward.html

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

Champs
Guest
Champs

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.