Don’t worry, this one does not involve the death of wildlife. Not today anyway.
My dog and I are nearly done with our run. I wasn’t feeling very adventurous this morning, so we stuck to our default route—through Mosier, along the old highway, through the tunnel, up to the next viewpoint, turn around, retrace steps.
We had passed a handful of other trail users along the way—four solo cyclists, four walkers, and two fellow joggers to be exact (okay, make that two handfuls)—but the slight threat of rain seemed to have kept the crowds away.
We’ve just turned off the Twin Tunnels trail, heading back toward Mosier, when my dog—who is generally clueless to anything except the red Kong toy he carries around with him everywhere—stops to look back toward the hillside that now separates us from the trail. There’s been a persistent skunk odor on this corner for over a month now, so I turn around cautiously, half expecting to get sprayed.
I instead watch in awe as two young deer exit the trail from the same point we had, as though they were also on their way home from a daily jog along the Twin Tunnels trail. (I’m quite sure I would have noticed them though.)
They apparently didn’t expect us to stop and turn around, because they almost trip over each other when they realize that we’re still there, watching them from our perch in the middle of the road.
They recover gracefully, finish crossing the old highway, and duck into the thickets of scrub oak, right at the point of the proposed access road for the Mosier rock quarry, should it be allowed to re-open. (A pending proposal would dump thirty gravel trucks per day—carrying 30,000 pounds of rock—right onto the old highway for over seven months out of the year. Oh yeah, and those thirty trucks would have to come back too.)
The issue is not one of access, though, or how to best mitigate the conflicts between gravel trucks, cyclists and pedestrians. It’s about whether the site—which abuts not only the small town of Mosier, but a national scenic area and a historic trail corridor—should be used as an active rock quarry in the first place.
At a recent community meeting, it was mentioned that the site is simply not useable as anything else until the rock could be removed and the site stabilized. (It was also mentioned that this would take at least thirty years to complete.)
Maybe, however, the site is useful just the way it is. Those two young deer seemed to think so.