The General Recreation Page will feature activities that everybody enjoys doing in the outdoors of Southern Oregon. That will vary by season. But, we will give you a lot of information on all kinds of ways that you can get out and enjoy the great outdoors in this special part of the world that we live in.
GENERAL RECREATION NEWS -
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staffers did some analysis of the people who were showing up at ODF&W meetings, and also meetings of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. If you do not know, when you go to those meetings and wish to speak, you are asked to sign in. They get your name, address, and e mail address. What they found was that 90 percent of the people speaking at these meetings did not purchase angling or hunting licenses. Yet, they were testifying on proposed actions that would impact anglers and hunters. That is a very interesting thing when you stop and really think about it. ODF&W has long been understaffed and under funded. It does not get a big percentage of their funds from the State's general fund....meaning through either property or personal income taxes. Most of the money for ODF&W comes from anglers and hunters buying licenses and tags. Hunters also kick in again when they purchase firearms or ammunition. Here is a fact you may not know. Hunters make up just 4 percent of Oregon's population...but they shoulder the biggest share of the funding load for ODF&W. Somebody in Salem has decided to do something about that.
What they are thinking of doing is adding an as yet to be determined tax to your state income tax form. This is going to be a simple flat tax. If you purchased a fishing or hunting license, you do not have to pay this. There would be a spot for you to write in your license number. But, for those who are not fishing or hunting, you would pay this very small, nominal tax. The thought right now is something on the order of $10 - $20 per person. That money would then be used to fund not only ODF&W, it would also kick in more money for Oregon State Parks. I think all of us like the idea of them trying to fund two departments that so many people in Oregon benefit from.
BUT! The rub here is going to be in what they do with the money once collected. As we learned from the salmon plate fiasco, you have to be sure that where the money goes from something is dedicated. If you did not know, or have forgotten, the salmon plate fiasco was created when the state decided to have a special license plate for vehicles in which the money from them would be going to helping fund salmon habitat improvement, restoration, and to increase production at hatcheries. Oregonians embraced this idea fully and salmon plates started appearing everywhere. And then came the problem. The money from the salmon plates was not DEDICATED to a specific purpose through a constitutional provision. And since that lock was not there, the politicians in Salem pilfered the salmon plate fund. The Oregonian newspaper broke the story in 2014 that the $9 million generated by sales of salmon plates up to that time never went for the intended purpose because the money was not dedicated to go there. Fool us once......
So to make sure that if this idea of the tax does go through, we need to be sure there is a constitutional provision included that dedicates the money from it to ODF&W and also for State Parks. If that happens, I can't imagine anybody having a serious issue with everybody pitching in for something that will produce benefits for us all.
RECREATION INFORMATION -
Typically in December we are looking at snow oriented outdoor recreation. However. this is not a typical year by any stretch. So, we are looking at activities that world nomally be greatly curtailed by snow, or at least the dreary rainy days so typical of this time of the year. Hiking is a great year round activity here. But, it usually is more of a spring through fall activity for most. So since the weather is cooperating, here is information on one of my favorite trails to enjoy.
TUNNEL RIDGE TRAIL -
This short, lovely hike through the brushy foothills of the little Applegate is ideal for a sunny afternoon in summer, or winter, with a picnic basket and all the kids you can round up. Wildflowers abound in spring. The described route, the Tunnel Ridge Trail, is a connecting link to the Sterling Mine Trail, a 26-mile path under development along an old mining ditch. From the 1870s to the 1930s, the ditch channeled water to the gold mines on Sterling Creek. The highlight of the 26-mile engineering feat is the 100-foot tunnel through Tunnel Ridge.....click HERE for more information and for maps
Another activity that becomes more of a die hards only activity at this time of the year is golf. We have great golf courses throughout Southern Oregon. A golf course that has always been dear to my heart is Laurel Hill Golf Course in Gold Hill. I have great memories of coming to this course with my grandfather. He was not a super serious golfer, just did it for fun. I loved coming out here with him, mostly because of the great cheeseburgers you can get from the grill here. But, gradually...the golf bug bit on me. And i came to appreciate Laurel Hill for what it is. It is one of the greatest teachers of the game you will find. Why? The course itself demands the ability to hit an accurate straight shot. Every hole on the couse is lined with oaks, madrones, and pine trees. Errant shots can literally go richocheting away never to be seen again. That is the negative of the trees. The positive is in the summer with all that shade, this can be a place to beat the heat and get a round of golf in. And, it is on the short side so you are not going to be out in the heat for hours. And, in the fall and winter rainy season, those trees can cut down the wind and offer some protection if there is light rain. So year round, Laurel Hill is a treat. Here is a look at my favorite hole on the course.......
Hole 7 - The seventh hole is one of the longest holes on our course. As you cross through the woods and arrive at the tees of the seventh hole you’ll find yourself elevated above the fairway looking out at a beautiful panorama of our course. 310 yards in front of you lies the 7th green. Getting there is a little bit of a challenge. This fairway will dogleg left about half way out. Most golfers prefer to take 2-shots to handle this dogleg due to the tall trees on the left edge of the fairway. Your tee shot should be shorter than the layup. This hole is a Par 4. As far as we know, no one has ever reached the green on this hole in one shot.
For more information on the course, or to continue the tour of it, click HERE.