PORTLAND, ORE. – Recently, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office was recognized for their efforts and ongoing partnership with the United States Forest Service in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (CRGNSA). Sheriff Matt English and Undersheriff Brian Rockett were on hand at the Portland Airport Sheraton to receive the Regional Forester’s Special Recognition Safety Award from Regional Forester Jim Peña. Officials said this was the first time that an individual or agency outside of the USFS had received an award during the annual event.
Staff from the Sheriff’s office and Scenic Area have been working collaboratively for the last several years to identify problem areas and find solutions, while promoting safety and mitigating risk to visitors of local Federal Forest Lands. Shared efforts have included public messaging on the web and social media, adding signage to trails that were leading to consistent search and rescues, identifying user trails that needed to be rehabilitated or decommissioned to discourage use due to dangerous conditions, and collectively staffing annual saturation patrols at Eagle Creek to ensure positive public contacts and model safe behavior. The existing partnership was highlighted during the Eagle Creek Fire in September of 2017, with the safe and successful rescue of over 170 people trapped by the fire.
“We are humbled to receive this recognition, which underscores the effectiveness and necessity of established relationships”, said Sheriff Matt English. English went on to say, “Although we are being recognized for our efforts, this is truly a team with a common goal and that shouldn’t be overshadowed by this award. We look forward to our continued partnership with the CRGNSA and are sure that our collective efforts will continue to pay dividends for our community and visitors.”
The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office responds to emergencies on forest lands and is responsible for search and rescue on all lands within the contiguous borders of Hood River County.