Seaside signal. (Seaside, Or.) 1905-current, February 07, 2020, Page 3, Image 3

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    Friday, February 7, 2020 | Seaside Signal | SeasideSignal.com • A3
DON’T
CLIMB
THE
ROCK
One of many sea stacks,
but only one Haystack Rock
By KATHERINE LACAZE
For Seaside Signal
A
lthough Haystack
Rock in Cannon
Beach is a unique
and state-protected
marine
environ-
ment, Elaine Trucke focused
more on the legends, myths
and memories surrounding
the iconic landmark during
her presentation at History
and Hops on Jan. 30.
“When you think of Ore-
gon, you probably think of
rain, trees, maybe Mount
Hood, but you’re probably
going to think about Hay-
stack Rock,” said Trucke,
the executive director at the
Cannon Beach History Cen-
ter and Museum.
As integrated as Hay-
stack Rock is into the local
geology, history, and cul-
ture, there are about 30 sea
stacks comprised of volca-
nic basalt rock in the United
States that are known, for-
mally or informally, as Hay-
stack Rock. According to
Trucke, they date back mil-
lions of years to the same
volcanic activity.
In Oregon, Cannon
Beach’s Haystack Rock —
which is part of the Oregon
Islands National Wildlife
Refuge — has a doppel-
ganger in Pacifi c City. Hay-
stack Rock stands about
235 feet tall and is accessi-
ble during low tides, while
Pacifi c City rock stands
about 327 feet tall and is
surrounded by water at all
times. The Needles adjacent
to Cannon Beach’s rock also
distinguish it from others.
During her research,
Trucke found references
throughout the 1940s to
Discover Our Coast
Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach at low tide.
1960s to Cannon Beach’s
Haystack Rock being the
third largest, freestanding
rock monolith in the world,
though she couldn’t deter-
mine what quantifi able fac-
tors were used to substanti-
ate that claim.
Keep off
Articles and stories from
the 20th century illuminate
a common challenge in the
effort to preserve Haystack
Rock and the wildlife that
depends on it: People try-
ing to climb the rock. At one
time, there was a trail lead-
ing to the top of the rock that
ranged in width from 2 feet
to less than 12 inches.
In August 1914, a man
named Edison Wingard pre-
sumably fell to his death
while attempting the feat.
Despite an intense search,
his body was never recov-
ered. A tablet was installed
that paid homage to Wing-
ard. The article reporting on
the event declared no one
had successfully climbed
Haystack Rock in 20 years,
Trucke said.
In 1935, Earl Hardy, a
seasonal worker at the nata-
torium in Cannon Beach,
reportedly was one of the
fi rst people to successfully
get to the top using simple
climbing equipment. His
fastest climb up the rock took
about an hour and a half.
However, numerous peo-
ple visiting Cannon Beach
also got stuck while attempt-
ing the climb, which not
only put them and rescuers
at risk, but also could infl ict
devastation on the wildlife,
Trucke said. In 1968, Hay-
stack Rock was declared a
National Wildlife Refuge
and the trail was closed to
climbers.
Meanwhile, in the fall of
that year, a group of federal
fi sheries and wildlife offi -
cials used dynamite to blast
off the lower ledge of Hay-
stack Rock, making the trail
inaccessible. They claimed
the blast “did not change the
face of the rock in any way,”
Trucke said. However, the
event was kept rather secre-
tive and there is little veri-
fi ed information about it.
A culture of
conservation
Some people were not
content to simply climb
Haystack Rock. In 1973, a
Cannon Beach fi re district looking for ways to sustain operations
By NICOLE BALES
The Astorian
BADGE-PINNING
The Cannon Beach Rural
Fire Protection District
will celebrate their new
chief with a badge-pin-
ning on Monday, Feb.
10, at 5 p.m., before the
board meeting. The short
ceremony will off er a
chance for the public to
meet Reckmann and his
family.
to, this is tourism,” Reck-
mann said. “They’re really
putting nothing into the
district.”
As tourism has increased,
the number of volunteer
fi refi ghters has decreased,
which has put more pres-
sure on the volunteers and
chiefs.
When Cannon Beach
fi re district responded to an
emergency at Falcon Cove
in January where two chil-
dren died after being swept
out to sea by a wave, Reck-
mann was out of town.
He said that was an
example for why the fi re
district needs a second com-
manding offi cer.
“When our four (volun-
teer fi refi ghters) got there,
they started calling the
resources they needed, but
they also had a girl down
on the beach, and they were
focused on that rescue,” he
said.
When the Seaside Fire
Department arrived, he
said, they passed command
to Seaside Fire Chief Joey
Daniels and he was able to
lead the rescue and focus on
other aspects, like commu-
nicating with other agen-
cies, ambulances, dispatch
and hospitals.
Agencies rely on each
other for mutual aid during
rescues, since no agency has
enough volunteer fi refi ght-
ers and share equipment.
“They’re doing the best
they can with what they
have, but we’re coming to a
spot where … the numbers
throughout the county are
low — the lowest they’ve
probably ever been with
volunteers,” Daniels said.
Like other agencies, he
said, call volumes at the
Seaside Fire Department
have doubled in the past 10
to 15 years.
“All these volunteers
have probably hundreds of
hours of training and that’s
a big commitment and most
families, both parents are
working,” Daniels said.
Daniels and Reckmann
said paid personnel supple-
ments the volunteer fi re-
fi ghters and helps make
sure there is always some-
one who can take command
during a rescue.
“When I started in 1994
… you walked into the fi re
station, they’d give you a
set of turnouts and pager
and say, ‘Welcome aboard.’
We can’t do that anymore,”
Reckmann said.
In December, Warren-
ton was fi ned $10,800 by
the state for safety vio-
lations at the Warrenton
Fire Department. The state
investigation and fi nes have
left other agencies look-
ing at how they are meeting
expectations.
“One of the big standards
is physicals,” Reckmann
said. “So, before we put
anybody through any train-
ing, you’re supposed to go
to a doctor and have a phys-
ical. Well, that’s $1,000,
$1,500 a person and you’re
supposed to be doing that
annually — every person —
we can’t afford that.”
“It’s important, but you
have to weigh the cost of
that, and where does it
come from,” he said.
The fi re district is work-
ing on a strategic plan mov-
ing forward with the goal of
not having to rely on lev-
ies and bonds “to Band-Aid
along as needed.”
“The board has done a
great job of trying to keep
taxes low and not keep ask-
ing taxpayers for money.
But, in a way, it’s done
them a disservice because
now we’re where we are,”
he said.
“I think we, in general,
would have voter support
(for a levy). But it’s going
to take … a lot of education
of why we need to do this.”
about it,” she said, adding
that without maintaining
consistent dialogue about
conservation, it could lose
its vitality.
The Haystack Rock
Awareness Program is one
agency that plays an inte-
gral role in the conservation
culture of Cannon Beach.
HRAP was established in
1985 to protect the rock’s
marine environment through
onsite interpretation and
education that perpetuates
and strengthens people’s
affi nity for the landmark.
Visitors and tourists alike
are interested in the birds
and marine life involved in
the unique ecosystem.
“They’re very intrigued
by what’s happening,”
Trucke said.
History and Hops is a
series of local history dis-
cussions hosted by the Sea-
side Museum and Historical
Society on the last Thurs-
day of each month, Septem-
ber through May, at Sea-
side Brewery. During the
next presentation on Thurs-
day, Feb. 27, Jerry and Lau-
rie Bowman will discuss
the Northwest Carriage
Museum.
DINING
on the
NORTH COAST
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R I L EY’
S
The Cannon Beach
Rural Fire Protection Dis-
trict is exploring options to
increase revenue to sustain
operations.
The struggle is not
uncommon for rural fi re
districts. Agencies through-
out Clatsop County have
reported steep increases in
call volumes over the past
decade, along with a dwin-
dling number of volunteer
fi refi ghters.
Staff and volunteers are
left stretched thin, which
has contributed to the turn-
over of fi re chiefs in Can-
non Beach.
“The old adage has
always been, ‘We’re going
to do more with less.’ And
I think the fi re service has
done that, but I think it’s
gotten to a point in many
districts, including ours,
that we just can’t sus-
tain. We really cannot sus-
tain functions with what
we have,” said Marc Reck-
mann, the interim Cannon
Beach fi re chief. The fi re
district’s board is decid-
ing whether to ask voters to
approve a levy in May.
The additional revenue
is needed to hire a second
commanding offi cer and
replace aging equipment
while developing a replace-
ment cycle to reduce main-
tenance costs.
The board has looked at
different options for fund-
ing to avoid burdening tax-
payers, but options are
limited.
Fire districts draw rev-
enue from property taxes
and, unlike city fi re depart-
ments, cannot assess other
types of taxes to keep up
with growth.
Since Measure 5 was
approved by voters in 1990,
property tax rates became
permanent. So districts are
left with few options and
often resort to bonds or lev-
ies to increase revenue.
Since the permanent tax
rate is set when a district
is formed, some fi re dis-
tricts have resorted to merg-
ing with one
another to
create a new
tax rate.
The Can-
non Beach
fi re
dis-
Marc
trict, which
serves Can- Reckmann is
the interim
non Beach,
fi re chief in
Arch Cape,
Cove Beach Cannon Beach.
and Falcon
Cove, has one of the lowest
permanent tax rates in the
state at 35 cents per $1,000
of assessed value. The aver-
age tax rate for fi re districts
in Oregon is $2 per $1,000
of assessed value, accord-
ing to the Oregon Depart-
ment of Revenue.
Over the years, vot-
ers have approved a fi ve-
year levy to support the
fi re chief’s position for 19
cents per $1,000 of assessed
value and a fi ve-year bond
for a ladder truck at 9 cents
per $1,000 assessed value.
Since 2012, the fi re dis-
trict’s calls per year have
increased by more than
42%. The general fund rev-
enue has increased by 33%.
Fire districts are only
legally obligated to respond
to fi res, yet only about 5%
of Cannon Beach fi re dis-
trict calls are for fi res.
About 62% are described as
rescue and emergency med-
ical calls.
“It’s what people expect
… The fi re service becomes
the ‘fi x-all.’” Reckmann
said. “Over my years here
in the fi re service, I’ve seen
it completely evolve.”
“When you look at it,
Cannon Beach is not just
a little coastal commu-
nity, we’re a tourism des-
tination. And there’s only
2,200 permanent residents
in the district, roughly,” he
said. “We’re not having the
downtime with the tourism,
it’s leveled out a lot.”
Between
September
2018 through August, 77%
of calls were for people
who do not live in the fi re
district’s boundaries.
“We’re spending a lot of
money and a lot of time on
these calls, but this isn’t the
taxpayers we’re responding
man tried landing his heli-
copter atop the sea stack
and crashed on the beach.
In 1904, a developer named
Mulhallan fi led a land claim
for the top of the rock. His
vision was to divide the
space into 12 separate plats
for individual homes.
“It was crazy for one
house, but the idea he thought
there should be 12?” Trucke
said. “Thank goodness his
land claim was denied.”
The
incident
high-
lights the issue of what
lands should be kept pub-
lic and what should be pri-
vatized and developed. Over
the next several decades,
because of the efforts of for-
mer Govs. Oswald West and
Tom McCall, along with
other activists and dedicated
citizens, Oregon’s beaches
were established as pub-
lic property that could be
“enjoyed by everybody,”
Trucke said. The public
nature of the beaches has
engendered a culture of con-
servation in communities
throughout the coast.
“We talk about it to the
point people don’t want to
hear it anymore, but I think
you need to keep talking
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