Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 17th, 2008 at 4:00 pm
way to the Dee Wright Observatory
high above Sisters.
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)
Next Wednesday, the State of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will hold a public hearing in downtown Portland to hear feedback on a program that would designate and develop a statewide network of "Oregon Scenic Bikeways".
On the table will be a new Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) that would give "scenic bikeways" the same level of protection (known technically as a "Goal 5 resource") currently given to everything from wetlands habitat to historic sites.
The scenic bikeways program was first championed by the Board of Directors of Cycle Oregon back in 2004 and now has the partnership of Oregon State Parks.
Jerry Norquist is the executive director of Cycle Oregon. He says the goal of the program is,
"to create a series of connected routes around the state that are scenic by nature. They would fit the mold of a Cycle Oregon route, but would be available to any one at any time."
Norquist also envisions putting all the routes onto a website, making sure they're well-signed and maintaining the road surface so that it's adequate for bike travel.
"Imagine leaving your doorstep in Portland," he says, "and riding to Vernonia and then up to Astoria along a continuous, official, signed route."
The establishment of a scenic bikeway system could have a major impact on Oregon's tourism economy.
"Imagine leaving your doorstep in Portland and riding to Vernonia and then up to Astoria along a continuous, official, signed route."
--Jerry Norquist, Cycle Oregon
Oregon State Parks' Bicycle Recreation Coordinator Iris Riggs says giving scenic bikeways "Goal 5" protection would mean that developers, for instance, "would either have to build around them or mitigate their impacts on them."
According to Riggs, even if the scenic bikeways rule does not get officially adopted, the program will continue, "they just won't have the same level of protection."
At this point, plans for the first three scenic bikeways are already on the table: State Parks is working to re-route a portion the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway (the only one currently in existence, which was established prior to seeking official sanction); a route called the Calapooya Mountains Scenic Bikeway that will connect Oakridge to Eugene; and a route that would go from Portland to Champoeg State Park.
Ultimately though, Riggs says the program is being set up to be "citizen initiated". This means that anyone will be able to submit an idea for a route. All proposed routes would go before a Scenic Bikeway Committee and would be vetted against established criteria before it could be officially designated.
That same committee, Riggs says, will embark on a statewide planning effort to identify a system of routes that would have higher priority in the designation process.
Riggs has planned four hearings in the coming weeks and says that once they hear feedback from the public, they will revise the proposal and then take it to the State Parks Commission. Once the Commission approves the rule and/or makes changes, Riggs will then submit it to the Secretary of State where it will become official.
In addition to the upcoming hearings, Riggs says written comments will be accepted until February 15th (more info here).
For more information on the scenic bikeways program and the upcoming hearing, contact Iris Riggs at (503) 986-0631, or iris(dot)riggs(at)state(dot)or(dot)us.
Scenic Bikeways hearings
Multnomah County Library, US Bank Room (801 SW 10th Ave.)
1/23, 5:30 ~ 7:30 pm
Newport Public Library (35 NW Nye St.)
1/30, 5:30 ~ 7:30
Deschutes County Library (601 NW Wall St.)
2/4, 5:30 ~ 7:30