Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on August 28th, 2008 at 11:39 am
A plan to develop close to 15,000 acres of public land for recreational use in and around the Sandy River (“Located in Portland’s backyard”) has local mountain bikers excited for the potential of new trails and riding opportunities close to home.
The Salem District of the Bureau of Land Management is in the process of seeking public input and comments on their Sandy River Basin Plan. Among the issues they want to learn more about are “Potential non-motorized multiple use trail systems for hiking, mountain biking and equestrian use in the Mount Hood Corridor.”
Local advocacy group and riding club, the Portland United Mountain Pedalers (PUMP) are rallying their members to get involved.
“The goal is to get at least 100 mountain bikers to send in their comments by 9/18 [the BLM deadline],” wrote PUMP member Ted Dodd on the group’s website. “Personally,” he added, “I am excited about this new trail. I have seen the concept plans and the trail possibilities are impressive.”
Jill Van Winkle is a trail specialist with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). Jill, who now lives in Hood River but is in the process of moving to Portland, says the development of the Sandy River Basin area for mountain biking would, “greatly enhance the closer-in riding options” for Portlanders. Van Winkle explains that the area is just a 30-40 minute drive from Portland (or you could take MAX to Gresham), 20 minutes from Gresham, and within pedaling distance from Sandy (“if you’re strong”).
2007 National Bike Summit.
In the project area, there are about 25-30 miles of trails planned at three different sites. According to Van Winkle, the trails would accommodate a wide range of skill levels and would offer everything from sandy beaches (for post-ride picnics) to ridge line views of Mt. Hood via several loop options.
Construction at the various sites is dependent on environmental assessments but at a site known as The Confluence, Van Winkle says trail development could begin as early as next year.
IMBA’s Trail Solutions crews designed twenty miles of trails at the Confluence and another site called Marmot last fall and Van Winkle says the BLM already has funding to begin construction.
Beyond simply providing a place for mountain bikers to ride, Van Winkle says this project is about protecting the Sandy River. “No more logging, no more dams… this is a great opportunity to protect lands and provide high-quality recreational experiences.”
And she’s quick to remind us that this new project won’t replace the need for riding options within Portland city limits; “We still need places to ride from home.”
The BLM held two open houses earlier this month and the comment period for the Sandy River Basin Plan is open until September 18th. For more information on the plan, visit the project website. To download a comment form and other documents, visit this page on PUMPClub.org.