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Commissioner Fish announces initiatives for Forest Park

Posted by on June 17th, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Sunday Parkways NE-69
Commissioner Nick Fish.
(Photo © J. Maus)

City of Portland Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), has just announced five new management initiatives that will “address ecological and recreational concerns about Forest Park.”

Fish is reacting to mounting public pressure to do something about the deteriorating health of the park. This pressure came to a head last month with a research report published by City Club of Portland titled, “Call to Action.” That report admonished the Parks Bureau for neglecting the park and not completing a number of studies and surveys called for in the 1995 Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan.

Calling them “important steps… to address how the park is managed now and in the future,” Fish said he’s moving forward on a range of initiatives. Here’s the list of five initiatives that are to be completed by September 2010:

  • Finalize a Partnership Agreement with the Forest Park Conservancy.
  • Deliver the final Forest Park Desired Future Conditions report.
  • Hire and assign a full-time Park Ranger to Forest Park.
  • Complete the Forest Park Recreation Survey.
  • Recruit a City Club Forest Park Research Committee member to participate on the 2011-12 PP&R Budget Advisory Committee.

To conduct the recreational user survey, PP&R will work with Portland State University. The survey will provide PP&R with “objective data about use within the park to help the bureau better manage the increasing recreational demands on the park with baseline data on the intensity of use, preferences, quality of existing park features, and demographics of typical park users.”

In addition to the City Club report, Commissioner Fish and Parks Director Zari Santner have heard loud and clear from some members of the Forest Park Single Track Cycling Committee that a user survey and more enforcement in the park is imperative before making any decisions to expand bike access.

With his announcement today, Fish is possibly paving the way for the release of his big decision on how and where to improve biking opportunities in the park. The Single Track Cycling Committee is set to hand-off their final list of recommendations to Fish this Monday and sources say he and Santner are not expected to unveil any decisions about that “until Labor Day” — which would be early September. With the initiatives announced today expected to be completed “by September” that would mean Fish and Santner could make their decisions about bike access after satisfying some of the key steps some on the committee have said they must complete first.

We’ll be watching developments closely as it remains to be seen how the completion of these initiatives might impact Fish and Santner’s decisions about biking in the park.

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Comments
  • Marcus Griffith June 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Regardless of the single track debate, City Club and the Forest Park Conservancy have and continue to invest significant amounts of personal time and resources into preserving and improving Forest Park.

    It’s important to keep the contributions of both organizations during the often heated single track debate.

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  • Jack June 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    1) Finalize a Partnership Agreement with the Forest Park Conservancy.
    2) Deliver the final Forest Park Desired Future Conditions report.
    3) Hire and assign a full-time Park Ranger to Forest Park.
    Complete the Forest Park Recreation Survey.
    4) Recruit a City Club Forest Park Research Committee member to participate on the 2011-12 PP&R Budget Advisory Committee.

    1) Talk about doing something.
    2) Talk about doing something.
    3) Take action.
    4) Hire someone to talk about doing something.

    One out of four. Not bad for government work.

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  • gabriel amadeus June 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    re: Jack #2

    Ha! That’s pretty much what I got out of it too.

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  • Jack June 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Guess I commented too quickly. There were five bullet points. The one I missed is also just paperwork.

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  • Charley June 17, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    When are we going to get a report about the last minute meeting the other day? I thought they made an announcement about recommendations? I keep looking on NWTA and MTBR and there’s no report either of these places.

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  • Minnow June 17, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    You should have gone to the meeting. They handed everything out at the meeting. Tom archer got a copy.

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  • Tom Archer June 18, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Charley,

    sorry, I just haven’t had time to write up a summary – Not much to report though. Brief statements by both Nick and Zari congratulating the committee on their work, and a committment to make some recommendations (both on the management and trail recommendations) by labor day. Looks like they got a jump on some of those with this press release. The committments made in the press release cover some of the recommendations of the committee (following through on some of the studues and hiring a ranger) and some from the City Club report. Each committee member was asked to make a brief statement. Most acknowledged a difficult process. I indicated that I anticipate that there will be pushback on any of the proposed trail modifications, and comments made during the meeting by both committee members and from certain members of the public, would indicate that I am correct in that assessment. I advocated for Parks to take a leadership role in following through on the trail actions, adn that Northwest Trail Alliance would be ready to contribute, if we have a willing partner. We’ll see what comes from the Parks Bureau in the fall. In the meantime, get out and ride!

    Tom Archer
    President – Northwest Trail Alliance

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  • Charley June 18, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Tom- Thanks!
    Minnow- I didn’t know there was going to be a meeting until it had already started. So getting a handout wouldn’t have been possible. Grief.

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  • Anonymous June 19, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Interesting choice to devote $85,000 per year (Parks estimate of salary plus benefits) to a Forest Park Ranger when it was not in the top 3 recommendation from either the committee or the public comments: for example, both placed higher priority on increased operations and maintenance funding as more critical to Forest Park’s health.

    I wonder what is being cut from Parks budget to fund this, and why we don’t spend the money to fund lower-cost workers to remove invasive species which experts say is the leading threat to the park’s health or to repair trails, bridges, signs, etc.

    I know Kurt is stretched thin and I see benefits from a Ranger (and I hope the benefits will be greater than I think) but I wonder if some are really more motivated by a desire to control use than by a desire to maximize the Park’s health and quality.

    Frank Selker

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  • wsbob June 19, 2010 at 10:55 am

    “…I wonder if some are really more motivated by a desire to control use …’ Frank Selker

    Frank…why not be a bit more specific about what you mean by that remark; what use or uses, were you thinking the hiring of a full time park ranger for Forest Park might have been conceived of to control? Control over certain types of uses is part of managing any park.

    At least some park rangers responsibilities and assignments cover more than the control of use made of the park. They help monitor and manage park health, interact with and help in educating the public about park ecology and education. They also help with park regulation and security issues. And no doubt, more items than those.

    “…$85,000 per year (Parks estimate of salary plus benefits)…”: How much of that amount would the ranger’s salary be? Would that be for one person only, or more than one person on duty in the park, one at a time? Portland Parks has some modestly paid park rangers in the $11-$12/hr range.

    Interesting to me to make a few comparisons between 5000 acre Forest Park in Portland, and 200 acre Tualitan Hills Nature Park in Beaverton. THNP has a paid ranger on staff, though perhaps not full time; heard the person spends time at Cooper Mtn Nature Park as well.

    Tualitan Hills Nature Park also has a great multi-use visitors center; meeting rooms, classrooms, offices, gift shop, maintenance area, all on a modest sized footprint.

    For it’s comparatively massive size, does Forest Park have any kind of a visitors center? Not that I’ve ever heard of. What’s it got in the way of a park ranger? I’m not sure, though I seem to recall having read somewhere that the park has a paid caretaker arrangement with someone that lives in a park owned residence adjoining FP.

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  • Scott June 23, 2010 at 11:38 am

    So does this mean that we still wont have any more access to singletrack even by late summer as stated in this article?

    http://bikeportland.org/2010/02/25/a-year-later-and-amid-controversy-fish-vows-to-keep-forest-park-trail-promise/

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