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Injunction stops construction of new trails for Timberline MTB park

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 26th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

It could be 2015 until anyone's riding.

A coalition of environmental groups are claiming victory in a legal battle to stop the development of the proposed Timberline Mountain Bike Park on Mt. Hood.

Yesterday, a District Court approved an injunction against the project (PDF) that was filed earlier this month by four non-profit groups. Those groups — Bark, Friends of Mount Hood, Northwest Environmental Defense Center and the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club — have an ongoing lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service and RLK and Company (the operators of Timberline Lodge and the proposed bike park); but they filed the injunction to stop progress on the construction of 17 miles of mountain bike trails being proposed by RLK.

The injunction, expected to be made official today, states that, "RLK and Company have agreed to not proceed with the construction of the downhill mountain bike trails, skills park or related facilities and improvements until this Court has an opportunity to decide this case on the merits."

RLK had intended to be a "full operation" by next summer; but now they won't be able to even break ground on them until 2014. Or at least they hope.

At issue are allegations by environmental groups that RLK and the Forest Service have not done enough to safeguard Mt. Hood ecosystems against significant environmental degradation brought on by past ski-lift and other related developments, much less mitigate the impacts of the latest proposal. The groups are also concerned about RLK's 2009 Timberline Conceptual Master Plan which calls for a new 15,000 square foot lodge and a new, 800-car parking lot that would boost Timberline's parking capacity to 1,720 spaces.

This new parking lot and day lodge proposed by RLK and Company are key to the concerns of environmental groups.

Environmental groups have worked to stop this project since the Forest Service approved the development permit back in November. An appeal of that decision was denied back in March, yet they continued to make their case. Then in May, a lawsuit was filed on the grounds that soil runoff from the project would harm nearby creeks and that the Forest Service skirted public process in a hasty attempt to move the project forward.

For their part, RLK initially dismissed the lawsuit and stood behind the Forest Service's denial of their appeals and previous "finding of no significant impact." A May 17th statement on the Timberline MTB Park website declared that their proposal had undergone a, "rigorous environmental analysis by the USFS" and that it has been, "studied extensively through a 3 year process that included substantial input from the public, as well as State and Federal agencies."

But environmental groups disagree. They say moving forward with construction of bike trails will harm nearby creeks that are breeding grounds for steelhead salmon and could threaten one of their primary food sources — the caddisfly. Ralph Bloemers, an attorney at Crag Law Center is representing the groups. He says RLK, which also operates the Timberline ski area, shouldn't be allowed to move forward with the bike park park because the company, "hasn't followed through on its promises to steward the land."

Additionally, Bloemers and his clients accuse the Forest Service of engaging in a "results-driven process riddled with erroneous and unsupported assumptions regarding the project’s likely impacts on the natural environment."

Amy Harwood, a board member of Bark, shared in a guest editorial on BikePortland back in March that, "The Timberline bike park is a corporate scheme to have more weeks of the year attracting cars to larger and larger parking areas that have been poured over our remaining wild creeks and meadows."

With the injunction now official, Bloemers feels he and his clients have successfully called the bluff of RLK and the Forest Service. "When push came to shove," Bloemers wrote in a press statement released yesterday (PDF), "RLK and the Forest Service caved and refused to defend their decision... The order grants the conservation groups the exact relief they sought in the motion."

On the other side of the argument is Steve Kruse, the General Manager of Mountain Operations for Timberline Lodge. He filed a declaration with the court on May 29th defending the project's environment review process as a "very thorough and successful effort to address all concerns and assure an environmentally benign project." Kruse stated the project would boost the local economy, provide jobs, and improve Timberline's recreational offerings, all "while avoiding riparian area degradation, minimizing potential sediment runoff to water bodies, and otherwise mitigating potential adverse effects."

Kruse said planning for the bike park began in 2009 and that Timberline has already invested $427,000 in feasibility studies. Given that investment, Kruse wrote that "timely implementation of the project is essential" and that he's, "gravely concerned about the potential delaying effect of the present lawsuit upon timely and orderly project implementation."

Reached by phone today, Kruse said the restoration work they'll start this summer will include road decommissioning and prep work for the bike trails that are key components of the project. "We'll focus on those things until we win the lawsuit on its merits," he said confidently. Kruse rejected the idea that his side had "caved" to anything. He said the Forest Service (his co-defendant) simply wasn't able to get its argument together to fight it within the judge's prescribed timeline. Kruse hoped there would be no need for an injunction given that RLK and the Forest Service said they'd be willing to "demonstrate good faith" to not break ground on the trails until the lawsuit was settled.

As for the timeline for this project, nothing is set in stone. However, in a rather ominous statement for mountain bike advocates, Sierra Club of Oregon Conservation Director Rhett Lawrence said,

"We asked that the restoration move forward so the public could have an opportunity to field verify numerous scientifically controversial claims. Given our knowledge of the challenges of restoration on Mt. Hood, we expect it will be many years, if not a decade, before Timberline has actually achieved its restoration goals."

While the restoration projects move forward, both sides will try and convince each other —and the public — that their science and environmental analysis can be trusted.

Ultimately, Crag Law Center's Ralph Bloemers says he and his clients have nothing against downhill mountain biking. "We here at Crag love all things bike," he wrote in a press release. Instead, he feels this case is about the future of Mt. Hood and, "whether the Forest Service can allow a developer to strategically piecemeal its development plans to avoid public involvement and a hard look at the true effects of development on the mountain."

Read our past coverage for more on this story.

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Comments
  • Bjorn June 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    How would BARK feel if people worked as hard to deny them their preferred usage of the forest as they work to deny mountain bike access in the National Forest. We could find out by bringing air horns and Vuvuzelas along on their bird watching trip July 14th.

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    • matt picio August 6, 2013 at 11:10 am

      Sure, because the way to express dissatisfaction with a particular group is to not only ruin their forest experience but that of every forest user within a half mile - many of whom have never even heard of Bark.

      Please find a way to protest without being a jerk to everyone else trying to enjoy the forest.

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  • Todd Hudson June 26, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Bark and their ilk want to kick everyone out of the Cascades, except for hikers. At the same time, they claim they support mountain biking - even though they've never supported a single mountain bike project in the past.

    Bark can go to hell.

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  • Alex Reed June 26, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I think it's great that this issue is getting additional scrutiny and time in the courts before construction begins! And, maybe the focus on giant parking lots and cars could get the MTB park developers (and maybe even the ski resorts??) to offer bus service to their patrons. Wouldn't it be nice if after a long day on the slopes or trails you could just relax in a bus back to the Portland area? Maybe in the future such bus service could even be included in the price of a lift ticket or heavily subsidized....

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    • Alex June 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      You are obviously very involved with what is going on up there...

      http://www.onthesnow.com/news/a/10823/timberline-lodge-launches-midweek-portland-bus-with-discounted-lift-tickets

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      • Alex Reed June 26, 2013 at 3:22 pm

        $50 (or $30 net) for a bus ride is not what I'd count as "heavily subsidized."

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        • Alex June 26, 2013 at 3:28 pm

          Uh - bringing the cost of the lift ticket down to $30 is pretty heavily subsidized. Do you know how much daily lift tickets are? I think they are even doing more now to subsidize it....either way, it sure doesn't seem like you have been too involved with what is going on up there based on your comments.

          Also, Meadows is doing this...http://blog.oregonlive.com/terryrichard/2012/11/mt_hood_meadows_raises_peak_da.html

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    • NDL June 27, 2013 at 9:39 am

      Johnathan, congrats and thank you for an excellent article. You did a great job of breaking down a complex issue and explaining what's really at stake here. And Alex (and Grandpa and Red Hippie), thanks for bringing clarity through your comments.

      Ralph's quote at the end of the article captures it all perfectly. It's not about mountain biking; it's about how the south side of Hood will be developed, and who will control that development. We can create mountain biking opportunities without massive, car-centric development and give-aways to a corporation that's proven its disregard for the health of public lands.

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      • adventurer701 September 5, 2013 at 9:42 pm

        I think perhaps everyone needs to broaden the gaze. the fact is that the northwest is full of people who outdoor recreate, while building a downhill bike park and all the things that go with it (attempted under deception or not) is not going to change that. there is simply a need that timberline is attempting to fill along with their pockets. a mountain bike park is not a envoirnmently harmfull activity and the small amount of change that it does create is easlily mitagated by the fact that people WILL find a way to recreate. would it not be better to have it done in a controlled manner. as someone who had deep roots in oregon and seen more and more activies taken away by people who, dispite good intentions, only want to preserve something the way they want it without regard for anyone else, i say that it is just good sense to give the northwest the broadest spectrum of use especially in a area that is already dedicated to recreation.

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  • Alex June 26, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Hopefully these "environmental" groups will support more local mountain biking and push to open up Forest Park so we don't have to drive to ride mountain bikes.

    This is just one more stall tactic by these groups. I wish they would work with people that are just as concerned about the environment instead of using us as a scapegoat to accomplish their goals. It wins them no new friends.

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    • Bjorn June 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      Agreed they have lost at every step and know that they will not win on this but they are glad because they have delayed construction for another year. I also view this whole thing as an intimidation tactic to try and discourage anyone else from building mountain biking facilities.

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    • Alex Reed June 26, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Agreed! I'd hope that the Sierra Club, at least, has enough of a recreation-focused mission that it should go ahead and get involved on behalf of in-town mountain biking. Would help with some bridge-building which appears to be sorely needed. I wonder if my membership's current....

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      • Alex June 26, 2013 at 4:04 pm

        They will never do it. I would just cancel your membership now or not renew until they start showing clear support for it.

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  • fred June 26, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    The Sierra Club does have policies that seem to have been worked through with the IMBA:

    http://www.sierraclub.org/policy/conservation/mtnbike.aspx

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    • bjorn June 26, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      Someone should tell their Oregon branch... btw it is interesting to me that their oregon director brian pasko can be seen posing atop mtn hood in his sierra club photo. It is interesting that the sierra club loves mtn climbing with all the erosion issues that entails not to mention the helicopter crashes etc, but mountain biking must be stopped... Maybe we should try to get a cyclist into the director position.

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  • davemess June 26, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Yet again I am shocked at the level of mountain bike unfriendliness that the Portland area/OR is showing. It's laughable to people from such ecological wastelands as Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and B.C. (all places that actually see some value in mountain biking).

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    • Burk June 26, 2013 at 5:09 pm

      Yes, after seeing how the MTB trails in Whistler have decimated the area we have no choice but to stop all the mountain biking!

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      • Larry June 26, 2013 at 5:21 pm

        It's capitalism or crime, either way mountain bikes are going to be ridden in the mountains. It might be best to give it an outlet instead of waiting for the top to blow off.

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  • BURR June 26, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    I have mixed feelings about this. While I agree that there seems to be a distinct lack of quality MTB opportunities in the PDX area, and a lot of unnecessary NIMBY opposition to reasonable proposals, the questions about the associated development of the lodge and parking areas seem legitimate to me. Not so much, however, the issue of mitigation for the previous ski lift construction; that seems more like a way to keep this project hostage, sort of like the North Portland community opposing the Williams bike lanes because of past racial injustices.

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    • Alex June 27, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Did you read the lawsuit. That is what it is all about. It has much less to do with the actual proposed mtb trails and more to do with the previous usage.

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    • Oregon Mamacita September 6, 2013 at 9:47 am

      Past racial injustices? Past? The anger has spilled over to attacks on bikers.
      A mini class-war is going on. I walked through a nice black neighborhood North of Alberta and I though "heaven help you, black barbershop, Urban Design group has you in its cross-hairs."

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  • Robholio June 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    It has far less to do with the environment than it does with old versus new. The hippy baby-boomers are losing their hold on local politics, and this is just one more way for them to get their jabs in before they die off. Just like Washington Park and Forest Park; people that scream about the local ecosystem, yet know zero about sustainability, drainage, trail construction, or the significant demographic they smugly choose to alienate. Time is on our side, not theirs.

    Be professional, yet be persistent. You can't stop evolution, folks.

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    • matt picio August 6, 2013 at 11:19 am

      Well, except that Bark isn't full of baby boomers, and Bark *does* know about drainage, impacts, etc - and has been a staunch defender of the Mount Hood National Forest for 20 years protecting the lands that mountain bikers enjoy. I've worked with Bark, and they're good people. Many of them are mountain bikers. They're not opposed to mountain biking in the MHNF, they're opposed to large projects impacting the forest with inadequate public input and little oversight.

      Mountain bikers are one user group out of at least 20 different forest activities - hikers, equestrians, kayakers, hunters, bird-watchers, etc. Some of those activities naturally conflict with others, and the proper course of action is to discuss those conflicts and come to resolutions which are, if not equally acceptable to those parties, then at least no more unacceptable to one party than to the others.

      It's not just cyclists on the mountain, and like Forest Park, the MHNF is not any particular group's playground, and no one is entitled to more access than any other particular group.

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      • Oregon Mamacita September 6, 2013 at 9:54 am

        Well put.

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    • Oregon Mamacita September 6, 2013 at 9:53 am

      Am I the only one who finds the above remarks snobby? What an us-against-them mentality. Yeah, let's hate on the folks who helped
      preserve the forest, just because we don't get our way on our preferred wheels. As for baby boomers being an insignificant minority, I guess you just don't get out much. But maybe that's the problem with the Portlandia-types: very provincial, conformist, close-minded.

      BTW, haven't made up my mind on the issue. Love single track around Bend. Some damage to the landscape, though.

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  • Eddie June 26, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    I just posted a complaint at http://www.rei.com/helpContacts#email_tab about the BARK soliciting and harassment that goes on outside their Portland store.

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  • trailrider June 27, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Well, at least they've come clean about the real reason for their opposition to the park. Altough they may have issues with the bike park itself, the larger agenda is to hold up implementation of the master plan, which includes a new lodge and parking lot. Previous editorials by BARK and Brian Pasko from Sierra Club posted on this blog were not forthcoming about this. If these two groups are to engage with one another and work towards real change, they have to both be honest about their agendas, and the real, measurable impacts from their respective activities.

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    • Eddie June 27, 2013 at 9:35 am

      they haven't come clean, only found another angle.

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    • Ralph Bloemers June 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Heya -

      There has been no ball hiding by the conservation groups - the Forest Service and RLK have known the issues we have raised for close to three years. We asked them to meet and discuss the scientific controversy and they refused to produce their specialists to resolve the issues.

      As the complaint alleges.

      As for the Master Development Plan's parking lot and day lodge, this exact issue was in the collective comments that our office submitted tot the Forest Service almost three years ago.

      Timberline published its Master Development Plan in 2009 but it was never circulated to the public or considered in the analysis of this EA. It was specifically excluded from the analysis - and it is not available anywhere online either from RLK or from the Forest Service.

      Yes, the issues in the case are about whether the analysis was lawful (e.g. the failure to disclose the cumulative impacts of failed restoration, new bike routes, an 800 car parking lot and a 17,000 sq foot day lodge), and these are important.

      But just as important, if not more important, is that legal and factual issues are about compliance with substantive protections in the Northwest Forest Plan and the Mt. Hood Forest Plan (e.g. creeks and rivers shall not have more than 20% fine sediment in them - Still Creek at base of Jeff Flood appears to have more than 80% fine sediment based on most recent field surveys).

      These substantive protections are limits that the Forest Service shall meet-- they are the speed limits of the Northwest Forest Plan and the Mt. Hood National Forest Plan.

      Yes the land here is designated A-11 for developed recreation, but it is also a Tier 1 Key watershed with Still Creek providing critical habitat for Steelhead at Jeff Flood lift and West Fork providing the best known habitat for a Forest Service Region 6 (our region) Sensitive Species in the world. The bike routes would not be on existing disturbed areas but would turn a total of 12 acres of ground into bare mineral soil and double the number of stream crossings.

      As to the process, and the possible delay - I think Jonathan laid it out well with his reference to RLK's statement on its website.

      The FS and RLK that decided to not defend their decision up front. They wanted to delay the court case. They could have defended it and if they had stepped up to defend something that had been through "a rigorous review" they could have defeated the injunction request and the park would have been built this July.

      Mt. Bachelor is building a bike park this summer, and they ran their Master Plan and all of its components by the public and prepared an Environmental Impact Statement. Mt. Hood Meadows has a master plan and they prepared an Environmental Impact Statement for it. Meadows is currently proposing a parking lot through an Environmental Impact Statement. The question for you all is do you think the Public should get the same courtesy, opportunity for involvement and consideration for alternatives. If people on Bike Portland are about anything bigger than just whether you ride or what you ride or where you ride - Bike Portland is all about smart transportation.

      If you scratch the surface you will see that there are serious scientific issues and controversy here over the impacts of the new construction and the master plan proposals on the West Fork of the Salmon River and Still Creek. There are serious issues about transportation.

      I encourage you to lay off the personal attacks and vitriol and read the statement prepared by Robert Wisseman, Pacific Biology Associates, who was retained by the Forest Service to undertake and train its people to do surveys in the West Fork of the Salmon and Still Creek. I encourage you to read the statement from Jonathan Rhodes that was filed in the case. Jon Rhodes is an expert hydro-geologist and he submitted a statement in support of the motion. The Sandy River Basin Watershed Council also submitted a statement regarding the risks and challenges associated with restoration in the basin and the particular needs of the fish.

      If and when there ever is a hearing on this case, you can come see for yourself how justice works in your Federal Court system.

      And, if you want to work constructively with the conservation groups - call them up and engage with them.

      Peace, Ralph

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      • davemess June 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm

        As a scientist, I would call almost none of the issues involved here "scientific". There are some environmental issues, yes, but they're not really testing a hypothesis, unless you want to allow Tline to build the park and then check certain parameters afterwards for changes. That's science.

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        • Ralph Bloemers June 29, 2013 at 8:20 am

          Enlighten me and interested readers of this blog, what is your background and expertise?

          If you have relevant qualifications and have taken the time to read the record in the case, I would welcome you to call me and help the plaintiffs make sense of the scientific claims and key assumptions in the EA that were used in the models.

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          • Ralph Bloemers June 29, 2013 at 8:28 am

            Declaration of Robert Wisseman (foremost expert in his field and was hired by Forest Service to conduct surveys in the area)

            http://www.friendsofmounthood.org/TechnicalDeclaration-RobertWisseman.pdf

            Declaration of Stephen Wise - Sandy River Basin Watershed Council

            http://www.friendsofmounthood.org/TechnicalDeclaration-StephenWise6-2-13.pdf

            Declaration of Jonathan J. Rhodes (Hydrologist)

            http://crag.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Technical-Declaration-of-Jonathan-J.-Rhodes.pdf

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          • davemess July 1, 2013 at 1:04 pm

            I am in the process of earning a PhD in Immunology, so yes, this is clearly not my field. But I know the scientific process (as I use it every single day), and as I said before it involves making a hypothesis and then testing it. In skimming the three links you posted, the only one getting close to doing this is the hydrologist you have listed in the third link. And even then he is mainly relying on other's work. This is a Review of science, but not actual science it's self. I'm not here to argue the validity of your argument, just to say that I do not feel it really falls under the term "science" or "scientific". Your experts are gathering information, but without a variable and hypothesis they are not really demonstrating causation or correlation (in this particular situation).

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      • bjorn June 27, 2013 at 5:34 pm

        I get kind of incised when I see someone like this suggesting that mountain bike activists just need to pick up the phone and work with the Sierra Club or BARK. That is what got mountain bikes banned from over 100 miles of trails when the wilderness was pushed through even though there were other options. I for one am done helping these groups eliminate access to the forest for cycling or for any other sport. If they aren't actively trying to reduce access they are pretending like the friends of forest park folks to be working with you until the last minute when they pull the rug out on the whole process. I don't see any percentage in engaging with these groups, they are so anti bicycle that it is a waste of time.

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        • matt picio August 6, 2013 at 11:25 am

          Well, except that wasn't Bark's doing, or Sierra Club - that was Oregon Wild (was Oregon Natural Resources Council).

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  • jamie minshall June 27, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Looks like I'm just gonna have to keep driving past mt hood to spend my money in bend... Oh where there was no opposition to a bike park.

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  • Granpa June 27, 2013 at 8:14 am

    If an 800 space parking lot were proposed for down town Portland this crowd would be screaming bloody murder. From an environmental standpoint this really a concern. More than 160,000 sf (3.6 ac.) of pavement. That is impervious surface in an area likely to get 4" rainfall in a 24 hour event every year. That equates to 53,440 cubic feet of water or almost 400,000 gallons of water not infiltrating, but running off the pavement in flashy events that are known to erode channels. On top of that the rigs that many Portlander's drive, older cars that leak oil will leave their pollution on that parking lot to be rinsed off into the mountain's watershed.

    The issue is real and of significant concern. The erosion loads streams with sediment and degrades salmon (a federally listed species) habitat. and the pollution dripping onto the pavement likewise degrades salmon habitat. For Mt. Bikers this seems to be no matter, so long as they get their adrenaline fix.

    And don't respond that this downhill ride park is about communing with nature, It is about going fast, riding the lift back up the hill and doing it again.

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    • Eddie June 27, 2013 at 10:08 am

      do you honestly think the engineers designing the parking lot haven't considered drainage, sigh? Bark should do us all a favor and attack the DMV so we can get these shitty polluters off the road. The parking lot, btw, is indicative of the demand for accessible mountain biking the locals are expressing. Your neighbors who appreciate and enjoy the ageless sense of well being that comes from "communing" with nature. Admittedly at a different pace than you prefer, but that does not make it any less valid. It would make sense if you could experience the feeling of whisking down a flowy trail with the breeze and scent of pine and soil resonating beneath you.

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    • Alex June 27, 2013 at 10:47 am

      I am glad to see that you don't see mountain biking as the problem, rather the large parking lot, which has nothing to do with mountain biking. Unfortunately, using the parking lot as an excuse to not allow mtbing is rather weak and just another stall tactic.

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      • good3person3 July 1, 2013 at 10:19 pm

        You are missing the connection between the mt bikers and their cars which they use to get to the mountain. Somehow you missed that part of the argument.

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        • davemess July 2, 2013 at 9:29 am

          So you have to be 100% on board with more MTB access in Forest park?

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  • Red Hippie June 27, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Ok folks, Breath!

    Here is my experience with Ralph. If it wasn't for him and BARK there would be two 18 hole golf course plus hundreds of homes and condos built in the Tilly Jane area by Mout Hood Meadows. Private land all around the forest service land mean no public access and pay to play. He helped to push a land swap to protect that side of the mountain. Every thime I ride the Tilly Jane trail or back country ski, I thank Ralph.

    Now, when thinking about MTB at timber line, you have to remember that the ecology there is pretty different than that of a place like sandy ridge. The soils are lot more prone to erosion and given the amount of time under snow take a lot longer to recover. The trails can probably be built in a way to minimize this, but it is going to be a more invovled prospect. There is also the consideration of the increase in the number of people that will be attracted to the area. We are used to having a few thousand people up there running around when there is 4 feet of snow to protect the soils. Different story in the summer. We really need to take our time and do this right people or we are going to cause degradations that will take generations to repair.

    Finally, part of the mast plan of these ammenaties is to attract people to the realestate being offered by the same management groups. That is where the money is in ski resorts. Lift tickets only cover the operating costs, the profit is in the condo at the bottom of the hill. I suspect this injuction isn't just about keeping us off of our bikes. Rather, it is about the development of the whole area and how it is managed.

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    • davemess June 27, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      Do you honestly think they hired people to build the trails who don't know how to build "high alpine" trails? What do you think they build at places like Whistler, or the multiple CO ski resorts that have bike parks?

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  • jae June 27, 2013 at 9:58 am

    The Mountain Express will provide reasonably-priced access to the mountain, and include accommodation for mountain bikes in summer and winter rec gear during the appropriate months. This is definitely a step in the right direction toward minimizing vehicular traffic on 26.

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  • matt f June 27, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I'm an avid mtn biker but I have mixed feelings about this particular project. I mean I ride a hardtail with 100mm of front travel. I would probably never ride these new trails unless I rented a big bike. Sandy Ridge is fun but what I really love is long single track trials like Surveyors Ridge.

    It would be nice if BARK and the Sierra Club put their money where their mouth is and teamed up with NWTA to help gain more mtn bike access to existing trails (or new cross country trails) that don't require a new lodge and parking lot. Unfortunately history has shown so far that they are not interested in doing this either despite their what they say.

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    • ME 2 June 27, 2013 at 11:25 am

      I second everything Matt said. I am on old school cross country mtn biker who doesn't have a dog in a fight regarding this development, but am reluctant to take BARK and SC at their word given that whenever something comes up that affects MTN Biking from these groups it is always about trail closures and never about advocating for new trails or even throwing even token support behind maintaining existing trails.

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      • davemess June 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm

        I too am a strictly XC rider. That said bike parks like this can be fun for us too. Additionally they give people more interested in DH a place to go ride. This potentially gets them off more of the XC trails, freeing up more space, money, and good will for us to build and ride more XC. Everybody wins!

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        • Bjorn June 27, 2013 at 1:46 pm

          The Sierra club/BARK are no friend to XC trails either, they recently worked hard to eliminate access to well over 100 miles of trails in Oregon.

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          • 007 June 27, 2013 at 8:50 pm

            Good.

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    • 007 June 27, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      Perhaps Mtn bikers need to put their money where their mouths are. No offense intended.

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      • Eric June 27, 2013 at 9:38 pm

        We do. We go to places like Hood River, Bend, B.C. and Colorado that welcome us and our money.

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        • good3person3 July 1, 2013 at 10:21 pm

          good, good..stay there!!

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      • davemess June 28, 2013 at 7:25 am

        I'm confused by this statement? That is exactly what they would be doing with this Tline park. If it is successful than they are doing just that!

        At the same time MTB groups like NWTA have a long history of volunteer service and trail maintenance.

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    • matt picio August 6, 2013 at 11:27 am

      matt f - That's not their mission. As a 501(c)(3), they are PROHIBITED BY LAW from funding things which are not part of their mission. They can ally with organizations to write statements of support, they can encourage their volunteers to also volunteer for those events, but they ARE putting their money where their mouth is - they're spending it on their organization's mission in accordance with federal requirements.

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  • JonathanR June 27, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    It's worth pointing out that the injunction was stipulated. In other words, no judge heard the facts and decided in favor of the Plaintiffs; instead, the defendants just agreed to postpone their planned actions.

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    • Alex June 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      That is a very good point - but do you know what the reasoning of the defendants was?

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      • Bjorn June 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm

        The reason was two fold, RLK is hoping to get to the end of this appeal as quickly as possible and recognized the injunction hearings potential to further delay the process, and the Forest Service did not have the resources to fully prepare a legal answer in time for the injunction hearing. It is important to note that the Sierra Club and BARK are not just wasting RLK's money with these ******edited by moderator*** lawsuits, they are also wasting our tax dollars as the forest service is also involved in the legal action. It would be nice if at the end of all this they had to pay for the legal fees of both RLK and USFS.

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        • TInker June 27, 2013 at 5:01 pm

          Bjorn - How exactly do you know why RLK or the Forest Service made the decision to throw in the towel on the injunction? It's pretty unusual for a company who has promised its customers an opening date to then turn around and agree voluntarily to a court injunction. Seems weird.

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        • Ralph Bloemers June 29, 2013 at 8:31 am

          This statement does not make any sense at all. The hearing on June 24, 2013 was for all the marbles.

          If RLK and the Forest Service had chosen to defend their decision on June 24, 2013 and won - then they would be building the bike routes right now.

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  • Red Hippie June 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    On the upper part of the Timberline ski area, there is fundamentally a different type of soil conditions than with the lower elevations or at whistler or in the Rockies. Mt Hood is a composite cone volcano which is essentially alternating layers of semi-consolidated cinders and lava flows. Think about riding the Plains of Abraham and the Smith creek drainage and how loose things can be. As long as you don't have too steep of a gradient it packs down ok, but any serious gradients without major reinforcement or armoring will result in massive erosion. I would suspect that whistler's soild types and geology are less susceptible to this, but they still have large areas of elevated boardwalks to ride over more sensitive areas and prevent erosion. I'm not advocating not building trails on Hood, but the trails should be a lot more cross country in character and developed (therefore costly) to protect the loose soils and prevent cutting off of the trails.

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    • Zimmerman June 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      The trails that need to be built for a downhill park have to be sustainable or they will not be fun to ride. Trails that are rutted out and don't drain well will not attract paying customers. The soil will probably present a challenge but not one that can't be overcome. I lived and rode in Mammoth Lakes, CA for many years and their soil is very similar to what you'll find on Mt. Hood near Timberline. The trails in their downhill sytstem are in great shape and well maintained.

      Please move on to another argument about parking lot drainage and what's best for the environment in an area clearly set aside for recreation...

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    • Oregon Mamacita September 6, 2013 at 10:04 am

      I camped in the Mount Hood National forest recently, and was horrified
      to see that I accidentally damaged some tundra when I wheeled on of those little coleman grills across it. A kid on a tricycle would do serious damage. The forest floor is covered with moss that tears like wet kleenex. The ground around the streams looks like it erodes easily. It's almost like mulch as oppose to the red clay of Bend.

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  • CR June 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    "That is where the money is in ski resorts. Lift tickets only cover the operating costs, the profit is in the condo at the bottom of the hill."

    This couldn't be further from the truth and has proven the near demise of many-a "ski resort" company. Nonetheless, a very convincing end to your original comment.

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  • 007 June 27, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Frankly, I am disgusted by the exhaust fumes on Mt Hood in the winter and by the smog that obscures the Mtn and the gorge. The environment which includes the whole ecosystem is more worthy than anyone's weekend thrills. Wake up and smell the fumes. Im a 365 days a year bike commuter and Bark and Sierra Club supporter.

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  • VTRC June 28, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I'd feel a lot more positively about this if Bark and the Sierra Club were advocating opportunities to ride singletrack locally in Forest Park, or helping with the trail sharing movement. It feels like the kneejerk response to wanting to share trails like the PCT is "no, build your own trails", and then the opportunities to do that get shot down over and over.

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  • Rick June 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    It seems like the issue is more about a threat to unique natural resources, the developers demonstrated track record of not following through with stewardship commitments and concealing its full plans, and the Forest Service's failure (alleged) to follow the law and its own policies. Based on that, the criticism about lack of support for mtn biking don't resonate with me in this case. I expect all recreation development to occur in accordance with the law - whether its new lifts, a commercial mtn bike park, or new hiking trails. Doesn't look like mtn. biking is a victim here. If anyone is to blame, its the developer and the Forest Service, not the conservation groups taking a principled stand on a controversial issue.

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  • Dennis Chaney June 28, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    First of all, Jonathan is doing a very good job of objective reporting, and he deserves a big thank you from everyone for the service he does for the community. In a nutshell, this controversy is about the misuse of a specific piece of public land. The lawsuit is not an attack on mountain biking in general or even the subcategory of gravity flow riding. The groups allied in the lawsuit are not anti-biking or anti-any specialized form of riding. Most of the individuals involved in these groups are the strongest bike proponents you will ever meet, and it is a fact that Bark and the Sierra Club have a long history of bike advocacy.

    It is a fact that these groups have not opposed a single current bike park: Sandy Ridge, Ski Bowl, Post Canyon, Black Rock, Stub Stewart, Willamette Pass, and more. They did not oppose the Gravity Logic-designed park that is coming to Bachelor.
    http://www.bendsource.com/bend/following-whistlers-footsteps/Content?oid=2227170
    But what they do oppose is this attempt to place a gravity park in the watershed of the headwaters of the Sandy River basin, and next to a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic and Scenic Trail.

    We all know the three cardinal rules of real estate, and they also apply to bike parks: location, location, and location. The truth is that these parks have real consequences on the land and this has to be of primary importance. It's time for a reality check. Shouldn't protecting this one piece of alpine heaven have precedence over the thrill of the ride or the sound of the cash register? There are other locations to be used that are not historic landmarks or in fragile watersheds.

    Based on the postings to the recent story about the injunction and postponement for another year, it is clear that many have been doing their homework. There is more to the lawsuit than just the bike park. It is important to understand that the Forest Service has been rubber stamping this proposal through the administrative process. It is only now that the proposal is in the courts that there will be an objective hearing of the facts.

    Unfortunately, there are always bomb throwers who try to sway people with "Us vs. Them" or NIMBY or some other divisive rhetoric instead of allowing people to know the facts. Don't be suckered. Please educate yourself on the facts; everything can be found on the web. A place to start might be the website of the Friends of Mount Hood. Everything is assembled there, including all the scientific analyses.
    http://www.friendsofmounthood.org/fmh.htm

    Once you have learned the facts you may very well be surprised that there is much more common ground here than you imagined.

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    • bjorn June 29, 2013 at 1:10 am

      Here is a quote from Dennis Chaney during an interview with KGW:

      Dennis Chaney with Friends of Mount Hood has been fighting against the mountain biking park for years. He worries it will negatively impact the historic Timberline Lodge.
      “It deserves better than the carnival atmosphere that goes along with this type of sports,” said Chaney.

      With Dennis it seems like he doesn't really think there are environmental impacts, that is just a tactic to get what he really wants which is to have Timberline Lodge cater to his favorite activities at the expense of others. It is hard to find common ground with someone who talks nice out of one side of their mouth while at the same time calling anyone who rides a mountain bike a carnival clown.

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      • Dennis Chaney June 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        There you go again, Bjorne. Your black and white representations just do not hold up to a reality check. We, and I include myself, have been campaigning for three years so that the public will learn the devastating effects this project will have on this watershed. The other person in the KGW interview said the following, “Unfortunately, the runoff from this trail will end up in the headwaters of Still Creek which is critical habitat for threatened salmon and steelhead."

        Can't we find common ground and at least agree that we live in a multi-dimensional world? There are other reasons why this project does not meet the standard of being in the best interests of the public.

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        • bjorn June 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm

          I think that the "Carnival" quote speaks for itself, although I have also seen another article where you referred to cyclists as:"A bunch of banzai bikers in short pants". These are your words not mine Dennis, you want to say that you are pro bicycle but time after time the way in which you categorize cyclists is extremely negative. Also you list off a few mountain bike areas most of them no where near Mount Hood and say that BARK and the Sierra Club have never opposed any active mountain biking area. Well that is because you were successful at taking away over 100 miles of active trails, far more than the sum total of all the areas you listed. BARK not opposing the meager offerings at Ski Bowl (which by the way began mountain biking 5 years before BARK existed so I guess that is why BARK didn't oppose them) does not make up for the removal of over 100 miles of trails.

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          • Dennis Chaney June 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm

            There you go AGAIN, Bjorn. Here's the full quote:
            "Now here's something that may surprise you. A bunch of banzai bikers in short pants is not singlehandedly going to bring about the ruination of Mount Hood. No, the greatest danger to the mountain is the lack of a vision to take us into the next century."

            I just don't see that as a personal attack on bikers. (The problem is that I just couldn't pass up that great alliteration so shame on me.)

            So let's set the record straight. Your ad hominem attack doesn't stick. This campaign has not been about bikers. It has been about RLK's proposal to place a bike park in the basins of Still Creek and West Fork of the Salmon. As I said before, it's all about location. For example, if you read the EIS for Bachelor you will see that there is no "live" water in the planned impact area. A bike park just isn't sustainable in these watersheds at Timberline. It doesn't matter that RLK really wants one, or that you want one, for that matter.

            Let's say a bunch of tennis nuts (there I go again!) wanted a tennis complex like they have at Sun River. RLK would make a lot of money with a tennis complex and indoor ice rink, but, to be blunt, it ain't going to happen.

            It is pretty clear, Bjorn, that you are really torn up over the Wilderness Bill. As you know, 99% of the public were in favor of an expansion of the existing wilderness. It a fact of life that any sweeping legislation will inevitably step on someone's toes. Your grip is with the Feds over their interpretation of their rules. To keep fighting with the 99% who wanted more wilderness is futile and a waste of your time. It's your ulcer, but, to be straight, "we" did not take away any cross country trails.

            Now, about that little 'ol bike park sitting up on Hood next to Timberline. Guess what? The Sierra Club was around (est.1892), and FOMH is enter our third decade, so, yes, there could have been opposition when that bike park was first proposed. And speaking of Ski Bowl, RLK has reported that they have poured $427K down the proverbial wood rat hole. I don't know if the rumored $90K to Gravity Logic is included in that. But just imagine if they had taken that chunk of change and invested it with Ski Bowl to build a first class facility? Are you reading this, JK?

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            • Gabriel Amadeus Tiller July 1, 2013 at 11:31 am

              How exactly do you think these trails will negatively impact the Still Cr and Salmon R watersheds?

              Hasn't an environmental impact study already been done which found no measurable impact?

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              • davemess July 1, 2013 at 12:44 pm

                Actually for Still creek, the report said the mitigation from the bike park project would IMPROVE the levels of silt over their current levels!

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              • good3person3 July 1, 2013 at 10:24 pm

                We've already told you how these trails will negatively impact the Still Cr and Salmon R watersheds. You haven't been paying attention.

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              • Dennis Chaney July 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm

                If you go to the FOMH website (see above) you will find expert declarations that answer your question.

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            • Eddie July 1, 2013 at 12:37 pm

              ""But just imagine if they had taken that chunk of change and invested it with Ski Bowl to build a first class facility? Are you reading this, JK?

              @Dennis, I'm actually surprised to hear that additional trails would go unopposed at Ski Bowl. Which btw, has a couple old school DH trails that are only open 5-10 days/year during a race event, a new neat (little) jump park down in the shade, and otherwise gravel roads. I don't know the details, only that "has a shaky past and an uncertain future" (http://www.pinkbike.com/news/Who-owns-a-trail-2013.html). As I understood, they would like to add (or even improve) trails but it is unobtainable because of bureaucratic reasons. You seem to have information on the subject. Care to enlighten us on the situation at Ski Bowl specifically? thanks.

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              • Dennis Chaney July 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm

                Come on, Eddie, you know you didn't hear that.
                One of the issues raised in the lawsuit is that the FS refused to consider the viability of any other locations for a bike park in the Mt. Hood National Forest. In the initial scoping comments submitted by FOMH we specifically asked that they broaden the review.

                The FOMH tries to analyse all proposals relevant to our mission statement that are submitted to the FS and to comment on behalf of the public. At this time we are not aware of any proposals made by Ski Bowl.

                We have made an offer to the FS to have discussions about possible locations suitable for bike parks, but as of now we have not received a response. Any discussions in that regard would have to include the FS and the stake holders.

                My closing comment you are referring to is related to the fact that the FS will not allow the public to participate in long range planning for the future uses of public land on Mount Hood. It is too bad that we are in court rather than having meaningful public discussions similar to what I raised about Ski Bowl.

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      • good3person3 July 1, 2013 at 10:26 pm

        Dennis has never said mt bikers are carnival clowns. You dreamed that up!

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  • davemess July 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    BikePortland must have really made it when the lawyers are coming out now!

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  • Dennis Chaney July 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Come on, Eddie, you know you didn't hear that.
    One of the issues raised in the lawsuit is that the FS refused to consider the viability of any other locations for a bike park in the Mt. Hood National Forest. In the initial scoping comments submitted by FOMH we specifically asked that they broaden the review.

    The FOMH tries to analyse all proposals relevant to our mission statement that are submitted to the FS and to comment on behalf of the public. At this time we are not aware of any proposals made by Ski Bowl.

    We have made an offer to the FS to have discussions about possible locations suitable for bike parks, but as of now we have not received a response. Any discussions in that regard would have to include the FS and the stake holders.

    My closing comment you are referring to is related to the fact that the FS will not allow the public to participate in long range planning for the future uses of public land on Mount Hood. It is too bad that we are in court rather than having meaningful public discussions similar to what I raised about Ski Bowl.

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    • Eddie July 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      ""But just imagine if they had taken that chunk of change and invested it with Ski Bowl to build a first class facility?

      This is the part that caught my eye. But man it's hard to get a definitive answer out of you. I really would like to know if there would be or has been opposition at Skibowl and what their history is in this regard. If they had awesome trails, I doubt there'd be this discussion. Is the drainage different on that side of the mountain? Did they try? Would it be too cost prohibitive for them with all the red tape we're witnessing at Timberline. Just a simple yes or no, and this is Skibowl's (specific) story in a nutshell would suffice. I guess it doesn't really matter though.

      But... this is I infer from your meandering response - a:FMOH are strictly reactive, b:FOHM opp-oh-sition! is your mantra, c:HOFM throw poop at anyone present, d:the FS won't give you the time of day because you annoy them.

      I think Timberline is ambitious enough to pull this off. And we'll just keep keeping on as we've been doing until it happens.

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      • Bjorn July 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm

        +1, I don't believe that if Ski Bowl tried to construct something similar to what is proposed at Timberline that it would not be opposed by these groups. I also will believe that they will not oppose the construction at bachelor when it is finished, there is a long way to go yet and lots of opportunities for obstructionism.

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  • Phyllis July 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    The migration routes of elk and the habitat of countless other nonhuman species that depend for their very existence on relatively undisturbed forest land will be severely impacted by racing bikers complete with loud vocalizations as they rush headlong through the forest and over the ugly structures built to enhance the thrill.
    What a terrible price other life must pay for the adrenaline rush demanded by a few humans.
    What a selfish species we can be.

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    • Eric July 4, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      Thank you, thank you, thank you Phyllis for this wonderful comment. Today while I was out riding at Sandy Ridge I saw men, women, and children out seemingly enjoying themselves while riding those infernal mechanized vehicles called mountain bikes. Some of them were even making loud vocalizations as they rushed headlong through the forest. Those horrid vocalizations came out sounding like "wee!" and "wow, this is a blast!". So every chance I got I gave them a stern look, wagged my finger and reminded them that their loud vocalizations were destroying the woods.

      And then I continued to enjoy my day out in the woods knowing full well that my loud vocalizations indicating that I was enjoying my time in the forest just like everyone else out there today instead of tut, tut, tutting about how selfish a species we can be.

      Looking forward to the day I can finally ride some real singletrack in Forest Park and get in some fun out at Timberline.

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