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Statement from BES Commissioner Fish on River View biking ban

Posted by on March 13th, 2015 at 1:26 pm

fisho
Nick Fish.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’ve finally heard a response from Commissioner Nick Fish on the decision to prohibit bicycling at River View natural area. His policy director Jim Blackwood just emailed us the following statement:

“River View provides a link for local wildlife to Forest Park, and includes special habitats including wetlands, interior forest, and waterfront areas. The area is an important resource for sensitive and threatened wildlife habitats. The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) provides technical advice on the restoration and maintenance of the watershed.

When the City acquired River View, substantial funding came from Bureau of Environmental Services’ ratepayer dollars – so we must ensure the uses of the natural area match the BES mission to protect the watershed.

Portland Parks & Recreation is working on a Natural Area Management Plan that balances recreational activities and the area’s unique environmental needs. Parks will complete the Plan, and make a final determination – including a recommendation regarding bike use – for the future of River View.

During my service on Council, I have worked hard to identify new opportunities for off-road bicycling, including a unique partnership with the Northwest Trails Alliance to build the Ventura Pump Track in Southeast Portland, the acquisition of Gateway Green in East Portland, and exploring cycling options for Forest Park.

Commissioner Fritz and her team at Parks are committed to completing a Citywide Off-Road Cycling Plan to identify cycling opportunities within our parks. I am joining her in requesting funding in next year’s budget to complete that work. I am optimistic that Council will support the $350,000 request.

I believe Portland can find a balance – providing recreational areas for hikers, runners, and cyclists while protecting our environment.

Commissioner Nick Fish”

This statement doesn’t do much in terms of answering the many questions that remain about how Fish and Commissioner Fritz reached their decisions and why the process has been so severely mishandled.

The fact also remains that BES has taken the extreme step of excluding a specific type of activity in the name of ecological protection when there is no basis for that decision and other types of activities are able to continue.

What also stands out about this statement is that Fish is putting the rationale for the ban more squarely onto the 2011 lawsuit. We have heard from many sources that the lawsuit concerns are not valid because the judge has already ruled in the city’s favor and said the River View purchase is legit.

UPDATE, 3:40pm: Matt Grumm in Commissioner Saltzman’s office followed up with us to clarify the lawsuit issue. He said, even though the judge ruled in the city’s favor regarding the River View purchase, there are “ongoing settlement negotations” and agency directors and commissioners might very well might have reason to be “nervous about the possibility of the parcel being pulled back into the lawsuit.”

Why Fish and Fritz haven’t just framed their decision about biking in terms of the lawsuit from the get-go remains a mystery; but it appears that if they’d done so, we could have avoided much of the frustration that’s being felt.

Follow all our coverage of this story here.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

52 Comments
  • redhippie March 13, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Nice sound bite. No substance

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  • invisiblebikes March 13, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    A lot of rhetoric with zero substance, par for the course from those two!

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  • Todd Hudson March 13, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    >Commissioner Fritz and her team at Parks are committed to completing a Citywide Off-Road Cycling Plan to identify cycling opportunities within our parks.

    ba·lo·ney
    bəˈlōnē/
    noun; informal
    noun: baloney; plural noun: baloneys

    1. foolish or deceptive talk; nonsense.

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    • Evan March 14, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      2. a sandwich meat consisting of questionable character.

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  • Eric March 13, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    invisiblebikes
    A lot of rhetoric with zero substance, par for the course from those two!
    Recommended 3

    What else would you expect from a political figure/official?

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  • Adam March 13, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I used to think Amanda Fritz was alright. Now she makes my skin crawl.

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  • Snowden March 13, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks Nick, this clears up everything! NOT!

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  • pdxfixed March 13, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    “River View provides a link for local wildlife to Forest Park”

    Wait, what?

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    • Alan Love March 13, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      There’s a shuttle bus now between Oaks Bottom and Forest Park, with a stop at Riverview. Rodents only, though.

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      • davemess March 13, 2015 at 4:13 pm

        But the salmon!

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        • noisette March 16, 2015 at 9:25 am

          And the marsupials!

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  • Trail Rat March 13, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    These politicians need to check out the hiking trails in Forest Park, almost every switchback has been cut by hikers causing damage to vegetation and topsoil erosion. Then compare it to the amount of switchback cutting that is at a mountain bike area like Sandy Ridge, they’d be hard pressed to find any. They also need to do a comparison of user group stewardship, I think they’ll be surprised by the results. As a side note, I recently walked the Alder Trail in Forest Park, It was a complete mess of mud and erosion, all right next to a small stream, and all of that erosion caused by hikers.

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    • rick March 14, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Many trails have damaging “short cuts.” true

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  • Mike March 13, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    “During my service on Council, I have worked hard to identify new opportunities for off-road bicycling…”

    He hasn’t succeeded in “identifying” anything.
    We do have Ventura Pump Track – maybe 1/10 of a mile total, and Gateway Green, which does not exist as a cycling facility yet, was not something HE identified. If someone comes to you with a proposal, you are not the one who identified a new opportunity.

    There are two existing parks that could very easily sustain responsible off road cycling, and so far all he has done is kept us out of one and kicked us out of the remaining.

    Wow, Mr. Fish! Thank you so much for all your hard work on behalf of mountain bikers everywhere! Pathetic…

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    • davemess March 13, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      We’re they only able to get gateway green because of a citizen-funded kickstarted campaign?

      With that in mind I find it hilarious that some are suggesting there is not an interest in mountain biking in this city.

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      • wsbob March 13, 2015 at 6:45 pm

        “…some are suggesting there is not an interest in mountain biking in this city.” daveness

        Nobody commenting to bikeportland discussions about using natural parkland for mountain biking, has said there is “…no interest in mountain biking in this city.”.

        What they’ve said, is that there is nothing close to an interest in using natural parkland for mountain biking, on the part of a majority of Portland residents. If there were such a level of interest, mountain biking enthusiasts would likely have little difficultly in acquiring the use of such land for mountain biking.

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        • davemess March 13, 2015 at 9:32 pm

          Bob, I’d actually be surprised if a majority of our residents consistently used any park in Portland.
          Your threshold is just too high, and would not be met by almost any group of people interested in a certain type of recreation.

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          • wsbob March 14, 2015 at 4:29 pm

            “Bob, I’d actually be surprised if a majority of our residents consistently used any park in Portland. …” davemess

            Dave, my apologies for any confusion. I re-read what I wrote, and I can see that it could convey something other than what I had in mind, so I’ll post the original first, and then correct it below:

            “…What they’ve said, is that there is nothing close to an interest in using natural parkland for mountain biking, on the part of a majority of Portland residents. ”

            Correction: What they’ve said, is that there is nothing close to a majority of Portland residents interested in having natural parkland within the city, used for mountain biking.

            We can think about this and ask, does that mean ‘all’ natural parkland in the city? Or just certain parcels of it? Probably the latter, though it’s hard to tell, since all such assignments so far, have been made not by a citywide electoral vote, but either administratively or by neighborhood meeting and so forth. Such as Gateway Green.

            Within Portland, there are people interested in mountain biking, and I don’t dispute this. What I’m wondering, and what I also think is important for everyone to know, is how extensive is that interest? For example, would a majority of Portland residents vote to use Forest Park for mountain biking, if that option was on an electoral ballot?

            A big crowd of people showing up at a meeting perhaps largely mountain bike enthusiasts, I don’t think constitutes a reliable indication of a broad, majority support for mountain biking, by the Portland public. What do you think?

            Riverview, is relatively small, has no heritage similar to FP. It’s probably going to get the green light for mountain biking. Bigger objectives such as FP, may run up against far more resistance, without a citywide majority support. Just my guess. What’s yours?

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            • davemess March 15, 2015 at 9:25 am

              You keep using this argument. But have no info to show that a majority of residents DON’T want mountain biking, and really that’s the threshold we should have for requiring a vote on things. Could you imagine if we took all recreation activities that happen in parks to a public vote? I feel confident in saying there are more people in support of mountain bikes than some other activities like horseshoes, horseback riding, or off leash dogs.
              You’re just creating a standard that you know will never be proven (there is no way the city will spend the money to send mountain biking to the ballot), and then declaring that your view is correct when that standard is not met.

              It’s not the job of the parks dept. in Portland to okay every use of a park with the electorate of the city.

              “A big crowd of people showing up at a meeting perhaps largely mountain bike enthusiasts, I don’t think constitutes a reliable indication of a broad, majority support for mountain biking, by the Portland public. What do you think?”
              Again, your standard is ridiculously high. I think that having a large group of people show up to public processes does show a high level of support. These are people that are taking time from their daily lives because they feel so strongly about a specific issue. Having hundreds of people show up to a public meeting about a single topic is a HUGE win. I don’t know how many public meetings you go to, but I go to some and this level of support almost never happens.

              “Riverview, is relatively small, has no heritage similar to FP. It’s probably going to get the green light for mountain biking. Bigger objectives such as FP, may run up against far more resistance, without a citywide majority support. Just my guess. What’s yours?”

              Actually River View has a heritage as an area with mountain biking trails.
              You’re the one that keeps bringing Forrest Park into this. See above for my feelings on “citywide majority support”.

              I don’t know why I”m bother to debate you on this, as you’re not going to change your bias.

              I’m a little worried though that you may be taking your surrounding circle of acquaintances (who I”m going to guess based on your post is mainly made up of older residents of Beaverton), and applying their feelings on a subject to the entirety of the city of Portland.

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        • Alex March 13, 2015 at 11:32 pm

          That is false. The community came out and spoke at the single track advisory committee and they wanted more single track acts for mountain bikes. The people that attend these meetings are the park users. You should research your ‘facts’ a bit more.

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  • Realistic one March 13, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Well, this shouldn’t be surprising coming from these two. Connection to Forest Park? Really? Watch out for the same rhetoric in regards to access to Forest Park . It’s clear that you can’t trust these two or the city for that matter. These two aren’t smart enough to come up with this on their own, follow the dollar. Someone else has to be involved as well. It doesn’t help other ridiculous rhetoric coming from WSBOB and JEG. Free speech is not free, we all pay the cost of listening to idiots such as WSBOB and JEG, their arguments have no substance, they simply use the easy way out using hot buzz words such as “almost getting killed on a trail by mountain bikers”…really? fools. NWTA has completely failed, PUMP never would have given up. I knew this would happen when they formed NWTA. It’s time to ride wherever, whenever you want. I have always been more than courteous to other park users, but I will not take any crap from any vocal hiker or walker again.

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    • wsbob March 13, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      Realistic one…cease the name calling, start contributing constructively to the discussion or leave.

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      • Realistic one March 13, 2015 at 10:30 pm

        Bob, the only name i’ve “called” you is…Bob. Foolish or uninformed identifies your viewpoint. You get to own that. Now, we can help you, you might be surprised. Give us a chance, let us help educate you, let us get you on a bike, enjoy nature and most of all…turn that frown upside down

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        • wsbob March 14, 2015 at 4:53 pm

          “Bob, the only name i’ve “called” you is…Bob. …” Realistic one

          Realistic one… I appreciate your civil tone, this time…but re-read you’re bleepin’ comment that I responded to earlier. I mean seriously, read your stuff before you post it, and when someone infers that you’ve used a commonly disrespectful name inappropriate for reasoned discussions on a public forum, at least re-read what you wrote to see what’s being referred to. Because you said you used no such name, I had to look again, and there it was. So please, just try avoid doing that in future.

          There’s no good reason to be calling people bad names here. People that have strong opinions can do a better job of getting constructive ideas exchanged, by avoiding, at least, common disrespectful names. Instead, stay focused on the issue, develop well reasoned ideas about them.

          Because you don’t say, I have no idea what of the viewpoints I express in comments, you consider to be “…Foolish or uninformed…”. Without your explaining in at least a little more detail about what points you’re referring, it’s impossible to understand what you’re talking about.

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      • VTRC March 14, 2015 at 1:16 pm

        Bob, you’ve been trying to manipulate the conversation for years now. You make up terms like “Nature Park” and “Vehicular Recreation” and use them like they mean something. You come onto a biking board where people are upset, and tell them they’re enough of a minority they don’t deserve a place in our parks. You ignore the history of the process and the role of MTBers in it.

        If you want to be treated differently than you have been in these conversations, maybe you could make some changes to try and make a constructive contribution.

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        • wsbob March 14, 2015 at 5:25 pm

          “Bob, you’ve been trying to manipulate the conversation for years now. You make up terms like “Nature Park” and “Vehicular Recreation” and use them like they mean something. …” VTRC

          I’m certain that the word ‘Nature Park’ is not my original creation. Absolutely certain. I’ll grant you it occurred to me some time back that the words ‘Vehicular Recreation’, described the fundamental nature of what mountain biking is, particularly when considering activities appropriate for natural parkland and wilderness. I wouldn’t go so far though, to say those words together referring to mountain biking, are my original creation.

          As to your claim, accusation really, that I’m “trying to manipulate the conversation…”: No, I’m not trying to manipulate the conversation. Rather, among things I’m trying to do in comments to bikeportland, is reveal contrasting points of view. Also, to encourage people to think more thoroughly through what they say in comments about various subjects covered at bikeportland, before posting their comments.

          There often isn’t just ‘one’ point of view about a given thing. With many things in the city, obviously, biking and driving for example, that’s the way it is. Sure, bikeportland’s staff could screen all the comments to allow posted, only comments that support points of view that certain readers want to think about. The staff chooses not to do that. Thank you, maus and company. As of late, every one of my comments gets moderated, so it’s not like I’ve got free reign to post whatever I want here.

          VTRC…I’m just one guy posting my thoughts to this weblog. There seems to be no shortage of people here with different points of view than mine. If you’re afraid those comments are exerting too much influence over the thought of the other dozens of people commenting to bikeportland discussions, let Jonathan Maus know. Better yet, perhaps you could exert more effort and produce in comments of your own to this weblog, more rounded out thoughts supporting the points of view you want to present here. Expecting bikeportland to be an isolated womb from the widely varying opinions of the world outside, isn’t going to get bike advocacy anywhere good.

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          • davemess March 15, 2015 at 9:27 am

            “I’m just one guy posting my thoughts to this weblog.”

            Yes, you’re ONE GUY who assumes that a majority of residents in a city he doesn’t live in feel the same way about issues pertaining to a sport that he doesn’t participate in.

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            • wsbob April 13, 2015 at 11:41 am

              “Yes, you’re ONE GUY who assumes that a majority of residents in a city he doesn’t live in feel the same way about issues pertaining to a sport that he doesn’t participate in. …”

              My city, Beaverton, is directly next to Portland, roughly 6 to 8 miles distance from city center to city center. It shares virtually the same geographical features and environmental character and resources that Portland does. Many of same types of jobs are shared by residents of both cities. I would think that interest and values, including those of recreational type, of residents of both cities, are similar in many respects.

              A majority of Portland residents aren’t coming out in favor of using the city’s parkland. That’s just not happening. Nothing even close to that is happening. Mountain bike enthusiasts seeking to use city parkland for mountain biking, need to work to build broader support than exists now amongst the population, for use of city parkland for mountain biking. Their being mean, rude and obnoxious, isn’t likely to be helpful in building that support. Carry on though, as you think is best.

              At any rate, today, reviewing this Oregonian article:

              http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2015/03/portland_officials_ban_mountai.html

              …in that article, there is the following excerpt referring to city scientist’s concerns about existing bike trails in Riverview going right through streams and the watershed (‘he’, is Jim Blackwood, Fritz’s policy director.):

              “…Scientists see the existing bike trails in there that go right through the streams and the watershed, and they say that’s more invasive than passive recreation,” he said. …”

              I don’t recall what specifically, people commenting to bikeportland stories about this issue have suggested in the way of bridges over the streams, but people could start working on and propose some ideas for bridges that wouldn’t impair the stream’s function. There’s plenty of precedent for this sort of thing having been done. The Columbia River Gorge Scenic Hwy is one, with its basalt bridges. Out in my area at the Tualitan Hills Nature Park is a far more modest example, but one maybe more relevant to the Riverview environmental conditions. THNP has a very long twisty boardwalk, 300′ or so, just above an extensive wetland. It’s beautiful, only problem being that after the inevitable accumulation of algae in the grain, the wood decking can get very slick when wet. People have fallen when biking and when walking. In that situation, there’s something to be said for decking that will support gravel or asphalt.

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              • TrailLover April 13, 2015 at 1:45 pm

                WSBOB writes: “A majority of Portland residents aren’t coming out in favor of using the city’s parkland. That’s just not happening. Nothing even close to that is happening.”

                Since your favorite zinger always seems to revolve around this “majority of Portlanders” idea, and nobody here seems to be buying it, maybe you can help us out by naming a few specific park activities (tether ball? hopscoth? tennis? swimming?) for which you would like to present evidence of a “majority of Portlanders” expressing their support. Personally, I don’t recall the city-wide tether ball referendum. And no, I’m afraid that the mere existence of facilities for those activities does not constitute evidence.

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          • TrailLover March 15, 2015 at 9:39 am

            WSBOB wrote: “I’m not trying to manipulate the conversation. Rather…I’m trying to…reveal contrasting points of view. Also, to encourage people to think more thoroughly…”

            No, you’re not. Everybody knows that’s not true and no amount of pseudo-intellectual gymnastics is going to make it so. Your singular goal – whether you’re aware of its transparency or not – is to restrict, narrow and distill the conversation down to an extremely limited and artificial set of constraints that revolve entirely around your self-made concepts of “nature park” and “vehicular recreation” as you’d like to apply them to Forest Park and other areas in order to exclude bicycles. And the reason you do it is because they appear to be the only grounds, contrived though they may be, for advancing your agenda.

            Broadening, expanding and enriching the conversation to include things like environmental science, conservation and recreational lands management standards, the experience of communities outside Portland, respect for public participation in policy making, and even a recognition of well-established community demand for more off-road cycling opportunities are issues that all work against your agenda and are routinely ignored in your comments.

            Sadly, at the core of your many posts are some legitimate concerns and questions about how best to manage our public lands. But those issues are not being advanced by your willful dismissal of facts that contradict your agenda. BikePortland may never be the ideal forum for balancing all viewpoints – nor is it supposed to be, I imagine – but it does seem like a place that invites and tolerates relevant and thoughtful input. If yours isn’t being received that way, maybe it’s not the forum or the audience that’s to blame.

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  • Jim Lee March 13, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Hikers/doggers ARE extremely degrading to Forest Park.

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  • Suburban March 13, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Oregon and even Washington are just quaint map overlays of a mountain biking paradise. If you choose to live in or around Portland, Oregon’s most large city, it comes with great opportunities and great costs. Just because mobs of people want to ride on foot paths does not mean anyone hates these people, they just don’t want you riding your machines there. You have thousands of miles of trails to ride if you prioritize them OVER what-so-ever is keeping you in Portland/Vancouver now.

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    • Duncan Parks March 13, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      When it comes to River View, the trails are arguably *bike* trails, given who did the construction and continues to maintain them – and who uses them most.

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    • Bobcycle March 14, 2015 at 11:31 am

      The same argument could be made for hikers and doggers. Lots of trails outside the city for hiking, and if the intent is to have natural areas maybe we should ban access to all groups. The difference I see is that mt bikers put work into maintaining areas they use and this effort could be leveraged to provide additional resources for ongoing work in Riverview. I may be wrong but I’m not familiar with groups of dog walkers who have work parties focused on cleaning up and maintaining trails they use. On the other hand I quite frequently find bags of dog poop on the side of just about every trail I walk in Portland.

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    • Peter R March 16, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      This is a lame argument. Perhaps we choose to live here because we work here, we have family and friends here. Why as a mtn biker should we be forced to drive 45-60 minutes to the nearest designated mountain bike trail?
      Lots of other similar sized cities have mtn biking access in them. Heck even larger and smaller cities than PDX have better access to mtn biking in them. Not “near” but actually “IN”.

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  • Duncan Parks March 13, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Re: the legal concerns about purchasing River View. These may very well be legit concerns. Wouldn’t the best way to show you got the parcel for conservation be to address the actual disturbances identified by the Technical Advisory Committee? Of course. Yet Parks seems committed to banning bikes on trails, even if that *didn’t* make that list. It sounds suspiciously like recreation management on a parcel that’s supposed to be managed for conservation/ecological value.

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  • Dwaine Dibbly March 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Clearly, they’re going to open Forest Park to MTB use!

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  • Psyfalcon March 13, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Wildwood would be a nice concession to get MTB people back in the process.

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    • Fivefrud March 13, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      Wildwood is not battle worth fighting. It’s not even a good trail for cycling.

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      • Alex March 14, 2015 at 6:26 pm

        I agree. I don’t want the argument to turn into a hiker vs mtber thing. I would love to see separate trails and the sharing would be a non issue. The trails can have a separate trailhead with decent parking unlike Thurman and no conflict there either. The people have come out and spoken, it is a big issue that had been getting a lot of publicity in spite of what people here are saying and it isn’t an issue of entitlement. If we felt entitled, we would be riding regardless and that hasn’t really happened. We would like a few trails and wild be happy to build them ourselves, of they means we are entitled then so is even other Park user.

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      • Psyfalcon March 15, 2015 at 5:09 pm

        I want one day a week over the summer on it, or another major trail (that you might like better) to show that it can be shared like in every other freaking city in the US.

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  • Amber March 13, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    Biking and natural habitat can co-exist. Employ best practices. Share the trails. Grant River View to mountain biking use.

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  • rick March 14, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    So the sewer department gets an $11,000,000 office building and bans biking in River View?

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  • Mossby Pomegranate March 15, 2015 at 8:26 am

    You keep voting these same people in over and over again and then complain about the results.

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    • davemess March 15, 2015 at 9:30 am

      So if we didn’t vote for them, can we still complain?

      Isn’t that how democracy works?

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    • Psyfalcon March 15, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      Depending on who the actual pressure is from, we may not have even elected them. If they’re from BES, they may have come in long before these guys were elected.

      Now, we can deal with their lack of spine to resist that, but the same people will probably be there after Fritz and Fish are sent packing.

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  • Frank March 16, 2015 at 9:42 am

    This cyclist does not need a Fish. Ever.

    They love that line about being a link – it can make any parcel sound critical. Has he walked through that area? They should have lost the lawsuit for what it is not. But it has wealthy neighbors who don’t want development or users – same as FP – and the Protectors of Nature fear if we get any toe-hold, all will be lost.

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  • Jeff TB March 16, 2015 at 10:21 am

    “…In addition, we have decided to ban dogs, hikers and invasive plants from the area…”

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    • Dan March 16, 2015 at 10:35 am

      “…and loonies carrying saws…”

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  • Eric March 17, 2015 at 11:23 am

    I don’t get on this website often, but I would love to see a mountain bike area in Portland similar to the Duthie Hill Park in the Seattle area. It is primarily a bike park, so user conflict is almost non existent. The trails have all levels of riding, are built responsibly, and they have a great relationship with Parks and Rec. It has been a huge success, and there’s no reason we should be able to achieve something like this in PDX.
    https://www.evergreenmtb.org/trails/duthie-hill

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  • Chris McMullen March 17, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Can someone please enlighten me as to how mountain biking threatens this “sensitive” habitat?

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  • TrailLover April 13, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    The focus on the law suit – real or contrived – and the specter of “ongoing settlement negotiations” is even MORE reason for fair-minded Portlanders to cry foul. Memorializing a bunch of unsupportable assertions about the impacts of mountain biking in the form of a settlement agreement is an even more intellectually and politically pernicious idea than the commissioners simply waving their wands and decreeing whatever policy they like. Stay angry. Stay active. Stay productive.

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