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Unauthorized bike trail damages “pristine habitat” in Forest Park – UPDATED

Posted by on February 23rd, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Illegal trail in Forest Park-16

Parks employee Dan Moeller with the
illegal trail behind him.
– Slideshow below –
(Photo © J. Maus)

Portland Parks & Recreation staff have discovered an unauthorized mountain bike trail built in the northern end of Forest Park. Parks spokesperson Beth Sorensen said the trail was found at the end of last week in “one of the most pristine habitat areas in the park.”

According to Sorensen, the trail is “pretty damaging” and whoever built it cut down trees, removed large rocks, and dammed a stream. The trail was created where elk and deer are active and Sorensen says it has “destroyed an area of highest habitat value.” The location of the trail is about 200 yards off of the Forest Park entrance on Harborton Drive, about 10 miles north of downtown Portland.

Illegal trail in Forest Park-4

The Northwest Trail Alliance has posted an “Outreach Alert” about this on their website. The alert was written by the organization’s Advocacy Director Tom Archer and it implores mountain bikers to “abstain from unauthorized trail building.”

Here’s more from the NWTA statement:

“While riding is currently allowed on some roads and trails in the North Management Unit, the area is not being considered for expansion of off-road riding opportunities, primarily because of its habitat value. This is clearly spelled out in the Forest Park Natural Resource Management Plan, and Northwest Trail Alliance fully supports this management approach.

Northwest Trail Alliance asks all bike riders to abide by the regulations that are currently in effect in Forest Park. Unauthorized trail building and illegal riding negatively impact our on-going discussions with Portland Parks – and with other land managers – to create more riding opportunities in and around Portland.”

As Archer refers to in the statement, the discovery of this unauthorized trail comes at a sensitive time for off-road advocates looking to expand riding opportunities in Forest Park. A committee put together last year by Parks Commissioner Nick Fish is in the process of vetting several different options for how to create more riding areas in the park. That committee is set to meet again this Thursday from 5-7:30 pm in City Hall.

“The goal of the committee has ben toward filling a need for off-road cycling and finding a solution the right way,” said Sorensen today, “and this trail undermines it by finding a solution the wrong way.”

I’m hopping in a truck with Portland Parks Natural Resource Supervisor Dan Moeller in about a half-hour. I’ll report back with photos and more information later tonight.

UPDATE, 3:43 (View slideshow below):
I just returned from a tour of the illegal trail with Parks’ Natural Area Supervisor Dan Moeller. Moeller says the trail was likely built within the last month. It was discovered by an owl researcher who came across the trail last week.

Illegal trail in Forest Park-22

The trail is purposely hidden from
view of the main road (it begins
in the upper right of this photo).

As we walked up BPA Road just above Highway 30, Moeller pointed out the huge Oregon oaks that dotted the hillside. We then walked off the road (which is one of the roads in Forest Park where bikes are allowed) about 40 yards and came to a small hole in the vegetation where the rogue trail began (it was obviously made this way to stay hidden).

Once on the trail, it was clear that whoever built it worked very hard at it. We soon came to a creek where the builders created an entirely new trail on a ridgeline above a creek. Moeller pointed out that they used rocks and cut down live western red cedars to fortify the crib wall on the downside of the trail. Further along they dammed a creek to provide an easier crossing for their bikes.

Illegal trail in Forest Park-17

A stream has been dammed with boulders.

Moeller is a rider himself (he rides a cyclocross bike) and while he’s disappointed by what happened, he hopes it serves as a educational opportunity for the community. On the drive out he described the extremely sensitive ecosystem this trail has been cut through. “This area is relatively undisturbed, that’s why there’s such an outcry about this.”

Moeller likened the trail to “putting a road through a roadless forest.” He said the trail will “create a highway” for invasive plants and it will allow animals (like skunks and possums) to access an area that otherwise couldn’t have — bringing them right to more sensitive species like nesting owls and bald eagles.

Illegal trail in Forest Park-5

This entire trail section is newly built.

To help mitigate the damage Moeller says he’ll work with advocacy groups like the NWTA and the Parks ecologist. They won’t work on it now because the trail is so muddy that each step taken compacts the soil and makes the problem worse. Once it dries up a bit, they’ll start dragging branches and other material across the trail to create a physical barrier and discourage further use. Then, he says, “We’ll let it recover a bit,” before going in again and they’ll immediately monitor the area for the “recolonization of invasives.”

This fall, Moeller says they’ll do a comprehensive re-planting that will include thousands of plants to help reestablish the native species and promote recovery. He estimates it could take up to 15 years of ongoing maintenance for the habitat to fully recover.

Whoever built this trail was committed as it must have taken an immense effort to complete. Moeller said it’s a crime to destroy Parks property and they’re currently gathering evidence to try and find out who is responsible for it.

It remains to be seen how this trail will impact the current discussion on whether to allow more singletrack trail access in the park. It is not a new phenomenon, but this is a pretty egregious example. Off-road riding advocates — who wholly condemn this type of rogue trail — could point out that this is the type of behavior that will continue to occur until new trails are built (or opened). The biggest impact from this (besides environmental of course) could be in terms of bad PR for bike advocates, but on the flip-side this is likely to spur some heated (and hopefully productive) dialogue in the committee and add a new urgency to their discussions.

Moeller is far from ready to write off the good, working relationship he and mountain bike advocates have. “This is a good opportunity for some education… I’m glad that at least now we have a place to come together and talk about this issue.”

For more images of the trail, view the slideshow below:

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

  • Charley February 23, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Good grief. I bet the people that built this thing had no idea of all the work that NWTA has been done with the intent of getting LEGAL access to singletrack in the park. Thanks for trying to ruin it, selfish @#%*&^@.

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  • Northwest Girl February 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    This initial account sickens me. I am looking forward to Jonathan’s further report.

    For the month of January, I kept a daily log of where I saw unauthorized mountain bike tracks in Forest Park. I ran and hiked on every trail in the entire park. The resulting log is in the hands of both Tom Archer and another member of the committee.

    Let’s just say that the constant poaching of trails by mountain bikers isn’t going to win them many friends by those who are opposed to potential future new bike trails.

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  • Anonymous February 23, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Go look at Hagg Lake if you want to see bad trails.

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  • jon February 23, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    how about a headline that you could write every day of the year: un-leashed dogs destroy all wild habitat in Forest Park. This is a supply & demand issue. There are no trails to ridc near town and very little movement to improve the situation. I don’t approve of trails like this, but I understand why they get made.

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  • Psyfalcon February 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Bad, for a number of reasons.

    But… how does this ““destroyed an area of highest habitat value.” The location of the trail is about 200 yards off of the Forest Park entrance on Harborton Drive”

    With respect to erosion and such things, but how does a dirt path destroy pristine habitat that is only 200 yards from a road?

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  • Northwest Boy February 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I would like to say whomever did this was a complete moron and does not represent the majority of cyclists. They are just an idiot who happens to ride a bike.

    Northwest Girl:
    Did you also keep track of the number and locations of dogs off leash? That seems like it is happening far more frequently than people poaching trails. Or how about all of the plastic bags that line the trails filled with their excrement?

    I find it funny that a person would take the time to do such an unscientific study strictly so that they could deny someone the use of the park in a way they disagree with. The data you gathered seems useless. Maybe one day there will be a real study that shows what the impact of the cycling is and not that it just exists.

    Let’s just say that poaching trails is going to continue until there is access to trails in FP for mountain biking. I don’t poach, but I am almost at the point where I am just going to start poaching because there hasn’t been any movement forward on this at all. There really seems to be no ramifications to poaching other than some crazy person in forest park taking notes on nonsensical things, so why not?

    If you look at the long term impact of things in forest park, I would hope that you are looking at invasive species. These have been doing more damage and will continue to do more damage than any cyclist ever will. We need to get more people involved in dealing with these issues and I think expanding the user base/volunteer base by having actual single track is a great start.

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  • AaronF February 23, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Psyfalcon, see the second paragraph of the article. Stream beds, elk trail path…

    jon – reading your comment it sounds like mtn bikers are Entitled to multiple paths near the city, and should be immune to the political process others go through to get anything done. Is that right?

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  • a.O February 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Is anyone really surprised by this?

    This was about as predictible as getting wet in the rain.

    When you delay and delay and require endless process and committee meetings, it is tantamount to a refusal to share the park with others.

    People who insist on killing the idea of single-track bike trails in Forest Park with endless administrative process and inane environmental arguments ought to think twice before they decide they know the “right way.”

    To clarify, I do not condone this action and agree wholeheartedly with the NWTA statement.

    I’m just saying that when you cause unreasonable delay and refuse to act in good faith to share the public space, you’re going to get people riding illegally and building trail illegally.

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  • jocko February 23, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    “when you outlaw mtn. biking only outlaws will have mtn bikes.”

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  • Bob_M February 23, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    When only outlaws have mountain bikes, law abiding citizens will hound legislators to enact fees for bicycle ownership/usage to pay for the damage caused by outlaws on mt. bikes.

    (It will be the hater’s latest excuse to levy fees on cyclists)

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  • Brad February 23, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    That’s truly frightening, Bob M, because I can see it happening. It could even be sold to non-riding, Prius and Subaru driving liberals in Portland as a proper thing to do “for the environment”.

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  • rixtir February 23, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    a.O., you argument is premised on the idea that the people who built this trail would be respectful of Park rules if ONLY there were increased access.

    And there’s no supporting evidence for this premise. in fact, there’s only supporting evidence for the opposite premise– that these people have no respect for anything other than their own selfish desires, and regardless of increased access, if Park rules are on conflict with their own selfish desires, they will do what they please, rules and habitat be damned.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm

      Hey folks,

      just got back from a tour of the illegal trail. i’ll have photos and full report by end of day. stay tuned.

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  • jocko February 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    rixtir while I agree that there will always be folks that despite our best efforts to accomodate, will continue to try and do their own thing (we are a nation of rugged individualists remember). I do think that fun trails in Forest Park will go a long way to prevent most folks from taking the time to make something this extensive. For context go out and ride the legal trails in forest park, they are a good workout but that’s about it.

    Bob_m- good point.

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  • Active Recreation February 23, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    I think the name says it all

    Portland Parks & Recreation

    Not Portland Preservation Society

    Forest Park is not a preserve, it is Public Park, that is there for the whole city to use, not just the luck few that have houses that back up to it, and don’t want other people to know how great it is.

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  • are February 23, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    there’s no place near town where you can hunt elk from a helicopter, either

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  • Psyfalcon February 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm


    I am just worried that those cited reasons might be taken too far… and it can be a problem in all recreation management, not restricted to this.

    Elk seem fine with roads in Yellowstone, but this one, ugly trail destroyed their habitat here? Does a few stream crossings really damage salmon habitat if there are landslides all along the bank? Do significant numbers of salmon actually use these streams?

    I don’t know.

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  • Daniel (teknotus) Johnson February 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Logging companies do way worse than that all the time with a government stamp of approval. Actually the gravel road that everyone uses today in forest park was built when then intended to replace the whole forest with the a neighborhood. Actually if you cross Skyline you will notice that they got away with doing that with the rest of the forest. I don’t condone what they did. Portland is lucky to have so much wildlife, nearly continuous wild lands all the way to the golden gate bridge. What little is left is precious. The thing is that wild lands that nobody visits is unappreciated. People will protect their favorite spot, but the vast lands between Portland, and San Francisco only gets a few defenders.

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  • Paul February 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Seems a lot like skateboarding a few years back when it was illegal to ride in Portland streets and there were no skateparks….People were getting tickets for riding their skateboard. Sounds silly now.

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  • Jason VH February 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    I agree with a.O.

    I can’t condone this, but it does display that there is a need for multi-use trails that offer the user experience and challenge that mountain bikers crave.

    There are hundreds of miles of forest surrounding Portland. Why not protest about the logging and development there? Why do specific user groups feel the need to limit the recreational experience to only their specific user group? Could it be they simply don’t want to share?

    Most illegal trails are built out of necessity. For a bicycle friendly city, Portland offers nothing for advanced mountain bikers. Indeed, it’s a joke.

    Instead, we regularly utilize motorized vehicles to travel considerable distance to ride our bikes, all while there is suitable green space all over the metropolitan area.

    I can tell you now- these trail builders will simply move to a new location and renew their efforts. I have a feeling they will have learned their lesson, and select a better location, and not such a political hot spot.

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  • Nick February 23, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    It’s amazing how many are willing to excuse this by naming other bad deeds. I thought it was common knowledge that two wrongs don’t make a right?

    Forest Park is a shared public space, and vigilante habitat destruction there is simply selfish. If we can all agree on plans for more bike trails, awesome. If not, you need to get over it. That’s part of living in society.

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  • Northwest Girl February 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Northwest Boy @#6

    Wow. Lots of assumptions here…

    First, I do not want to deny anyone anything. I am not opposed to larger access to Forest Park by mountain bikers. Nowhere did I state or have I ever stated that I am opposed. I have had great conversations with Tom Archer on this topic. I am in favor of increased mountain bike access.

    It’s not like my recorded observations took me any more time than coming home after a run or hike and writing down the trail name and what I saw.

    I am not claiming this to be anything other than a log of my observations. It’s not scientific and both Tom and the other member of the committee were interested in receiving the log with my observations. I am not “some crazy person” unless you consider someone who runs 60 miles a week crazy! I am a retired Olympic runner. I am also a cyclist.

    I agree with you about the unsightly dog bags, the unleashed dogs and the issue of invasive species. I wasn’t writing about those things. I was writing about the discovery of an illegal trail constructed in Forest Park.

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  • Nick February 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Paul (#18):

    I doubt that destroying pristine rainforest will ever be seen as silly. Skateboarders are generally confined to pavement.

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  • fredlf February 23, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I would show up, as an off-road rider myself, to help work crews undo the damage done here. Hopefully someone with more time and skill than me will organize something like that.

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  • sabes February 23, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    The more I read the comment on this site, the more disgusted I get with the cyclists in Portland. I’ve only been here about two years and I ride my bike to work about half the time, but it seems to me the attitudes of many in the cycling community lead me to dislike the community in general. It’s sad to say, but true. I understand the whole ‘a few bad apples’ idea, but it’s way more than a few. It’s a lot. And it’s disturbing.

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  • a.O February 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    @ #12:

    On the contrary, Rixter, mine is the simpler premise.

    Your assumption does not pass the basic test of logic because it supposes that people would go through all the time and effort it takes to build a trail instead of riding one they were already able to ride.

    From the story, these people moved rocks (must have moved them to “use” them), “cut down live western red cedars,” and “dammed a creek.”

    This must have taken many man-hours and lots of hard labor. That is time they could have and would have spent riding, if they had easily-accessible trails.

    But eternal study of invented environmental issues is bad faith and a mere excuse to exclude mountain bikers from Forest Park.

    You also inaccurately imply that people who break the law must be bad actors, but we know from historical example that isn’t necessarily true.

    Get involved in the “process” for giving mtn bikers access to Forest Park and then report who it is who has “no respect for anything other than their own selfish desires.”

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  • rixtir February 23, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    a.O. they are already going through the time and trouble of building trails instead of riding trails they are already allowed to ride.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, lots of people have “reasons” for destroying the environment. The fact that they have “reasons” doesn’t mean they’re not bad actors.

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  • are February 23, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    re comment 15. part of the stated mission of parks and recreation is “safeguarding” the urban forest. where this conflicts with creating a playground for humans, maybe safeguarding should win out. if the only way to preserve forest park were to close it entirely, that might be the necessary choice. if my chosen recreation required pavement or floodlights or sound systems, would that be okay, too? after all forest park is “not a preserve.” you could probably get by with just one or two trees.

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  • maxadders February 23, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    I, too, am not surprised. First of all, I’ve heard of illegal trails in Washington Park, Forest Park, etc for years now. I also frequently see mention of bicyclists riding restricted trails at night. So while this isn’t “cool” and probably came at an inconvenient time for mtb advocates, it just seems like an inevitability.

    Still, why act like it’s a three-alarm fire? Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, many great trails started off as unsanctioned or even illegal.

    I’m not happy about this, and I wouldn’t ride it– but I understand the temptation.

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  • electric February 23, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Geeze, it doesn’t look like it is DESTROYED. Where are the bulldozer tracks and asphalt? Why do people get their underwear in knots over a 2 foot wide trail, do you have any idea about the scale of operations happening elsewhere in regards to natural resource harvesting.

    To the woman acting like little miss world police, busy body taking notes on where every tire track appears – get a life.

    If you don’t want it close the trail down, take the 20 rocks out of the stream, turn the riders away… I wonder why are those riders there anyways when there local options?

    Pristine habitat… sure, hypocrites.

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  • a.O February 23, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    # @27: Although it may be literally true that the rogue trail-builders could use a motor vehicle (if they have one) and take a nearly hour-long trip each way to reach decent trails, that is beside the point I was making and you know it.

    There simply are no trails in the Portland Parks system that any experienced mountain biker would want to ride. The trails at Powell Butte are far too short and are not challenging. And there is — what — some fraction of a mile of legal single-track in FP?

    So, no rixter, they are not really “already going through the time and trouble of building trails instead of riding trails they are already allowed to ride,” because there are no such trails in or within riding distance of town.

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  • wsbob February 23, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    The imposition of this trail is likely driven by people with a mentality similar to and responsible for most of graffiti and tagging. One of the oft stated arguments made by taggers for throwing paint where they shouldn’t be doing so, also goes along the lines of ‘Either give us what we want or we’ll take it from you’.

    Also similar im mentality to the great ‘sportsman’ with guns and rifles that go into the backcountry and shoot up every conceivable sign, building, tree or other object in sight.

    A number of people commenting to this thread so far appear to echo a threat that’s very similar…’Either provide single width bike trail (a.k.a. ‘singletrack’)in Forest Park, or else.’.

    It’s helpful that the mountain bike enthusiast group, The Northwest Trail Alliance, has promptly come forward to firmly oppose the illegal construction of this trail in Portland’s Forest Park nature park. Removing all trace of the trail is another chore added atop the list the enthusiast group might think about tackling as part of persuading Portland residents that single width trail for mountain bikes in Forest Park is a great idea.

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  • q'Ztal February 23, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    This just in: without enforcement rules and laws will be ignored.
    This is important enought to get riled up over but not important enough to fund.

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  • rixtir February 23, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    @ 30: “There simply are no trails in the Portland Parks system that any experienced mountain biker would want to ride. The trails at Powell Butte are far too short and are not challenging. And there is — what — some fraction of a mile of legal single-track in FP?”

    Wow, a rationale. Well, that’s all we need to justify anything, isn’t it?

    I mean, W had a rationale for lying to Congress about WMDs, Dick Cheney had a rationale for saying that torture is not torture, and anyway, torture is justified and necessary, Congress was justified in suspending environmental laws in the 90s in order to facilitate logging… The list goes on forever.

    Ok, those were big things, and this is just a little thing, so having a rationale is acceptable when it’s just a little thing, especially when it’s rationalizing in support of something you believe in, right?

    So what happens when Forest Park has increased access, but somebody thinks the existing trails are too crowded? Or that there aren’t enough trails? Or the trails don;t go where they want them to go? Or they want something more challenging, or want ramps, or stream crossings, or whatever they think they should be able to have? Under your own theory, they will build what they want, because it doesn’t exist– and that contradicts your argument that once they have increased access, they will not want to put in the effort to build what is “lacking.”

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  • gabriel amadeus February 23, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Honestly it looks like they did a pretty decent job building the trail. It is a bummer that it erodes the good work the NWTA has done with Friends of Forest Park, but really, a decently built guerrilla trail in a small part of an urban forest isn’t hurting anything.

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  • rixtir February 23, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    They did a pretty good job building Gitmo too. And according to them, it wasn’t hurting anything.

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  • rixtir February 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    One can never hear enough of the endless lies and rationalizations that have come to define human behavior.

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  • are February 23, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    re comment 35, i was reading somewhere about creating a path for influx of invasive species, no harm.

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  • Glen February 23, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I’m a city planner and I’ll admit, we spend far too much time on ‘process’. I’ve been wanting better bike trails in Portland for over 20 years now. Yes there are multiple uses for the Park and multiple users, but surely it’s big enough to accommodate all. I don’t know the history of building the wildwood trail, or even the firelanes, but I can’t imagine that people would have discussed them for decades before building them.

    Heck, the trail looks fun. Maybe we should just fix it up a bit and keep it.

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  • Ted February 23, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Wrong, selfish, sneaky. Don’t defend these guys, cycling community. This trail didn’t make anyone’s commute safer. It damaged a community asset without the consensus of the community. It doesn’t matter if other things damage the environment, or if our political process is frustrating. It’s still wrong to assume you are so entitled to what you want that you go out and create it illegally.

    Don’t defend this entitled behavior. What are we really entitled to? Safe bicycle transportation and fair protection under the law. Eyes on the prize, guys. Eyes on the prize. Just because this has something to do with bikes doesn’t mean we need to throw morality and common sense away to defend it.

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  • rixtir February 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    @ #38: And through sensitive habitat.

    Maybe all of these apologists for habitat destruction (e.g., see # 17, #35) can see conservation biologists from their porches (you know, just like Sarah Palin can see climatologists from her porch).

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  • Anonymous February 23, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I hope you guys NEVER get a decent trail in forest park! This comment section reeks of false entitlement and weak rationalizations.

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  • Steven J February 23, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    wait till they realize it was built by parks & rec to start with…and someone couldn’t read a map.

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  • a.O February 23, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    @ #34: Rixter, you know damn well that I am not attempting to supply a “rationale…to justify” this, because I know you read my comment at # 8 where I said I did not condone this.

    Please stop intentionally twisting my words. I said this result was TOTALLY PREDICTABLE. Apparently we agree on that but disagree on the reasons why. Again, go follow the fake process for allowing mtn bike access and you will have a much better understanding of why this happened.

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  • Joe February 23, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    look at all the litter? come on!

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  • Joe February 23, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    The park is fine people, bunch of heavy belly fokes moaning bout nonsence.

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  • a.O February 23, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    @ #34, last para: reductum ad absurdum

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  • rixtir February 23, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I always take my habitat advice from people who know jack.

    Thanks for the reassurances.

    Now I need to go get reassured by Sarah Palin about all this global warming “nonsence.”

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  • Tbird February 23, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    This is what happens when there is not sufficient LEGAL MTB access in a place like Forest Park. People will break the law, and just like other clandestine operations, those same people will not care about ethics and sustainability.

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  • electric February 23, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    #38, are..

    By invasive species you mean humans, yes?

    People are unnatural. Mountain bikers are parasites. I get it. Mountains erode to nothing, plants and animals migrate. Perhaps these conservation types are the unnatural ones.

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  • are February 23, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    no, did you read the article? nonnative plants and animals come in on the opened path and drive out the existing ecosystem. read first, ask questions later. but humans also, yes.

    i would like to imagine that the idiots who did this would be surprised to learn that it will take at least fifteen years to put things back “the way they were.”

    “we” could decide to hell with it, turn forest park into a rec center, but that decision should not be made unilaterally by a handful of self-absorbed goofs sneaking around.

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  • rixtir February 23, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    #47– the article explained what are is referring to.

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  • st February 23, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Perhaps it’s useful to frame this within another debate:

    Some people advocate speed limits on roads like Powell should be lowered. Others argue that if they are lowered, people will ignore them and speed anyways (apparently including ODOT). PBOT’s solution is to design streets that are conducive to slow driving.

    This seems to be a pretty parallel situation. People see FP as a place conducive to MTB with or without trails, while some people want to heavily restrict MTB. Unfortunately, I don’t see of a way we can design FP to discourage MTB where it’s too costly.

    I also wonder if videos romanticizing unauthorized trails may influence this activity.

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  • cold worker February 23, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    i’m not a mountain biker. i love forest park. i’m not trying to play devil’s advocate…but will someone with real forestry/ecology/enviro. whatever education explain why this trail is so devastating? how is this different than any other trail? or any of the roads that go through the park? or different from any of the hiking trails that one would use in, say, the mt. hood area. seriously. how come skunks and possums need trails to get around? how do mountain bikers help spread invasive plants? damming the stream isn’t something i fail to see the negative aspect of, but really, the other stuff, i don’t get it.

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  • Paul in the 'Couv February 23, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Okay as a mountain biker and lover of single track – who got started in the 80’s in Missoula – THINK! Portland is a CITY not a MOUNTAIN! Got it! Okay.

    In Missoula, and Bozeman, and Boise, and Moscow, and lots of Utah you can live in a town where you can actually find great mountain biking in riding distance from town.

    There doesn’t happen to be great mountain biking within riding distance of PDX. So I’ve got commuter tires on my mountain bike. Sure, if you can figure out a way to get some trails, GREAT – but don’t go whining because you don’t have single track in the city limits. Mountain biking isn’t a constitutional right!

    If mountain biking is that important to you MOVE or buy some land.

    Just stop being such a bunch of 3 year olds.

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  • Dirk February 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    stoked to go ride this trail with my off-leash dogs. no, i am not trying to elicit a response, i am looking forward to hitting the trail. the Parks Dept. can drag logs over the trail all they want, but there is no way they can make the whole thing unridable.

    this is what happens when you keep delaying bikes from using the area legitimately, nice work.

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  • aaronf February 23, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    cold worker – read the article!

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  • Joe February 23, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    54 right on! all the way. 🙂

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 23, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Check the video of story that aired on KATU-TV tonight – http://www.katu.com/outdoors/featured/85143537.html?tab=video

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  • electric February 23, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    From post 51

    i would like to imagine that the idiots who did this would be surprised to learn that it will take at least fifteen years to put things back “the way they were.”

    “we” could decide to hell with it, turn forest park into a rec center, but that decision should not be made unilaterally by a handful of self-absorbed goofs sneaking around.

    I think what i wrote went over your head. Obviously the decisions to ban mountain bikers and people was made unilaterally by a bunch of goofy conservationists who think they’re going to save nature from itself(the plan didn’t work btw).

    Nature isn’t how things looked in 1975 and that is that. This pristine habitat while a nice place is not ruined. The only thing that was set back 15 years was some man’s plan for what a “natural” conservation area should look like, which species are “supposed to be there” and so forth.

    Hey, ever watch that movie silent running?

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  • cold worker February 23, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    dude, i did read it. i get it. the trail is bad. this paragraph has statements that i’m having a hard time comprehending:

    “Moeller likened the trail to “putting a road through a roadless forest.” He said the trail will “create a highway” for invasive plants and it will allow animals (like skunks and possums) to access an area that otherwise couldn’t have — bringing them right to more sensitive species like nesting owls and bald eagles.”

    a highway for invasives? how? why were skunks and possums not able to get to these nesting areas before? in really specific terms, why is this devastating? no hyperbole, please.

    i’m not a mtn. biker. i will never ride this trail, legal or not. i just fail to see how this is any different from any other trail and would genuinely like a better explanation than this has “destroyed an area of highest habitat value.” i’m not saying “nuh uh, the trail is not bad”, i’m really asking *how*?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 23, 2010 at 8:34 pm

      cold worker,

      this is different because of the place it happened. There are very few (if any?) trails like this in the Northern Management Area of Forest Park precisely because it is very sensitive habitat. I’m not an ecologist… but from how Moeller explained it… a pristine forest weaves a tight “web” of natural species doing natural things. To cut a line between it can really muck things up. Also, the entire area where it happened is a watershed for Newton Creek… and this trail, especially the part near the creek, will create erosion and sediment will get into the water that otherwise wouldn’t have.

      as for skunks and possums. Yes. My understanding is that because of the thick vegetation (the “web”), skunks and possum would not be likely to tread into the areas that have now been opened up by this trail.

      perhaps someone with more enviro/ecology background can chime in? Jim Labbe.. are you out there?

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  • jon February 23, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Just to be 100% clear. I do not condone illegal trails. What I have seen living in the Portland area about 20 years is a city that has done nothing but attempt to restrict, ban, then delay mountain biking on single track in town. When there has been an increased demand for bird watching trails, skate parks, soccer fields for leagues, or even $$ for a new stadium for a pro soccer team, the city has responded and increased the supply of land for these activities. When it has come to mountain biking the demand has increased and the city has not responded. So, I can see why some people may be driven to make trails they can ride. Once again, I don’t agree, but I understand the reasoning.

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  • Ted February 23, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    I think i’ve got your back, Jonathan.

    @61; The ‘highway for invasives’ isn’t for invasive fauna, but for invasive flora. Invasive blackberry and ivy move into disturbed areas very quickly; that’s why you can see blackberry brambles along a majority of roadways in Oregon. Obviously nutria could walk around just as easily, pirate single-track or not. But this wound will be covered in invasive plants.

    Learn about invasives in Oregon:

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  • maing February 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    DOn’t forget to check ouyt Qomen of dirt on thursday night at the clinton street theatre

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  • Zaphod February 23, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I’m entirely against this trail and it would be helpful if we bikers echoed that sentiment with a unified voice.

    And we should also demand, through the appropriate channels, some access to either existing less utilized trails and/or thoughtfully designed sanctioned trails.

    In the same manner that cyclists want to share the road, we also want to share [some of] the trails.

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  • Lester February 23, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    That is a bummer that some folks cut this trail. It’s also a bummer that you gotta drive an hour to get to good legal trails from Portland.

    I’d have to say that the lack of trails in the city was the worst part about moving from PHX, AZ to PDX, OR.

    One of the reasons I’m glad I moved to Vancouver, WA is my proximity to Tarbell trail. And of course 3-corner rock, which I frequently drove to from Portland while I still lived there.

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  • Lester February 23, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I still think a trail system under all of Vancouver’s big powerlines would be awesome! Of course, people have a buncha stuff under these lines and I don’t know who actually owns the land under them, but since there are already existing swaths of cleared trees, why not put trails in there?

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  • cold worker February 23, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    thanks JM and ted. I’m not trying to battle anyone, or defend the trail. i understand the trail isn’t allowed. it’s just the comments in the article make it sound like this is about the worst thing possible for forest park, when factually there are lots of trails, and hell, *paved roads*, through the park already. and they don’t seem to be an issue. i have seen coyote (lots), deer, bunnies and all sorts of other great things in forest park. an acquaitance’s wife has seen mountain lion and a friend of mine is a landscaper at the zoo and at certain times of the year they end up with extra elk in the northwest exhibit. i understand the need to keep invasive plants out. i don’t think cutting down trees and blocking streams is cool. at all. i can appreciate wanting the wilderness to remain untouched and pristine. but for being as close to an urban center as this is, and being surrounded on all sides by asphalt roads, forest park is amazingly wild and as far as i’m aware, as healthy as one could expect it to be given it’s incredibly close proximity to the city.

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  • Ted February 23, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    cold worker,

    Definitely agree that forest park is wilderness, and an incredible asset to the city. It’s great that it is so wild, even with the level of use and the proximity to ‘civilization.’ But we can’t draw from that the lesson that I hear you drawing, that forest park is invincible to disturbance. It it not. No, this trail doesn’t destroy the park. But it isn’t harmless, and should not be forgiven just because the park is in a city.

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  • are February 23, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    electric 60, you might have noticed that in my comments i did not take any particular position on whether conservation this or conservation that (though i doubt 1975 is an accurate reference point). what i said was putting in this trail has consequences x, y, and z, which are inconsistent with what “we” thus far had decided to do with the place. pay attention. these vandals took unilateral action, which has consequences the community has defined as “harm.” and they did not do it to make the world a better place.

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  • Bob Sallinger February 23, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    The North Unit of Forest Park has long been recognized as the most ecologically important part of Forest Park. Part of the management strategy for the park is to limit the number of trails in this area and to preserve some large intact areas entirely for wildlife. The rogue trail cuts back and forth through one of these areas. I visited the trail this afternoon and the damage is pretty astounding. Trees have been cut down. Many large tree roots have been cut and the trail is riddled with tree roots that have been left completely exposed and damaged. Extensive portions of the trail are eroding and vegetation surrounding the trail in many places has been trampled. The creek has been dammed-up to let bikes pass over. There are several spur trails that head off from the main trail in various directions. Put simply, whoever built this trail trashed the place—A trail like this can dramatically change the ecology of the watershed. Even if the trail is closed right now, the damage will continue to manifest itself in the coming months and years because of the erosion issues, root cutting and damage, trampling of vegetation and direct and indirect stream impacts. Right now this drainage is relatively free of invasive species plant species. However as noted above, trails serve as notorious entry points for invasive plants. Trails also change the composition of wildlife that utilize the area—sensitive species leave and disturbance tolerant species enter. It is no accident that this particular watershed was one of the places that elk tended to congregate. Finally, repairing this damage will drain resources from our already strapped park budget—money that could have been spent on the huge backlog of restoration projects in Forest Park will instead have to be diverted. One of the few areas of the Forest Park that could have been considered healthy now moves into the priority restoration column.
    Audubon has spoken out in support of the Forest Park Mountain Biking Committee Process and we continue to support that process moving forward in large part because NWTA and others have spoken out unequivocally to condemn this type of destruction. It is important to continue to hear the mountain biking community sending a strong message that this type of activity is unacceptable while they also advocate for increased access.

    Bob Sallinger
    Conservation Director
    Audubon Society of Portland

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  • are February 23, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    a.o., you seem to have some very specific ideas about the process that NWTA has engaged in with the forest park conservancy, et al. would you care to give details? timelines? in what ways the process has been “fake”?

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  • wsbob February 23, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    “I don’t know the history of building the wildwood trail, or even the firelanes, but I can’t imagine that people would have discussed them for decades before building them. …” Glenn #39

    Glenn, you note that you are a city planner. As a city planner, do you have some knowledge of urban adjacent nature parks and the uses to be made of them for the best public benefit?

    What ideas might you have that you’d care to share with people reading here, about what form ‘Mountain Biking’ should likely be allowed to take on single width trail made accessible to people with their bikes in Forest Park?

    There are major differences in the use that walking trails and fire lanes are intended for compared to that of bike trails. True it is, that some people see bike access into the park as simply a slightly different variation of traveling through the park than is walking or running; slow top speeds of 5-7 mph, quiet… .

    Seems likely that other people with an interest in greater access into the park with their bikes, may be thinking of some of the other types of riding covered under the word ‘Mountain Biking’. What range of those riding types is it in the public’s best interest to have provided for in Forest Park?

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  • Kara February 23, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    The trail is pretty heinous, destroying habitat simply because you want to put a lot of effort into acting like a 5 year old who is told no and does it anyway. But some of the comments – what about the dogs? what about the trash? those other people trash the park, so what if there’s an illegal trail that trashed some elk habitat? mt bikers are maligned and everyone can totally understand why they’d do it. give the mt bikers single track now so they don’t have to go to these extremes. Besides, those elk aren’t really hurt anyway. And what about the dogs!

    The bottom line: whoever these people were, they put a lot of effort into building an ILLEGAL trail through a sensitive habitat. They dammed a creek and cut down trees. I don’t care if they felt frustrated or upset because they didn’t have a trail, or at least my level of caring is flagging thanks to this stunt. There are plenty of times I get frustrated because things aren’t going my way & haven’t for a long time. Getting destructive doesn’t help anyone.

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  • D.R. Miller February 23, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    At the risk of getting flamed.
    When I was a kid in the pre-everything 1970’s I bounced my Raleigh kids’ cruiser around on the roots and mud of nearby woods where we lived. That was fun. But as an adult i don’t feel entitled to do so in a place like Forest Park. Bikes are useful and wonderful machines for getting around, and we all have a right to use them safely and freely in the context of a truly balanced transportation system. Build It Now, etc. But wow. Don’t we sound like the crazy white people we are, demanding to be able to “recreate” however we want, wherever we want? The faster and more technologized use (yes, this means Mtn. bikes as against people ambulating on the legs God gave them) will always trump and monopolize the geography on which it is allowed. Last year hiking in the forest of the Oakland Hills, I had the disconcerting experience of practically being mowed down several times by law-abiding mountain bikers. Some uses just don’t mix, and some locales just are not appropriate for certain forms of recreation. A separate trail, like the one for Mtn Bikers at Tiger Mountain State Forest just east of Seattle? Maybe, but Tiger Mountain is a lot bigger than Forest Park. I’m afraid Forest Park will never be big enough for what riders would want out of it, and if that means they’ll have to continue to have to go to the mountains to get a good dose of mountain bike riding, well… so it goes.

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  • electric February 23, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    are, I am paying attention… you are the one with the memory issue.

    Way back in comment 38 you made a comment about invasive species which seemed strange.

    Then in response to my suspicions you said in comment 51 yadda yadda pay more attention. “but yes humans are invasive species”

    So I have to question such an ideology.

    Now when you come back and say in comment 71 that you don’t have any view on conservation I think you’re full of it and just backpedaling. That is good though.

    I’m sure these “villains” are as sinister as the “we” think. Hope they don’t lose their heads for poaching in the King’s forest.

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  • are February 23, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    “invasive species” has an objective meaning, which does not require me to subscribe to any particular view as to what ought to be done with the planet, or by whom. to assume that humans have a special prerogative to do whatever the hell they want is an “ideology.”

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  • Hart February 24, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Civil disobedience does not include screwing up the woods.

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  • matt picio February 24, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Dirk (#56) – You’ve just publicly stated an intent to perform an illegal act. Please be aware that if you do it, and get caught, that post can be used in court to prove intent.


    Re: invasives – bikes pick up bits of plants in the spokes, and spores in the mud in the tires when they ride. Most people are not conscientious enough to completely clean the bike before riding a new area. Because of this, invasive plants, molds, moss, nemotodes and insects can be transferred from location to location, in the same fashion that zebra mussels spread through the midwest in the bilges of recreational boats.


    At the risk of generalizing, what we have here is not the typical mountain biker. This is 3+ individuals, using hand and powered tools to groom a trail and move and remove trees, rocks and soil to create a trail. This was premeditated, involved a hundred or more man-hours of work, and with efforts to conceal the work. This is the ecological equivalent of a bank job – and while law-abiding mountain bikers should not have to pay the penalty for those who willfully violate the law, this action will likely result in reduced access to the park for the rest of us.

    The trail cannot be allowed to remain because it affords greater access to the relatively inaccessible north unit. Greater access means greater damage to the habitat. But greater access also means more community policing. The city is going to have to make a choice – allow greater access and tap the users as eyes and ears, or allocate resources to patrol the park, whether from Parks & Rec or from the police bureau.

    In any case, this incident shouldn’t be used as an argument to prevent access to Forest Park for legitimate mountain-biking. That would be equivalent to building a wall to prevent entry because of the actions of off-leash dogs. Punish the offenders, not the public.


    Oh, and I have no problem with hunting Elk by helicopter in Forest Park – provided the helicopter is human-powered, and the hunting is done by bow. (comment #16)

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  • Brian E February 24, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Jonathan, are you sure it is a mountain bike trail? Or, is it a hiking trail? The photos do not show any tire tracks, jumps or berms. Just curious, thanks.

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  • Jon N February 24, 2010 at 7:12 am

    I’ve lived in Portland for 18 years, and am getting ready to move. This incident perfectly illustrates why I’m leaving. Forest park is not a nature preserve. All the large predators are gone, there’s a gas refinery at the bottom with gas lines running through the park. There are sewer lines, electrical lines, invasive species, and the place is surrounded by a million people hungry for a place to exercise. F.Park is not crater lake, yellowstone, or yosemite.

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  • Bob_M February 24, 2010 at 7:21 am

    I will volunteer to plant and repair the trail if a team is organized.

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  • Bob Sallinger February 24, 2010 at 7:39 am

    It is great to see a lot of people condemning this type of behavior for the vandalism that it is. I would like to respond to two other themes that also seem to be reoccurring on this blog:

    First several folks have suggested that the mountain biking community should not be held accountable for the behavior of a few bad apples. I agree. However there is a ton of community energy going into improving opportunities for single track both in Forest Park and across the city right now. One of the arguments that we hear from the single track community is that there would be less illegal activity if there was more legitimate opportunity and that the biking community would step up and help educate and police their own. Events like this occurring right in the middle of this process undermine confidence that illegal activity really will be curtailed.

    Second, some folks have referenced other illegal activity in Forest Park to suggest that this incident may not be that big of a deal. Illegal foot trails and dogs running off leash are definitely problems, but I would just note that I have worked in Forest Park for 18 years and this trail stands virtually alone in terms of the level of intentional destruction.

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  • e j February 24, 2010 at 8:02 am

    There is video of bike riders on an unauthorized Forest Park trail, caught by Vince Patton of Oregon Field Guide/ OPB-TV. It’s on OPB News this morning.


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  • sabes February 24, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Why do cyclist think that it’s their constitutional right to have everything they want exactly where they want it? Like someone said up above, Portland is a city! A pretty big city. Just because you want to mountain bike doesn’t mean you have the right to mountain bike in the city limits. I want a ferris wheel close by, that doesn’t give me the right to build one in my front yard. If you want great single track a short distance away, MOVE OUTSIDE THE CITY! Portland cyclists are some of the most entitled bunch of people that I’ve run across.

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  • a.O February 24, 2010 at 8:47 am

    @ #73: Thanks, are, but I will politely decline the invitation to detail the bad faith of those attempting to prevent mtn bikers from legally riding trails in Forest Park. Jon (see #63) seems like he would have a long-term perspective on this.

    In the spirit of making this thread more productive, see Bob_M’s post at #83. Who else will volunteer to help? I would, but I am living in Reno for the time being. Don’t worry, you have lots of time to decide, as remediation cannot begin until things dry out a little.

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  • matt picio February 24, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Jonathan – your story should say “unauthorized trail”, not “bike trail” unless there is clear evidence that the trail was specifically created for bike use. Based on what is stated on this story and in the news reports generated so far, this is a trail. Period. If there are bike tracks, then all that says is that an unauthorized trail was created, and that bikes used it after it was created.

    Unless there is evidence of bike-specific “improvements”, or the constructors are found and questioned, the term “bike” is purely speculative and is adding fuel to the flames.

    Oh, and sabes (#85) – why does anyone think anything is their constitutional right? For one, this isn’t a “cyclist” issue – lots of cyclists never mountain bike. Secondly, it’s a legitimate discussion – they can ask for it, just like frisbee golfers can ask for improvements to a park – if you don’t like it, show up for the meetings and voice your opinion there.

    I question your definition of “entitled” since cyclists are 2nd class citizens when it comes to traffic planning, and when motorists receive large subsidies – who exactly are the entitled users?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 24, 2010 at 9:02 am

      RE: My reporting that this is a bike trail (vs. a trail made by perhaps hikers).

      I will stick to my initial reporting that this is a bike trail… Until I get more information, I have several reasons to believe that it was built by people who ride bikes. I was first notified about this situation last week by someone at the NW Trail Alliance. They called it a bike trail and they are bike advocates. Also, Parks employees said they have seen bike tracks on the trail. Also, hikers aren’t known for chopping in full trails (they could actually just traipse through the forest if they want)… especially ones in such remote locations far from any drivable/walkable trailhead.

      All that being said, I’ll ask some sources for further clarification about whether or not it’s safe to assume this is a bike trail. thanks.

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  • Jim Labbe February 24, 2010 at 9:14 am

    I am not in Portland right now and I haven’t been out to see the damage. But I have to say, as life-long Portland cyclist and lover of Portland’s natural beauty, it is enormously frustrating and saddening to see this incident damage both the fabulous natural areas and emerging bike culture that we should cherish in Portland (I write this in the Netherlands where the good in both these cultural values is self-evident).

    To respond to Jonathon’s plee for information (#62) and the relevant posts: park is not pristine- no natural area is- but it has always (for over 100 years) been conserved firstly for its natural beauty and wildlife and secondly for (and in-balance with) an evolving public interest in recreation. The Park still supports a number of sensitive and at-risk species and is a viable wildlife corridor for some species, bringing nature into the heart of our Metropolitan region. Several Forest Park streams support resident trout populations. Miller Creek has sea run cutthroat and several other streams have the potential to support anadromous (sea run) fish. Not enough is known about the impacts of increasing recreation pressure on the Park’s biodiversity, but an abundance of evidence and experience suggests that how and where those recreational activities occur will make a big difference on the future viability of Forest Park as habitat. We do know that the elk populations that use North part of Forest Park as winter habitat are particularly sensitive to the presence of humans and, from studies elsewhere, mountain biking in particular.

    This is one reason why access to bikes and horses, and even hikers is limited and managed (Contrary to the repeated claims of some, Forest Park is NOT closed to mountain bikes.). It is also one of many reasons those of us on the Forest Park Conservancy Off-Road Cycling White Paper Working Group- that included representatives from Forest Park Conservancy, Portland Audubon, and NWTA- recommended expanding single-track in specific areas in the southern or central portions of the Park.

    This incident clearly threatens both the ecological integrity of Forest Park and the cause of sustainable single-track in Forest Park. Much depends on how we respond and move forward, and particularly how the leaders of mountain biking community (both actual and the self-ascribed) respond and move forward.

    I believe the public’s patience is going to be most tested by those (quoted here and in the Oregonian article) who are quick to fashion this tragic event into a political statement aimed advancing a particular user-group’s agenda. This takes us down the road of all against each other and everyone against the Park. We as a society treat most of nature that way, which is why Portlanders fought for over a 100 years to protect Forest Park.

    It is precisely now, as the Park faces growing recreational pressures, that we must honor this past history and do more to protect the values for which everyone and future generations benefit.

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  • nothstine February 24, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Matt and Jonathan–I wondered, when I first saw this story, how we knew for sure that bikers made the trail [width of cut-back seems to be the best indication I’ve seen so far]. Tire tracks only prove they found it. I mean, I imagine that as Lewis & Clark blazed the trail to the Pacific, the first mountain bikers were never more than 30 minutes behind them the whole way from St. Louis.

    [got here via JM on Twitter]

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  • Vance Longwell February 24, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I don’t have a dog in this fight, but there is one question in ALL (Nice work folks, kool debate.) this stuff remaining unanswered. Where is this trail?

    The, “North”, end of the park includes some of the only MTB trails in the park, as noted, but where precisely is this trail? To me, and I can’t even tell from the pics, to me this looks suspiciously like the tail-end of Firelane 1, which has become grotesquely overgrown. I caught a consultant up there this past summer and she told me they were actively discouraging use of Firelane 1 by MTBers even though though that is the stated purpose of the trail, byway of explaining the overgrowth at the bottom of the trail.

    So, I am concerned that this prodding has morphed into an, at least, an intended ban. Knowing precisely where this trail is would be awesome so I could judge from myself. Funny thing is, of all the writing that has been done about this, I’ve yet to see a precise location mentioned.

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  • cyc February 24, 2010 at 9:50 am

    As far as the MB community policing its own, how about some wanted posters for the two men caught on on camera by OPB?

    Wanted, because we want to talk with you, and perhaps build a case against you. Maybe they’ll “roll over” on their buddies to avoid time in the orange jumpsuits.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 24, 2010 at 9:57 am


    The reason why no one is saying the exact location is because no one wants to have more people riding and walking on it.

    It’s a balance in journalism… do you share every detail you know in situations like this?… or do you hide certain things because you feel it is best for the public good?

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  • lothar February 24, 2010 at 10:09 am

    While I appreciate your sentiment, referring to the park as the kings land is far off the mark. It’s the peoples of this regions land and the people of this region decided long before you came from wherever you came from and the invention of the mono-shock to designate this track a natural area. You don’t tear down a fence until you learn why it was put up in the first place.

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  • Joe February 24, 2010 at 10:26 am

    I think it looks better that ever 🙂 respect everyone has it, but do they take
    the time to let things just go.

    these park fokes just getting all worked up.

    just my 2cents!

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 10:32 am

    It’s obvious why the trail was built, it’s because there should be legal mountain bike singletrack in Forest Park. It’s because mountain bikers are tired of waiting for bureaucracy to move forward. It’s ridiculous that riding a bike in a park makes you an outlaw in the first place.

    wsbob: graffiti and tagging are two different thing. Tagging is what gang members do to claim territory. Graffiti is meant to be and most of the time it is art.

    It is obvious that a tremendous amount of work went into making that trail. I am sure that if a trail was ever made in that park using the proper bureaucratic channels, the same guys who made that trail would show up and work hard.

    Also I don’t see any litter or dog crap on that trail.

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  • Robert February 24, 2010 at 10:38 am


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  • wsbob February 24, 2010 at 10:47 am

    A really sad aspect to this illegal trail construction, made, it would seem, most likely by mountain bikers for mountain biking, is that Forest Park seems to be thought of as the only close-in nature setting that can provide for this type of outdoor activity.

    That’s not true. Crossing just over the ridge of the Tualitan Mountains (traversed by Skyline Blvd), and roughly located between Laidlaw and Germantown roads…and beyond actually..there’s huge amounts of undeveloped (though privately owned I would imagine)land that would be superb country for mountain biking, hiking and other kinds of outdoor recreation as well.

    The existence of this undeveloped land can easily be seen on the 2007 Bike There! map. This land is just a skip and a jump from Forest Park over the other side of the ridge. Just imagine though, the response from property owners if the illegal trail builders would built their trail on that land.

    Though most likely privately owned, the time for the community to work to secure a portion of that land for a future recreational resource is now.

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  • Vance Longwell February 24, 2010 at 10:51 am

    J #94 – Duly noted, I hadn’t thought of that. Well, crud. You likely see where I’m going with this right? I mean, they are not referring to the North end of Firelane 1, right? Scratch that, I got ya. Well, I don’t go up there this time of year because it’s wet, and every good Oregonian knows we avoid parks when they’re wet because of the erosion that can occur. So, I’m left trying to suss this out on my own.

    This is tantamount to digging an impromptu Horse Shoes’ pit in the middle of a more ordinary-type park. (So much for staying out of it.) A thing I’ve witnessed, rest assured. Anyhoo, we could probably all do with a little less of this ‘type’. However, that’s no excuse to be monkeying around with already limited legitimate access MTBs have up there. Premised of course on my half-assumption that this locale is where I think it is; which it likely isn’t anyway.

    A person in the know whom could answer that question for me privately-then, would be greatly appreciated. My personal email is all over the net. Plus J, I hope you know I hadn’t thought of that angle, and subsequently would neither be in the position to, nor intended to take the position, that you were less than up-front.

    Steady as she goes folks, don’t mind me. Just curious is all. J, sorry if you misinterpreted my ignorance as an attack, or if I misspoke. I’m actually glad that you pointed this out because I concur that it would be a disaster to have a bunch of folks up there trying to ‘fix’ this.

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  • jocko February 24, 2010 at 10:52 am

    The only reason it is a park today is because the whole thing has been clearcut over the last 150 years. This resulted in landslides and the park acreage was deemed unsuitable for development. also the below wikipedia article states that “Timber-cutting and fires reduced old growth in Forest Park to “almost nothing” by 1940″. This is not to justify the illegal trail, but to shed light on the “pristine”ness of the park.


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  • Rad Mimi February 24, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I hope they’re found and punished (fines, jail or prison time, community service). Their sense of entitlement is infuriating, not to mention the fact they defaced a Portland icon. Dirtbags one and all. Thank you for damaging an urban ecosystem. And thank you for making all cyclists look like idiots. I hope it was all worth it.

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  • Vance Longwell February 24, 2010 at 11:05 am

    lothar #95 – The inference was justified to me as well. I wonder if perhaps you haven’t maybe read something into electric #77s comment? I think they were meaning to imply grabby-hands by the area residents. Explicitly then, agreeing with you?

    A little history. Keep in mind the real estate surrounding the East end of FP is some of the most expensive square-footage on the face of the planet, and not just Portland, Oregon, or America. Keep in mind too, that less than two decades ago the diametric opposite was true, and this area was under-threat of becoming dilapidated. As the ‘richies’ have moved in up there, they’ve become awfully grabby with that park, in my opinion.

    You make the point that this park belongs to us all, and you’d be right. Additionally I think this is the exact point electric #77 was trying to make. Only they are implying reference to the politics up their as of late, and would be right in doing so; and also likely outted themselves as a native because many locals view that park as The Kings Land.

    Note the existence of a MTB oriented retail store on NW Thurman near the park. This was placed there because less than two decades ago it was HIGHLY unusual to see ANYBODY in that park NOT on an MTB. My how times change.

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  • fredlf February 24, 2010 at 11:18 am

    There seems to be an assumption on the part of some commenters that providing more MTB access to FP means creating more trails. It does not.

    I would be entirely satisfied if some sort of regulatory regime could be worked out so that MTBers could ride more of the existing trails, sometimes. For example, opening up sections of Wildwood at certain times of year and certain times of day. Contrary to the caricature of the off-road rider, we are adults, we can share and we can be good stewards.

    To be absolutely clear, what these cretins did is utterly criminal and unforgivable. It’s a travesty and it sickens me.

    However, demand for off-road riding in FP is like demand for any other cycling infrastructure. You can ignore it and do nothing, but it will not go away.

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  • a.O February 24, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Re opening existing trails to mtn biking at certain times (see #102), this is the best idea IMHO because it has the lease impact on the park.

    Here in the Reno/Tahoe area, the Tahoe Rim Trail is a very popular trail and it is open to biking and hiking on alternate days. This system works great.

    But it requires that the people who control access to FP act like adults and stop their bad faith delay tactics.

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  • beth h February 24, 2010 at 11:30 am

    @ #20:

    “There are hundreds of miles of forest surrounding Portland. Why not protest about the logging and development there? Why do specific user groups feel the need to limit the recreational experience to only their specific user group? Could it be they simply don’t want to share?”

    Well, yeah.

    They may also be working on the assumption that recreational off-road use is a right rather than a privilege.

    This is not about transportational cycling. It’s about someone wanting to turn a public space into their personal playground without regard to the overall health and longevity of the place, future generations and the health of an ecosystem be damned. For that reason alone, they get no respect from me.

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  • Joe February 24, 2010 at 11:35 am

    #97 right on with ya!

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  • Ed February 24, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Not okay.

    If by any chance I see someone building or riding a trail through a natural area like this I’m going to stake them out and call the cops.

    The trails in Scapoose _are_ riding distance, and they’re absolutely in range for anybody with a car.

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  • kungfu February 24, 2010 at 11:52 am

    My solution:

    1 mountain biker
    1 environmentalist
    1 unleashed dog

    Cage fight!

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  • wsbob February 24, 2010 at 11:52 am

    “…Contrary to the caricature of the off-road rider, we are adults, we can share and we can be good stewards. …” fredlf #102

    Fred, I’m convinced, from reading earlier comments of yours over a period of time, that, though I’ve never met you, you may very well be an adult that can share and be a good steward. I’m not at all convinced that that it would be correct to presume the same about off-road riders in general. The construction of this illegal trail certainly does seem to advise continuing with that cautionary regard for off-road riders.

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  • Vance Longwell February 24, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Beth H #106 – Turning a park into a ‘personal-playground’?? Get it? Hehe. Just thought that was kind of a funny choice of words. 🙂

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  • jed February 24, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Skidmark (#97) and Joe (#105).

    This lawless act jeopardizes responsible efforts to expand single-track and the integrity and the efficacy of the public process for managing the park. For god sake live in a democracy, nothing justifies this type of action.

    If anything all this shows is we need more enforcement to stop those that abuse the park, especially intentionally.

    Your juvenile justifications for this heinous act only confirms people’s impression that too many cyclists flaunt the law and abuse the public good out of their own narrow and selfish interest.

    BTW. There IS legal mountain biking and single track in Forest Park.

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  • fredlf February 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm


    Thanks for the vote of confidence. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that making any presumption about the character of off-road riders in general is no different than making assumptions about the “bike community” in general. There are stereotypes and caricatures, and then there is the complexity of reality.

    You could say something similar about skiers, there are those who rely on industrial infrastructure to enjoy the mountain, and there are those who prefer to “earn their turns.” I think far too often the environmental movement has equated off-road riders with down-hill skiers. But a vast number of us are no different than cross-country skiers: we want to enjoy nature using human-powered travel, and have a little fun zipping down hills. Skis just have fewer moving parts.
    I’m not saying we have “right” to do this anywhere we want. I’m just saying it’s an entirely legitimate way to appreciate nature and get some exercise, no more or less so than hiking, climbing, running or riding a horse.

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    There is 1/10 mile of legal singletrack in Forest Park. There is more legal singletrack in Jenkins Estate here in Aloha than there is in Forest Park. Fire proads are great for full-suspension MTBs, but I ride a singlespeed/fixed MTB so I prefer poking along a 8 mph enjoying the scenery on a singletrack trail. Unfortunately this act makes me an outlaw in greater Portland.

    I see the act of making this trail as no different than the creation of the Burnside Skatepark. It is no different than the Grotto dirt jumps, except nobody is bitching about them.

    It is exactly the same thing that happened in Marin County after the Sierra Club had all the trails closed to mountain bikes and it took twenty years of this sort of action to finally make it legal to ride a mountain bike there again. So maybe by the year 2030 I’ll be able to ride singletrack, I won’t be a retired 63 year-old outlaw mountain biker.

    So it’s heinous compared to what, clearcutting and logging in the park?

    Direct Action is not juvenile. Sometimes it is the only way to get the status-quo to change.

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  • KWW February 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Playing devils advocate:
    How many dead animals did they find next to the trail?

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    You’re in good company, SkidMark.

    That’s the same same philosophy the outlaw logging companies (and other environmental; criminals) the world over subscribe to. If the law won’t let them cut in protected areas, then “direct action” sometimes gets the job done.

    If nothing else, at least this environmental crime has ripped away any green veneer those who support the crime may have had.

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    And the inflammotory language and hyperbolic comparisons you and your ilk are using are no different than the right-wing’s anti-Obama and anti-healthcare rhetoric.

    Although maybe you’re right. What city official’s palm do I have to grease to get mountain bike trails built in Forest Park?

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    The truth (aka “inflammatory language and hyperbolic comparisons”) hurting a bit, SkidMark?

    Back in the 80s and 90s, when I was doing “direct action” (the reason it took me half my life, by the way, to finish my education– we were described by one writer as having “partially-completed college degrees and fully-depleted bank accounts”) it was always something we did to *protect* nature.

    Never, ever did any of us imagine that “direct action” would be twisted by some future generation into something to *destroy* nature.

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Sorry, your sensationalistic exaggerations are not the truth.

    I believe that is the exact line of bull the Seirra Club and others have used to have mountain bikes excluded from trails. That and equating the speed and damage a mountain bike causes to that of a dirt bike (motorcycle).

    I think I will stick to the intelligent and rational conversation taking place 3 threads up.

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    It’s not “sensationalistic exaggeration” to call an illegal act that results in environmental destruction an “environmental crime,” and it’s not sensationalistic exaggeration to refer to people who commit environmental crimes as “environmental criminals.”

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  • a.O February 24, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Rixter, by your rationale anyone who breaks the law is unjustified. But you know that breaking the law is somtimes justified when the law is wrong.

    I’m not saying that is true here, and you know that, as I have already said.

    But your reasoning does not hold.

    Fredlf is right: I lived in Portland for over 10 years and I reached the same conclusion. It’s always delay delay delay and form a committee and delay delay delay and hope the mtn bikers go away. Whether it is right or wrong, expect people to find other ways when you refuse to open the democratic process to them.

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Of course my reasoning holds.

    Sensitive habitat was destroyed in violation of the law. By any measure, that’s an environmental crime. Therefore, my characterization of it as an environmental crime is in fact the truth, and not “sensationalistic exaggeration.”

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Sorry but you make it sound like they went in there with a Bobcat and a flamethrower and cut a swath that will be unreclaimable forever. The truth is they used ordinary shovels and rakes (and implements of destruction).

    All of the “damage” done could be (and probably will be by you gooders, or some hired day-laborers)reversed in probably the same amount of time it cut to make the trail. Oh but it will never be the same, mostly because nature constantly changes anyways.

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    “do-gooders” that is.

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    And incidentally, sometimes “direct action” and “civil disobedience” were employed to *protect* the environment, and that meant that those engaged in the direct action and/or civil disobedience were perhaps “breaking the law”– but again, nobody ever equated *destroying* the environment with “direct action” or “civil disobedience.”

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  • a.O February 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    You keep missing the point, Rick. You’re implying that if it is a crime, it must be “wrong.” And you know that’s not necessarily true.

    You want to draw analogies to other situations, fine: Your reasoning is the same that Southern bigots used to condemn civil rights advocates who committed crimes to do what was right.

    Saying you think the trail building wasn’t justified is fine — a perfectly reasonable opinion. But to say it wasn’t justified because it was illegal is just beneath someone of your intellect.

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    SkidMark, it is abundantly clear from your comments, and the comments of the other apologists for this crime, that you have absolutely no understanding of the most basic principles of conservation biology.

    And that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that per se.

    But your assessment of the damage done is nothing more than grossly uninformed personal opinion, and the degradation (which you clearly don’t even understand) that resulted from people acting on their own grossly uninformed personal opinion illustrates the folly that results.

    And frankly, acting on that uninformed opinion, and defending it here, places you and the other apologists in the same league as the climate change deniers who presume that they know more about climatology than the climatologists they disagree with.

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  • a.O February 24, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    From #125: “[N]obody ever equated *destroying* the environment with “direct action” or “civil disobedience.”

    Yeah, I believe several people have done just that in this very thread. And ever heard of the Sage Brush Rebellion?Lots of people have done just that. One man’s “criminal racial treason” is another man’s “freedom ride,” just like one man’s “environmental crime” is another man’s “trail-building direct action.”

    Argue why it was unjustified, but leave alone the nonsense that “illegal = bad.”

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    a.O. it is YOU who are missing the point.

    Think about it– If I said that “direct action” and “civil disobedience” have been used in defense of the environment (and we can substitute “to fight segregation”), then I’ve as much as acknowledged that the breaking the law is, while illegal, not always “wrong.”

    In this instance, breaking the law is both illegal, and “wrong.”

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  • Ron K February 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    This kind of thing is so frustrating. While I agree with many of the “devil’s advocate” points people make, and I also agree that there should be way more mtn bike access development for PDX and surrounding locales, as of right now there’s just not that much. No matter how justified and correct a group of folks might be in putting that trail in, that doesn’t mean squat to people that don’t mtn bike. We just look like clueless slackers, regardless of whether it’s deserved or not. Unfortunately, there seems to be a weird (to me) undercurrent of anti mountain biking sentiment in the Portland and surrounding areas, and things like this, no matter how well the trail may or may not be constructed, are immaterial to the perception of non mtn bikers.

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    @ 128– For proper context, see post 118.

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    The way I look at it, as a cyclist you are the apologist. “I’m sorry my fellow cyclists wanted trail access so bad they cut their own secret trail in the park.”

    I have an idea. Close Forest Park to everyone, that way the environment will be completely preserved. Just put up a 10″ cyclone fence around the perimeter, complete with razor tip barb wire. You can patrol the perimeter on your mountain bike with slicks and fenders and rack and panniers and lights and reflective tape, in your reflective yellow jacket and 28 blinky lights.

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    oops 10 foot not 10 inch.

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Actually, I’m saddened that some people think their “entitlement” to bike fun is more important than respecting sensitive habitat.

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  • fredlf February 24, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    I completely agree with rixtir, in this instance it was both illegal and un-ethical (wrong) to break the law. From a biological/ecological point of view, the crime is pretty horrendous. How bad a crime it is socially is really the heart of the debate.

    I really only wanted to point out that demand for a common resource must be managed, not ignored. Otherwise, black market rules will prevail. And that’s bad for all concerned, especially the resource.

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  • a.O February 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    @ #129: Correct. But I think you are contradicting yourself with your statements about right-wing law-breaking.

    And, again, I agree it is wrong. Do we disagree that it’s unsurprising? Or that the “stewards” of the park have engaged in bad faith nrgotiation over access?

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  • a.O February 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    @ #134: I completely agree.

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  • Bob_M February 24, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Those who think that Mt bikes and this thin ribbon of mud have no effect on the park are not the persons who would notice a pileated woodpecker or who silently wait while elk graze below them. The persons who view nature at this park are valid users, and the dynamic and frenetic action of mt bikers destroys the tranquility that sensitive animals require. There is real damage to the park from this trail.

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    a.O., I am not quite sure what you mean about my statements re “right wing law-breaking.”

    If you’re talking about the Sagebrush Rebellion, as I hazily recall, there may have been some illegal acts committed, in which case I would agree with you that those were both direct action and civil disobedience. Not direct action or civil disobedience I would agree with, but you do have a point. But I also think it reinforces what I was saying in 116.

    Re the “stewards” of the park, I’m not informed enough on the history of negotiation to comment on whether I think it has been in bad faith. But I do think that there has been substantial movement towards opening access to the park in the last year or two– and that fact further delegitimizes any attempts to make an end-run around the negotiations. I can’t imagine that the NWTA felt any less kicked in the gut than the rest of the stakeholders.

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  • a.O February 24, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I take issue with the statement that there has been substantial progress recently (or ever), but I am not prepared to detail the long list of facts and experiences that have led me to that conclusion.

    All I ask is that you talk with some of the people in Portland who have been asking very nicely for over 20 years to ride their bikes on some (any) of the park’s single track, then consider the fact that there is still none to ride. If you do that, I think you will agree that this extremely unfortunate incident was entirely predictable and probably will happen again.

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Nick Fish supports increased access. So does the Audubon Society. Both the city and a major environmental stakeholder have agreed that there should be increased access in the park.

    Is that not “substantial progress”?

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    “frenetic action of mt bikers”

    Not everyone rides a mountain bike like Tinker Juarez in a championship main race. That’s what fire roads are for anyways, except for that pesky speed limit. A typical characterization that all mountain bikers are “extreme”.

    I really can’t believe that making a trail has turned into some sort of morality discussion.

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  • a.O February 24, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    By way of example, I mentioned the Tahoe Rim Trail earlier. It’s a fantastic trail, through very sensitive habitat with lots of important water quality and fish considerations. User conflicts were addressed long ago by opening the trail to bikers and bikers on alternate days. That same request was made many years ago for the Wildwood Trail (or others alternately) in FP.

    The response was to bury the request in an administrative morass. Study this, delay that, etc, infinitely.

    And it’s no secret as to what the motivation is. The environmental community uses this tactic to stop larger projects at the federal level all the time. Just require endless study and process, committee meetings, etc until the proponents give up or run out of money, etc. And that’s fine, probably in many cases the end justifies the means.

    But here it’s just dishonest. Just say you want the Wildwood to yourself every day, let’s take a vote or whatever and move on. Stop the passive-aggressive tactics and hype about how huge of an impact bikes have (I know it’s not zero, BTW). Every conceivable impact could have been studied in minute detail by now and a decision could have been made on the merits.

    And the result would be a group of community-minded riders who help maintain the shared trails in addition to the dedicated fire lanes they already help with. AND NO ILLEGAL TRAILS.

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  • a.O February 24, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    @ 140: Again, look behind the rhetoric, because their actions are speaking much louder than their words.

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  • wsbob February 24, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    “…graffiti and tagging are two different thing.” SkidMark #97

    SkidMark, thanks for pointing out this distinction for everyone here. I’ll add that, though different, they’re related rather closely in that both are done illegally without consultation with or consent from the public at large, in contrast to official, legally constructed trail produced on the public’s behalf through the parks department.

    I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the people that built this illegal trail thought their work was something beautiful and wonderful…’art’. And maybe, under other circumstances, it would have been. As the circumstances are in this case, the illegal trail is vandalism…a theft from the public domain.

    There are hundreds of thousands of people in Portland with a stake in the health and integrity of this park. It’s city government’s and the parks department’s obligation to look out for the public’s…these people’s…best interest in managing the park.

    Despite the apparently strong desire on the part of off-road biking enthusiasts to have single width trail access for ‘off-road riding’ or ‘mountain biking’…however they wish to phrase it…provided them in Forest Park, it remains to be seen that the public’s desire for this mode of transportation in the park is anything remotely similar.

    If the public really wanted mountain biking single width trail made accessible in Forest Park…really wanted this…every media outlet, at least once a month, maybe twice a week or more…would likely be running hot stories about the public’s constant request that off-road riding/mountain biking trail be provided for in the park. That doesn’t seem to be happening.

    This suggests that Portland residents in general, love their 5000 acre nature park and are pleased the North Management Unit is managed by the parks dept as a mostly off limits to humans area, enabling wildlife to thrive more naturally. It’s doubtful that they’ll appreciate this unauthorized mountain biking trail construction in North Management Unit or something similar anywhere else in the park.

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  • electric February 24, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    This just IN an ILLEGAL HIKING TRAIL has been found in a pristine park! They are spreading spores with their feet and destroying the park with their aggressively lugged hiking boots and sanctimonious auras!!

    p.s. are in post 78 telling me he is completely objective… lol, come on. You wrote it and that is the meaning, objectively speaking. Back pedal some more.

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    I’ve talked with Jim Labbe at some length about biking in Forest Park. I’ve also read what he and Bob Sallinger have to say here and elsewhere. I do not have the impression that he is being insincere when he says that the Audubon Society supports increased access to the park. Summarizing, as I understand it, their position is that the A.S. supports properly-built, well-managed and regulated trails in environmentally appropriate areas of the park.

    That, to me, sounds like the well-managed and regulated use of the resource that fredlf is calling for in 134.

    I’m not privy to the ongoing discussions over the future of Forest Park, and increased access in the park, so I can only judge by what I have heard and read– but based on that, I think it’s safe to say that there is at least general agreement that the park should accommodate mountain bikes, and the remaining question is how.

    (addendum: re alternating access for Wildwood,I don’t know what issues are being discussed there, so I can’t really comment, but I was there a few days ago, in a heavily hiked portion of the trail, and there are several portions that are extremely muddy, a week after the last rain. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the stakeholders think that at least portions of Wildwood are inappropriate for alternating mixed use– again, I don’t know exactly what issues are being discussed, so I can only guess.)

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  • Charlie February 24, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Great, now I’m bald. Just pulled out all my hair reading this.

    I too would like to see these rogue builders of unsanctioned trails identified. And invited to the table to take part in the conversation. Not villified and summarily lynched.

    What they did was wrong and they should be held accountable, but they built that trail for their own reasons (not those of the mountain bike community as a whole) and they deserve an opportunity to be heard.

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  • a.O February 24, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Rick, I will bet you $100 that Jim Labbe, Bob Sallinger, Nick Fish, etc are all saying the same bullshit about how they support access and blah, blah, blah for the next five years and somehow it mysteriously just won’t get done and on Feb 22, 2015 there will still be no legal singletrack in FP. Care to put your money where your mouth is?

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  • 007 February 24, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I hope those who did this are caught and pay for it one way or another. They are selfish and ignorant. Much like those who want more roads, bridges and highways.

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  • rixtir February 24, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    I haven’t said they’ll have an agreement by such and such a date. I said there has been “substantial progress” in the last year or two.

    You know, a case could probably be made for more transparency in the discussions– “Here’s who’s at the table, here’s what there positions are, here’s what’s being discussed, here’s where we agree, here’s what the points of contention are,” and so forth. More transparency would let Portlander’s know what progress is (or isn’t) being made, and why, as well as what’s at stake, for whom, and why.

    On the other hand, a case could be made that more transparency might lead to less progress and more posturing.

    I don’t know which holds true in this case, but it seems to me that NWTA wouldn’t be at the table if they thought that they weren’t being taken seriously, or that there was no real progress being made towards increased access.

    I’m reminded of what President Obama said recently– that bipartisanship doesn’t mean that the Democrats have to give up everything they believe in. That applies here, too, i think– a general agreement in principle that there should be increased access in the park doesn’t mean that an environmental stakeholder should have to give up everything they believe about environmentally-sound management, just as it does not mean that a recreation stakeholder should have to give up everything they believe about fair and equitable access to the park. I think there’s a lot of room for common ground between those two perspectives, and from what I can tell, the stakeholders think so too.

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  • xtinA February 24, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Why did I just read this? Every time I come here it’s the same: wah wah entitlement, wah my privilege is being stepped on, wah my rights to wreck shit for some ridonculous reason-bah!

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  • Anonymous February 24, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    Im so glad they didnt find my trail in there…but this one looks pretty fun too, anyone wanna ride it tomm? directions?

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    I hope they build another “secret spot” and I find out about it before it gets busted.

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  • kiwimunki February 24, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Disrupted animal behavior is one example of harm caused by the trail.


    It would be unnerving to you if bikers unexpectedly rode through a trail built in your bedroom, or through the community garden you rely on for your veg. It would indeed be fun for the cyclist. But you would not like it.

    If you had no way to stop bikers from disrupting your essential food and bedroom business, you would probably try to move somewhere else. Unfortunately for its non-human residents, the North End was the somewhere else – the last somewhere else, really.

    Not every place is for us.

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Sorry to continue to veer OT but there is plenty of graffiti style art that is commissioned work on public and privately owned spaces, there is graffiti style art in galleries. It’s used on clothing and in advertising.

    So I guess it’s about as “outlaw” as mountain biking is, never mind…

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    kiwimunki: so let me see if I understand this: if a hiker walked through your bedroom, or through your community garden, that would not be a big deal?

    What if the mountain bikers just rode in your hallways room to room and stayed off the bed and the furniture? How come the hikers could still go anywhere they want? Is it because they paid you off years ago to not let mountain bikes into your house, or only in the hallways?

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  • wsbob February 24, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    Fredlf #113 and SkidMark #114…words you’ve used today and in the past to characterize the type of off-road bike riders you are suggest that your style is moderate, slow and easy. SkidMark: “…I prefer poking along a 8 mph enjoying the scenery on a singletrack trail.”

    Do either of you imagine there’s a possibility that the riding style of some mountain bike enthusiasts coming to the park to ride will be considerably quicker and more aggressive than your own?

    Any ideas on how the public might feel about such riders having access to single width trail in the park? If it’s concluded that this riding style in the park is a problem, do either of you have ideas to offer that would help to correct such a problem if it were to come up?


    Ed #108…made note of off-road biking trails in Scapoose:

    “…The trails in Scapoose _are_ riding distance, and they’re absolutely in range for anybody with a car.”

    Anyone have some thoughts about those trails they’d like to share here? Maus…possible material for a story?


    “…Sorry to continue to veer OT but there is plenty of graffiti style art that is commissioned work on public and privately owned spaces, there is graffiti style art in galleries. It’s used on clothing and in advertising.

    So I guess it’s about as “outlaw” as mountain biking is, never mind… “SkidMark

    “…never mind…” is right. Graffiti publicly commissioned to be put on public walls would be legal. If someone hires a person to put graffiti on their own space, that’s likely to be legal too.

    Same status would have been given the trail discovered in the North Management area if the people that constructed it had asked and received permission from the city to build it before starting work on it. Of course, it seems they didn’t bother with permission.

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  • AaronF February 24, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    I love the arguments for a distinction between graffiti and tagging. Come out to St. Johns and right now you can find about 200 examples of tagging and if there are any examples of your super cool graffiti murals I don’t see them. Some sloppy bubble letters and that’s about it. Banksy doesn’t live out here.

    I don’t see what graffiti done without permission has to do with “graffiti style art on clothing.” People buy that clothing, and consent to wearing it.

    Forgive me but I’ve painted over 4 dumb tags this year already, and only one of them was gang related. The other three were all the same punk.

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  • SkidMark February 24, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Tell you what I’ll consider that others ride more aggressively than I do if you stop characterizing all mountain bikers as speed demons with no regards for the environment.

    And while you are at it consider that some graffiti artists move along and become “legitimate” and even end up doing posters for our current President of the United States. That’s right Shepherd Fairey got his start wheatpasting his Andre the Giant posters all over the world, illegally.

    Nobody is riding singletrack at breakneck speeds wsbob, you’d tag a tree with your handlebar, your shoulder, or your head.

    People have been asking for singletrack in Forest Park probably going back 20 twenty years to whenever bikes were kicked out, and all there is to show for it is one CRAP trail 1/10 of a mile long.

    Burnside Skatepark was originally illegally built, actually I think it is still unsanctioned today.

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  • Mike February 25, 2010 at 6:39 am


    If you want to view humans as “invasive species” too that’s fine. Portland Parks don’t want humans walking or biking around that area either.

    It’s clear you don’t understand the issue much since you think all the damage can be done by moving the rocks and turning people away from the trail. Who is going to do that? Do you think the Portland Parks and Rec. has the money to station a staff person at the park 24-7 to look out for people illegally using the trail? Give me a break.

    I’m sure they will remove the rocks but the trail will take a lot of time and effort to remove.

    I think that Mt. bikers should have more trails they can use, but they shouldn’t have built that trail. We don’t have many nice ecosystems left and even if you don’t care about preserving them lots of other people do.

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  • Mike February 25, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Re: 69 cold worker

    Forest Park’s ecosystem in general is pretty awful. There are tons of invasive plants, most notably invasive blackberry and English ivy. The northern most parts of the forest are way better than the southern parts, which are pretty much beyond hope. So organizations in general get more bang for their buck keeping ivy out of ivy-less parts of the forest, which is one of the reasons why this illegal trail is causing such a stir for the parks – they would be just as upset if it were a hiking trail – but hikers don’t have as much of a reason to build an illegal trail since there are already tons of hiking paths through the forest.

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  • a.O February 25, 2010 at 7:09 am

    @ #151: That, my friend, iw a whole lot of words to say that, No, you’re not willing to bet that there will be legal singletrack in 5 years. Wise choice. And that pretty much makes my point as best it could be made.

    Anyone else willing to bet against my proposition that there will still be no (more) legal singletrack in FP on this date in 2015?

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  • Charlie February 25, 2010 at 7:58 am

    @wsbob #158, re Scappoose:
    Scappoose is a network of user-built trails on private timber land. The land owners turn a blind eye and give tacit approval for low-impact trail building, i.e. no tree removal, no stunts or man-made obstacles/jumps etc. It is a nice little network of trails, but it is also subject to the whims of the timber company: if they want to log it, bye-bye user-built trails.
    It was a group of frustrated Portland area riders that looked to this opportunity after being shut-out of the process to gain access to more trails in Forest Park that built most of the network. Now, I’m afraid, they may go bury their heads in the sand for all the harm these rogue builders are doing to the current cause.

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  • f5 February 25, 2010 at 8:59 am


    “Do either of you imagine there’s a possibility that the riding style of some mountain bike enthusiasts coming to the park to ride will be considerably quicker and more aggressive than your own?
    Chances are, of course they do. If you’re resistance to bikes is based on user conflicts, I suggest you go back through the previous FP threads you’ve chimed in on and recall the numerous methods people have cited showing how user conflicts are handled by land managers so that any single trail user-group doesn’t have to be unfairly banned. There is endless precedent for allowing hikers, horses, and bikers on the same trails. You know this.

    “Any ideas on how the public might feel about such riders having access to single width trail in the park? If it’s concluded that this riding style in the park is a problem, do either of you have ideas to offer that would help to correct such a problem if it were to come up?”
    So in your mind, “the public” does not include cyclists?

    Can you remind us all why you’re asking the same questions over and over again? It’s like groundhog day with you every time there’s an article on FP on this site. You’ve already asked these questions on BP before and been given plenty of real answers.

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  • a.O February 25, 2010 at 9:45 am

    @ #165: f5, thanks for that. I no longer have the patience to deal with that BS, but it needs to be said.

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  • wsbob February 25, 2010 at 11:34 am

    “…recall the numerous methods people have cited showing how user conflicts are handled by land managers so that any single trail user-group doesn’t have to be unfairly banned. There is endless precedent for allowing hikers, horses, and bikers on the same trails. You know this.” f5

    Hey f5…haven’t heard from you on these pages for awhile. You’re mostly a fairly decent debater. Good seeing you back. Re; those methods you cite above: it appears off-road riders need some better ones for Forest Park, if the speed at which single track being introduced there is any indication. People aren’t buying them.

    The reason I keep asking everyone here the questions I have, is because those seem to be some of the important questions related to possible expansion of off-road biking in FP that for some reason are not being answered. NWTA doesn’t answer them, people commenting here don’t seem to have answers for them, The parks department doesn’t seem to have answers for them…neither does Fish. People imagining that they have been answered, might be well advised to start recognizing they’re not being seen as sufficient for Forest Park.


    “…Tell you what I’ll consider that others ride more aggressively than I do if you stop characterizing all mountain bikers as speed demons with no regards for the environment. …” SkidMark #160

    SkidMark…that’s just not a fair or accurate statement of what I have mentioned could represent the range of off-road bike riding styles people may bring to Forest Park. The reason I addressed the question I did in the previous comment to you and Fredlf, is because you two in fact appear to be people that definitely aren’t, as you put it…”speed demons”.

    The point is, that people’s riding style and interests are inevitably different. The fact that some are partial to slow, easy going riding doesn’t mean all will be. So one question to deal with will be how to get a handle on situations where folks come to the park wishing to ride at breakneck speed. Would Portland residents take to the idea of alternate day use so this and other user conflicts could be avoided in the park? Good question. Maybe someone has an idea for figuring out how to answer it.


    Charlie #164….thanks for the info on the Scapoose trails. I’d read before about the private ownership of the land, but forgotten. It still seems like this land has great potential for off-road biking for Portland and metro area residents. The timber companies might be persuaded to officially allow use of their land for this purpose.

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  • […] after an unauthorized mountain bike trail was discovered in Forest Park, there is new scrutiny on the issue. Commissioner Fish, whom I spoke with this […]

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  • fredlf February 25, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    WSBob wrote: “Do either of you imagine there’s a possibility that the riding style of some mountain bike enthusiasts coming to the park to ride will be considerably quicker and more aggressive than your own?”

    Well of course I have. In fact I write a blog that is in large part a chronicle of being slower than everyone else (I am not a Fred in name alone). And of course I like the downhill as much as the uphill, maybe more. I’m certainly no freerider or downhiller (and to be honest, I don’t have a ton of respect for those disciplines, as skillful as they are). But yes, I enjoy picking my way down technical singletrack as nimbly and crisply as I can. Next time I go down Firelane 11 (or whatever that one is at the top of Salzman, I always forget) I’ll see just how “fast” that is.

    But I really don’t see a distinction between the kind of mountain biking I (and a great many others) do and cross-country skiing. So I just call it off-road riding. Of course I understand riding is harder on trails than skiing. But skiers like to go fast downhill and the snow-shoers don’t get all bent out of shape about it. They just share.

    So if riding off-road is as legitimate a way to appreciate a natural resource as other human-powered forms of recreation, I simply argue that it should be allowed access equivalent to that enjoyed by equestrians, or dog-sledders, or baby carriage joggers. That is to say, it should be carefully regulated to mitigate conflict with other users and minimize impact on the ecology of the resource.

    As others have said, this can be accomplished with seasonal access bans, scheduled access (bikes on Wednesdays, no bikes on weekends, etc.) and all sorts of other schemes. If you engage the community (which requires seeing the community as more than Mountain Dew swilling 20-somethings riding engineless motorcycles down ski-runs), I’m confident the community will respond with stewardship and support.

    Maybe I’m naive in that belief. Which would be a shame, at my age.

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  • HeliPad February 25, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Cutting down live cedars is inexcusable, though. Disrespect for the land brings bad juju. At least it was built in the winter, nascent time for many plants.
    I’m more concerned about the mass herds of elk being prevented from their berry eating on Sauvies Island by this so-called mountain bicycling trail.
    8 speed XTR still rocks.

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  • suckit February 25, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    so does anyone have directions to this trail? It looks fun as hell!

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  • kiwimunki February 26, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Re: 156 – People walking through a garden is less destructive than people riding their bikes through a garden.

    Similar to how bicycles tread lightly on our paved surfaces, while heavier, faster things like cars tend to tear it up. All traffic is not equal in impact.

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  • […] emotions still raw over the construction of an unauthorized trail in a sensitive habitat area of the park, tonight’s meeting of the Forest Park Single Track […]

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  • SkidMark February 27, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    We are not discussing walking over vegetation, we are discussing riding on a dirt trail.

    I don’t think the contact patch of a bike tire is any bigger than the contact patch of two shoes. True I weigh more with my bike. Would it be OK to ride my bike on a singletrack trail if I lost 25lbs.?

    While we are talking about weight, there are many trails that allow hikers and equestrians but not bikes. I don’t know anyone with a 1200 lbs. bike that poops.

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  • Speedlinking 28 February 2010 :: Treadly and Me February 27, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    […] I really don’t get why people would do this: Unauthorized bike trail damages “pristine habitat” in Forest Park. […]

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  • wsbob March 1, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    fredlf #169 …the analogy of skiing and snowshoeing is interesting. Long time since I cross country skied, never snowshoed.

    Tell you what…clone yourself and put all the clones on off-road bikes. They quite likely would work out just fine on single width trial in Forest Park with everyone on foot. In the real world though, people aren’t nearly so mild tempered.

    As Charlie on one of the other threads mentioned, a sense of responsibility associated with off-road bike use has evolved over the decades to one of greater responsibility. If everyone working on the bike access to the park issue keeps this in mind, some kind of amicable arrangement might develop.

    (Meanwhile, I’ll see if I can develop the habit of bookmarking discussion threads.)

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  • Northwest Boy March 25, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    @beth h 106
    “This is not about transportational cycling. It’s about someone wanting to turn a public space into their personal playground without regard to the overall health and longevity of the place, future generations and the health of an ecosystem be damned. For that reason alone, they get no respect from me.”

    That is definitely unfair and a characterization of mtn bikers. From my experiences, I believe the majority have high regard to the overall health and longevity of the park, future generations and the health of the eco-system. And should we respect you if you show us no respect? Respect is definitely not a one way street.

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  • […] This is sobering news, because if Eugene doesn’t begin to make this a priority we risk having many of the same problems that Portland has recently experienced.  There is clearly a demand for local mountain biking trails. If the city does not provide trails then illegal trail building could proliferate, much like what happened in Portland’s Forest Park. […]

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