Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Forest Park bike access talks disrupted by illegal trail

Posted by on February 26th, 2010 at 9:10 am

At the committee meeting last night.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Commissioner Nick Fish’s promise to improve and expand access for bicycles in Forest Park might be harder to keep than he expected.

With 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 Cycling Committee was expected to be heated and emotional. It did not disappoint. There were pleas from Portland Parks Director Zari Santner, a walkout due to anger by two bike advocates, diatribes against the illegal trail, calls (from both sides of the debate) to shut the process down and reconvene the committee, and new information that has vast implications for the future of single track riding in the park.

“This is a tragedy… Unless… strategic management policies are in place, nothing should move forward.”
— Zari Santner, Director of Portland Parks

At the outset of the meeting, facilitator Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong from Commissioner Fish’s office, said that they decided to scrap the original agenda — which was to vote up or down on a set of trail access options — because, given the events of the week, “It would not have been a successful conversation tonight.”

Kennedy-Wong said discussions of the illegal trail would not be the sole purpose of the meeting, but she let several committee members address it.

Director of Portland Parks Zari Santner started out by calling the illegal trail a “tragedy.” “This is going to take years to fix… The impact to this unbelievably pristine part of the park is incredible.” Because of this tragedy, Santner said, the committee would have to work even harder to come up with recommendations that would put in place “management strategies [a.k.a. enforcement] and policies that are coupled with adequate resources to make sure that whatever the committee comes up with can be successful.”

Director of Parks, Zari Santner (Parks project
manager Emily Roth is on the right).

Santner added that while she and Commissioner Fish recognize the “unmet needs” of people who want improved bike access in the park, “protection of the ecological resource values of this park is paramount and whatever recommendation that the committee comes up with has to meet that goal and be consistent with the park’s management plan.”

The committee has already agreed that protecting the park ecology and working within the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan were imperative. That is nothing new. The part of Santner’s opening plea that raised eyebrows was how she is now demanding that the committee not just identify where and how to improve bike access in the park, but also come up with management policies and “resources” (which could mean sweat equity and/or funding) to carry them out.

“This park is totally out of control… We should not go forward with anything that would increase the impact.”
— Les Blaize, committee member

“Unless those strategic management policies are in place,” said Zantner, “nothing should move forward.”

Unfortunately, for bike advocates who hoped for progress on this issue by spring, “Nothing should move forward,” was a common theme at the meeting.

There was also a lot of talk about the importance of investing in enforcement. Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director with the Audubon Society of Portland, said, “I haven’t seen the commitment from Parks or council for enforcement… The message I’ve gotten over the years is that enforcement doesn’t matter.”

Sallinger’s comments were echoed by Les Blaize, a veteran Forest Park activist. Blaize painted a dire picture of the park, saying it is at “the tipping point” due to overuse and that no increase in usage should be tolerated without studies to assess their impacts. “This park is totally out of control… We should not go forward with anything that would increase the impact.”

Marci Houle and Les Blaize.

Marci Houle, an author who has studied the park for 28 years (and who some might recall as the woman who jolted the committee by sending a letter to the media in opposition to increased bike access last fall), was the first person to raise the specter of reconvening the committee. Houle feels that improving bike access without enforcement policies in place and completing studies on vegetation and wildlife is like “putting the cart before the horse.”

Tom Archer, President of the Northwest Trail Alliance spoke next. He said people who ride are “nature lovers first and bikers second.” He also expressed frustrations about what he had heard so far:

“The original charge of this committee was to look to expanding single track cycling opportunities… now what I’m hearing is that we should make broad policy recommendations… We don’t have authority to do that. If the baseline to progress requires additional studies and funding allocations — I’m not saying they’re not warranted — than we should disband this committee and reform another committee to look at those issues… I think it’s a disservice to members to deviate from our original goal.”

In response, Parks’ Zari Santner repeated that they are not changing the direction of the committee, but rather, she’s just saying that whatever they come up with must be “realistic recommendations” that are “coupled with management strategies.”

“What I just heard is totally different than the expectation we’ve been operating under and it changes the equation for this committee and the community at large.”
— Tom Archer, President of the NW Trail Alliance

As committee members continued to speak, the exchanges got a bit heated. Les Blaize and Marci Houle spoke out of turn, interrupted people, and waved their speaking cards while others spoke. Their conduct caused two other members of the committee — bike trail expert Chris Bernhardt and bike activist Frank Selker — to get up and leave in frustration (Bernhardt warned he would do so if Houle and Blaize continued to speak out of turn).

Bob Sallinger from Audubon Portland said Blaize and Houle’s “disruptive behavior” was “completely unacceptable.” “We do have [meeting] rules and if we’re not going to enforce them than it’s a waste of time for everyone involved.”

After things calmed down, Emily Roth with the Parks bureau revealed the biggest news of the night. She said they just got word from the Bureau of Development Services that adding a new use (biking) to an existing hiking trail (known as trail-sharing) would require a Type III land use review process. A Type III review requires a lengthy public process.

Bike advocates on the committee had previously been told by Parks and BDS that sharing existing hiking-only trails would only require a Type II review process. With this revelation from BDS, it means the trail-sharing option is now off the table.

Tom Archer was clearly thrown a curve by this news:

“What I just heard is totally different than the expectation we’ve been operating under and it changes the equation for this committee and the community at large… It changes the whole program. Our goal was to identify new trails for bikes by spring 2010, that will not happen without trail sharing.”

The frustration by Archer is understandable. Parks’ project manager Emily Roth addressed the confusion: “Originally, when I talked to BDS, I was told it was a Type II review; but now in fact they look at it as a Type III review.”

After hearing all this, Frank Selker — the citizen activist whose work in galvanizing community enthusiasm around this issue back in December 2008 is largely responsible for the committee’s existence — said, “Bottom line is they don’t want bikes getting more access… They’re saying, ‘Go play somewhere else.’ I’m frustrated because I keep hearing selfish based suggestions.”

(Selker was responding in part to one woman on the committee who suggested that people who want more bike trails in Forest Park should find private funds to purchase a parcel of land. She said, “I have neighbors who’d like to ski and they’d love to be able to ski in Forest Park in the winter time… but they’re going to the private sector to get their needs met. I hear a lot about all the resources the bike community has… Can a parcel of land be purchased for this purpose? Rather than try and cram another usage in?”)

At the end of the meeting, several members of the public were allowed to comment. Lynn Jennings, a retired Olympic runner who runs “every inch of the park” said she understands why bike advocates are frustrated:

“The sinuous smallness [of trails] is what is beguiling… If I were shut out from that I would be upset too… If this committee doesn’t recommend some small trails for mountain bikers, there will be more [illegal] trails… Please give something to mountain bikers that resembles the beauty that all the runners love too.”

One man pointed out that the illegal trail is “not an isolated incident” and said there is a “spider web” of similar trails throughout Washington Park. “This is a problem of rampant lawlessness… Until those trails are rehabilitated, the City should not even consider expanding that use.”

Les Blaize’s wife, Barbara Blaize did not leave any question on where she stands:

“This massacre happened in my backyard. I am very embarrassed for my city… We should not be moving forward at all without more rangers, without enforcement… I think this group should reconvene and not go forward at all until this park is studied.”

One woman who said she conducted a study on Forest Park trail users while at Portland State University implored the committee to remember that the illegal trail was done by a “small group of individuals” and that, “It’s totally unfair to blanket rule against an entire user group” for their “irresponsible activities.”

At this point, it’s not clear what direction the committee will take. It is clear however, that while the illegally built trail may not have officially derailed this process, it has certainly sent shockwaves through it. As NWTA President told me the other day, “The discovery of that trail could not have come at a worse time.”

View complete coverage of this issue here.

— In related news, the NWTA has announced a joint work party with the Parks bureau to help decommission the illegal trail. The event will be held May 1st. More details on the NWTA website.

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

  • Oh Word? February 26, 2010 at 9:29 am

    These people need to quit complaining about the illegal trail (Blaize called it a massacre?? I wish I had her problems!!!)

    The trail was probably built by a bunch of bored teenagers during Winter Break.

    Let’s move on!!!

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  • Brad Ross February 26, 2010 at 9:30 am

    What a nightmare. Sounds like Portland Parks was leading NWTA along the whole time. No suprise there.

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  • Joe February 26, 2010 at 9:42 am

    nightmare yes! NWTA did nothing wrong.

    my 2 cents

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  • matt picio February 26, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I think the most telling comment is from Barbara Blaize – “This massacre happened in my backyard.” not “our” backyard, “my” backyard. Many of the residents whose property abuts Forest Park view it as their property, rather than acknowledging that it belongs to the entire city.

    And “pristine” is a mischaracterization. The region was logged within the last 75 years, and it is surrounded by noise and air pollution. Valuable, certainly. Irreplaceable, arguably. Pristine, hardly.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 26, 2010 at 9:46 am


    It’s also worth noting, that if bike advocates and/or Parks decide to move forward with trail sharing, Les Blaize told me his neighborhood association would file an appeal with the hearings officer… which makes it even more unlikely that any trail-sharing will ever happen.

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  • Burk February 26, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Jonathan, thanks a bunch for the coverage on this!

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  • Steve February 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Hmmm…illegal trail built by ?(anti-bikers ?), “discovered” just prior to this meeting… me thinks me smell a rat.

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  • Marcus Griffith February 26, 2010 at 9:59 am

    There should be viable bike access TO the park; but I oppose increasing bike access WITHIN the park. The spider web of unauthorized bike trails (and the frequent make shift foot trails as well) endanger what few quasi-wild areas of the park that are left.

    I support a complete ban on bicycles in the park and would support enforcement of the ban though citations. Even as a bike advocate, I believe there areas that bikes simply do not belong.

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  • kgb February 26, 2010 at 10:09 am

    If we are going to start banning anything from the park under the guise of protecting it then we must start with dogs. Anytime speaks of bans the conversation should go straight to the dogs. If the person making the suggestion doesn’t agree with that then they should be dismissed as insincere.

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  • trail user February 26, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Why can’t the city just put up a wall along people’s property lines to distinguish where private property ends and public property begins? I hear there’s one over on 82nd.

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  • maxadders February 26, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Just as I suspected: wealthy west-hills homeowners concerned only with themselves.

    It’s becoming more and more obvious that the Parks department won’t stand up for an entire class of users who actually want to enjoy the park, not just live next to it.

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  • Ryan February 26, 2010 at 10:27 am

    a.O – if you’re out there, I now get the picture of what you were diplomatically trying to convey about this group in your responses to the intial story on the illegal trail.

    This does not sound like a good faith effort to figure out where trails can go. It sounds like west hills people bent on shutting out users that they don’t like.

    Jonathan, thanks, as always, for excellent coverage!

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  • matt picio February 26, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I agree completely with kgb (#9) – the biggest issue in the park, in terms of damage, wildlife harassment, invasive species, etc, is dogs – and dogs should be banned from the park. There are dozens of other parks in the city for dogs, and if environmental protection is the highest priority, that’s where efforts need to start.

    BTW, by derailing this process, the residents near Forest Park have effectively said that they ONLY want illegal mountain biking in the park. It will continue – if there are no legal options, then those who don’t care about the park will continue to bike there illegally. They need to be prepared to demand enforcement, provide a more tempting target for illegal bikers, or accept the consequences. NWTA’s members aren’t the problem here, it’s people who don’t care about public property who are the issue – and they aren’t willing to drive to Scappoose when Forest Park and Powell Butte are so close.

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  • Ryan February 26, 2010 at 11:01 am

    #9 and #13 – are you two referring to dogs off leash (currently not allowed), or dogs…period?

    If it is the later, I’m curious how me running with my dog on leash and on trail and picking up after her (in other words, obeying all the rules) is more detrimental than biking.

    Now it feels like both of my Forest Park oxes (oxen?) (dogs and bikes) are being gored!

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  • Ao February 26, 2010 at 11:02 am

    singletrack would be great but how about fixing the closest double-track to downtown and Thurman which is Holman Lane. This firelane could be more trail-like but currently you don’t even want to walk/run uop it let alone pedal due to the mud. It is now wider than a road in many places and sveral inches deep with mud. Needs to be closed at this point.

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  • Matt F February 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Unbelievable…with all the real problems in the world. I guess you gotta laugh to keep from crying.

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  • gabriel amadeus February 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Matt #4:

    My sentiments exactly.

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  • matt picio February 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Ryan (#14) – re: how are dogs worse than bikes – they’re not. I’m saying that if the highest priority is protection, both should be banned. I also don’t believe that the highest priority for Forest Park should be protection – it should be recreation, in my opinion. The Mount Hood National Forest has plenty of wilderness with the same species, as do areas in the Tillamook State Forest. Forest Park is a city park – if we want to preserve it for nature, then transform it into a nature preserve. Parks are for recreation, and while that recreation must be managed, it should not take a back seat to preservation – that’s why we created the nature preserve designation in the first place.

    Parks’ priorities are screwed up.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 26, 2010 at 11:30 am


      I think those who oppose bike access due to concerns about “increased use” should also work toward capping the amount of general use (runners/hikers) because that use is also skyrocketing and is happening without any studies or enforcement in place. I put this to Les Blaize and he sort of said he’d agree to that but it didn’t stop him from explaining his opposition to more bike access.

      Also, the rhetoric around how sensitive the park is is an interesting part of this dialogue. I realize it’s sensitive, but last night Marci Houle compared it to a wilderness in a National Park… which is just factually untrue… but it serves to bolster what I feel are her intentions of spreading hysteria about bike access via scare tactics and cries about “safety” and the sensitivity of the park’s ecosystem being irrevocably harmed if more bikes use it.

      I plan on exploring a lot more of these issues next week. stay tuned.

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  • kgb February 26, 2010 at 11:26 am


    Don’t get me wrong. I love dogs, just ask my lab who also loves to go on runs in the park on his leash. I’m making a point. When people start talking about banning bikes to protect the park I have to call bs because if you are talking about protecting the park then you should be focusing on the biggest threats and problems. The fact that Leslie Blaize and Marcie Houle are so focused on bikes leads me to believe they are being completely insincere in their true motivations here. I think they should be removed from this committee as they obviously are not operating in good faith.

    I have been following the rules and riding my bike in the park since I a kid in the early 80’s. The idea that we should all be punished because of a few bad actors is obscene to say the least.

    Also everyone, enough with the generalizations. The residents of the West Hills are like any other cross section of society (ok maybe with more money) but many of them are highly supportive of single track in FP just as many people in North Portland are against it.

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  • Marcus Griffith February 26, 2010 at 11:29 am

    If we, as the general public, wanted the environment first at the park, we would ban PEOPLE from the park. However, the park is supposed to balance micro (and quasi) wild areas with foot paths for public use. Exactly how that balance is worked out is up to the public debate process.

    Again, my personal thoughts support bike access TO the park, but not WITHIN the park. I think that is the best balance.

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  • Marcus Griffith February 26, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Jonathan (#21): you hit the nail on the head. Even if banning bikes is good for the park (which I think it is), the save-the-park discussion needs to address the environmental impact of the ever increasing pedestrian use of the park. I am willing to beat one voodoo doughnut that general use foot traffic has more of an impact on the park than the bike traffic. However, a high volume of foot traffic is by itself a reason to be cautions about creating shard use trails. As a general rule, trail riding does not mix well with families with small children.

    Not long ago, my five year old was almost ran over in the park a trail rider. The very nature of the trails limit the sight line of trail riders.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 26, 2010 at 12:04 pm

      Marcus wrote:

      “As a general rule, trail riding does not mix well with families with small children.”

      That is your general rule Marcus, and it fits with your position of wanting to ban bikes in the park. Obviously safety is important, but public policy should not follow personal anecdotes. Shared trails happen all over the country and there are trails in Forest Park where sight lines and trail design are adequate to support it. Let’s let trail design experts decide what rules we should follow.

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  • KC February 26, 2010 at 11:56 am

    As a life-long and avid biker, I just don’t see any legitimate “unmet need” to allow bikes on anything except Leif Erickson Drive. I would love to hear why anyone thinks this ought to happen.

    While I admit I don’t have a great deal of familiarity with the issue, it seems like as case of folks who are invested in getting adrenaline rushes wanting to be able use Forest Park to get that, despite clear environmental costs in terms of erosion and the like. It kind of reminds me of controversies in my home state of MN, where people wanted to be able to freely use loud and rather disruptive jet skis on otherwise quiet and pristine lakes. In short, nature as sanctuary vs nature as rambunctious playground. Often you can have both, but in the case of Forest Park, I would definitely lean towards sanctuary. Being able to tear through forest trails on a mountain bike just doesn’t qualify as a “need” in my mind, but rather a luxury that I think the city is certainly not required to prioritize.

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  • Ryan February 26, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Matt and kgb,
    Thanks for the clarifications. I agree about the inconsitency of banning bikes while allowing other uses that have similar impacts. There are certainly some false assumptions and questionable logic being being used to bolster the arguments for not granting more access for bikes or banning them altogether.

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  • Dan February 26, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Matt, I love your last post #18. I was thinking the same thing while reading the quotes in the story about
    “protection of the ecological resource values of this park is paramount…”

    sorry, I just don’t agree with that statement.

    A “park” implies recreation and a place where people come to enjoy nature. A “Nature Preserve” is how this group of people is perceiving and attempting to restrict access.

    Change it to a Preserve, or start figuring out ways for people to use it please.

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  • kgb February 26, 2010 at 12:14 pm


    Do you need to walk in the park, no you do not so I can apply the same logic and bam look we don’t even need the park let’s cut it down again.

    The fact is there are large areas of the park that need serious attention. The lower part of fire lane five was buried in Blackberry brambles before cyclists started to fix it, now it is one of the best maintained (if not the best maintained) trail in the park. There are numerous areas where a trail could be built and leveraged for monitoring and removing invasive species just look of to the left of the top of Springville road for example. But no Marci and Leslie would rather let the forest be strangled by IVY than solve the problem, why? Because they care about their own personal EXPERIENCES in the park more than they care about the park itself.

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  • Frank Selker February 26, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    A few people on the committee just don’t want to share “their” park. Their reasons keep changing even as we debunk previous ones with facts. They couch it in whatever they think will carry sway at the moment – safety, wildlife, administrative hurddles (and they contacted BDS directly to maximize such hurddles), illegal use, solitude, tipping-point, “out of control” … but it’s clear for them it’s not about park health or nature — they just don’t want bikes on trails because they either think park trails are only for people who want to use it like they do, or they just don’t want anyone else in their personal nature reserve. And they are loud.

    But they are a small minority. Most people on the committee (including some who live near the park and non-cyclists) are thoughtful, smart, and far-sighted. And I am impressed with Parks, Nick Fish’s office, and other professionals who are involved, including Bob Salinger with the Audubon. I am optimistic that we will get a reasonable outcome because I believe the center-majority (which extends beyond cyclists) will carry the day. Cyclists won’t get everything we want (no one does), but I believe we will get progress.

    Yes I believe someone will appeal anything we propose. We have heard plenty of threats from them about appeals and “blowing up the process.” That is how they are trying to use the illegal trail now, and they will keep trying new ways of going around the committee to other commissioners, BDS, etc. to sabotage it. I am not concerned about their appeal – we will be reasonable in what we propose, and they will lose.

    The meeting yesterday was rough, but the previous one was constructive and I think the bulk of the committee will come together with useful and far-sighted proposals in spite of everything.


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  • kgb February 26, 2010 at 12:42 pm


    I can’t thank you and the members of NWTA enough for all the hard work you doing.

    Thank you!

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  • Charlie February 26, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I believe there is still some fundamental misconceptions by those opposing more single track access for bicycles in Forest Park about the nature of mountain biking.

    KC’s comment sort of crystallized this notion for me. KC, an avid cyclist you may be, but I venture to guess, a mountain biker you are not. Therefore you have as much access to Forest Park as you will ever need/want.

    Which led me to my next thought which is how much the media has represented mountain biking as this adrenaline junkie sport where all participants do is shred down hills hucking off of man-made jumps and terrorizing the locals. And not just the media, but the industry itself since it is more appealing to the younger demographic and has much greater crossover appeal and looks good on TV. But in reality that is one small faction of what mountain biking can be for some. As a matter of fact that is a very narrow and specialized aspect of the sport and I don’t think anyone in the mountain bike community is suggesting we build or allow access to FP for that discipline.

    What mountain bikers want is the opportunity to enjoy some of the same trail experiences that hikers currently enjoy and for many of the same reasons.

    And now I am heading up to Leif Erickson to ride in the mud and dog poo. @Thurman gate 2pm.

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  • wsbob February 26, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    “… And “pristine” is a mischaracterization. …” Matt Picio #4

    WordWeb definition of ‘pristine’:

    “Immaculately clean and unused”

    Infrequently visited by humans…75 years of recovery from logging… . This, and just the few pictures of it I’ve seen suggest that the North Management area of Forest Park is indeed pristine, or relatively so for being as close as it is to a major city’s downtown.

    For generations of Portland residents, this area, and the balance of Forest Park’s 5000 acres comes as close to ‘wilderness’ and a ‘wilderness experience’ as can be expected in a city park in a major city. For these many, many Portland residents, the simple activity of being in and enjoying the many natural, wilderness-like wonders of that park, is without question, recreation.

    What percentage of Portland residents really want off-road bikes on single width trail in Forest Park? What percentage of Portland residents support the Parks Dept’s efforts to protect Forest Park’s wilderness-like…if you will…character, over a parceling out of its trails to uses that may detract from that wilderness-like character?

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  • trail user February 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Where’s the security at these meetings? If someone is being disruptive and not allowing others their turn to speak, they should be removed. This kind of crap from Houle and Blaize would never be allowed to go on in city hall, where the ever present security guards are prepared to restore civility.

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  • kgb February 26, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    The majority are fine with increasing access to bicycles in the park but since you don’t live in Portland how would you know. More access has nothing to do with Pristine there are large areas of the park that far from being pristine and in fact are in great need of attention but you don’t really care about that do you?

    Since the park is so over used maybe we should start by limiting access to it to the residents of the city of Portland.

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  • jered February 26, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Honestly,massacre – weak wording… I would have said genocide or holocaust and compared the evil bikers with hitler… uh…

    Actually, as a biker and skater I dislike sharing my skateparks with bikes for a bunch of irrational and crazy reasons – safety, impact on the park etc. Everyone is insane and irrational in their own way.

    But seriously, thanks to the Frank and the other folks who are fighting the good fight to get single track bike access in forest park! Keep up the good work I appreciate you patience and determination.

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  • wsbob February 26, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    “… I think those who oppose bike access due to concerns about “increased use” should also work toward capping the amount of general use (runners/hikers) because that use is also skyrocketing and is happening without any studies or enforcement in place. …” Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) #21

    Maus, think about what you’re saying. Sure, capping numbers of people visiting parks due to excessive use does happen. Someday, it might be required for Forest Park. In fact, I’d be surprised if the Parks Dept wasn’t conscious of that possibility.

    You’re referring to people traveling in the park on foot…meaning slower speeds and taking up less space on the trails compared to bike travel. Bike travel, based on simple average speed alone…7mph and more compared to 3.5mph for walking. Compared to walking, biking has the potential to double the number of people brought into the park.

    I haven’t forgot the joggers runners, but am inclined to think they may be a smaller percentage overall on-foot travel.

    Would people propose that on-foot travel be capped as a means of providing off-road bike access to single width trail in Forest Park? I wonder how the public might respond to such an idea.

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  • Brad February 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    kgb – I think you only answered half of KC’s question. If mountain bikes have access to fire lanes and Leif, what is the compelling need (for the city, not just MTB enthusiasts) for singletrack? Why not upgrade the existing MTB trails (some of which are in horrible shape) to create better riding?

    This strikes me as similar to the street access debate. The city proposes a bike lane or sharrows that work for most. A subset of riders grouses viciferously that it isn’t a separated cycle track and they will not be happy unless the track is built. Then the city throws out a MUP as an alternative. The riders then gripe that the idea sucks because it isn’t exclusive to bikes. Eventually, nothing happens for years while it gets endlessly debated.

    So, is new singletrack really necessary or politically viable? Or, would it be better to get Portland Parks to vastly improve what exists and then work out a Portland Trail Plan 2030 that allows for smart future planning in Forest Park?

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  • f5 February 26, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Bob you can split hairs and blow things out of proportion until the cows come home, but when it’s all said and done, the core of this issue is sharing.

    If ever there were a collection of posts that anthropomorphized ‘analysis-paralysis’, yours are them.

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  • jon February 26, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Once again mountain bikers get fooled into thinking that Parks has any interest in improving access to trails for a human powered green activity – mountain biking. Looks like what is best for the environment is for mountain bikers to drive an hour out of town to ride trails. That sounds pretty “green” to me. If these illegal trails had not been found, I’m sure there would have been a million other excuses for why mountain bikers can’t use the trails. I guess the message going forward is: build all the trails you want, it’s not like you can diminish biker’s access to trails in the park, because there never will be!

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  • Bjorn February 26, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Until they find the people who did this I think we should stop accepting that it was a bicyclist. Having this illegal trail to hold up as a reason to derail the process is exactly what these people want and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that one of them built the trail.

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  • Bjorn February 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Also I have never seen these no skiing signs in the park. Is XC-skiing actually a prohibited use? I think if there is snow it is actually allowed to ski in the park.

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  • Tim February 26, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    There are dozens of illegal trails in forest park. Finding who is responsible for these trails is often no harder than following the trail to where they are camped. Why the fuss about one bike trail. I doubt the people who built this trail are responsible for jacking cars at the trailhead.

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  • Bob Sallinger February 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Forest Park is not a “wilderness area” or a “national park.” It is a City of Portland “natural area.” These areas which also include places like Oaks Bottom, Ross Island and Smith and Bybee Lakes have been acquired and preserved specifically for the purpose of protecting natural resources and providing access to nature. Over the past 15 years voters in our region have passed close to $400 million in bond measures to protect places like Forest Park for their natural resource values. We don’t need to compare them to national parks or wilderness areas–our natural areas are important in their own right. We need to protect both large wild landscapes, but we also need to protect critical natural resource areas on our urban landscapes if we want to reverse wildlife declines and improve water quality. An increasingly large share of the the cause for declining wildlife populations and degraded water quality is a direct result of the fact that we have historically done a poor job of integrating our built and natural landscapes. Those who say that Forest Park is not “pristine” are absolutely right—every single natural area, creek and wetland in the entire metro region is degraded to some degree. A tremendous amount of effort is going into restoring these types places now that folks have come to realize the responsibility that we share.

    Access to nature is critical but it is also a challenge to do it in a way that does not undermine restoration efforts and so that different types of access don’t conflict with one another. Those are the issues that this committee is ultimately struggling with. I don’t personally believe that access to the Park will be capped now or in the future. As it currently stands the de facto policy of the city is promote visitors to the park—we promote the park to residents and tourists alike…we write books about the park…Audubon is proud to serve as one gateway to the Park. I think the key is to do it in a way that promotes a stewardship ethic and which channels activity so that it does not sprawl onto every ridge and drainage within the park. It also involved being realistic and recognizing that a place like Forest Park can die a death by a thousand cuts (or trails), If try to make it everything to everyone, the one thing it will eventually cease to be is a natural area. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the committee doing a bit of struggling to find solutions. However I also think that it is making progress.

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  • matt picio February 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    wsbob (#31) – “Pristine” from your own source:

    1.Completely free from dirt or contamination

    2.Immaculately clean and unused

    Neither of those is true. We can debate semantics, but my view of the discussion is that certain people are trying to paint Forest park as untouched by man, unique, and deserving of special protection. I disagree with all 3 points. If I did agree with all 3 points, then my recommendation would be to make it a nature preserve and curtail human access and prohibit domestic animals.

    re: what percentage? That’s a very good question, and I think someone should be polling residents on that one.

    Bjorn (#37) – I agree. I’ve been told that the trail has ramps, jumps, etc – even though they aren’t shown in the media coverage. That proves that the trail looks like it was built for bike use, though it doesn’t prove mountain bikers built the trail. The timing of the announcement is suspect. And it’s obvious that somewhere, there was a miscommunication as to the level of review required. In any case, it’s unlikely a solution will be found this year, and trail-sharing appears to be out.

    I think there needs to be a public review and a vote as to whether Forest park is intended to be a preserve or a park, and policy decisions made accordingly.

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  • Foible February 26, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    This meeting was deliberately torpedoed by the city. This trail was known about for quite a while (the OPB crew filming the owl episode knew about it) but they broke it as “news” right before they’d have to put up on their previously made trail promises.

    Things aren’t going to change as long as we have Zari Santner in charge.

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  • wsbob February 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    “Bob you can split hairs and blow things out of proportion until the cows come home, but when it’s all said and done, the core of this issue is sharing. …” f5 #35

    Okay, f5, let’s get this straight: You’re saying to the public…because it’s the public, through the city’s Portland Parks and Rec Dept, that determines and manages accepted and desired uses for Forest Park… that it’s not ‘sharing’ because it apparently is hesitant to provide for off-road biking?

    Does anyone hear the sound of masses of Portland residents coming to rally the cause of providing single width trail in Forest Park to off-road bikes? Where are the mass demonstrations of people in the streets? The critical mass of mountain bikers on Forest Park trails…even legal ones? None. Zero. Zip.

    Folks, there’s no public mandate for this use in the park. This fact should have been clear long ago to everyone. NWTA faces an uphill struggle on this use in the park because the Portland public just does not seem to be that interested in having bikes on single width trail in the park. Portland residents seem to place great value on their unique place of peaceful repose, derived in part from the fact there aren’t a bunch of vehicles on the trails.

    Despite this lack of overwhelming public demand for off-road single width trail in the park, eventually, mountain bike advocates will likely get more single width trail in Forest Park. That is, if they don’t pull anymore big guns out and shoot them directly at their feet.

    Portland residents are generally fair minded people. Park and Rec seems to be doing a fairly decent job of handling this touchy issue. Certain members of the trails advisory committee’s might think to tone their emotions and comments down a peg or two, but it seems their intentions for Portland residents best interests relative to the park, are good ones.

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  • Same old Story February 26, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    These illegal trails were most likely built by a bunch of bored local kids, with the time and energy to do the hard manual labor. They probably don’t have any clue that a process is in motion to solve their needs, all they know is they want to ride, and they don’t have a car to get to the trails. You can’t stop them, they will continue to build trails because they have no where else to go, any attempts to police them will only fuel their desires and makes them heroes among friends. Yes, when they grow up they will feel shame for their deeds, but another generation will be right behind them, ignorant of history… So how do we prevent this from happening? You give them a better place to go, an easier place to go, where they don’t have to dig and build. Where they can focus on doing what they want, just to ride a bike and hang out with their friends. Their needs have nothing to do with Forest Park, it was just the easiest place to build, where no one would bother them.

    This entire thing is a repeat of the skateboarding issues of the 80’s and 90’s. Teenagers with skateboards had nowhere legal to go to practice and hangout. They would skate whatever concrete block provided the most challenge. Sometimes this was a city park, but most often it was a commercial property. Sure, the companies all hired rent-a-cops, but that only made the skaters feel like outlaws, which made the ‘bad’ skaters behave like outlaws. Soon they didn’t even care so much about the skating, just about the next run-in with the man. The thrill of the chase. Meanwhile the ‘good’ skaters begged and petitioned the city to build them a place to go, but no one listened. It stayed this way for years. It wasn’t until the corporations got tired of paying to repair their curbs, and paying cops to chase kids. Once the companies realized how much money they were losing to the endless barrage, they woke up. They realized the money spent on enforcement and repair could go on forever unless they found a solution. So they they took the money and asked the cities to build them a refuge, a place where the kids would WANT to go, a place that was enticing enough to pull them away from from the business parks and mall parking lots. This is how the kids finally got a skatepark. Once the first few parks were built, it was obvious. The kids PREFERRED to go there and the problems disappeared. The kids were stoked, a place to play without being chased out. With no more curbs to clean or cops to pay, the cities and companies were happy too….

    Same old story.

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  • KC February 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    kgb, your response seems hyperbolic and unnecessarily oppositional. I’m not a full-time policy geek, and I generally don’t have the time or inclination to lay out all the intricacies of my viewpoint when I step forward to write something here. So I, and I think conversations like this in general, rely on a certain generosity of spirit from the reader to avoid things getting blown out of proportion as we try to understand one another’s point of view and work towards agreements.

    To your respond to your point, strictly speaking, yes, you’re right. I don’t need to walk in Forest Park, so yes, it could be cut down and I would be fine. But people do need access to nature (I can’t cite a specific one off-hand, but I’ve heard of all sorts of studies correlating access to nature with general human health), and by extension a healthy flourishing urban area needs to provide its citizens with fairly easy access to natural spaces or risk being unhealthy and stagnant. People also need a way to get exercise and have fun on a regular basis, lest Jack become a dull and overweight boy. And it would be great if they could have all three at once.

    So given that it’s a larger issue of social need rather than individual need, core issue in my mind is how to provide the widest range of different types of access to nature, exercise, and fun while being thoughtful stewards of the land and staying within budgetary limitations. The range of access methods that occur to me, in roughly ascending order of impact, is something like: hikers, runners, folks with dogs, mountain bikes, horse riders, dirt bikes, ATVs, and finally 4×4 trucks. The ideal in my mind would be to provide ALL of these things in such a way that they don’t conflict with the long term needs of the land, don’t infringe on the other means of access, and don’t cost too much. Of course that’s not possible, so somewhere we have to draw the line. Excluding motorized vehicles is, in this town at least, an easy place to start. But THEN what?

    My mind goes to this: exercise can be had in all sorts of ways, fun can be had in all sorts of ways, let’s make sure we provide the most simple access to nature to the most people, with the least impact on the land and the Parks budget. To me (again, being fairly new to the issue) looks like: foot traffic on trails, foot and non-motorized wheeled traffic on Leif Erikson. With that, you’ve given access to a huge expanse of nature to the vast majority of the populace. After that, expanding trail use further into horse and mountain bike is a luxury. It would be great, yes, but only so long as it doesn’t degrade the land, impinge on foot traffic, or cost much.

    I take this position even though I’ve more than once been taken aback by the speed of mountain bikers going down Leif Erikson. It hasn’t usually seemed reckless, mind you, just, well, awful fast. I’m walking down the road in “connect with nature” mode, and they appear to be in “rambunctious play” mode. It’s often startling, and sometimes it even feels intrusive. But because it’s OUR park and not MY park, and because it’s a nice wide road, I’m happy to make room for it. But in the narrow and erosion-prone space of a trail, I really don’t want to make space for it.

    One thing you appear to be saying, kgb, is that the mountain biking community would put forward energy in removing invasive species in exchange for building some bike trails. Is that it? I’m kinda guessing, because you don’t say who would build the trails, and I’m not sure what you mean by “leveraged”. Anyways, I think it’s interesting idea to have that community invest in the park in exchange for building some infrastructure for their fun, assuming the long term damage to the land is minimal. It’s awesome to hear that the community cleared brambles from one of the fire lanes, I didn’t know that.

    With respect to Marci and Leslie (who I don’t know at all), I have to ask, kgb, did they say they’d rather rather let the forest be strangled by ivy than solve the problem? Have you checked that out with them personally? If not, it sounds like you’re misrepresenting their positions and even impugning their motives. When people feel like their positions are being misrepresented or their motives impugned, they tend to get defensive, which can take a lot of energy away from finding solutions. Witness me writing this crazy long response largely because of a one-sentence out-of-hand dismissal of my viewpoint. So while I would never suggest that you give up your position and viewpoint (just the opposite, keep it so I can understand it better!), I do invite you to invest more energy into reaching out to understand my and other folks’ points of view.

    Finally, I wanted to say Charlie: you have me nailed exactly. I’m a tourer and a commuter. It would be interesting to hear in a more detailed fashion how the majority of mountain bikers want to use the park. And with that, how do you propose to mitigate the impact of the adrenaline junkie minority should mountain bikers win greater access to the park?

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  • wsbob February 26, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Picio, that word ‘pristine’ was used by park staffers quoted in the recent bikeportland story in reference to the North Management Area of Forest Park specifically, rather than the entirety of Forest Park’s 5000 acres.

    I’m comfortable relying on their assessment of that part of the park’s condition until I come by information that accurately contradicts it. The pictures accompanying the recent bikeportland story, with exception of the illegal trail gouged into the land, certainly seemed to depict an environment that was… “2.Immaculately clean and unused”.

    Wordweb’s first definition for ‘immaculate’ probably applies to this area as well. As for the condition of the rest of the park…as far as I know, which is by no means exhaustive….the park needs a lot of work, because it’s not presently immaculate, clean and unused.

    That raises the question, ‘What do Portland residents want for their park with respect to the state of its natural condition and use of it as an opportunity for a natural, wilderness-like experience in close proximity to the city?’. Are they saying…’It’s too far gone to be a wilderness-like experience anymore…let it become off-road biking.’ Is the public saying this?

    Some off-road bike advocates seem inclined to use the parks less than pristine natural condition to argue that the idea of the park being a place where people can experience wilderness close to the city…should be dispensed with, to provide single width trail for biking. Do Portland residents in general support that argument?

    I just now noticed Bob Sallinger’s clarification in comment #40, of what type of resource Forest Park is relative to some of the others known by frequently used terms ‘wilderness’ and ‘national park’:

    “Forest Park is not a “wilderness area” or a “national park.” It is a City of Portland “natural area. …” Bob Sallinger #40

    Sure…’natural area’ fits. Though they may not technically or officially be wilderness, the areas Sallinger mentions in his comment are places that it seems people can go to experience at the least, nature, if not an actual wilderness experience. Close to the city, that’s hard to beat.

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  • Psyfalcon February 26, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    What would happen if we had a public poll on riding in the streets? I’m pretty sure I’m the only one within about 3 blocks of here (an apartment rich area) that has ever put a tire on the street, nevermind other places that we are allowed to ride, like highways and Skyline. We simply cant govern by the will of a majority that has no idea what any of this is about.

    We need to make decisions based on both desire, and evidence. Evidence from other places with shared use trails shows that it can work, and does not significantly degrade the environment.

    Two other points, I too have never seen a no skiing sign, so why should we not ski if it snows? Well, it might be a bit narrow. So our red herring of a trail? Why did it cut through this “pristine” area? Because it is the most hidden location in he park. There are other trails made by walkers, “campers” and deer too. Where is the security preventing walkers from making new trails or widening them by stepping around the mud?

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  • KWW February 26, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    You all should do well to read the “Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan”, the official city document on the Park, if you are serious about expanding bicycling in the park.


    fwiw, bicycling is defined explicitly in Chapter 4 as an allowed ‘passive’ recreational use, no different than walking in the Park.

    What is differentiated, is WHERE you can do these activities.

    Anyone who shows up at these meetings and proclaims that bicycling is invasive should be acknowledged as not knowing what the management plan states.

    Alternatively, bicyclists should not be so naive to think that they will get increased access to the park without working out the funding issue. Parks is perennially cash strapped, and has experienced layoffs.

    A type III LUR should be the goal of bicyclists, but you are gonna have to ‘pony up’ the resources to get it done.

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  • Northwest Girl February 26, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Bjorn (#37) and anyone else wondering about the physical components of the unauthorized trail:

    I hiked the entire length of the trail from the bottom to the top on Wednesday. I took a bunch of photos as I was hiking it. I was accompanied by a member of the Single Track Committee.

    First, and please excuse my lack of proper mountain biking terminology, this trail appears to be more of a downhiller experience rather than a single track experience. For purposes of comparison, Maple Trail would serve as what I am thinking of when I say single track experience.

    This unauthorized trail is built with log jumps or jumping off points (again with proper terminology, apologies) and clear banked turns. It appears to be a trail that is only ridden downhill judging from the deep tire tracks downhill of the log jumping off points. Same perception when looking at the banked curves.

    I took photos of these features. I also took photos of the elk hair, elk tracks and fresh piles of the elk scat that were within inches of the side of the trail if not on the trail itself.

    I don’t know who built this trail anymore than anyone else and I will not speculate. It is abundantly clear it was built for one purpose and one purpose only: for mountain bikes.

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  • kgb February 26, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    KC, I’m perfectly comfortable with my assessment of Marci and Leslie with respect to this issue.

    With respect to this:
    The range of access methods that occur to me, in roughly ascending order of impact, is something like: hikers, runners, folks with dogs, mountain bikes, horse riders, dirt bikes, ATVs, and finally 4×4 trucks.

    The acutal order is: hikers/runners/cyclist about even dependent on circumstances then dogs and you seem to have managed the rest ok. Do some research if you don’t believe me.

    With respect to the rest this is exactly what NWTA is proposing, fyi there is no mountain biking community beyond NWTA it is a myth and the vast majority of people riding bikes in the park are far from adrenline junkies.

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  • trail user February 26, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    This is a freeride/downhill trail, not an MTB trail. Freeride/downhill bikes have front and rear suspension, weigh a lot more than a typical MTB, are a lot stronger, and cost upwards of a thousand plus dollars. If I took my normal everyday mountain bike down a freeride trail, it would most likely crack the frame. There is simply no other place tall enough in Portland besides one of these steep hills to ride a freeride/downhill bike. The only other solution is to build a pump track with bigger dropoffs and jumps in which freeride bikes could play. Same adrenaline, less environmental impact, like the Seattle track/playground under I-5.

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  • trail user February 26, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    This is what we need in Portland to keep “fringe riders” out of Forest Park: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhFMfiUHUkg
    The I5 Collanade…let’s focus on getting one of these here in Portland instead.

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  • Daniel Ronan February 26, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    There is currently a City Club study going on right now about the park, or at least their was in the spring of last year, so it would be interesting to see, in light of the past week’s events, what sort of management recommendations the Club will have.
    Maybe something to keep in mind as we move forward in determining the best uses for Forest Park.

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  • Memo February 26, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Bob Sallinger from Audubon Portland said Blaize and Houle’s “disruptive behavior” was “completely unacceptable.” “We do have [meeting] rules and if we’re not going to enforce them than it’s a waste of time for everyone involved.”

    Sounds like the same can be said about park rules too.

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  • Memo February 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    a secondary comment… for all the talk many people have about framing things in “us” and “them” terms that only divide rather than unite, such as cars verses bikes, I am amazed at how many people are trying to frame this as West Hills people verses everyone else which is just as absurd as the others.

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  • Memo February 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Matt #18, the Tillamook and Clatsop Forests offer no wilderness protection. As far as I know Mt. Hood until late did not offer that great of protection either and it is also not the “same” as the valley and coast range either.

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  • Minnow February 26, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Instead of assuming what people’s intentions are, why don’t you come to the meetings and see for yourself? I have been attending the meetings for months so I can judge for myself.
    And do you think Marcy Houle might be considering the biology of the park in her arguments? She is one of three scientists on the committee, who fully understand the biology and ecology involved. She has her Master’s in Wildlife Biology.
    The next meeting is in six days, but bring your dinner because the committee doesn’t share their food!

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  • KC February 26, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Thanks for your reply, kgb.

    With regard to Marci and Leslie, I wasn’t speaking to how comfortable you are with your assessment of them, but rather the effectiveness of inaccurately conveying other people’s points of view when it comes to trying to find solutions. Again, I don’t know them, but it strikes me as highly unlikely that they’d say they’d rather let the forest be strangled by ivy than solve the problem. So if that’s not their position, then what is? After reading your comment, I get the impression you maybe don’t know, and perhaps even don’t care unless it substantiates your argument. And who wants to negotiate with someone who won’t try to see your point of view? Just my $0.02.

    So, as you suggested, I dutifully did a little research. A Google search for “environmental impact of mountain bikes” yielded this as the first hit: http://www.wildlandscpr.org/ecological-impacts-mountain-biking-critical-literature-review. It’s from 2003, so there may be out of date, but they found “there really isn’t much data currently showing that mountain bikers do, in fact, impact land similarly to hikers. On the other hand, as it turns out, there is also very little data showing they don’t.” In any case it appears the difference between feet and wheels isn’t so glaringly strong. My own anecdotal observation is that mountain bike trails tend to have some rutting, esp on muddy trails of the kind FP specializes in, that I don’t see on foot trails. But I’d love links to more info on this if anyone has them.

    Assuming that the impact is about even though, the idea of sharing a trail with mountain bikers has no appeal to me. So are you suggesting dedicated mountain bike trails?

    I’m not sure which part of my response you were referring to when you said it’s exactly what NWTA is proposing. I did a cursory search on the NWTA website and didn’t see a Forest Park proposal there. Anyone have a link?

    Finally it definitely seems like there’s more to the mountain biking community than the NWTA. I mean, “community” may be too grand a term to use here, but I doubt that illegal trail was created by some lone wolf. NWTA has public status and legitimacy, and that’s quite cool, but clearly there are other groups of folks, however small they may be. How to deal with them? I mean, obviously SOMEONE has already shown they’re energetic and motivated enough to do some damage from both environmental and policy standpoints. Seems like any plan should account for the fact that there are daredevils out there.

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  • Osgood February 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Please consider the following
    1.Mr. Fish and Mr. Selker have no credentials in watershed management, wildlife management or conservation.
    2. The committee is not objective but simply an exercise in politics. The outcome is preordained just read the public statements of Mr. Fish in regards to opening Forest Park to Mountain Bikers.
    3. This decision should not be made without the recommendations of experts in the field. The vast majority of the committee are not experts but mountain bike advocates.
    4. There is no enforcement currently. No citations have been given according to the Park Ranger.
    5. The city did not even know the illegal trail was being built.
    6. After your constituency has been satisfied is this the last request or do we move on to motorbikes?

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  • Eric February 26, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    #57 here is a whole list of more recent research and science on the impacts of mountain biking.


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  • Psyfalcon February 26, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    I have seen a lot of mudholes though, such as on Wildwood between I think… Firelane 1 and 2 (maybe 3?).

    I’m just not sure of why we are so worried about a few ruts, when we let people walk through with anything between barefeet and mountain climbing crampons. The ruts do tend to be deeper, but narrower. Mountain bikers are typically taught NOT to go around the mud, since that would widen the trail (and you would loose your singletrack!) Hikers almost always seem to go around, so as to not muddy their trailrunners, and can create a mudhole the full width of the trail.

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  • Dave February 26, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    I guess the only solution to the mess is to build a fence around the whole park and lock EVERYONE out until such time as people can come to any agreement on who/what/when/where, and we’ve spent a decade studying who/what/when/where.

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  • Charlie February 26, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    wsbob, you’re entire premise for opposing access for bikes seems to rely on the weak assumption that bikes on trails is somehow a conflict for other users (hikers) and causes a higher degree of erosion. Both of those issues are avoidable and bikes on trails has not been proven to be anymore damaging than hiking boots.

    Also, since there is no massive uprising of the biking public marching around demanding access to single track in Forest Park, we really aren’t talking about a significant amount of new users to even enter into this hypothetical conflict. <<Where are the mass demonstrations of people in the streets? The critical mass of mountain bikers on Forest Park trails…even legal ones? None. Zero. Zip.wsbob#45>> So what’s the issue? A few folks want the chance to pedal around on some of the beautiful trails in the park. What’s the harm?

    The Committee was formed to study options for providing more single track riding opportunities in Forest Park. The discussion, I don’t believe, has ever revolved around what kind of downhill or freeride trails can be built, but rather focuses on the more tame discipline of cross-country riding. The question of how to mitigate the downhillers is not a question for this committee. Certainly providing an outlet for the downhillers would help, but that is an issue for another committee and a seperate effort. An effort hopefully involving, if not led by the “downhiller/freeride” community.

    KC, it seems you are coming around a bit to recognize there is a reasonable demand and maybe an acceptable trade off. Thank you. As to your comment about how fast you thought the bikers were traveling down Leif Erickson I can assure that it was primarily because Leif Erickson is a wide open road that was built for traffic travelling that fast. Put those bikers on a sinewy narrow trail and the speed will drop.

    I had a good ride today. Spent about three hours riding out Leif Erickson to Saltzman and up to the top of Firelane 5 and down to Leif again, then out to Germantown Rd and back. It was wet and muddy, yet the best conditions we encountered by far was on that brief stretch of legitimate singletrack built on Firelane 5. The worst conditions was all the horse crap out toward Germantown Rd. we encountered on Leif Erickson. Yuck.

    We stopped to speak with two Rangers who, it turns out, are contracted to work on abating rogue dogs that are a wildlife nuissance. They have been asked to look into rogue bike trails in as much as they are also asked to investigate the homeless camps.

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  • f5 February 26, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Here’s a link to some Oregon Field Guide footage from OPB’s website showing the Vince Patton and a camerman encountering two obvious Downhiller/freeriders ‘doing something’ to the trail:

    It seems as though the article contradicts itself as to just exactly when this was filmed and does point to the possibility that this trail has been known about for months. The article, dated the 24th of this month, says “Patton took a television camera to the trail over the weekend and came across two men who were moving plant debris near the trail.” So…last weekend was february 20-21. However, the caption for the video states: “In the course of preparing a story on Forest Park for Oregon Field Guide, producer Vince Patton encountered bicyclists creating a new trail to bypass deep damage caused by another unsanctioned trail.” The episode they reference is about pygmie owls in forest park…which just aired wednesday, the 24th. OFG

    Jonathan or Ellie — do either of you have any insight on this? OFG doesn’t go to air the same day it films. That portion of this week’s episode with the Owls in Forest Park bit would have surely been filmed weeks if not months ago. Was this info shelved in your opinion?

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  • Bob Sallinger February 26, 2010 at 11:22 pm


    Vince Patton is working a piece for Forest Park for next season. He has been making the rounds interviewing folks to get background for the story for the past couple of weeks

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  • Frank Selker February 27, 2010 at 12:39 am


    1. I have a degree biology including ecology, have worked in biology and for many years in environmental consulting. I won’t speak for Nick Fish’s credentials other than to say that he’s bright, thoughtful, and a listener – and in his job that is what he needs.

    2. The committee is about both facts and politics, because politics is how policy is set in a demoncracy. If the outcome were preordained none of us on either side would waste our time in difficult meetings.

    3. The committee has four people with biology expertise, two with world-class trail design and management expertise, representative from Audubon, the Forest Park Conservancy, the National Park Service, and an enforcement expert (Parks head Ranger). Plus just plain smart citizens and neighbors. I’m not sure how much more you were hoping for with no pay and an excruciating process that consumes our evenings.

    4. Perhaps you also heard the Ranger say that bike problems are minor relative to other park enforcement issues. They had less than 50 complaints about bikes in ’09 and about 4,400 about dogs. The recent trail find is terrible, but keep in mind that they deal with illegal trails all the time that have tents, bottles, needles, trash, and people at their end.

    I would like to clarify my earlier comment: I do not doubt that Marcy and Les care about the park or it’s health – I believe that they do care deeply about it. But I have seen their stated objections change with nearly every meeting and their resistance to the Parks biology expert assessement of the bioligical issues, which have little to do with trail use. I think they don’t want more users and are not willing to give up anyting to newcommers. So it is an access, prior-claim, and eqitability question. In short, it is politics, not biology.


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  • wsbob February 27, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Charlie…who’s premise? Not just mine it would seem. Many other people as well, have brought up the user conflict related to bikes and foot travel issue.

    Bikes on trails representing a conflict for other users is a “…weak assumption…”? What’s weak about it? Bikes on single width trail would very definitely pose a conflict to people walking on such trails.

    Is this a conflict that’s “…avoidable…”? Possibly. By means acceptable to whom? What’s your idea of a means of avoiding these type of conflicts that’s likely to be acceptable to most of the people that are visitors to the park?

    I’ve never said anything about erosion related to bikes on trail.

    “… Also, since there is no massive uprising of the biking public marching around demanding access to single track in Forest Park, we really aren’t talking about a significant amount of new users to even enter into this hypothetical conflict. …”

    Aren’t we? I don’t know that with any certainty. Maybe you do. All I know is what I said. Off-road biking advocates don’t seem to be making this a big public issue.

    Hard to say how many people that single width trail accessible to off-road bikes in Forest Park would attract. Amount depends on different things.

    “… So what’s the issue?…” Single width bike trail could take up a lot of real estate. Is this what Portland’s public wants for the single largest nature park in the city?

    Gets down to the essence of what Portland residents consider the park to be, and what they think it should be. Much can be done it they want it to be done.

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  • wsbob February 27, 2010 at 1:05 am

    “…We simply cant govern by the will of a majority that has no idea what any of this is about. …” Psyfalcon #49

    Psy, don’t you think, that if a vote were coming up, and people were actually interested in the issue, broad public discussion would occur, and people would come to have a pretty good idea of what this is all about?

    “… I think there needs to be a public review and a vote as to whether Forest park is intended to be a preserve or a park, and policy decisions made accordingly.” Matt Picio ##43

    A public review and a vote? Possibly a good idea. A ‘preserve’ or a ‘park’?. Does it have to be ‘either/or’?

    General consensus seems to be that Forest Park is most certainly a park, but more specifically, it’s a nature park.

    Bob Sallinger #42, describes the park as a “natural area.”. I myself generally think of parks such as Forest Park as nature parks that provide visitors a wilderness-like experience.

    Somehow getting Portland residents to think about this very significant park, what it means to them, and what they think it should be sounds like a very good idea.

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  • Marid February 27, 2010 at 1:39 am

    It is worth pointing out that “mountain bikers” have diverse tastes in trails. This illegal trail at the center of debate is a downhill trail. As a XC mountain biker, it’s not something I’m interested in at all. I much prefer ~20-mile long trails. I don’t see Forest Park being able to accommodate riders like me, so I just wish they’d improve the surface of the south leg of Leif Erikson before my teeth crack.

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  • Mike February 27, 2010 at 5:41 am

    First of all it is SINGLE TRACK. If you are calling it single width trail then you obviously don’t know the virtues of good single track. There is a nationwide shortage of single track and mtb is all but banned in wilderness areas so no wonder people are poaching trails. These people need there space just as much as the nature walker types. After all, it was the hiking and equestrian groups that got mountain biking banned from open spaces in the first place

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  • f5 February 27, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Bob #67:

    Thanks for the background, my misunderstanding. I mistook the story to say that the footage was from when they were filming with John Deshler when he found it.

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  • […] BikePortland.org » Blog Archive » Forest Park bike access talks … […]

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  • wsbob February 27, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Hey mike #72…I regularly use the words ‘single width trail’ with the phrase ‘single track’ as a reminder to everyone that the width of trail we’re talking about is virtually the same.

    So in other words, one suggestion on the table being that people on foot share trail with people that want to bring a bike on to the trail…footpaths, when bikes are on them, effectively become ‘singletrack’. don’t they?

    “After all, it was the hiking and equestrian groups that got mountain biking banned from open spaces in the first place” Mike #72

    I think you’re misinformed. Check your sources.

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  • Charlie February 27, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Osgood–The issue of this rogue trail is a separate issue entirely from the discussion concerning moderate access to a little more of an enjoyable experience for a user group that is already a legitimate park user. Let’s not confound the issue: motorbikes are not next. They are not currently allowed in the park as are bikes, albeit just not on single track trails.

    The decision to not allow bikes on the trails within Forest Park, I believe, was a hasty one made at a time when no one knew what to do about this emerging form of recreation. Instead of working with the new user, bikes were essentially shut out. That was an arbitrary decision because there was no clear answer. 20 some odd years later we do know how to mitigate conflict and build sustainable trails that can be shared among a multitude of users. So let’s do it and we will all be better for it. The Park will be better for it and attract more interest from a broader base and truly become the crowning jewel of Portland. The bike city, remember?

    Wsbob—You are right, of course, as a public space it is the will of the people that ultimately get to decide the fate of Forest Park. You seem to think that there isn’t enough public will due to the lack of a visible presence of public demand for more single track access for bikes in Forest Park. Sounds like you are suggesting we get out and be heard and I see your point. Here’s my take: After 20 years of being shut out of the process, a lot of the mountain bike community have no faith that this is even a genuine opportunity and have taken a wait and see approach. Perhaps this recent incident is a catalyst to inspire a critical mass and we may see a more vocal community. My ire has certainly been stirred again.

    Frankly, in the big picture of mountain bike trail access, Forest Park is not a priority for me and many others. Loss of trail access to Wilderness Designation and other closures in the grand theatre of our current inventory of legal trails to ride, the backlog of trail maintenance and some exciting new opportunities for new trails being built, partnerships being formed and nurtured in areas less volatile and rife with such emotion are a greater priority to me than this turf war.

    I have no intention to deconstruct your argument and refute every nuanced difference in our points of view. Besides, I struggled with propositional logic. Ergo, let me just say, I think a lot of the anti-bike faction are sensationalists and basing arguments on assumptions and anecdotes. So here is mine: I have been riding a mountain bike for 22 years all over the west. I take personal responsibility for how and where I ride and in all those years I have had many encounters with other trail users and I have never been involved with any conflict with another user, be it hiker, equestrian, trail runner, or another biker. Most of the time, there are large smiles on both parties’ faces.

    One leading assumption, I believe the non-biking community has is that since we can travel much faster than walking-speed, mountain bikers are out of control. That is simply not true. With good sight-lines and trail features that naturally slow traffic, a biker can slow to a stop and leave plenty of room for a pedestrian to walk past, no different than two hikers approaching from opposite directions or a trail runner overtaking a hiker. We may be sharing single track trails, but we don’t take up any more of the trail than a hiker. Very definitely does not pose a conflict.

    And I don’t think we are talking about building a huge brand-new infrastructure of trails specifically for bikes. I think what we are talking about is converting a fraction of the current inventory of trails to allow bike access. These trails, I assume would be further out in the middle of the park, away from the hyper-used areas near the Thurman St. gate.

    I have no idea how many mountain bikers will end up using trails that become accessible to bikes. I do know it will probably lessen the presence on the main thoroughfares where they are currently confined.

    Finally, let me say that as a resident of Portland I do have a stake in the outcome, but personally I have no expectations that further access in Forest Park will replace the mountain biking I already pursue which involves driving to real mountains near real wilderness areas. But a little extra access to a resource that is close will suffice for those times when I don’t have all day. It will also provide a place that parents could take their children to give them a little taste of what real mountain biking can be and provide a reasonable place for those who don’t have the resources or don’t choose to consume the resources to get out of town.

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  • Marid February 27, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Well said, Charlie.

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  • Jassie February 27, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I am still not sure of the issues being debated. From what I understand, bikes are already allowed in Forest Park. So, is the discussion about trying to get off road bike trails?
    Everyone seems bent on shouting out the other party but not really explaining the core issues.

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  • wsbob February 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    “… You seem to think that there isn’t enough public will due to the lack of a visible presence of public demand for more single track access for bikes in Forest Park. Sounds like you are suggesting we get out and be heard and I see your point. …” Charlie #75

    Charlie…getting out and being heard is exactly what I’m suggesting. At least it’s one of the things I’m suggesting. If off-road biking on single track in Forest Park really is a great interest of many Portland residents, they should be coming out in great numbers to let everyone know this.

    These people should be helping Portland residents to clearly understand exactly what type of off-road riding off-road biking singletrack enthusiasts would like in a close-in location such as Forest Park. Almost all descriptions made to date on this weblog in regards to what that would be, that I’m aware of, have been notably vague.

    Needs to be a bit more specific than simply saying ‘singletrack’. What percent of Portland residents even know what ‘singletrack’ is, let alone what type of riding it’s intended to be designed to provide for in Forest Park?

    This is an important park. Regarding it’s use in terms of off-road bike single track, I think people may need to know things such as intended speed limits and passing procedures. If off-road biking advocates for singletrack in FP really have slow, easy going tour trails in mind, they should say so clearly. If they have something faster in mind, they should say that clearly as well.

    People that make up the public aren’t all stupid. Lay out the details for them. Then they’ll know what’s on the table, and be prepared to either help provide singletrack for bikes in Forest Park or somewhere else close in, or say, ‘no thanks.’.

    I don’t know the exact history of how off-road biking came to be limited from many trails in Forest Park, but I’ve an idea the decision to restrict access to bikes within the park was more complicated than some people seem to imagine; one brought about by desperation rather than hastiness.

    Correct me if I’m wrong about the following: there wasn’t any off-road bike advocacy group to work with back when bikes were restricted from the park. Bike presence on trails was likely to have been a small, conspicuous number of people, some of whom were doing whatever they wanted to do, whenever they wanted to do it, creating problems and damage that forced a decision.

    Really…what should park advocates of that time have done that they didn’t do? Allowed damage and problems to continue until off-road bike enthusiasts organized and got their act together to deal with the situation themselves? That’s not custodianship that anyone would have respect for.

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  • RD February 27, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    I love how over the top eco people use one trail to shut down everything. “massacre” give me a break. Mt bikers love the outdoors too…that is why we ride mt bikes. Let’s be honest these same people would have been against this even with out that illegal trail.
    Eco groups screwed the mt bikers in the whole Mt Hood wilderness too. Erik from Oregon Wild flat out lied to mt bikers to gain their support only to screw them in the end. It is all about “I, me and our” not us!

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  • Frank Selker February 27, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    For those interested in indications of cyclists interest and readiness to help the park, over about two months last year:

    – Over 300 post cards sent in support by cyclists
    – 100-150 cyclists write checks and join the FPC, adding 5-10% to their total membership at the time and contributing thousands of dollars
    – So many cyclists showed up on the day of stewardship to work in the park that some were turned away
    – Collected commitments for over $50,000 toward costs of improvements and park care associated with a trail

    I have never expected that a huge fraction of Portlanders will cycle on single track. Small fractions do any given park option like run on trails, play tennis, attend summer camps, garden, throw horseshoes, ride horse, skateboard, use swimming pools … but there are millions of happy visits to Parks, and the city is richer and better off because Parks offer a variety of diverse, healthy activities.

    I don’t want to see “critical mass” type demonstrations or shows of interest, although I’m sure they would be easy to arrange – the above indications are far more positive and in line with being responsible partners that use the park but also help support it and take care of it.

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  • BURR February 28, 2010 at 12:22 am

    If the city can’t provide trails for cyclists in forest park, expect cyclists to provide them for themselves.

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  • Marid February 28, 2010 at 12:35 am

    BURR, that kind of attitude doesn’t help. It can, in fact, be rather counterproductive. I would not be surprised if this one illegal trail sets us back years.

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  • Dan February 28, 2010 at 10:46 am

    “… rampant lawlessness… ”

    Riding a bike in the woods? Sheesh.

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  • wsbob February 28, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    People have remarked more or less words such as the following: ‘I don’t want to waste gas and oil driving long distances to places like Hood River to off-road ride. Forest Park is riding distance from where I live.’

    Scappoose is 11 miles as the crow flies…probably 15 following the road. Are people considering this distance to be a long trek by car?

    If, as the case may well be, singletrack for mountain bikes in Forest Park becomes available, how far away from the park are people likely to be willing to ride their mountain bikes on asphalt city streets to get to dirt trail in the park?

    I believe there’s a number of interesting things to consider regarding possible answers to those questions.

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  • Singlespeeeeeeeeeed February 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm


    I live in Sellwood and ride to Forest Park often. That’s a 8-9 mile ride each way, before I even get into the park. If I live in Sellwood and am willing to ride to trails, I bet there are other citizens who do as well. Usually after riding I stop at a local establishment for refreshments and support my local economy.

    I don’t feel entitled to singletrack in the city, but I do believe there is more than enough room to share there. I’ve lived in other parts of the country where trail sharing works, and I’m willing to bet it would work well here too. The misconception that mountain bikers are lawless adrenaline junkies is a bit tired. If I want freeride trails I’ll go to Blackrock.

    And to clarify: I do not support the creation of illegal trails.

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  • Charlie February 28, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Jassie, you’re exactly right. Bikes are allowed in Forest Park, but not on any of the “single track” trails. Bikes can ride down the middle of the park on Leif Erickson Rd. An 11-mile dirt road that is closed to vehicles and some of the firelanes that run up and down from the top near Skyline Blvd toward Hwy 30 at the base of the Tualatin Mountains. On Firelane 5 a new section of single track was built as a test that is open to bikes. This section of trail is approximatley 1/5 of a mile long. It was built largely with volunteers within the mountain bike community associated with the NorthWest Trail Alliance (NWTA).

    When mountain bikes first appeared over 20 years ago the Parks Department responded to numerous complaints of user conflict and erosion due to bikes riding the trails and closed the park’s trails to bikes. As wsbob points out, there was no advocacy group that could speak for the cycling community and the overwhelming response from the community led to the bike ban. It also led to the formation of the Portland United Mountain Pedalers (PUMP) whose objective was to work with the city to gain access to the trails within Forest Park.

    Recently PUMP has evolved into NWTA and has become a chapter of the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA), energizing a new effort to gain access. This effort is largely due to an interest among those at City Hall to capitalize and bolster Portland’s status as a Platinum level (highest) bike-friendly city as awarded by the League of American Bicyclists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_American_Bicyclists#Bicycle-friendly_communities). Portland’s Platinum status, however, came with a caveat that the city needed to provide more off-road (single track) riding opportunities in order to retain such lofty recognition.

    Nick Fish, the Portland City councilman who oversees the Parks Department has been charged with finding those off-road opportunities and Forest Park is, naturally, an ideal venue with a large inventory of trails that could be adapted to allow bicycles.

    With over 20 years of precedent this is not a simple thing to do despite a new era of bike-friendliness and almost 30 years of advocacy and stewardship from the mountain biking community led by IMBA. The fact is that there are many examples of trail sharing and trail building methods that can mitigate if not eliminate the issues that led to the original bike ban.

    As I stated in my previous post, I don’t think we are talking about building a network of new trails, but rather converting a small percentage of the current trails to allow bikes. To mitigate the user conflict some options might include alternate days that users have access (odd-numbered days for foot traffic, even numbered days for bikes) and opening trails to bikes that are further from the main park entrances. Erosion issues can be reduced by the use of water-bars and drainages that keep water off the trail, armoring problem areas with rocks and gravel and building wood bridges if needed.

    One of IMBA’s great successes has been outreach within the mountain bike community to promote respect for the rules of the trail, the fundamentals of wearing a helmet, riding within one’s abilities and in control, and establishing patterns for who has the right-away (pedestrians, uphill riders). In a place like Forest Park the implementation of a volunteer Trail Patrol could enhance that message.

    Essentially, my point is that in the past 20-30 years since the advent of the Mountain Bike, we have learned a great deal about how to contend with the conflicts that rose organically from the spread of this form of recreation, rendering the original decision to ban bikes from Forest Park to be irrelevant.

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  • WHills February 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I am avid MTB who used to live and ride in Hood River and surrounding areas. I hike and jog as well in FP and hiked on the Wildwood trail today. I doubt any of the people mouthing off here have even seen the damage that hikers have done to the trail by walking around the mud off the trail. Their are too many people who are just a little to self righteous to believe that the park belongs to them and they can’t come to grips with working this issue out to share the park with Mountain Bikers. The middle and north end of the park are very rarely used and would benefit from the TLC that organized mountain bikers would offer. So you hikers and illegal dog walkers get off your pedestals and let us all just work together. We mountain bikers don’t mind if you hike on the same trails with us!

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  • wsbob March 1, 2010 at 1:24 am

    Singlespeeeeeeeeeed #86, thanks for offering your own ride to the park as an example. Next question might be, ‘What percentage of the people intending to ride in the park would ride 8-9 miles or less rather than drive to the park?

    Drawing a series of 8-9 miles radius at points along the park’s long rectangular length can help provide some basis to theorize how many people residing within those radius might come to the park seeking single track.

    Offering just one example, Downtown Beaverton is only 5-6 miles from the park. Beaverton likely has some people enthusiastic for off-road biking, just as Portland does. They probably don’t want to ride to Scappoose anymore than some people commenting on this thread have said.

    “…The misconception that mountain bikers are lawless adrenaline junkies is a bit tired. …” Singlespeeeeeeeeeed

    There’s no misconception about that at all. Some of them are exactly that, and it’s they who’ve been allowed to make a dismally bad impression upon vulnerable people on foot on the trail; probably people on bikes too. This is the kind of impression that lives on and on and on, just like the kind where, out on the road, people on bikes get intimidated and abused by people driving cars

    What’s your suggestion for getting a handle on the situation?

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  • Northwest Girl March 1, 2010 at 8:23 am

    WHills @ 88:

    You’re right. The trails are in rough shape right now due to mud, hikers and runners traveling around the mud and the high rate of trail use by all.

    I disagree about the middle and north end of the park being “very rarely used.” I ran from Germantown to Newberry Road yesterday. Parking lots were full at Germantown and Newton when I returned. Yes, that was on a Sunday. But heavy use on Saturday and Sunday does not explain the state of all of the park’s trails.

    The Springville and Saltzman trail heads are heavily used and judging by what the cars are unloading, runners, hikers and bikers are using their cars to get to these trailheads. Same with Thurman: there are just as many bikers unloading with their gear as there are runners and hikers.

    The WW trail itself is muddy, well tracked and rife with use. Not to mention that the last few miles of WW north to Newberry Road look like a cyclocross race occurred on it. Bike tracks everywhere.

    I run in Forest Park every single day, on all of WW and all of the connector trails. Use may be dispersed throughout the week in all parts of the park but there is no doubt that the entire park is heavily used. The evidence is on the trails themselves.

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  • rwl1776 March 1, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Say ‘goodbye!’ to Platinum Status. Will Portland be the first city to LOSE it? If I remember correctly, increasing recreational riding opportunities, and singletrack was mentioned specifically, is what the League of American Bicyclists said Portland would have to address IF they want to keep the coveted Platinum Status. What do the ELECTED officials think about being the ‘guy in charge’ when that status is lost?

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  • a.O March 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I wonder how much more BS it will take for more good-natured Portlanders to realize that being nice won’t solve the problem when you’re dealing with mean and irrational people?

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  • rwl1776 March 1, 2010 at 10:11 am

    wsbob: what is singletrack? Hike the bottom part of FL 5, and you will see. Also note how this portion of trail is in better condition than any hiking only trail. It’s all about planning, construction and maintainence.

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  • KC March 1, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Thanks to Charlie (#87) for some valuable background information. Now, where are these proposals documented? If the NWTA has made concrete proposals to the city, are they somewhere on their website? I asked earlier (#60), but have seen no reply. Charlie, you certainly are someone in the know, but I don’t know who you are, and it seems important that at minimum this information come from non-anonymous sources.

    One thing that seems strange to me is Portland’s being designated a “platinum-level” city by League of American Bicyclists. On the surface, that seems great! But if it came with a “caveat” that city would do certain things or the designation would be taken away, then that seems less an award or recognition for great accomplishments, and more a covert way for the League of American Bicyclists to gain leverage in its political agenda. If the city actually committed to do these things in exchange for gaining platinum-level status, then that’s different. Losing a laudatory status for failure to follow through on a commitment is one thing, losing it because you’re paying more attention to local interests than a national advocacy organization is quite another.

    I’m a longtime member of the BTA, and a real believer in cyclists organizing politically. But I don’t know anything about the League of American Bicyclists and am wary of tactics of the kind used by rwl1776 (#91). If Portland lost platinum status because it kept mountain bikes restricted to fire lanes in Forest Park, that would seem rather capricious and more a reflection on the tactics of the League of American Bicyclists than on the policies of the City of Portland.

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  • Zaphod March 1, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    There are many singletrack trails that are ridden and hiked with zero conflict. Surely there are anecdotes to the contrary as there are anecdotes about scofflaw cyclists on the roads.

    There are many studies on erosion and cycling impact is very close to hiking impact with everything else: horses & motorized being in an entirely different category of wear.

    A properly drained/engineered trail will hold up to hikers & bikers nary any visual cues as to what has traversed upon it. Ruts and puddles caused by either group are really an issue with drainage and tread.

    Trail maintenance will be gladly taken on by volunteers who enjoy riding bikes on singletrack as well as hikers.

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  • wsbob March 1, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    rwl1776 #93, is it not true that ‘singletrack’ and ‘single width trail’ are virtually the same, except that the former’s use is associated (in this county), primarily with bike use, and has a few engineering refinements to support that use that trail engineered for walking doesn’t have?

    That was the point I was making some comments back. Presented with the word ‘singletrack’ rather than ‘hiking trail’ or ‘footpath’, many people would likely not know what was being referred to.

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  • WHills March 1, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    NW Girl (#90)
    I hear you when you say the Germantown parking lot and the Newton Parking lot are full on the weekends but that has just been this time of the year when we have had nice weather and everyone wants to get out. But on a regular basis I don’t believe that is true. Also most people don’t venture into the depths of the park such as you who seems to be an avid runner and surely you can relate to avid bikers who just want to experience all the park has to offer in the remote areas in the north and central park.

    In the summer I have been on the WW between (FL5 and Springville) & (Germantown and Newton’s) many afternoons and not seen a soul. I just think there are many areas of the park that get very little usage and surely could be shared by avid outdoors people.

    I think some of the people that are creating the greatest resistance are people that don’t even use the most beautiful and rarely used parts of the park.

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  • Charlie Biggs March 1, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    KC, my name is Charlie Biggs. I’m just a mountain biker. I do belong to NWTA, but only for the past year and half. I may have been previously disillusioned. I am from Portland. As in since 1970, but lived in Eugene from 1987-2000, when I moved back home with my wife to raise our three kids.

    Eugene had a lot of similar problems at Spencer Butte. At first the trails were closed to bikes, but several years ago a new trail was commissioned and built for bikes.

    I don’t know where to find this documented information you seek, I’m neither a journalist nor a public figure. I do, however, pay attention to what I see and read, so you’ll just have to take me at my word ’cause I gotta job and researching facts to prove a point on a comment thread of someone’s blog post on the internet ain’t it.

    On the other hand, NWTA meetings held on the last Tuesday of the month at the Lucky Lab in NW Portland are open to the public and could provide some of the answers.

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  • Kevin Chambers (KC) March 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Hey Charlie, thanks for your reply. I feel a little odd asking for documents, given that NWTA is (I assume) an all-volunteer organization. It’s kind of a “Hi, you don’t know me, but here’s some work I’d like you to do for me for free” sort of a situation.

    But given the contentiousness of the issue, it seems that something like that might dispel confusion and misinformation.

    Thanks again!

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  • Tom Archer March 3, 2010 at 6:13 am

    KC, I realize this info is buried on our website and not that easy to find (a website update is in the works!). Here is the link to the specific page that contains our proposal. http://nw-trail.org/node/1316 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the attachments. A couple caveats: The assignment give to the committee was to list all acceptable options for expanding singletrack in the park. So, of course, ours is a laundry list of existing firelanes, new connector trails and existing trails that might be considered for sharing. Some explanation is in order. Our stated goal of providing 20-30 miles of singletrack would include 1) all existing firelanes, which could potentially be narrowed down and “wound up” to create a more singletrack like experience, 2) short connector trails located to enhance loop opportunities 3) sharing of certain existing singletrack trails that are not currently open to bikes. The actual arrangement for trail sharing (e.g. alternating days as one example), has not been discussed. The other part of our submittal is a map, showing the locations of these proposed changes. I have no way to attach those, since they are large format, but you can infer the locations from the descriptions.

    This proposal was just an initial discussion, intended to find common ground among committee members. Having seen the other submittals, I can say that there were a range of responses from the members. There was not broad support for trail sharing, but there was support for winding up the firelanes (which, depending on the existing grade and width can be relatively easy or quite a bit of work) and for short connector trails. There was also a couple committee members who suggested creating a separate, long, linear trail that would parallel Leif Erickson. However, as we under stand it, that would require a Type III review, which Parks indicated was off the table (at least at the time of that discussion).

    Parks is now indicating that the Bureau of Development Services (which would review any land use application submitted by Parks), interpretation is that any proposed trail sharing arrangement would require a Type III review. This seems somewhat backward because as we understand it we would be able to build some connector trails under a Type II, which is less burdensome. That said, I think with this latest interpretation Parks is regrouping to give the committee some additional guidance on what we should be considering going forward.

    As we see it, any recommendations from the committee will, in addition to any proposed changes in the existing network, will include recommendations to ramp up outreach and enforcement, not just or bikers, but for ALL users. We support this strategy, because we recognize that there are other issues that need to be addressed, such as the plethora of off-leash dogs, which is not only a safety hazard for bikers and pedestrians, but also has impacts to the ecology and habitat (chasing game, and introducing invasive species into the interior of the park.).

    There is more detail to this that I won’t go into in this forum. I would be happy to talk to anyone further about this, so feel free to contact me off-line at tom@nw-trail.org.

    Tom Archer
    Northwest Trail Alliance

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  • Vince patton March 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Hey f5,
    I’m sorry I didn’t see your question earlier.

    Nothing mysterious; here’s the sequence of events.
    The pygmy owl story was completely separate and had no connection to the Forest Park story. The owl video was shot entirely in spring and summer of 2009 and was aired a few weeks ago.

    For next season I’m doing a very broad story on the history and current status of Forest Park. The idea arose before I was even aware of the Trail Committee. Every generation since the park was proposed has faced another debate about the most appropriate use for that land.
    Our generation is wrestling with the booming popularity of cycling.
    For the last month I’ve been calling around widely trying to learn more about the park. Mostly right now I’m digging into the history. Ecology and recreation are coming up next in my phases of research..

    The pygmy owl researcher you mentioned is also on the bicycle committee and he notified me of the recent discovery of the bike trail. I went out to take a look in person and that’s when I ran into the two cyclists. It was just one week later that the trail became news and our video, obviously relevant, was used on the OPB News website.

    Cycling is just one portion of a much larger story.
    And I’m eager to include all sides and find cyclists willing to share their enthusiasm for Forest Park with our audience.

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  • f5 March 5, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Hi Vince,

    Yeah I totally misunderstood the article vs. the video caption, thanks for clarifying. I really look forward to the Forest Park spot on OFG, yours is the only show that I record every week.

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  • Kevin Chambers (KC) March 6, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Hey Tom, thanks so much for the link and all the background information, it all makes a lot more sense now. I really appreciate your taking the time.

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