(Photo: Jordan Norris)
Local mountain bike advocates are working to strengthen their relationship with a timber company in Scappoose.
Longview Timber, LLC owns a large tract of land just 20 miles north of Portland that has become a popular riding area over the years. The problem is, while Longview has been gracious in allowing people to ride bikes on their property, the ad-hoc trail network is not signed and some riders have been caught in prohibited areas (sometimes going right under caution tape). Last summer during fire season, Longview representatives reached out to the community to urge compliance with closed areas.
Tom Archer, president of Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA), says a network of cross-country trails have been built over the years, but the situation has worsened due to new freeride and stunt trails that have shown up recently. Longview Timber, worried about liability, sent the NWTA a letter saying that they’d close the area entirely if more wasn’t done to prohibit the new trails and keep people out of prohibited areas.
“Our hope is that if we do this right, we can maintain existing access – which is in jeopardy – and in the long term we might even be able to expand the trail network.”
— Tom Archer, NW Trail Alliance
[Note: The reason freeride and stunt trails are an issue (as opposed to cross-country trails) is because they encourage a more dangerous type of riding.]
Two weeks ago, representatives from Longview and NWTA sat down to discuss these issues. Archer came away cautiously optimisitc. “They are looking to us to be a voice to the community. They realize we are the only channel they can use to get the word out.”
As part of an agreement reached at the meeting, the NWTA will do an inventory of current trails (including where trails need to be repaired and/or re-routed), educate their members, and create a proposal that helps Longview get a handle on existing problems. Archer says,
“They’re looking at this as a way to formalize the relationship… Our hope is that if we do this right, we can maintain existing access – which is in jeopardy – and in the long term we might even be able to expand the trail network.”
If it all goes according to plan, Archer says Longview Timber and the NWTA will sign a formal trail agreement.
Archer understands that Longview has no obligation to allow biking on their land at all, so he’s taking this opportunity very seriously:
“They didn’t promise us anything, but it seems like there might be some opportunities to move things forward in a positive way, but only after we get our house in order. They’ll have to see an improvement on what’s going on out there first.”
Longview has expressed to Archer that they do see a benefit in having more riders on their land. Shooting, trash dumping, and partying has decreased as the area has become more popular for mountain bikers. But, the negatives outweigh the positives, so NWTA has work to do.
To learn more about this situation and to help make it better, come to the NWTA general meeting tonight. Due to large attendance at recent meetings, the group now meets at Roots Brewing in Southeast Portland. More details here.