A major new mountain bike park on Mt. Hood is all set to move forward. The United States Forest Service (USFS) has just approved the permit for the Timberline Mountain Bike Park, concluding that the plans are in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and that as proposed would have “no significant impact.”
The new mountain bike park was proposed back in 2010 by RLK & Company, the same company behind the Timberline Lodge Ski Area. To create the new park, RLK has already hired the same consulting firm that developed the world famous Whistler Mountain Bike Park in British Columbia.
As the plans have gone through the environmental assessment process, advocates for and against the idea have worked hard to influence the outcome of this decision. The USFS says they have received nearly 1,200 comments on the project so far. Some say the park would hurt Mt. Hood’s natural areas and ecology, while others say this is a chance to improve recreational opportunities while doing more to care for the land at the same time.
“I believe that mountain biking at Timberline represents yet another new opportunity for play in every season of the year.”
— Christopher Worth, Mt. Hood Forest Supervisor
Environmental advocacy groups, led by BARK in Oregon, are likely to file an appeal.
In his decision dated November 19th, Mt. Hood Forest Supervisor Christopher Worth stated that the plans for a mountain bike park would, “have neither a significant beneficial or adverse impact because the area affected by the bike park and restoration projects is a very small percentage of comparable acres at that elevation on Mt. Hood.” He also pointed out that a mountain bike park is consistent with the Mt. Hood Forest Plan, which calls for, “areas of high quality… recreation opportunities” which include, “hiking, mountain bicycling, and horseback riding.”
Here’s the proposed trail map:
Furthermore, Worth referenced a quote from former president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who dedicated the Lodge in 1937 and made it clear that the area was intended for, “the enjoyment of new opportunities for play in every season of the year.”
“Roosevelt made clear that Timberline would be valued for active recreational use occurring throughout the four seasons,” Worth wrote. “I believe that mountain biking at Timberline represents yet another new opportunity for play in every season of the year.”
This decision is sure to be lauded by mountain biking advocates who worked hard to turn out support for the project. Last we reported, construction would begin as early as this summer. There’s still a chance this decision could be appealed, so we’ll keep you posted on any changes or developments.