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Forest Park update: Wildlife report, new Parks Director chimes in, media goes crazy

Posted by on February 5th, 2013 at 11:27 am

Bikes vs. Nature! Run for your lives! Front page
of February 2013 NW Examiner newspaper.

The debate about bike access in Forest Park has heated up once again. Last time we checked in on the issue we reported on a positive statement from City Commissioner Nick Fish. Then in December, Portland Parks & Recreation completed a Forest Park Wildlife Report that found, among other things, that bicycling does not pose a major threat to the park’s ecology. Following on that, the Director of Parks, Mike Abbate shared his perspective on future recreational use in the park in an email to park stakeholders (which we’ve obtained).

With what seems like clear momentum from Portland Parks & Recreation for moving sensibly forward to expand bicycling opportunities in Forest Park, those who don’t want that to happen are once again making their feelings known.

“I feel recreation is compatible with this priority and about the importance of improving community health through recreation and the creation of the next generation of park stewards.”
— Mike Abbate, Director of Portland Parks & Recreation

The Forest Park Wildlife Report (PDF here) was completed as per recommendations laid out in accordance with a directive by the 2010 Forest Park Off-Road Cycling Advisory Committee. The 142 page report catalogs wildlife and vegetation, lists threats to the park’s ecological health, makes recommendations to maintain and improve it, and much more. The report is meant to be a baseline with which to monitor future park health and to help make informed management decisions.

Throughout the Forest Park cycling debate, one of the pillars of opposition to improved bike access was that somehow bicycling is inherently bad for the park’s ecology. However, there is no statistical basis for that claim, and the Wildlife Report itself barely mentions bicycling as a threat to the park. Below is the list of threats named in the report:

• Climate change
• Non-native invasive plants
• Non-native invasive insects and other wildlife
• Habitat alteration outside of the park
• Utility corridor management (habitat alteration within the park)
• Illegal park activities: homeless camps, rogue trails, nocturnal
• Domestic cats at the park perimeter
• Air pollution
• Water quality degradation in Balch Creek
• Parasites, poisons, and persecution
• Fire and fire management

The only specific mention of bicycles in the report relates to that mention above of “nocturnal recreation.” It’s not a secret to the City or to park stakeholders that some people illegally ride their bikes on trails in the park at night. As for “rogue trails,” while a particular rogue trail made major headlines during the Forest Park bike access debate back in 2010, that isn’t a huge problem otherwise and many existing rogue trails are built by runners, hikers, and homeless people who camp in the park.

Forest Park ride-2

When it comes to biking in Forest Park,
we’re on a road to somewhere.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Mike Abbate, the new Director of Portland Parks (he was not in the position during the singletrack debate), seems to understand that what Forest Park needs are more stewards that can help it battle real threats like invasive species. At the end of December, Abbate met with Marcy Houle and Les Blaize — two citizen advocates that you’ll recall were opposed to an expansion of bike access. Following that meeting, Abbate emailed a large list of park stakeholders. Below is an excerpt from that email:

“We agree that the highest priority for Forest Park management is protecting and enhancing ecological health and that Portland Parks & Recreation needs to bring more resources to the park for both ecological restoration and use management and enforcement. I also let them know that I feel recreation is compatible with this priority and about the importance of improving community health through recreation and the creation of the next generation of park stewards.”

When Abbate says he wants to bring, “more resources to the park” and that “recreation is compatible with this priority,” he is almost certainly referring to people who ride bikes. As bike advocates and the Northwest Trail Alliance have said all along; if Forest Park had more compelling bike access, the park would have many more stewards to volunteer for work parties and contribute to its ongoing maintenance. In other words, the large community of people who like to mountain bike have an impressive reputation for sweat equity and responsible stewardship of public lands, but many of them see nothing worth fighting for — or working for — in Forest Park.

Also in that email, Abbate shared specifics about future bike access:

“The consultant [hired by Parks to evaluate new bike trails] recommended enhancing the mountain biking experience by building a portion of single track adjacent to Fire Lane 5. This was presented as the most sustainable option, minimizing the potential for erosion and trail user conflict.

We are now exploring this possibility and have talked to Northwest Trail Alliance who would partner with us on design and funding.”

Obviously, this kind of talk from Parks is not sitting well with everyone.

Allan Classen, publisher of the NW Examiner newspaper (that covers neighborhoods around Forest Park) called people who want better bike access in Forest Park “bicycle zealots” in a June 2010 editorial. And now Classen has struck again with a very unfortunate and unfair article in the current issue of his newspaper.

In a front page, above-the-fold article (download issue here), Classen declares a harmful and false dichotomy with the headline: Bikes vs. Nature. I sold that photo to Classen for the story. He never mentioned details of the story and didn’t asked for my comment on the issue, even though I’ve covered the story closer than anyone in town. Come to find out, sources tell me Classen didn’t talk to anyone other than the two most outspoken critics of bicycling in Forest Park — Marcy Houle and Les Blaize — so it should come as no surprise that the NW Examiner article is very one-sided and doesn’t portray the issues accurately.

Portland Parks & Rec is moving forward with expand bicycling opportunities in Forest Park, not because they are being reckless with this cherished natural resource or because they are bending to the will of an all-powerful “bike lobby.” They are taking these steps because most Portlanders want better bicycling opportunities in the park, because an advisory committee helped inform these decisions, and because the future health of Forest Park depends on its relevance as a place where responsible recreational users are treated equally and fairly.

Stay tuned. We expect lots more news on this issue in the weeks and months to come.

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  • NW Biker February 5, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I got that issue in yesterday’s mail, and while I haven’t read the article, I was completely put off by the headline. Just once, it would be nice to see an article related to cycling that didn’t frame it as “us vs. them” It’s getting damn tiresome, and doesn’t accomplish anything useful.

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    • Andyc of Linnton February 6, 2013 at 8:46 am

      Agreed, NW Biker. While there are definitely some issues that need to be addressed, any time I see a headline like this, the first thing I think is, “Great! New compost-bin liner!”
      If you want me to read your argument, please stop using rhetoric like this, because it is more than off-putting, it’s infantile.

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  • Molly Cameron February 5, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Thanks for posting this, read the piece in the NW Examiner and was hoping for more coverage.

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  • alex February 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    I read the article online and was in awe at how biased it was. It is a real disservice to the community at large when the neighborhood publication is so blatantly biased. It was some of the most biased reporting I have ever seen outside of Fox News.

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  • gumby February 5, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    The hiker vs. Mt. biker sentiment seems to run pretty deep. I used to be a member of the Sierra club until they started actively opposing mountain biking.

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    • matt picio February 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      Hikers *do* have some very legitimate issues with mountain biking, and I think it’s wise for all of us to recognize that and be willing to work to mitigate those issues. The solution, obviously is NOT banning any particular user group from the park. If the study says that mountain biking does not have a serious impact, then expanded use (within reason) should be explored and granted. The new park manager is right – this is a great opportunity to get more people into the park and wanting to protect it. Most of the city’s residents have no idea what’s *in* Forest Park, because the majority of the city doesn’t use it. That’s not a good recipe for finding and encouraging the next generation of park stewards.

      Also, those neighbors of the park who oppose expanding any recreational use, and seem to want the park to be their own private backyard aren’t doing themselves any favors. When no one other than the neighbors cares about the park, then there will be no one to report illegal activity, care for the park, or identify invasive threats. (granted, that last is a double-edged sword, since increased use means increased opportunity to introduce invasives)

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      • wsbob February 5, 2013 at 10:14 pm

        “… Most of the city’s residents have no idea what’s *in* Forest Park, because the majority of the city doesn’t use it. …” picio

        As parks in Portland and across the nation go, for a number of reasons, Forest Park is extraordinary. Even if a majority of Portland’s residents haven’t visited Forest Park or don’t visit the park regularly, because of the many and varied ways this park’s extraordinary identity is acknowledged, it’s a fair guess that a majority of residents, and many visitors to the city as well, are aware that Forest Park is a nature park, and that nature in Forest Park, is what is conserved there for the public to experience.

        Whether a majority of Portland residents would support use of Forest Park to provide trail for mountain biking-off road biking, or for some reason feel obligated to have park trail other than currently bike accessible wide width fire roads be used for this type of bicycling, is an important question that doesn’t seem to have been sufficiently answered.

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        • alex February 6, 2013 at 10:31 am

          You mean it just hasn’t been answered to your liking. There was a whole process of voting to allow more bikes in and trail access. The public was invited and voted. They want more access.

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          • wsbob February 6, 2013 at 7:19 pm

            You might have explained what the “…whole process…” is that you’re referring to.

            There’s been no vote of the public on whether to have Forest Park provide trail for off-road-mountain biking. Portland Parks assembled an advisory committee with members of the public on it, to consider options for constructing an experimental single track trail for off-road biking. I believe the committee did vote to advise construction of a 2-3 mile section of single track.

            Despite the committee’s efforts, Commissioner Fish, the arbiter on the matter, apparently didn’t feel the committee’s work sufficiently answered the question of whether the public (quoting the last paragraph of my comment): “… a majority of Portland residents would support use of Forest Park to provide trail for mountain biking-off road biking, or for some reason feel obligated to have park trail other than currently bike accessible wide width fire roads be used for this type of bicycling, is an important question that doesn’t seem to have been sufficiently answered.”.

            I’d guess a small percentage of Portland residents support having Forest Park provide single track for off-road biking. How small, I’m not sure, but there’s no indication that a majority of Portland residents would support this type of bicycling in the park.

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            • f5 February 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm

              Inflating management policy decisions into ballot measures would be a complete waste of time and money.

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            • alex February 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm

              The committee held an open house, invited the public and there was a huge turnout. I am surprised you don’t remember this considering how involved you like to think you are. I am assuming you didn’t make it…


              While I think cyclists were very represented, I think it reflects on the involvement of hikers and other user groups not showing up in the same numbers. They simply don’t care that much…

     – unfortunately, they seemed to take down the pdf linked in that article. A very large number of people completing that survey (I think it was around 80%) wanted more mtb access in the park.

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              • wsbob February 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm

                “…A very large number of people completing that survey (I think it was around 80%) wanted more mtb access in the park.” alex

                If I recall correctly, the survey questions did not inquire about support for mtb access in the park; the questions asked about interest in ‘bicycling’, and did not specifically inquire about use of the park for mountain biking or use of single width trail/single track in the park for off-road mountain biking.

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              • Matt F February 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

                your recollection ain’t what it used to be, eh sideshow Bob?


                “Respondents were asked to identify what could be done
                to improve their experience at Forest Park. The question
                was an open-ended, write-in format. Of the 2,277 surveys
                completed, 1,284 included specific comments about preferred
                park improvements. The most common responses have
                been grouped into broad categories for analysis. Increase
                Bike Trails is the category most often cited as a preferred
                improvement, with 142 total comments. Within the Increase
                Bike Trails category many comments focused specifically on improving mountain bike access or single track opportunities,
                while other comments noted bike trails in general.”

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              • alex February 11, 2013 at 5:05 pm

                You are incorrect – it specifically asked about that.

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              • wsbob February 12, 2013 at 7:24 pm

                Matt F…you could have just answered the comment without being a smart mouth. I’ve responded in a civil manner to people’s comments here regardless of whether I agree with or don’t agree with them. I don’t think it’s too much to expect the same in return.

                At any rate, the survey which the article you excerpted is about, is just a survey, and not necessarily an accurate representation of the public’s interest in how its resources are being used.

                I can’t get the article to load up right now. If it does later, I may look at it. The cut and paste excerpt you posted includes the following statement excerpt: “…Within the Increase
                Bike Trails category …”, which suggests what I referred to in my earlier comment. Locate a copy of the survey. See if any of the questions specifically mention mountain biking, off-road biking or single track.

                From the article, the following excerpt, I can totally believe:

                “…Within the Increase Bike Trails category many comments focused specifically on improving mountain bike access or single track opportunities, while other comments noted bike trails in general. …”

                Off-road bike enthusiasts commenting would know enough about what off-road biking, mountain biking, and single track is, to specifically mention it in their comments, but the general public probably doesn’t. So for the survey questions, some less specific, euphemistic phrase like ‘bike trails’, instead of a fuller description, gets used instead, leaving doubt about whether all respondents really know they’re being asked about Forest Park possibly being used in future for off-road biking on single track.

                How many comments specifically “.. focused specifically on improving mountain bike access or single track opportunities, …”? Within the 142 comments written in the Increase Bike Trails category, apparently even a fewer number specifically mentioned improving mountain bike access or single track opportunities. Article just says vaguely, ‘many’. 142 comments within 2,277 surveys, isn’t a lot

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  • Adam February 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I worked in NW for two years, and picked up a copy of the NW Examiner every month. It is a very enjoyable read, and I love that Allen Classen covers planning issues with real feeling, and such depth (it is actually, the only way I ever found out about any new buildings, plans etc happening in the neighborhood).

    But Allen Classen is your typical “cranky, old dude”. I know this, because I used to see him walking his dog around the ‘hood all the time. He has a vendetta against bicycles, which is a little mystifying, given that most of his articles are about how tight motor vehicle parking is in the district and the problems that stem from that. I remember another article about bikes on the sidewalks. Just because two people a day rode their bikes on the sidewalks, it warranted a front page headline.

    I also volunteer with the Forest Park No Ivy League, and can tell you for a FACT, ivy is far more of a threat than any number of bikes. As for vehicles for spreading it, DOGS off-leash is the biggest problem. They get ivy spores in their fur, run into uninfected areas, and spread them. And every dog owner I know takes their pet off-leash in the park, even although it’s against the law.

    I think the problem with the NW Examiner, is everything is done by Classen. There seems to be no editorial team or anything. It is basically his blog, in full-blown ranting and raving. in print.

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    • maxd February 5, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      I agree with you that Ivy is huge problem, but dogs do not spread ivy via spores in their fur. Ivy produces fruit, which is eaten by birds. It also spreads along the ground and climbs.

      I have had conflicts with mt bikes while hiking, but I also have also had conflicts with road bikes on the Esplanade, and with dog walkers while on my road bike, etc etc. While not in favor of fast-moving bikes everywhere, it is ridiculous to exclude them as there are many responsible riders who should be able to enjoy this public resource. Trail runners, mt bikers, dog walkers, hikers, walkers, toddlers, old people should all be able to accommodated within Forest Park, but it will take some smart, careful recreational trail planning. I am not sure PPR is up for it.

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    • BURR February 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      LOL, NIMBY + Get off my lawn, rolled into one, how convenient!

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  • Jim Labbe February 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    This Examiner piece was horrible, unbalanced, and extremely unhelpful. Adopting this language of the “bike lobby” is absurd as the notion of the “hiker lobby” proposed by some single-track advocates in the past…. it only takes us down the road of all against each other and everyone against the park, as we scramble for our recreational piece of a shrinking, fragile pie. I don’t share the vision for a large network of single-track in Forest Park but I think there are reasonable proposals for expansion of single-track, if we can secure permanent funding the park ranger or some other means of ensuring better education, signage and enforcement of all users in perpetuity.

    But this article takes us away from informed and fair discussion about single-track in Forest Park and the pressing needs to invest in managing a variety of uses that can and sometimes do come into conflict with each other and the park’s natural resources.

    As a neighborhood leader, Classen should know better than to foster this kind of divisive drivel. In the longrun it does not serve the park because it degrades the community necessary for long-term environmental stewardship.

    Jim Labbe

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  • spare_wheel February 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    its ironic that the critics cited in the nw examiner article all apparently drive to (or through) forest park. where are the environmental impact studies on volatile organics, nitrogen oxides, and particulates? how much damage to the forest park eco-system is caused by miles of paved road?

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    • Oliver February 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      I don’t necessarily agree that forest park is currently a place where people can retreat from mankind’s machinery. As Bicycles are already allowed on all the double track / closed roads that run the length and breadth of the park.

      What is needed is the construction of new bike oriented/bike only infrastructure.

      An equally effective (and arguably as equitable as the status quo) solution to this mythical/perceived pedestrian-bicycle conflict would be to remove all motor vehicle parking from the trailheads. Just throwin it out there.

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  • yellowjacket February 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve been a frequent Forest Park biker, hiker, runner, and walker for 25 years. I have no complaints about where bikes are currently allowed. When I’m on foot, I don’t want to deal with wheeled vehicles barrelling downhill around blind curves. Bicycles are machines, and Forest Park is a sanctuary where humans and non-humans can retreat from mankind’s machinery. I don’t want to see an expansion of bicycle access in Forest Park.

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    • spare_wheel February 7, 2013 at 10:43 am


      Forest Park is a sanctuary where humans can retreat from mankind’s machinery by driving a multi-ton pollution and toxin belching machine into this “sanctuary”.


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  • NW resident & Biker February 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    This is the usual stuff from Allan Classen and his one sided approach. I find it interesting that he never mentions any dog related issues about Forest Park or the NW area in general (off leash, poop bags everywhere, etc.). This may have to do with him being a dog owner and feeling no shame about using the Chapman Elementary tennis court as his personal dog court. I’m fairly tired of Alan’s low grade journalism and single minded aproach…

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  • RWL1776 February 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    PUMP got it’s start in 1988 because of this exact issue: potential loss of adequate bicycle access in our park. NWTA has taken the PUMP torch and done a great job furthering the cause. But still, after all these years, it is an “us vs them” argument. Until this mindset can be changed, we will continue to be reading and writing about Forest park in the same way. End the divisiveness, lets work on a United solution!

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  • Tony Pereira February 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Good to hear that the studies and park managers are listening to logic. The “Not in my back yard” folks have ignored reason for too long. Bringing mountain bikers in as fellow stewards can only be good for the park.
    To Jim Labbe: there’s no need to build a new network of trails for bikes. There is already a great trail network. All we need is for people to SHARE what already exists. Simple solution: even numbered days of month bikes are allowed, odd days, they are not. It works in other places why wouldn’t it work here? Refusing this compromise is selfish in the face of a population that wants more singletrack bicycling in Forest Park. Mountain bikers are helpful and well educated when it comes to trail etiquette. It’s part of the sport. Bring us in and the park will be better for it.

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    • Adam February 5, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      I disagree with sharing. I know we are all taught to do it as kids, but I would not want bicycles on trails as popular and teeming with kids, as say, Wildwood, where it runs near Pittock Mansion.

      I think bikes are great on Leif Erikson, where there is room width-wise to share. But I think what we REALLY need in Forest Park, is dedicated single-track. Residents of Portland are really crying out for it.

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      • Tony Pereira February 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm

        Adam, How about limiting it in the higher traffic areas? I’ve traveled the length of Wildwood, Maple and many of the spurs quite a few times and most of those trails are empty most of the time. The beauty of alternate day sharing is that you can choose who you share the trail with by choosing which day you use the trails. Want to bring the kids out? Go on an odd day. Want to bring your bike? Evens for you! It’s so simple!

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        • Bjorn February 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm

          My favorite place to Mtn bike when I lived in North Carolina was a hunting refuge that only allowed mountain biking on Sundays. (turns out it is illegal to hunt on sundays in NC) It was great, we had access to a sweet place to ride one day a week and nobody got shot. I don’t see why some of the trails in forest park can’t take this approach and be mtn bike only 1-2 days a week.

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        • john February 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

          “Wildwood, Maple and many of the spurs quite a few times and most of those trails are empty most of the time. ” I hope on foot. Because otherwise it’s illegal, right ? I often do a hike up from st johns which can include a portion of wildwood. And yes the times I have run into cyclists, they’ve had attitude and expect me to jump off the trail. As a cyclist it really irks me to have these a-holes breaking the rules / laws and then having attitude to boot. Next time should I call the police? It is a city of portland ordnance ? Once they change the rules, then fine, I am more than happy to have and to be a cyclist on these trails, but until then, live by the rules.

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        • maxd February 6, 2013 at 4:34 pm

          I would rather have some dedicated trails than odd/even days. I am sure there is an interested group of bikers, but I would be amazed if their numbers deserved half the week! The problem with mountain bikers is they preclude other users. I know that there must be some respectful riders out there, but I have not encountered them. They are fast, not in control, and tend to rut up trails. These problems can adn should be solved with proper trail design, and a well-planned trail network. However, Mt bikers should concede that they do not mix well with other users (dog walkers, hikers, joggers, kids, etc).

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          • Brian February 6, 2013 at 4:48 pm

            I couldn’t disagree more. See my ride report from Powell Butte last weekend below. Mountain bikers and other user groups coexist on many trails around Mt. Hood and other areas in OR and WA, not to mention trail networks all over the country. I am for mtb-specific trails in addition to some trail sharing. There should be shared use trails, hiking only trails, and mtb only trails.

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      • Patrick February 6, 2013 at 6:09 pm

        Adam: the most dangerous riding area in Forest Park is actually on Leif Erickson – the problem is that the wide and straighter road encourages faster riding. That combined with people walking 2 or even 3 abreast makes it much more dangerous than any single track trails such as Wildwood or others – it’s just impossible to go that fast on twisty single track, so it’s actually safer.

        (Note E = 1/2 MV^2 …)

        I’ve only seen two MTB related collisions, and one was on Leif Erickson – and that includes all MTB single track trails I’ve been on over the last 17 years, not just Forest Park. The only other place I’ve seen a collision was a friend of mine running into an off-leash dog at Siouxan creek. Note that I generally ride cross-country, not free-ride or downhill, but no trails of that type are proposed for nor make sense in Forest Park.

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  • wsbob February 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Types of biking, such as ‘bicycling in Forest Park’ … ‘mountain biking in Forest Park’ … and ‘off-road biking in Forest Park’ are three very different types of biking.

    Whether the new parks director, Mike Abbate, can sort that out, sense the differences between the three type of bicycling and, with them in mind, steward a decision for increased bike access that sustains the purpose of nature park to the public it would seem the public wishes the park to continue to serve, is a key question.

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    • alex February 12, 2013 at 10:09 am

      I think you are the only one who makes those distinctions when talking about this issue. I have ridden a bicycle quite a bit and in multiple disciplines, and I haven’t seen anyone else use the distinctions you make. I think one of us is missing something here…

      I suggest you do a search of off-road vs mountain biking…it will bring you almost directly to wikipedia’s article on mountain biking and absolutely no links making a distinction between the two.

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  • Dylan VanWeelden February 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Standard biased journalism at its finest. Ill never read the NW Examiner again and surely never run an ad in it.

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  • Christophe February 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    The single track in Forest Park can barely tolerate the current foot traffic. I love mountain biking — only sex is more fun. But opening such supreme single track to bikes, when the trails are so wet, and so close to a large, bike-crazy population, will turn the trails to mud troughs in a matter of weeks. Sorry to say it, but I think it is true.

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    • alex February 12, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      Supreme single track in FP? I wasn’t aware of any…I only know about wildwood, which is sort of a boring ride. The only really nice thing about it is that it is close to Portland.

      Also, you can build/maintain trails in a way that can handle rain better than wildwood currently does.

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  • Brian February 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    So much emotion, so little data and logic. First, those wet trails could become model trails with some knowledgeable trail builders and a willingness to continue to maintain them by a group who work on trails more than any other. Instead, the trails used entirely by hikers continue to widen and have drainage issues. Why aren’t they being taken care of? it should be easy while being used by one user group who care so much about the health of the park. Secondly, I rode my mountain bike to Powell Butte last weekend. I spent a good portion of my day on singletrack. I passed (in both directions) large families with 3 or more children, many couples with dogs, a group of six older women who were hilarious, and two horses riding together. This was all within an hour. Every single interaction was friendly and left me with a smile. Why is this so commonplace on the East side?

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    • OnTheRoad February 5, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      I remember when Powell Butte first opened up and the hiking trails were narrow and firm underfoot. Then when mountain bikers started using them, they became wide and dusty because of the way they rode down the slopes. I also recall when several bikers were traversing down a slope of vegetation where there was not a Trail. When i said to them, I don’t think that’s a pathway, the leader replied, I pay taxes and I can go anywhere I want.

      With these things in mind, I am reluctant to give free rein to bicycles in forest park.

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      • Brian February 6, 2013 at 7:40 am

        It’s funny you mention your experience. As I was riding down a piece on single track that is used by hikers and cyclists (and maintained by cyclists) I noticed two elderly women wearing binoculars walking off-trail to the left. They were on a trail that was obviously created and used by hikers. It was only about 6-8″ in width and not approachable by bike. This trail is not an official, and is therefore illegal.

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      • Brian E February 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm

        Isn’t Powell Butte open to horses? That’s like 100 x the wear and tear of a bike. And I don’t think I’m exaggerating.

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      • Three77 May 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        I remember when Powell Butte was called Meadowland. All the trails you now enjoy were created by one of the most vilified modes of recreation, dirt bikes. In fact, dirt bikers created a huge number of trail systems that are now used by hikers, equestrians, and evil, evil mountain bikers.

        It amuses me how people only enjoy infrastructure when it suits their wishes, no matter how it came about.

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  • NW Hiker February 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Bikes are not compatable with wilderness and never will be. They also degrade the hiker experience to the point where hikers abandon multi-use trails to the speed riding crowd. Just how it is out there, on the trail, in the real world, far from your keyboard.

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    • q`Tzal February 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      Humans are not compatable with wilderness and never will be. They also degrade the wild life environment to the point where animals abandon formerly pristine areas to the encroaching bipeds.

      Here, have some perspective.

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      • wsbob February 6, 2013 at 10:26 am

        Humans aren’t necessarily incompatible with wilderness, and with the exception of certain examples, for years, centuries…millennium’s…they weren’t incompatible with wilderness. Looking only as far as the North American continent’s native american population, say…up until the beginning of the 20th century, provides an example of this.

        It’s the European’s acquisition, settlement and development of lands on this continent that has diminished and obliterated wilderness in this country, plotting out many thousands of square miles, leaving relatively little wilderness areas remaining, particularly within urban areas.

        In this light, Forest Park is to some extent, a last stand on seeking to prevent wilderness and natural areas near urban areas from being further diminished by incursion of mechanized human activity.

        Currently, I believe Forest Park is still by far the biggest, last contiguous parcel of wilderness-natural parkland designated area, in the entire Metro area. It would be great if more similarly large parcels of lands relatively undiminishled were designated…for example, Northern Tualitan Valley, south face of the Tualitan Mtns west of Cornelius Pass Rd…as public park, but it’s not at all certain they will be.

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    • Matt F February 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      NW Hiker…please give an example of a trail that has been abandoned by hikers because mountain bikes are allowed? I’m an avid mountain biker and hiker and can’t think of one.

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    • f5 February 6, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      As a hiker, your attitude degrades my hiking experience.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 7, 2013 at 9:40 am

        Folks. Please be nice to each other. Even if we have different views, it’s crucial that we keep things productive and refrain from mean personal attacks. I do not like to delete comments. Thanks.

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  • John Landolfe February 6, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Forest Park’s number one threat is ivy. The story could have more accurately been called Your Backyard vs Nature–but that would have spread responsibility in uncomfortable ways.

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  • RWL1776 February 6, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Here’s how nice Allen Classen is when it comes to his employee of 20 years, Mike Ryerson: “Allan Classen, publisher of the Examiner, said he’s known Mike for a long time.

    “He’s one of these guys who will be remembered as a neighborhood person for quite a while,” he said. Ryerson’s departure from the Examiner was bitter. He accuses Classen of pushing him out of the position he held for almost 20 years, and hiring Joleen Classen, his wife, as advertising director.”

    Wow fire a guy after 20 years and replace him with your wife? Nice guy.

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  • Nate Young February 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I moved (back) to Portland ~5 years ago now from cycling mecca Flagstaff, AZ. One of my only regrets about the move is the distinct lack of local mtn.biking. Where I could ride out of my garage onto 100’s of miles of singletrack there, I now have to drive my bike 30+ minutes for even marginal trails. (So that bike collects dust and I go for road rides…) I never heard complaints about the mixed use of trails there, but instead found all groups to be thrilled at the masses of people that turned out for trail maintenance days.

    You pointed out Jonathan, and others have added to the idea that bikers would be willing participants to efforts to keep FP awesome. Instead, NWTA and other groups lend their strong backs to the trails of Sandy, Columbia County, and points further afield. Seems like FP’s loss to me!

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    • Brian February 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm

      Not to mention the impressive trail-building equipment and tools they have accumulated after being awarded two major state grants. They have become a very impressive organization with many resources that could benefit all trail users in the local Parks system. It’s time to move between the “us and them” mentality, and progress as the rest of the country has to make better outdoor spaces for all.

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  • Zaphod February 6, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    I like the even/odd day model. I also have lived in well populated areas where hikers & bikers get along nearly all of the time. One can always find a 1% anecdote to counter what is true. It seems well more than fair and quite practical to open a number of trails while perhaps keeping the busiest hiking areas designated solely for that purpose.

    Here’s an interesting statistic that is worth mentioning. Average ride speed by most cyclists is 6mph. Trail runners move at a similar pace.

    There are some clowns who ride without care & consideration and the same is true on streets, paved trails, etc by all users.

    I’ll tell an anecdote to illustrate. This is real. This happened. This made me upset some five+ years ago and it makes me bothered to think about it. Our family was slowly walking a stroller along a narrow path with no space to reasonably pass. A hiker of rather sour demeanor proceeded to yell at us for blocking her way. She really got upset and all the people present were trying to discuss in a civilized way yet it was harsh and upsetting. At the end of it nobody was happy.

    Do we ban hikers? I mean I was trying to enjoy a serene walk with my kids in the outdoors and the day was really mady sh**y because of this person. It’s just about as reasonable to ban cyclists because of a small fraction who will be disrespectful.

    I’ve had very large dogs scare the living h*** out of my children too. Another user associated with a user group who created an incident that caused my kid to cry uncontrollably for awhile. And he’s a cool kid not fussed by much except an aggressive animal where he (nor I) could discern whether it was going to maul or just bark or lick my kid.

    Most people get along quite well. This park is for the people. Let’s offer up something to a significant user group who will leave the park better than they found it. We work hard. I’ve witnessed this. I’ve worked on a few trails in my day. I’ll do more in Forest Park if I can. I’ll feed volunteers coffee after I set down the mcloud (sp?) or shovel.

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  • Patrick February 6, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I’m really tired of the NW Examiner’s mis-take on biking, I’ve been happy with its coverage of other topics, but Classen’s take on biking is over the top!

    I’m seriously considering boycotting his advertisers.

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  • Brian February 7, 2013 at 10:06 am

    There have been a lot of very positive comments here. How about we take them directly to the person who is responsible for taking the steps that benefit us within the Parks System. If you have literally one minute, please send an email to Mr. Abatte to welcome him, thank him, and/or let him know how you are willing to contribute to the Parks system. We bring a lot of resources to the table, lets make sure he knows that!

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  • yellowjacket February 8, 2013 at 10:53 am

    How does the group, Friends of Forest Park, feel about expanding bike access?

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  • Ya'll March 4, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Man, I just want to throw up. Please give us some singletrack to ride! I’ll work my ass off in FP. It seems like the groups of people that hate mtn bikers, allow mtn bike access in the steep firelanes. That way, it makes mtn bikes look bad because the trail becomes all eroded. They can say, “See, look! Mtn bikes did this.” Meanie-head dummies! It’s because they only allow bikes on the steepest inclines! If there was a comparable Wildwoodish trail for mtn bikes, it would be smooth and buff even after years of riding because the water would drain properly. Gosh! I’ve lived in mtn towns where there are absolutely no attitudes towards runners/ hikers or mtn bikers. We all ride/run and hike, so who cares which order or what sport you’re doing that day! Now, I’m here in the city for work and I want to explode because I want to ride some damn single track close to town! We already have to drive an hour and a damn half to ski. C’mon people! What can we do?!!! Please tell me how to help-I have trail working hands, will work.

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