Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Guest Opinion: The case against the Timberline MTB park

Posted by on March 25th, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Amy Harwood

Publisher’s note: We’ve covered the Timberline MTB Park several times since the project became public in April 2010. Last week I was contacted by a member of Bark, a Mt. Hood Forest watchdog group working to stop the project. This guest article was written by Bark Board Member Amy Harwood (she also provided the photo below of Mt. Hood).

This week lovers of Mt. Hood are stuck between a rock and a mountain of issues. On the one hand mountain bike enthusiasts are even closer to getting a world-class bike park on the slopes of one of America’s favorite peaks. On the other, the park is one of the best examples in recent history of how profit can rapidly trump concerns about the future of Mt. Hood’s wildlands.

Bark continues to stay engaged in efforts to stop the expansion, despite the risk of being swept onto an anti-bike blacklist. It’s worth stating why:

South face of Mt. Hood.
(Photo: US Forest Service)

Mt. Hood is the most beautiful mountain in the world — or so a lot of people who live in view of it will tell you. On a clear day, those of us stuck behind a window can look out at the pristine skirt of snow and be reminded of the wildness just down the road. But what really makes Mt. Hood the most beloved mountain is the view once you get there. In just a few weeks wildflowers will begin to peek out from under the snow. The alpine meadows will soften the hard edges where mountain meets forest. Martens will scurry between their rock homes, elk will move up into their summer range, and hundreds of different butterflies will occasionally erupt in the sky, just as they have for thousands of years. Our mountain is alive and Bark is committed to speaking up for the creatures that we share it with.

The Timberline bike park is a corporate scheme to have more weeks of the year attracting cars to larger and larger parking areas that have been poured over our remaining wild creeks and meadows.

RLK’s proposal to use Timberline’s slopes for mountain bike trails is not the bike-friendly proposal you might think (links to PDF) – that is, if bikes are an idea in line with your values of environmental stewardship, local power and equity. The Timberline bike park is a corporate scheme to have more weeks of the year attracting cars to larger and larger parking areas that have been poured over our remaining wild creeks and meadows. A ticket to use the resource-intensive chairlifts cost the price of a week’s worth of groceries. And the routes downhill are not the reused ski trails (PDF) you might hope for, but rather a new scar on the face of the mountain. This park is not interested in tapping into Portland’s famous love of all-things bike. It’s a luxury theme park for the dwindling leisure class.

It should be kept in mind why RLK would be investing so much into this development. As the ski season shrinks more and more every year due to the catastrophic shifts occurring on our mountain from the effects of climate change, resorts around the country are desperately beginning to diversify. It’s no mystery that the Cascades will never again be the mountain ecosystems we know them today. Now is the time to be assessing whether more development is an appropriate direction to take. Figuring out how to keep the rich happy is not adaptation; it’s denial.

Above all else, Bark cannot turn a blind eye to the lack of public participation. Unlike so many other aspects of Forest Service management of recreation, the alpine recreation areas are required to have a Master Plan to layout future desired projects. However, these Master Plans do not factor in impacts to the rest of the national forest and are not required to go through a public input process. So, for instance, as federal funding becomes available for the Forest Service to convert old logging roads to bike trails, Timberline’s proposal becomes a disincentive for our forest to get these funds over another forest without a private park. Because the actual users of the forest were never engaged in this process, we’ll never know what other projects could have been possible.

One of the hardest parts for Bark in taking this stance against Timberline’s proposal is the fact that many of our supporters, volunteers and staff are bikers. We believe recreation interests and conservation have powerful alliance when it comes to the future of Mt. Hood. We’ve worked for years with mountain bikers who don’t want their favorite trails to be a tour of the latest logging project and energy development. And we have repeatedly created a platform for the diverse quiet recreation user groups to come together on a vision for Mt. Hood that reflects the people who love it, not the people who want to profit from it.

We remain committed to Mt. Hood’s communities. Humans included.

Amy Harwood is a Bark Board Member and co-founder of Signal Fire. Read more of our Timberline MTB Park coverage here.

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.

  • 9watts March 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Excellent post. Thanks for clarifying all those distinctions.

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    • Esther March 26, 2013 at 6:28 am

      Great article. It is too bad to read the 20 comments below that 1. Dont even seem to have read the article and/or seem to miss the forest for the trees (as it were), 2. accuse BARK, who have been incredibly dedicated to and successful at preserving public lands from private interests and ecological toll, of self-serving interests while the commenters themselves talk about how they personally need the new MTB trails, 3. make it personal with the author (including a sexist comment, and go ahead and run me down for being the token angry feminist on that one but I know Im not the only person who thought that).
      The alpine areas of the mountains are incredibly fragile, and important to the mountsin ecosysttem. Everything that goes on up there, including parking lot runoff, goes downstream. Do you know where our water comes from? Bull Run. Do you know what feeds Bull Run?Mt. Hood snowmelt. Yes, go ahead and talk about BARK being self serving. I gurss we can agree on that one.

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      • takeaspin22 March 26, 2013 at 8:36 am

        The Timberline ski area and parking lots are not in the Bull Run watershed. In fact, Bull Run is separated from Mount Hood by a ridge and is quite well protected.

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        • longgone March 26, 2013 at 9:13 am

          Thanks… Im glad someone pointed that out.

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        • Esther March 26, 2013 at 10:45 am

          Thanks! I appreciate your reasonable response.
          I do hold, however, that its upstream of *something*. 🙂

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          • Brian March 26, 2013 at 11:18 am

            And what about the Timberline proposal concerns you with regards to this?

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        • Rol March 26, 2013 at 11:58 am

          For the record, it’s upstream from the Sandy, the Columbia, and the ocean, none of which are okay to pollute, in my self-interested opinion.

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          • Brian March 26, 2013 at 12:15 pm

            Then you agree with every single mountain biker I know. This is not an issue.

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      • bjorn March 26, 2013 at 8:36 am

        Maybe we didn’t read the same article but I count 3 or 4 separate occasions where the author makes reference to how rich every mountain biker is and that is why this shouldn’t happen. She spends a lot more time on that than on discussing any concrete example of why this is bad environmentally. The only real environmental concern she hits specifically is that more people might go to mt. hood, which means more cars, which seems to me to be the same impact that someone hiking has. You also have to understand that there is significant history of her group BARK working with other environmental groups to scoop up over half of the available trails at mount hood and make them off limits when there were other legitimate options. I linked to articles about the past efforts by BARK further down in the thread. While I agree the personal attacks on Amy are unwarranted so is her class warfare nonsense, and she knows that there has been a public process because I’ve been involved and so has BARK. There is a real reason why people are getting the impression that BARK is anti mountain bike, and I think if you step back and read the article from the point of view of someone who has been burned by BARK before and likes to mountain bike you might see why they didn’t enjoy being called fat cats who just want to destroy nature, in an article with no tangible or specific facts about why this park is a bad idea environmentally or where an acceptable location for new trails might be.

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        • longgone March 26, 2013 at 10:03 am

          I am a bit of a “class warrior” myself, and your point on Harwood’s comments seem accurate. She is a passionate, yet misguided spokesperson for her cause. IMO. peace.

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      • f5 March 26, 2013 at 9:55 am

        Mount Hood snowmelt does not feed Bull Run watershed.

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    • 9watts March 26, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      I wonder if we could get someone from BARK, or perhaps Amy herself, to respond to some of the thoughtful if pointed critiques here. It seems there are many perspectives on some of the points she raises and perhaps we could elevate the discussion a bit by homing in on the specific claims and accusations. That way the rest of us not so steeped in the history of this particular issue could learn something and be assisted in filtering out the shrill cries of entitlement from the real issues.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 26, 2013 at 1:30 pm


        Unfortunately Amy left for a week-long backcountry trip right after writing the article. I have been in touch with other Bark staff (it’s not an acronym!) to urge them to consider responding to the comments. They are aware of the post (it’s on their website) and I hope they find time to reply and/or clarify their position where necessary. Thanks.

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        • longgone March 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm

          Did she ride her bike there? I sure hope so! Sorry J.M., I couldnt help that!
          Long Live Mt Hood!

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      • Brenna March 27, 2013 at 4:01 pm

        Hi all – there was a request for someone from Bark to respond, so I’ll weigh in on a few of the lively issues that have been generated from this discussion.

        I am Bark’s staff attorney, and tasked with evaluating whether or not projects on our public lands comply with existing laws. The main reason that we are contesting the Timber line Mountain Bike Park is that it does not. The plan to create miles of trail on fragile alpine soils in an area already heavily impacted by recreation simply does not meet the Forest Service’s minimum standards for environmental protection.

        There was a question of “what is downstream” and the most clear and troubling answer is Still Creek – where the Forest Service has been spending thousands of dollars and hours restoring salmon habitat. The proposed trails will have a significant impact on the headwaters of Still Creek, and the Forest Service has refused to acknowledge or mitigate this impact.

        It is true that I, as an urban bike commuter and not a mountain biker, do not understand the thrill of paying for lift assisted downhill biking. It’s also true that recreation which provides significant profit for companies on Mt. Hood is something Bark does not advocate for – while we have worked with IMBA and others to advocate for roads to trails conversions specifically to increase mountain biking trails.

        But, at the end of the day, we are opposing this sale because of its large impact on a fragile area, in contravention of environmental laws. We’ll keep working to remove roads, and replace them with trails that bikers can use – for free!

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        • davemess March 27, 2013 at 6:07 pm

          Brenna can you address some specific ways in which this bike park will damage the fragile ecosystem (namely Still Creek)? Are you worried about excess run off (this park will only be open in the driest months of the year), creek/stream crossings (these could easily be remedied with bridges), parking (I haven’t seen any proposal to build more parking infrastructure associated with this project)? These trails are going to be built responsibly leading to minimal erosion and few drainage issues (Go check out Sandy Ridge, if you don’t think it can be done. YOu can ride those trails almost year round due to the great build). I think we would like some specific issues and not just generalized hyperbole (ie. Well it’ll be bad for a sensitive, wild area).

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        • bjorn March 27, 2013 at 10:40 pm

          Hi Brenna, thanks for responding, I would also like specifics on the still creek issue. One thing I would really like to know is how far is the creek from the park? 10 feet? 1 mile? 10 miles? Also you refer to this as a sale, but that seems like it is definately not the case, Timberline currently has a lease for the ski resort and I have never seen anyone state that the land is being sold to them until you said it in your comment. I don’t think that any ski area in Oregon owns the land it is located on, to my knowledge they are all leases, please confirm that this is actually a sale of land or correct your comment. Thank you.

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        • Robholio June 26, 2013 at 6:09 pm

          -“It is true that I, as an urban bike commuter and not a mountain biker, do not understand the thrill of paying for lift assisted downhill biking. It’s also true that recreation which provides significant profit for companies on Mt. Hood is something Bark does not advocate for – while we have worked with IMBA and others to advocate for roads to trails conversions specifically to increase mountain biking trails.”

          This comment in a nutshell shows you have no understanding of the other side of the argument. “Roads to trails” is akin to upgrading a gun owner to metal BB’s from plastic ones when actual bullets are what they are asking for. To use another sports analogy, you’re telling track athletes to just use sidewalks because building a proper track will damage a field.

          Also, I hear a lot about the “fragile ecosystem.” with the exception of opposing things like this bike park, why do I never hear of any community proactivity from these “concerned groups?” The fact that many local mountain bike advocacy groups are actively and overtly involved in conservation activities, whereas BARK and the Sierra Club are absent with the exception of courtrooms, speaks volumes as to their real concerns.

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    • jim April 1, 2013 at 11:56 am

      First I would like to point out that BARK is an organization that makes its money from controversy. They go door to door and ask for money because the “sky is falling” and if only you give them some money they can stop it from happening. So it’s interesting to me that their argument begins and ends with a rant about profit. Apparently, if someone somewhere is making money, evil is happening. So would the bike park be better if it were built by volunteers? I know that BARK and others have this anti-profit thing but it does not match with my life’s experience. I live in a house that was built by skilled folks earning a living wage and yes by a developer that made some money along the way. Should I presume that my house is defective or unsafe or ugly because someone made a profit? I like my house and give thanks for it and I’m confident that with the building codes and the skills of the workers I got what I paid for. Similarly I drive a car. It was made by skilled workers by a company that made some profit. Should I presume that it is unsafe or unreliable because a profit was made? I love my car, it’s exactly what I wanted and paid for. I can’t imagine a group of volunteers building me a better house or a better car. As for the bike park, I think BARK would argue that the profit motive has caused Timberline to propose something that is outrageous and harmful. And they would argue that the Forest Service is looking the other way, ignoring obvious and outrageous harmful resource impacts so that Timberline can make a buck. If you look at the Environmental Assessment that was prepared (354 pages), you will find a detailed analysis of the effects and benefits of the project along with a list of design features, mitigation measures and monitoring that minimize impacts to the environment. And just like building codes for houses and safety rules for cars give us the confidence that we are getting a good product, the analysis found that the project is consistent with the laws of the land including those for the protection of water quality and endangered species. While it’s true that most things that humans do alter the environment in some way, it’s our obligation to think things through and make informed decisions about our world. I think the impacts of the bike park are relatively minor and it should be built. Lastly I would like to revisit the concept of profit motive. While BARK claims to be a non-profit organization, all of the folks that work there earn a living wage in the preservationist industry. They have to generate controversy and object to things or the donations dry up and they lose their paychecks. Is that not a jaded capitalist motivation? Should we believe BARK’s rhetoric because they need to make a buck?

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  • Neil March 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    “A ticket to use the resource-intensive chairlifts cost the price of a week’s worth of groceries. ”
    I thought this was about Biking, not Class Warfare.

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    • 9watts March 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Social class and money are not the same thing. It is what you do with the money you have/don’t have that makes all the difference.

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    • Chris I March 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      If this were a project to clear land in Government Camp to build an airstrip so jet setters from across the country could fly directly to the mountain, do you think mentioning user costs would be allowed?

      I think that costs and accessibility are worth mentioning for any project on public lands. They are “public” lands after all…

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  • Jim F. March 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Oh, come on. What better place to put more bike trails on the mountain than in the middle of a ski resort, which is essentially a really ugly clear cut with even uglier chair lifts!!! I am not a downhiller, and will never use the bike park. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a viable recreational opportunity. I could not think of a better place to build it.

    I know — let’s trade. If you’re against new trails, let bikes on the PCT instead. Doesn’t seem fair to block both new trail resources and prevent expanding use of existing ones. You can’t have it both ways.

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    • Skid March 25, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      That’s just it though, all these anti-bikes-on-hiking-trails people ALWAYS hide behind “environmental issues” when the truth of the matter is that they do not want to share the trails.

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      • Bjorn March 25, 2013 at 3:51 pm

        Exactly, note that she completely fails to mention how her group worked hard to lock mountain bikes out of well over 100 miles of traditionally open trails. When that happened they said that the trails could be replaced in non-wilderness areas, however it seems like every time that starts to happen here they are saying no not here either because “THE ENVIRONMENT”. These trails will be carefully managed against erosion and will concentrate use into a smaller area, if anything this is the development that they should be supporting. The real truth in my opinion is that BARK would like to see all of the ski areas go out of business and disappear, and so they are going to fight anything that might give more revenue to one of the areas. I have ridden at Northstar in Lake Tahoe, I saw little evidence of erosion problems, and the ticket price was only 30 bucks although that was a few years ago it didn’t seem terribly outrageous, and a season pass was around 250 as I recall. The idea that this park is going to be so expensive that none one who isn’t the CEO of a fortune 500 company will be able to use it seems unlikely. The pass will cost about as much as driving up there really.

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        • sprout March 25, 2013 at 8:46 pm

          The establishment of a wilderness area is hardly a directed attempt to lock mountain bikes out of the forest. Additionally there is really no comparing this lift assisted, downhill proposal at Timberline and other mountain bike trails throughout the forest. Bark has promoted roads to trails conversion, however they can only do so much. The onus is on the Forest Service to prioritize this work, yet as she explains in this article, the Forest Service instead has been pushing forward Timberline, meanwhile letting work on roads to trails conversion fall behind.

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        • rwl1776 March 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm

          Bjorn: the miles of MTB trail access lost due to the Mt Hood Legacy act was 110 miles out of the 210 mountainbikers were allowed to ride. That is over HALF of the trails we rode AND maintained for over 20 years. That figure of % of trails lost to MTB access paints a more dire picture of what was lost to riders forever.

          Meanwhile what is the stance of OregonWild in regards to this MTB Park idea? THEY were the driving force behind Mr. Earl Blumenauer’s Mt Hood Legacy Act. Yes, that same “pro-bicycle” Congressman closed those trails with that legislation. It think this proposal will go a long way to opening some access to those that lost it in the not too distant past.

          LONG LIVE PUMP!

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          • Brian March 26, 2013 at 2:03 pm

            “One appeal was filed by a conglomeration of groups including Friends of Mt. Hood, Bark, Mazamas, Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, and Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club. The other appeal was filed by an individual: Lori Ann Burd, Esq.”
            No mention of Oregon Wild.

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    • Esther March 26, 2013 at 7:03 am

      ” And the routes downhill are not the reused ski trails you might hope for, but rather a new scar on the face of the mountain.”

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      • Alex March 26, 2013 at 9:23 am

        Yes – but have you looked at the proposed map? While it doesn’t follow the exact same lines as the ski area, it is the same land and does not require cutting down swaths of trees like skiing does.

        Here is a link to the map: http://bikeportland.org/2010/07/06/advocates-mobilize-as-comment-period-begins-for-timberline-mountain-bike-park-36176

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      • Robholio June 26, 2013 at 6:25 pm

        Your hiking shoes will damage the fragile dirt, and you might step on a delicate flower. Portland has plenty of parks and sidewalks for you to walk on and through already.

        Respect the mountain from a distance, so you don’t pollute the pristine air and water in the Mount Hood National Forest with your car exhaust. Funny how no one is concerned about equestrians leaving their horse poop on trails.

        Call your double standards what they are.

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  • ME 2 March 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Let’s be clear about BARK, they are no friends to mountain bikers and this statement is totally disingenuous: “We’ve worked for years with mountain bikers who don’t want their favorite trails to be a tour of the latest logging project and energy development.” Go to their site and google mountain biking, all the hits are related to their opposition to this bike park.

    I am agnostic with respect to this proposed development, but as a mountain biker I appreciate having access to enjoy FS trails. However, I’ve always found BARK to be a hiker centric organization who seems to fight more on the side of keeping or kicking mountain bikers out than keeping them.

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    • peter cowan March 27, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      Brenna makes a valid point that I haven’t seen anyone who disagrees with her address. Still Creek is a sensitive Salmon restoration area, that may be negatively affected by a mountain bike project, and the Forest Service is not adequately enforcing their own rules. These are points that can be addressed without descending into tribalism. BARK may have an agenda that is not directly aligned with mountain bikers. They may even side with hikers against mountain bikes, that’s not my impression, but I may be wrong. That said, I know them to be a good organization with a good track record fighting against a lot of really bad projects. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here, and trust that they are acting in good faith, and not just trying to keep mountain bikers of trails so hikers can enjoy them in peace. Their points need to be addressed.

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      • sbrock March 27, 2013 at 6:12 pm

        Of my 2 family members that work for the Forest Service neither have been able to find any research, memos,emails or scientific evidence that shows any negative impact to Still Creek. BTW the wife works in the research lab and has access to this type of data but hasn’t been able find a study or report as yet on Still Creek. In an effort to be objective it could be that USFS has not
        done any impact studies as is implied in some of the posts from BARK’s spokespeople, although in your post you use the term “may cause” which makes me think this idea regarding Still Creek is an opinion, and not based on any science. If you could provide a little more data to support the Salmon habit destruction that you have referenced it be helpful in understanding your position.

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        • Matthew March 27, 2013 at 8:55 pm


          I went to this page on Bark’s website:
          Timberline Mountain Bike Trails and Skills Park

          There you can see, along the right-hand side of the screen, many pertinent documents for your (and for your two family members who work in the Forest Service) perusal…including official documents that come from and go to the USFS.

          I’ll take this a few steps further…
          Here are just a couple of links that I found there, for example:

          Comments on the Timberline Ski Area Mountain Bike Trails and
          Skills Park Preliminary Assessment

          Timberline Ski Area Mountain Bike Trails and Skills Park
          Environmental Assessment

          Next, I opened up one of those documents and used the search function (e.g. hold down “Ctrl” button and then press “F”) where I typed “still creek”. At this point one can select “Next” and then go through and review every time that impacts to Still Creek are brought up. [I did a quick sample and, yes indeed, found plenty of discussion on impacts to Still Creek.]
          I figure that it is worth repeating this process with the other documents, as well.

          I hope I was helpful.
          Thanks for bringing it up.


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      • sbrock March 27, 2013 at 6:16 pm

        Of my 2 family members that work for the Forest Service neither have been able to find any research, memos,emails or scientific evidence that shows any negative impact to Still Creek. BTW the wife works in the research lab and has access to this type of data but hasn’t been able find a study or report as yet on Still Creek. In an effort to be objective it could be that USFS has not
        done any impact studies as is implied in some of the posts from BARK’s spokespeople, although in your post you use the term “may cause” which makes me think this idea regarding Still Creek is an opinion, and not based on any science. If you could provide a little more data to support the Salmon habit destruction that you have referenced it would be helpful in understanding your position.

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  • Skid March 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    If it is truly is about profit (and in the end it is) it would be wiser to open an eco-friendly MTB Park than to find another way to make the land profitable – such as logging.

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    • jeremy March 25, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      I’m relatively indifferent to the mtb park–I’ll never use it either way. But there needs to be clarity about who is going to make money–Logging is not a real option because the entity that stands to make the money is the Ski Corp. They pay the “rent” for the ski area with or without the mtb park–so they are trying to squeeze more money out of the same fixed cost (which is artificially LOW, much like logging companies pay WAY less than they should have to in order to get the trees off of the National Forest). Just saying, Timberline is in the “recreation” business, not the logging business. lets not confuse the two.

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    • Bjorn March 25, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      What is not eco friendly about the park? IMBA is involved and the trails are being designed to minimize impact. The idea that constructing a separate park would somehow have less environmental impact seems very unlikely, especially if you wanted it to be lift assisted, since that would involve building new lifts from scratch. It would also mean a much higher price since that park would be unused in the wintertime.

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  • DK March 25, 2013 at 3:31 pm


    Build the park!

    It’s already a ski-resort for crying out loud. What difference does it make what the season or user group is? The parking lot is already there. The lifts are already there. Besides your selfish, short-sighted, profit-hating, what’s the problem?

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    • Hart Noecker March 25, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      Wow, that’s a pretty insulting comment in response to a very respectful, well articulated explanation from BARK.

      This is the first I’m hearing about this issue, but I’m inclined to side with people protecting forests over people that want to drive more cars up the mountain to ride around a dirt track.

      I know several people at BARK, this isn’t an issue they would be coming out against without careful, thoughtful consideration. It’s disappointing to see such a hostile, kneejerk backlash to their reasons presented here.

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      • Barney March 26, 2013 at 8:14 am

        “I’m inclined to side with people protecting forests over people that want to drive more cars up the mountain”

        Then let’s have more riding trails close to Portland! Oh wait, hikers don’t want to share Forest Park either. Am I detecting a pattern here? These are public lands designated to be used for recreation. Mountain bikers have long since established themselves as responsible users of public lands. It is time to acknowledge that and not oppose every effort the MTB community makes to access their “PUBLIC” lands.

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      • DK March 26, 2013 at 8:54 am

        Hostile response? Heck yes! …In defense of a hostile attack against my community’s agenda. I’m not attacking anyone personally, but rather a group that is under the impression that bikes on the mountain are a bad thing. …Or is it profiting from bikes on the mountain that’s bad? Either way, If BARK’s “conservation” position is to be respected, they need to address ALL recreational activities and user groups on equal footing. Where is their statement against the existing ski resorts on the mountain? What about all the hiking trails that criss-cross the mountain? The skiers and hikers drive up the mountain and (gasp) the ski resorts profit from their patronage. …Yet silence on this front.

        It’s a pick and choose position that commands no respect what-so-ever. BARK likes/tolerates this group, doesn’t like or won’t tolerate that one. Guess which group doesn’t like BARK!

        Offensive that I call this what it is? Time to thicken your skin or come around to a more reasonable position.

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      • Scott March 26, 2013 at 8:58 am

        How do the hikers get to the mountain?

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        • Eric March 26, 2013 at 9:18 am

          How do hikers get to the trail? Easy, with this.

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        • Gregg March 26, 2013 at 9:23 am

          1000’s of them walk the PCT from Mexico to Canada.

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          • Brian March 26, 2013 at 10:51 am

            True, but they got to the PCT somehow.

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          • Bjorn March 26, 2013 at 11:08 am

            The number of people who thru hike the PCT each year is fewer than 100. Most users do short hikes on sections of the PCT.

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  • Jon March 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Here is how I would distill this editorial:

    I have all kinds of friends that are (fill in the blank: black, hikers, gay, bikers etc.) so even though what I am saying is very anti (fill in the blank: black, hiker, gay, bike, etc.), I am not anti (fill in the blank:black, hiker, gay, bike, etc.). I am only trying to protect (fill in the blank: sanctity of marriage, forest, status quo, religious freedom, etc.)

    By the way, now that I have what I want (trails for hiking and all the roads to get there along a house made from wood) we need to stop all other recreational development and all logging.

    Sincerely, Bark

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    • Chainwhipped March 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      Umm, yeah. Given that we, as mountain bikers, are not really any kind of down-trodden and disadvantaged demographic, we don’t really get to draw these kinds of comparisons.

      I love a great descent as much as the next off-road rider, but gravity riding is really hard on land. That’s what these folks and the people they represent are concerned about. It’s legitimate to question the planning of a for-profit business that uses public land when that use is potentially destructive.

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  • Jack March 25, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Bark argues that this attraction will only serve as a “luxury theme park for the dwindling leisure class”; a blatant demonstration of their willingness to ignore reality in order to further their agenda.

    Timberline would not be making this huge investment if they hadn’t already determined that they could attract enough patrons to make it profitable.

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  • spencer March 25, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    this is purely concentrating bicycle use, this will encourage and “SAVE” many other miles of trails from “motostyle” bike riding. the wild lands at T line are already scarred w/ clear cuts and lifts, a trail within the ski area permit will concentrate use and keep other wild lands wild.
    Build it so that bikers can congregate away from your “mixed use but really hikers only trails”

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  • Ben McLeod March 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I’m not really sure what her argument here is. As others have pointed out, the parking lots are already there. There aren’t going to be more. The chairlifts are already there. There aren’t going to be more. She doesn’t elaborate on the “new scar” statement, but I’ve seen the map. The bike trails stay within Timberline’s boundaries and, for the most part, stay on the ski trails.

    From what I can tell, her main gripe is with someone making a profit. So she uses the cost of a ticket as a sneaky way to divide (we are the 99%!) and then insists that this is a project for the rich.

    If they are against someone making a profit from biking on Mt. Hood, Bark should support allowing MTBs on all trails.

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    • wsbob March 26, 2013 at 11:14 am

      Amy Harwood…a job well done, describing important, invaluable features of the environment on the slopes of Mt Hood, of which Timberline Lodge/RLK has been granted access for its resort business:

      “…But what really makes Mt. Hood the most beloved mountain is the view once you get there. In just a few weeks wildflowers will begin to peek out from under the snow. The alpine meadows will soften the hard edges where mountain meets forest. Martens will scurry between their rock homes, elk will move up into their summer range, and hundreds of different butterflies will occasionally erupt in the sky, just as they have for thousands of years. Our mountain is alive and Bark is committed to speaking up for the creatures that we share it with. …” Amy Harwood

      By use of the high mountain slopes RLK has established winter skiing routes on, for the mechanized, vehicular sport that mountain biking is, RLK with its chairlifts and clear cuts, steps further yet away from the natural environment of Mt. Hood. Here’s links to a couple maps of the slopes on which RLK has access to, one showing the resorts’ downhill ski runs, and the other showing the proposed mountain bike trails; both show the chairlifts, one does a better job distinguishing forested from cleared areas:



      Basically, the idea seems to be little or no climbing…people will coast down on their bikes, take the chairlift back up, repeat.

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  • Bjorn March 25, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Somehow I have a feeling that if re installing the old tram from government camp so people wouldn’t need to park at the top was suggested they would oppose that as well. The end goal is an end to all non-hiking uses. This is no different than Friends of Forest Park, pretend to want to work together but oppose every specific attempt to add mtn biking and support every specific attempt to further restrict it even if it is off in a separated place where there will be no conflict with hiking.

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  • Bjorn March 25, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Also Timberline has the longest ski season of any resort in the US, It is open around 10 months a year so this idea that global warming is significantly shortening their ski season leading to a massive need to have a bike park also seems quite off base.

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  • Todd Hudson March 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I stopped reading after seeing the words “corporate scheme”.

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  • Anonymous March 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you Bark !
    One thing I learned early on about mountain bikers, they are in no way environmentalists. Quite the opposite. Burning hundreds of gallons of gas to play with their $5K toys. That’s the mindset, all else be damned.
    If this playground for the rich gas guzzlers must be built, it should be at Ski bowl

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    • Todd Hudson March 25, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      Yes, hikers in no way burn hundreds of gallons of gas to do the activity they enjoy.

      You make it sound more like this is about punishing people who enjoy a sport of which you don’t approve.

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    • John March 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      The same can be said for skiers, snomobilers and really anyone that burns resources to go anywhere for recreation. While they’re at it they might as well make it illegal for Mt Hood to erupt, as that will also wipe out the wildlife and cause more erosion problems than man ever will.

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    • Bjorn March 25, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Why would anyone want to go to Ski Bowl, where there owner is a guy who gets drunk, drives his porsche at high speed into a cyclist and then leaves him in the road to die? I don’t know why I keep seeing this popular idea forwarded by folks who don’t want the bike park at timberline that all would be fine if only it were located at ski bowl. If ski bowl actually did try to build a park similar to this I am sure that BARK would be right there filling baseless appeal after baseless appeal with the Sierra Club.

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    • DK March 26, 2013 at 9:00 am

      Can’t/won’t put your name to it?


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      • pdxpaul March 26, 2013 at 11:32 am

        I’m pretty sure it was sarcasm. And pretty witty at that. Not for the 99.7%, I suppose.

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  • Dan March 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    How far does Amy Harwood have to drive to take a hike? Not far. Good hiking trails are everywhere. It’s 4 hours from Portland to Stevens Pass and another 4 to Whistler. That sounds like a destination trip to me. There is no doubt that Portland can supply enough demand and the resort already exists. I just think Amy just needs to put something fun between her legs…

    a bike.

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    • Rebecca March 25, 2013 at 11:50 pm

      Dan, it’s not cool to suggest that women who have viewpoints that differ from yours could use some “fun between their legs.” Cut that shit out.

      I now open the floor to posts about how I am a typical, overly-sensitive psychotically angry (and secretly anti-bike) feminazi who clearly did not get the clever, clever innuendo of this comment. Begin!

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    • Chris Anderson March 26, 2013 at 8:00 am

      If there was a time and place where that sort of rhetorical flourish fits, I’m certainly not familiar with it. As someone without any opinions on the trail issue one way or the other, it certainly serves to sway me into thinking the mountain biking contingent is lacking in the thoughtfulness dept.

      I know I shouldn’t let one bad apple give me a stereotype of the whole group…

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    • A.K. March 26, 2013 at 8:34 am

      I don’t really agree with her editorial, but this is a pretty gross comment.

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    • Chainwhipped March 26, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      Yeah, thanks for ruining a formerly great pro-bike slogan.

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  • longgone March 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    I grew up in Missouri along the migratory path of the Monarch Butterfly. In the mid-60’s swarms of them unimaginable now, would pass through my now suburban (once rural-ish) world. It seemed like aTechnicolor dream.Those days unfortunely have passed and the Monarch is near extinction. All things are connected, and Mt Hood is the anchor for why I now reside in it’s view. I know my off road bicycle treads on it, and petrol chemicals are required to own and use it. It is good we are talking about these issues. But the greater point to me is that government allowed loopholes to be passed in the Clean Water Act that free corporations to frack for gas that isnt even needed at this point, and in some ways cause me to believe my own child will not have clean water to drink, let alone stand in the middle of the road on a sun drenched morning, unable to see his house in a flurry of orange and black wings on the wind. I believe my bike to be a slightly minor issue.

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  • eljefe March 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I’d like to think my fellow bikers are above ad hominem arguments, so I’ll just point out that whenever I see Harwood around town, she’s almost always on a bike.
    This proposal is really revealing the divide between those in the community for whom biking is about taking responsibility for our impacts, and those for whom it’s about entitlement and thrills. Regardless of the class dynamics of the sport, the fact remains that this proposal constitutes an expansion of private, exclusive access to a publicly owned asset. The forest service is under no legal mandate to accomodate every niche recreation interest. I’m sure that those who favor taxing and tolling bike lanes love this kind of thing. For the rest of us, it is appropriation of the commons.

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    • are March 25, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      thank you, el jefe. wish i could hit the “recommended” button twelve times.

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    • Stretchy March 25, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      I’m not sure how this constitutes “exclusive” access? Is there a fee required to ride the trails? Or, is the fee only for access to the lifts?

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      • Bobcycle April 3, 2013 at 6:08 am

        Not sure if they will allow uphill bike riding. As a backcountry skier I have been told to stay off resort ski runs by ski patrol on my way up even though I was well to the side of designated runs.

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    • Skid March 25, 2013 at 11:57 pm

      “She’s always on the bike.”

      On the street. Plenty of street cyclists are not into riding off-road, so this is essentially irrelevant.

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      • bjorn March 26, 2013 at 12:38 am

        Agreed, sometimes I think Joe Rose rides a bike just so that when he trashes bikes he can preface it with “I’m a bike commuter but…” The mere fact that you are capable of balancing on two wheels does not mean that I have to agree with you.

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    • longgone March 26, 2013 at 9:49 am

      I think the “appropriation of the commons” has far greater adversaries than a downhill trail system in the Cascades. I have no idea myself how a private firm on Mt Hood would be held accountable for good stewardship in this case, but I am willing to bet the year end environmental impact is far, far les than the carbon footprint of the production of airing the Superbowl once a year. The Ozarks are far from view or general concern of the people of the Northwest. Am I an elitist thrill seeker desiring the selfish times again on my dirtbike, in the National Forest that has been clearcut for lumber and garden mulch? If I could wave a magic wand and give every kid in an at risk home an electric car with a bike rack…. If it were your call to make, what would you do?

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  • Aaron March 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I’ll probably never ride the lifts at Timberline to ride my bike, but I’d gladly give up driving my gas guzzler to the mountains if I could legally ride the endless miles of trail in Forest Park.

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  • grimm March 25, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    It does not matter what you do there will always be the people who cry: “No! We don’t want your change, we like things just how they are!”

    I don’t mountain bike, but why would I oppose Portland a better mountain biking facility? I know people who travel to BC in the summer to enjoy their MTB park. Why shouldn’t Oregon have people coming to here mountain bike?

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  • Hugh Johnson March 25, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Not on my mountain!

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  • Jeff March 25, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    If Bark would be willing to take a pledge of not taking money from ranchers, cattle interests and the equestrian lobby, I could get behind this. I’m not saying they are, but I need to see the guarantees.

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  • Stretchy March 25, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    “Dwindling leisure class”??? I think REI, Yamaha, Timberland, Columbia, Suzuki, Canondale, TapOut, Nike, Wilson, The Portland Running Store, Alaska Cruise Lines, Nintendo, and many more would beg to differ about the dwindling leisure class. More people today, have more access to more and better recreational and leisure activities than ever before. (I know, leisure activity is a bit of an oxymoron)

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  • Adam March 25, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    I have following this project for a few years now and I have been curious about why it is being fought. From what I can see there are the major points of the article concerning the park

    1) It will attract more people to Mt. Hood, and driving to the mountain is bad.
    2) It will not be free to use the park, private use of land is bad.
    3) New trails will be built, and new trails are scars, which are bad.
    4) It might make it more difficult to get funding to turn gravel roads into trails because there is already a good place to ride.

    My thoughts are that the more people that go to the mountain, the more people will care about the mountain. Paying people to build and maintain great trails sounds like a great idea. Trails are good things. Basically if these are the main reasons to not have a bike park, then I say lets build it. The pros far out weight the cons.

    I am glad this article was posted. It is good to see both sides of something

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    • grimm March 26, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      Seems like if they really wanted to protect the wilderness of Mt Hood they should be fighting against Hwy 26, Govt Camp and homes owned by only part time residents (read the skier/boarders with winter houses).

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  • JEFF BRITTON March 25, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Whistler is a world class ski resort and makes it’s area open year around to cater to everyone. Whistler has been at it for years and has not had any issues, and the area still is beautiful. So is Northstar at Tahoe for example. They are run professionally by people who do care for the resorts and want to keep them open for all. I have been to both in the winter and summer. They keep hundreds of people employed at the resorts who also care about the mountains and environment around the resorts. Mount Hood isn’t asking to dynamite the place, they want to build professional trails in marked locations so that there are not rogue trails everywhere. Give it a rest BARK!

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  • Audie March 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    I think it’s strange people speak as if bark has some secret hidden interest to stop this. It’s simple really. This project would be privatizing something that belongs to the commons and it will have a significant environmental impact.

    There are 4000 miles of logging roads in that forest and most of them are abandoned. Do we really need to be expanding into sensitive high altitude exposed soil so some people can go downhill faster and a few people can make a few bucks? I personally think we should do everything we can to protect the remaining natural areas.

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    • bjorn March 26, 2013 at 12:11 am

      So say a group like the NW trail alliance gets together and takes some of those roads and converts them to single track, what is to stop BARK from advocating 10 years down the road for those areas to be added to the wilderness area too. BARK needs to formally state that they do not now and will not in the future oppose mountain biking on the trails where it is currently allowed. Otherwise this comes across as a request for mtn bike riders to build trails for hikers that they will eventually be banned from because that is the history in Oregon right now.

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    • Jon March 26, 2013 at 6:37 am

      We should close the PTC, there is already a road called I-5 that people can hike along the shoulder to cover the same distance without routing hikers through sensitive forests and disturbing nature.

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      • Close Forest Park April 2, 2013 at 8:23 pm

        I completely agree. Forest Park should also be closed to hikers and walking. Foot prints in the mud are ruining this amazing park.

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    • Stretchy March 26, 2013 at 7:47 am

      Is this actually privatizing anything? I can currently go out to Timberline and ski for free. I only have to pay if I want to use the lifts. Will they actually be charging for access to the park? Or, will they only be charging to use the lifts?

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      • jocko March 26, 2013 at 11:07 am

        Yes! What is the answer to this? I think that you only have to pay if you ride the lift. I doubt that they would try and enforce against folks who were riding up to the top of the trail.

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      • f5 March 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm

        The bike park will be off-limits to those who don’t buy a lift ticket. I doubt their insurance would allow people to poach-in to their operation area and ride their course w/lout having signed waivers and read terms upon ticket purchase. it’s typically how winter operation reg’s are structured at ski resorts.

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        • davemess March 26, 2013 at 6:03 pm

          This is not true (especially for resorts built on National Forest land, like this one would be). I’ll use Trestle bike park in Winter Park, CO as an example. There you can use the trails all you want for free if you bike up the hill yourself. It’s called a lift ticket for just that reason, you’re paying to use the lift. There are few people that actually will use the facilities this way (in my two summers of experience of biking at Trestle).
          I don’t think they need insurance for riders who have not purchased a lift ticket from them as again this is Public land. (and most of this holds true for ski resorts. You’re paying for the lift ticket and not actually going down the hill, same way you could skin up the back side of Meadows and ski down the runs.)

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          • phreadi March 26, 2013 at 10:24 pm

            “I don’t think they need insurance for riders who have not purchased a lift ticket from them as again this is Public land. (and most of this holds true for ski resorts. You’re paying for the lift ticket and not actually going down the hill, same way you could skin up the back side of Meadows and ski down the runs.)”

            I stand corrected! Good to know. I thought summer MTB operations were generally open only for ticket purchasers.

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    • DK March 26, 2013 at 9:16 am

      The mt bike park resides in the footprint of the existing ski resort. If we’re going to protect, we need to dismantle the ski resort.


      Bikes belong.

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    • jeremy March 26, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      I think people have a misunderstanding about the “Special Use Permit” that Timberline is under. They pay a fee to the USFS to operate a recreation area (ski area, soon also bike area) and they are then part of a different set of rules. Much like when the loggers move into an area, they can restrict the public access, so too can Timberline. That is why you *can* skin/hike up in the winter and ride down, but the skicorp can also kick you out if they cared to. I imagine the same will be true of the bikey-world. If they care to, they can restrict access to those that have paid for a ticket. To pretend that there is no distinction between the absolute of Private (individual gets to make rules) and Public (all are invited without rules) is both naive and wrong. I don’t like downhilling, but this does not change the fundamental relationship between the Forest Service, Timberline and the access for the public.

      I get the dramatic effect of acting like this is some sort of corporate land grab, but they already grabbed it. If people really want this to fail, they should tell everyone not to go up there. The skicorp will spend money on racks for the lifts, some equipment to make/groom the trails–but most of the new expense will come from staffing the park (lifties, groomers, etc.) If nobody shows up, those shifts will get cut, and it won’t be financially viable to keep it up.

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  • bjorn March 26, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I’ve heard from someone who said they were with BARK that they can’t be considered in any way responsible for the removal of access caused by the new wilderness area because no one knew the Forest Service would do that. That is simply not true everyone knew that would be the result if changes weren’t made to the wilderness bill and I personally wrote BARK a letter to that effect before it passed, I doubt I was the only one. Here are some archival articles about the issue from before it passed, where Blumenhauer’s legislative aide talks about pressure from environmental groups (i.e. the coalition that BARK, Oregon Wild, and the Sierra Club were a part of) to include more mountain bike trails in the wilderness ending access to them:



    IMBA and the Oregon Mountain Bike Alliance were proposing a different plan that did not restrict access nearly as heavily all the way back in 2005, but these groups didn’t want that, they wanted the full Wilderness designation which they knew would remove access for cyclists to more than half of the available trails around Mount Hood.


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    • matevz March 26, 2013 at 9:58 am

      bjorn, there are many compelling reasons to push for wilderness designation that have nothing to do with MTB access. Wilderness designation is the only legal mechanism in existence with any real teeth to ensure that areas will remain untouched by resource extraction and other development, which is Bark’s (and other groups’) primary concern. The fact that bikes are excluded from wilderness was written in to the original law, so yes, Bark and everyone who pushed for more wilderness knew that. But to say that those groups were pushing for wilderness to purposely exclude bikes is conflating the two issues. For Bark, stopping the assault on old growth and native forest and preserving our communities’ water supply is of primary importance, and wilderness designation is the only way to ensure that long-term. Changing the attitude, culture, and mandate of the Forest Service may ultimately lead to more options, and we are actively pushing that, but it takes years (potentially decades) to accomplish and in the meantime thousands of acres of forest on Mt. Hood are given over every year to logging and other resource development.

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      • longgone March 26, 2013 at 10:24 am

        So I propose a test… Three off road cyclist’s riding no stop, at 18mph around the base of a 1200 year old tree. Get back to me on the time it takes for the tree to topple over due to erosion. Look, we get it. Protect the forest! Congress adjust’s the Consitution from time to time, I am sure Teddy Roosevelt, armed with a crystal ball would have prefered shared trails, to the true threats our NFS has been facing for the past 20 years. Is this not true?

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      • Bjorn March 26, 2013 at 11:47 am

        I didn’t completely oppose the wilderness because obviously there are some good things about wilderness areas, but there was another option that would not have banned cycling and it was opposed by the environmental groups because they didn’t want to “muddy the waters” and they said at the time that other opportunities could be developed in non wilderness areas (you know like a heavily developed area that is already a ski area). Once the wilderness area had gone through we just saw more opposition to developing new trails. I wonder how many of those trails even still exist more than a mile or so from the trailhead without cyclists providing volunteer maintenance.

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    • Meredith March 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      Quick fact check- Bark was actually not a part of the coalition of groups that established the Mt. Hood Wilderness. And, although Bark is obviously in support of creating wilderness as necessary relief for forest ecosystems and the non humans who rely such areas for survival, free and accessible human use of the forest is central to Bark’s mission as well.


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      • Bjorn March 26, 2013 at 3:01 pm

        Well they certainly did a great impression of being a part of the coalition. This was posted to their website in 2006 asking people to help them work on improving the bill:
        I am not finding a definitive list of groups the sierra club considered official parts of the coalition, but Bark was clearly active in getting it pushed through and to say otherwise is disingenuous.

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  • elk rider March 26, 2013 at 8:29 am

    I get the impression Bikeportland.org and friends fall into the group “we like mountain bikes unless they are used in the forest”. Indoor is ok, pump tracks in city parks is ok, but riding in mountains and forests is bad.

    One less non-commuter bike!

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  • elk rider March 26, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Also curious about the logic of how BARK promotes taking groups of people hiking off-trail while being so smug about preservation and sensitive habitat. How does that add up?

    “Bark-Abouts are usually off-trail and can often be more difficult than a hike on a trail”


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    • Brian March 26, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Interesting point, deserved of a follow-up by a rep from BARK. As a backpacker I tried my best to practice “leave no trace.” Of course, this was an impossible task. Plants get trampled when hiking up to that sweet viewpoint off-trail, the homes of animals get disturbed by temporary camps, and going to the bathroom in the great outdoors isn’t exactly hands-off either. Multiply this by the hundreds of hikers/backpackers doing it all over the mountain on any given Summer day and the impact becomes somewhat less than “no trace.” It isn’t logical for a HUGE user group such as this (especially one who advocates off-trail walkabouts) to marginalize another user group who is confined to one tiny area for their choice of recreation. In the end, logic will prevail over emotion and a sustainable bike park will be built.

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    • Matthew March 28, 2013 at 1:40 am

      I think the logic is straightforward/simple. Bark-Abouts go to places that are scheduled to be decimated! If Bark isn’t getting out there and being successful in stopping an illegal timber sale then the area will be visited by logging machinery! Talk about leaving a trace! Have you seen what a timber sale looks like (even five, ten, or fifty years later)? I have, because I’ve gone on Bark-Abouts. I’ve also visited areas of my forest that have been flagged to get the snot logged out of them, and I sat down with others and wrote letters. I’ve also been with Bark doing “Groundtruthing” (off-trail of course, because that’s where the logging proposal is) whereby I discovered major discrepancies with what the Forest Service was saying on paper compared with what I saw on the ground. This activity is part of how Bark achieves its amazing accomplishments. (Groundtruthing http://www.bark-out.org/action.php?a=558)

      “We believe that by witnessing the breathtaking Cascade ecosystem and learning about the many threats facing it, we can build stronger advocates for the protection of our public lands.”
      (From: http://www.bark-out.org/action.php?a=557)

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  • Brian March 26, 2013 at 9:04 am

    I am very skeptical when I read rhetoric such as this. A few comments. Those who are in favor of this park are not anti-“the creatures that we share with it.” Being a mountain biker does not mean someone hates butterflies. They can co-exist. Next, she provides zero data about the plan. Instead, she relies on hyperbole to make her point. This is unfortunate as others start to copy and paste her words as “truth,” having never read the proposal themselves. People are making up their minds based upon one read through of a piece of rhetoric. Lastly, our market system is a two way street. If there was no demand for a place such as this, there would be no profit for Tline. Oregon is in desperate need of economic development. Our educational funding is, I believe, 2nd worst in the nation. People who drive North or South on I-5 to visit a lift-assisted bike park will now bring (or keep) their hard-earned dollars to our state. Should these factors alone drive the decision? Nope. But if the park can be constructed and maintained in a way that minimizes the impact on the mountain we all love (which it will based on the sound plan that has been developed), the answer should be “yes.” This is not a slippery slope. Building this park does not mean that the entire mountain will be enveloped by Starbucks, hotels, and Plaid Pantrys.

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  • elk rider March 26, 2013 at 9:12 am

    How can we get the next generation to be environmentalists?

    The “anti-everything” groups are not very appealing.

    But what about that group on mountain bikes, looks like they’re having a good time?

    It’s difficult to have an appreciation for the outdoors unless you are in it.

    If I was not subjected to outdoor mountain sports as a kid, I don’t think I would have had nearly as much of an interest in preservation as I do today.

    There needs to be a balance. Imagine a tiny thread running across your lawn, snaking through the grass. Look at it from above and pretend the blades of grass are trees. Proportionally, this is about as much of a “scar” as a mountain bike trail makes in the woods.

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  • mikeybikey March 26, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Thanks for posting Jonathan! Voices of groups like BARK that oppose the idea of “more” are usually silenced. Glad that they were given a forum for voicing their stance and their reasoning. I’m sad that so many commenters lined up to trivialize their opinion or resorted to name calling and attacks on the author. I know given the fragile nature of the alpine environment the following is easier said than done, but I’d much prefer to see a well-planned and community managed system for MTB access rather than an “attraction” that is run from behind closed doors and for profit. It seems to me that the latter approach has a proven track record of failure.

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  • tom March 26, 2013 at 9:54 am

    My experience with “shared” trails is that as a hiker I have to get the hell out of the way of some yahoo blasting down toward me or huffing an panting up behind me. Never once has anyone on a mountain bike stopped and walked their bike around me in a potentially dangerous situation. It was up to me to watch out for my safety because they had the right of way for some reason.

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    • Brian March 26, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Sounds like you are in favor of the bike park, then. It will take some riders off of “your” trails and concentrate them in one area. Win-win.

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    • Nick March 26, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Agreed. This is not about poor-mannered mountain bikers on shared trails.
      This is about an “environmental” group wanting to block further development on public lands, no matter what form that development takes. They have been driven to taking this hard line stance by plenty of bad-faith action by public land agencies in the past and now can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to the potential benefits of low-impact development. As a society we need to get more people outdoors and engaged in physical activity. It’s a societal win-win.

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    • elk rider March 26, 2013 at 10:16 am

      As a hiker, I like to get away from crowds and especially mountain bikers. Luckily the vast majority of trails are hiking / horseback only.

      As a mountain biker, I also like to get away from crowds and mountain bikers. I used to do this by going further out into the backcountry, but I have less and less trails available each year due to environmental groups pushing to restrict access to trails for bicycle riders.

      What do we do now?

      Get used to sharing?

      Create a few bicycle specific trails?

      Allow bicycles back into the wilderness?

      Demonize mountain bikes?

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    • longgone March 26, 2013 at 10:29 am

      Every time, every cyclist on the trail? Pleeze… I am sure every car that goes around you on the road never pulls to the left when passing either. Oh !!@! I guess you may be correct then after all! My bad.

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    • Alex March 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      I personally think the expectation of me getting off of my bike for you is a bit ridiculous. It is much, much easier and quicker for everyone for you to provide a bit of room for me to pass than for me to get off my bike, push it past you and then remount. If I am getting off my bike and pushing it past you uphill you will still have to move to the side for me to pass, if I do it downhill, it is the same thing.

      Also, I am not a yahoo, I am a human being that respects people and the wilderness enough to not use ad hom attacks to justify my argument.

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    • Evan March 27, 2013 at 9:53 am

      It’s no wonder we can’t organize as a community (of cyclists) when there is so much hate from within our ranks.
      I’m a mountain biker and I hate that I have to drive to trails because other interest groups say “Not In My Back Yard.” It’s a great irony that I have to be so environmentally irresponsible in order to enjoy nature.
      I don’t live in Portland anymore but I’ve always been astounded that there are no dedicated mountain bike trails in Forest Park. Trails that thousands of people could ride their bikes to instead of drive. Trails that would be off-limits to hikers, so there would be no conflicts. Trails that would be constructed to the highest standards so environmental impacts would be minimized.
      Pretty much everything we do has a negative impact on the environment. In the big picture, the best thing we could do to protect the environment would be to have less people, regardless of what we do or where we do it.
      For the record, I have never, ever, stopped to walk (off-trail) around a hiker on a trail. I do, however, slow way down, say hi, and let hikers know how many more people are coming. In short, I share the trail.

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  • Brian March 26, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I assume that you are not a mountain biker who prefers gravity-based riding, so I would like to inform you a bit about the sport. In your editorial you mention “the resource-intensive chairlifts.” Right now, without an option, such as this bike park, riders are gathering all over the state and “shuttling.” This means they take turns driving from the bottom of the trailhead to the top, usually in larger trucks that get poor gas mileage. Trucks are necessary to haul as many riders and bikes as possible at a time. This doesn’t take into consideration the fact that many leave the Portland and drive farther than Timberline to access these specific types of trails. I’m not exactly sure how “resource intensive” chairlifts are to run (you didn’t provide any data), but I also know that the current system being used by these riders isn’t exactly “resource-friendly.” Again, this style of riding is not going away so we need to learn a lesson from what Portland did to address the needs of skateboarders. If you have a better option for doing this than at Timberline, I am all ears. If a sustainable outlet is not provided, one that is less sustainable will be created.

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    • Ryan March 28, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Hmm, how about riding your bikes to the top?

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      • Brian March 29, 2013 at 8:10 am

        Hmmmm, because that is not the point of this type of bicycle. They are purposely built to be ridden downhill, hence the term “downhill mountain bike.” I do climb to the top most of the time, when I am on my other mountain bike and am looking for that type of trail ride.

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  • Shoalolo March 26, 2013 at 11:05 am

    BARK: Fail! If you want any more money from me, come up with a plan that you’ll pursue to *get* appropriate mountain-bike access; don’t just work on *preventing* mountain-bike access.

    And note: I’m no thrill-seeking downhiller; I just want to ride some trails in the woods. And I am legion.

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  • ScoBu March 26, 2013 at 11:10 am

    If you want to know her (and I assume BARKs) view of bikes in the grand scheme of things, simply look at the first sentence of the second paragraph. “RLK’s proposal to use Timberline’s slopes for mountain bike trails is not the bike-friendly proposal you might think – that is, if bikes are an idea in line with your values of environmental stewardship, local power and equity.” Right there she equates “bike-friendly” with “environmental stewardship, local power and equity.” Bikes aren’t recreational vehicles, they are tools for environmental stewardship, local power and equity. So of course they oppose anything recreational on two wheels. They are purely functional. Now the seemingly gratuitous “keeping the rich happy” and “leisure class” swipes make sense, don’t they?

    I’ve been in Portland 11 years. I’ve summited Hood, hiked the Timberline trail twice, camped at Dollar Lake, Coopers Spur along with other places, ridden my road bike up to Timberline many times from Zig Zag, mountain biked in the adjoining area…I love that place up there. I use it in every way available to me. I’d never heard of BARK, but after this article…? They have definitely alienated me from their point of view. First rule of persuasive writing; know your audience. This proves that they either don’t know or don’t care.

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  • jim March 26, 2013 at 11:29 am

    I don’t have much sympathy for people who will pay to be taken to the top of a hill so they can go back down as fast as possible. Why can’t you go do this in a gravel pit, clear cut or other trashed part of our public lands? You aren’t going to be looking at the scenery as you bomb down the track. I don’t know what the solution is to sharing resources between mt bikers and hikers, but a Disneyland is not it.

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    • DK March 26, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      We’re all waiting on you to publish your “guide to life” so we can fully understand and adopt an appropriate view of the world around us. It’s been hard on all of us, being so wrong, for all of these years. I’ve actually shuttled my bike several times over the course of the years and have a hard time understanding how it is that I had so much fun doing it. Thank goodness you’re here to help us do things the right way, so such mistakes can be avoided in the future.

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  • Lisa March 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I am so glad Amy decided to approach BikePortland with this.

    Our wild lands aren’t endangered because of mt bikers or hikers. They’re endangered by greedy interests that would rather pillage our natural resources for their own profit than to keep our lands whole enough for humans and nonhuman creatures to enjoy and benefit from them.

    If it weren’t for the highest levels of the Forest Service and BLM being in the stinky back pocket of Big Timber, we would not be having this conversation, and there would be enough wilderness to go around. We wouldn’t have to be divided to fight over the crumbs.

    Whether or not the mt bike park goes in, there will still be this tension between communities if we keep only advocating for our own specific interests instead of seeing the big picture.

    Whatever happens with this, we should all work together to stop the mismanagement of our wild lands so there will be enough to go around, and we don’t have to fight each other for the little bits these parasites toss our way.

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  • Rol March 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I was pro MTB’er on this one, but I’ve changed my mind. Not because of the environment, but because of all the whining. Move to Taos.

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    • nrdbomber March 26, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      …there is some truth to this statement. I moved away from Portland, in part, because there were very very very few mountain biking options in town. Now I live in a city that is giving money away for mountain bikers to build trails. I ride out my back door and there is a trailhead.

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      • nrdbomber March 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm

        …however, what you consider “whining” is simply a large group of frustrated people who enjoy riding their bikes off-road. Somehow in the bike-friendly city of Portland, it’s ok to advocate for commuting by bicycle, but not acceptable to advocate for mountain biking.

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  • Chris I March 26, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I’m okay with this. I personally dislike downhilling, primarily because it doesn’t involve enough cardio exercise, but I accept that it has a huge following. I have gone with groups that shuttle up to Timberline lodge using cars and ride down to Zig Zag, so they can ride without having to huff and puff back up hill. I think it’s better to have these people riding electrically-powered chair lifts than shuttling up and down the mountain in pickup trucks.

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  • Neal March 26, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Interesting to note the gross miss use of supplied links. Your misleading and poorly worded write up here is nothing more than fiction. RLK & Co. have in no way been anything less than the flagship for environmental and conservation causes in the Mt. Hood National Forest since 1955. Their contributions to in-situ conservation will be unparalleled with this project through the decommissioning of derelict skid-steer and out of use FS fire roads which will total up MORE acreage than will be displaced by the bike trails. Check your facts BARK. Or better yet you can find information about getting those facts from here:

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  • 007 March 26, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Regarding this issue, I’m for all Bark and no Bike.

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  • Beth March 27, 2013 at 9:41 am

    It’s no mystery that the Cascades will never again be the mountain ecosystems we know them today. Now is the time to be assessing whether more development is an appropriate direction to take. Figuring out how to keep the rich happy is not adaptation; it’s denial.


    I support Ms. Harwood’s assertion. The environment does not exist as a playground. We need to preserve what’s left of it for future generations. (Note that a significant chunk of the Bull Run Watershed is closed to all human use, and that’s a big part of why our drinking water remains as clean as it is.)
    At the same time, we must have the conversation about which aspects of human existence continue to be necessary and sustainable and which aspects need to be left behind. Ski resorts and golf courses — and yes, mountain bike parks — that have been run through the middle of otherwise undeveloped natural areas (or likewise, through perfectly arable farmland) are outmoded and no longer sustainable. It’s time to look for other, healthier ways to recreate that don’t destroy the land. This mountain bike park as a successor to the ski resort is a short-sighted solution. We can do better, and do it elsewhere.

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    • grimm March 27, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Why don’t you provide suggestions as to where to install 17+ miles of dedicated bike park? Seems like anywhere we put mountain bikers raises the exact same issues and will be fought by your or other groups. Although you’ve tried terribly hard to villainize Timberline as ‘the rich squatting (legally) on public lands’ they have the resources to develop something, relatively quickly and do the studies to not significantly degrade the environment in a space that has already been converted to human recreation. Honestly I can’t think of a better spot to utilize.

      If you’re group wants to tear down all the ski resorts and convert everything to wilderness, thats fine just say it. I’m sure the whole winter sports industry and thousands who love ski/snowboard to pass our gray winters would be receptive to the idea.

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    • elk rider March 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      “Ski resorts and golf courses — and yes, mountain bike parks — that have been run through the middle of otherwise undeveloped natural areas (or likewise, through perfectly arable farmland) are outmoded and no longer sustainable.”

      Almost everything humans have ever built falls into that description. There’s a reason we call it Stumptown for example.

      What’s the solution for cities? Urban growth boundary; increasing density.

      Taking the already existing ski resort and making it dual purpose is a similar solution. Use the existing space that is already established and do more with it, and preserve the rest of the area that has not yet been developed.

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  • ac_pdx March 27, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    had a great experience sharing singletrack with hikers in Bend this past weekend! lots of ‘hello’s and smiling was done by all. who knew….

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  • Brian Johnson March 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I really can’t get behind an outdoor bike park. Too much like “wilderness with handrails.” Honestly, if the only unpaved trails are man-made, groomed, carefully planned things than I’d rather just ride on the road with all the cars. Driving that far just to ride your bike around in a contained area seems ridiculous. And the fees? I suppose that cycling really has become the “new golf.”

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  • matt f April 1, 2013 at 11:32 am

    What a weird article. I’m somewher in between mad and sad about it. A well-meaning person/activist and group have seemingly decided to play the same game as our politicians and use political-speak and half-truths to try to get what they want. How about having some balls and saying what you mean!

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  • Davey April 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Someone may want to check-in with the American Indians and see how being given “their own land” worked out for them…
    It seems to me that if you start building these parks, and the MTB community accepts and supports them, when it comes time to fight the good fight for increased trail access, those who don’t support equal access are going to point to these parks and say, “Run along lil’ MTB’er, you already have YOUR playground”.
    If the conversation is truly about environmental degradation, we need solid science to show which group does what to the environment under what conditions. If the science shows MTB’s cause the same level of degradation, or less, than other user groups it’s time for conservationists to end their prejudicial bias against the MTB. From a purely political motive, it would seem to be in conservationists’ best interest: as this thread indicates, there are a lot of passionate, intelligent MTB folks that would gladly join forces to help preserve the equitable, responsible, and sustainable use of the backcountry.
    All things considered, in my opinion, the best compromise for the time being is to promote Timberline as a MTB destination…using the existing ski runs, access roads, and trails.

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