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Portland Parks seeks members for River View Natural Area advisory committee

Posted by on April 16th, 2013 at 11:12 am

Riding and working at Riverview property-3

A trail in River View Natural Area.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you care about off-road bicycling in Portland, take note that a very important planning process is getting underway.

Portland Parks & Recreation is seeking members of the public to sit on an advisory committee that will help plan the future of their River View Natural Area. This 146 acre parcel of land, which was acquired by the City of Portland in May 2011, holds great potential for off-road bicycling; but given the politics around trail access issues, it remains to be seen to what extent bikes will be allowed.

While off-road cycling advocates have already invested many volunteer hours helping PP&R clean up the River View site, and locals have ridden bikes on its trails for many years (when it was privately owned), the agency itself is making no promises about the future extent of bike access. It is clear, however, that a new trail system will be developed.

Jon Pheanis, president of the Northwest Trail Alliance, said today that, “I would say the chances of future mountain biking at Riverview are very good, but it’s going to require patience and continued support… Mountain bikers have ridden this site for years, and we intend to do what we can to keep it this way.”

In a PP&R statement sent out yesterday to recruit members for the committee, they stated that the site is “of significant ecological value” and that future management priorities will be determined “with a science-based approach.”

The River View parcel is about six miles south of downtown Portland and is bordered by River View Cemetery (north), Lewis & Clark College (south), Highway 43 (east) and and SW Palatine Hill Rd (west).
(Map: Portland Parks)

While an advisory committee gets up and running PP&R is also working with a team of paid consultants to create a formal management plan. The plan, officially named the Habitat Management, Recreation, & Trail Plan, will attempt to balance public use with a mission to “protect and enhance the natural resources of the RVNA [River View Natural Area].” PP&R lists for main goals for the plan and the committee’s role:

  • directing future management priorities with a science-based approach
  • protecting core natural areas and identifying enhancement projects
  • designing a trail system that is compatible with protection of the natural resources
  • identifying environmental interpretation and research opportunities

The Project Advisory Committee will begin this June and a final plan is expected to go in front of City Council in February 2014. Public open houses are also in the works. Get involved with the committee and/or learn more about this project at

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • longgone April 16, 2013 at 11:24 am

    God, please, please let us ride our bikes! Amen.

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  • DK April 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Portland + Mountain biking = talk, talk, talk…

    Still waiting…and paying local taxes to boot. Tired of all the talk backed with little/no action on the leadership/decision making side of the equation.

    Throw us (mt bikers) a bone for cyring out loud!

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  • matt f April 16, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I have to take exeption with “great potential for off-road bicycling” part of your article (and past articles about this area). I rode out there last fall from my house and rode all the trails. I guess my expectations were too high…I just didn’t see the potential for good mountain biking with the main problem is the area is far too small. I can’t remember how long it took to ride all the trails there…I think about 25-30 minutes. Sure you can ride laps but that gets old quick. On the other hand, with so few places to ride in town, it would be nice if there is another area where the trails aren’t illegal to ride on.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      matt f,

      I hear you! I think part of my assessment is that, relative to what we have now, it would be great to have some place to ride off-road that’s close to town. I agree that the small size of the parcel won’t make it an amazing place to ride. That being said, I have a lot of respect for the current crop of trail builders. I’ve seen what they’ve done out at Sandy Ridge and other places where just a few miles of trails can be woven together into a lot of fun. Also, there is great potential at River View for a pump track in the upper area. Those can be a lot of fun with very small footprint. Thanks for the feedback.

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      • Brian April 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm

        I believe there is more acreage at Riverview than this fantastic spot:

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      • davemess April 19, 2013 at 5:30 pm

        They have totally different terrain at duthie, Riverview is pretty steep, as the entire parcel is on the side of a hill.

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    • Case April 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      I have to take exception with your exception Matt. The Tapeworm in Renton, WA is in an area even smaller than this one and has over 8 miles of fun, technical riding inside. It also has the regular amenities you’d expect in a public park. I think the Tapeworm model would be a great model for River View. Technical, skill building, fun and twisty single track. We don’t need something epic out here, just something fun.

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      • Brian April 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm

        Thanks, Case. I am going to look in to that place. Cheers!

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      • matt f April 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm

        Ha! Nice one! Maybe I’m not using my imagination enough. And, that’s true Jonathon, they did pack a bunch of miles of trails (and still going) at Sandy ridge using great design and trail building.

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    • wsbob April 16, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      matt f…If you find you’re covering all of Riverview’s trails too quickly, maybe try riding slower. Ride slower, and you’re likely to take in much, much more of the natural environment you’re riding through. If, as a mountain biker, that is in fact, a reason that you’re going there at all.

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      • TrailLover April 17, 2013 at 8:31 am


        Do you truly not recognize that your advice to matt f is exactly the kind of paternalistic, holier-than-thou attitude that is at the very core of anti-trail sharing conflict? Here’s an idea for you WSBOB, instead of leaving your property at all, how about you just stand in your front yard, don’t move a muscle and just soak in nature’s splendor right where you are. I think you’ll find that if you just slow down you’re likely to take in much, much more of the natural environment you’d otherwise be walking through. If, as a nature lover, that is in fact, a reason that you go outdoors at all.

        For god’s sake!

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    • davemess April 19, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      I’ll second Matt’s position (after riding there myself last year).
      I almost want to join the committee just to make sure they make some XC trails as well. That place is VERY DH focused now.

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  • Barney April 16, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I have ridden in some similarly small areas on the east coast which were designated for MTB use. They also packed in a lot of trail in a small space! With some creativity you can do a lot with a little piece of dirt!

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  • dpmF94 April 16, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    While it is understandable that the recent drama re: forest park would frame the discussion here, my sense is that off-road access isn’t the only thing at stake. I have heard from several sources that there has been discussion of RVNA providing a public alternative to the cemetery route, which remains precarious.

    Remember, in spite of the beautiful signs and wayfinding, we are one untoward incident, or change in Cemetery board membership, away from losing the only viable connection between SW Portland and the Sellwood bridge.

    So – those of you with the bandwidth to serve on another advisory committee – sign up, and represent!

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  • TrailLover April 16, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Beware success. While it certainly is true that wonderful cycling opportunities can be developed in relatively tight spaces, mountain bikers know that not all trail opportunities are created equal. Land managers and trail sharing opponents, on the other hand, are often ignorant of the differences. Sometimes that ignorance is accidental, but sometimes it’s completely ill-intentioned.

    ANY success at River View WILL be pointed to as a justification for NOT offering greater access at Forest Park. Can’t you just hear it now? “We were kind enough to give those cyclists a place to ride close to the urban center yet those uppity mountain bikers just keep demanding to be treated as equals elsewhere!” The professional land managers aren’t likely to be the problem, but the anti-sharing folks will be bending their ears and screaming bloody murder as usual.

    None of this is a reason not to develop River View into the best resource possible for cyclists and for the rest of the community, but mountain bikers and fair-minded people are going to have to be vigilant to keep success at River View from being turned upside down and being co-opted into a tool against improving access at Forest Park. Don’t let your guard down! The anti-sharing folks are positively insidious.

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  • G. Law April 17, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Also Duthie Hill Park in Issaquah, Wa is a great example of a lot of Mt. Bike trails in a small space.

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  • f5 April 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    WSBOB, I feel you should try hiking faster. I think you’ll find that if you just speed up a little you’re likely to take in just as much of the natural environment you’d otherwise be walking through, but without disturbing the sensitive wildlife enironments nearly as much. If, as a nature lover, that is in fact, a reason that you go outdoors at all.

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