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In light of run-ins with angry couple, BLM will increase patrols, presence at Sandy Ridge

Posted by on March 17th, 2014 at 10:06 am

Sandy Ridge loop-6

Riders at the Sandy Ridge parking lot.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Bureau of Land Management says they will step up patrols of the Sandy Ridge Trail System after reports of confrontations gained traction among local riding groups and in the media last week.

Last Tuesday, we reported that several users of the trails at Sandy Ridge claimed they were confronted by an “older couple.” The allegations described a man and a woman who had used mace on dogs owned by people riding mountain bikes. In one case, shared by a man named Chris Hess via a comment on BikePortland, the woman approached a family and pulled a stun gun on Mr. Hess’s wife “with her finger on the trigger sparkling it and taking steps towards her.”

We’ve been in contact with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office about the case and they’ve confirmed receipt of several complaints. On Friday, CCSO Lt. Robert Wurpes confirmed they have forwarded the case above to the Disrict Attorney for consideration of criminal charges.

Also on Friday, BLM Salem District Manager Kim Titus published a statement about the incidents:

The Sandy Ridge Trail System is growing in popularity, serving 60,000 visitors in 2013. The BLM Salem District strives to make it a family-friendly biking destination where riders of all ability levels can improve their skills and enjoy a day in the woods. As use increases, so too does the potential for conflicts between users.

The BLM has been made aware of reports of conflict between visitors. BLM law enforcement and recreation staff will be working with Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to find a resolution. The BLM urges visitors with dogs to keep control of their animals at all times. We also ask that all visitors are polite and respectful of others and obey the posted rules and regulations. In the meantime, we’ll be increasing our law enforcement presence and promoting visitor education.

It’s no surprise the BLM is taking this matter seriously. Sandy Ridge and the greater Mt. Hood area is in the midst of a bicycling boom and the tourism dollars generated by trial users is an important part of the region’s economy.

Stay tuned for further developments.

— Watch video coverage of this story via KATU and KOIN.

CORRECTION: The initial version of this story described the incidents as “assaults.” That was a mistake. We are not aware of any physical harm to anyone as a result of these confrontations. At this point, if the allegations are true, the couple would be guilty of “Menacing,” a misdemeanor according to Oregon law.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Ethan
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Ethan

My read: They will be ticketing users with off-leash dogs.

Red Dawg
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Red Dawg

dogs dont have to be on a leash though right? they just have to be well behaved in close proximity to their owners?

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

It’s not Portland out there folks. They undoubtably went and talked to the couple and told them to knock it off, and promised them they would address the dog issue, which is what they are going to do. I’d bet that couple has a cell phone number for BLM and Clackamas LE and a promise they will respond.

jonno
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jonno

What would it take to make this an official off-leash area? It’s a huge place with plenty of room to roam. I love taking my dog up there, she trots along next to or behind me, loves bombing the hills and generally gets her best exercise of the week. Riding with dogs is part of the off-road experience, IMO, because you sure as hell can’t do it on the road.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

I’m not a huge fan of dogs, but I haven’t had a problem with dogs at Sandy Ridge.

And everybody I see on the trails, on the road climb or in the parking lot are always very friendly.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Police are shooting dogs almost preemptively nowadays. I’m not a fan of cop violence, but if *cops* feel threatened by loose dogs, I can understand civilians feeling threatened as well.

was carless
Guest
was carless

These people sound like they are crazy. I mean, who does this? Threatening people in a recreation area with a weapon? Ridiculous.

dwainedibbly
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dwainedibbly

Reminds me of The Walking Dead, where the greatest danger comes from the Humans, not from the Walkers.

Joe
Guest
Joe

walkers that are dead to everything but their own steps.

PNP
Guest
PNP

How did this go from a story about a crazy couple threatening bike riders with weapons to complaints about dogs?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

I feel bad for the dogs.

We breed the natural smarts and aggression out of wolves over millenia to make the domesticated dog.
Then when their owners fail to keep them on a leash Canis lupus familiaris defaults to its trained and socialized behavior of being friendly. Most dogs are not smart enough not to chase a car or bike so when “man’s best friend” trots up to a bike in motion almost anything it does has the potential of being dangerous. This is all because of what we train them to be and our lack of attention: dogs will be dogs.

The problem with strays and abandoned dogs is that they have retained enough of a hunter’s instinct in combination with millenia of human habituation that they actually can consistently sense fear. Canis as a genus are opportunistic omnivores and if prey is weak they’ll attack.
If we are to believe anything about the miasma of factually unverified stories a person carrying pepper spray, a stun gun and a firearm is afraid of something so much the air reeks of fear. A hungry stray or even a disoriented licensed and owned dog will sometimes react to a feaful human as if it is a threat and attack without warning. City dogs brought to wander aimlessly in unfamiliar territory, tired, hungry and dehydrated are severely stressed out and may attack like a human in similar circumstances.

Obviously there is some demand for a large rural forested off leash doggie area. What are the barriers (other than the costs fencing) for designating a few acers as an off leash dog hiking area? Much like the argument for official single track in Portland if none is provided it’ll all be illegal. Assign an area, police it and seem if the problem goes away.

Suburban
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Suburban

The head line says “Assult”- and links to a previous posting mentioning the word. Has anyone claimed to have been assulted at the Sandy Ridge developed recreation area?

ExclamationQuestion
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ExclamationQuestion

Coming from California, with no prior knowledge of the park or it’s layout or facilities or of the general layout of the greater Portland area, regardless as to who shot first, Han or Greedo, when you get down to brass tacks, it seems this older couple felt, for whatever reason, be it self defense or psychosis, that they had to brandish weapons more than once. Judging by the fact that there’s been a growing number of reports, it almost seems like every time they visit this park, or trail, that a weapon is produced. Whether or not they’re doing it aggressively or defensively, it almost seems to me like they either enjoy the confrontation, or just want to hurt someone. I only say that, because, if they really were feeling threatened, and that it’s habitual, why continue to visit the same park? Why not find another? Common sense would tell you that if one place isn’t safe, you stop going there and either find a new place, or wait until the original place is made safe. (At this point, I’m sure someone is going to ask why should they have to leave, and everyone else gets to stay, and I’m not saying they have to leave, I’m simply saying that if they are indeed getting attacked by dogs, or people, why put yourself in harms way unnecessarily? It’s one thing to try and prove a point, it’s another thing to get shot with your own gun for something that could easily be avoided.)

Just saying… If I had to carry a gun to feel safe in a particular park here, I think I’d just find my way to another park. It’s easier than potentially having to shoot someone, or getting shot myself…

The only saving grace, so far, is that so far noone has been hurt.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Gramps hmm nah its really walking dead man, if you ride Ore parks anywhere and leash law along with ppl that limit bike traffic on a trail is a method of harassment out in the parks these days. won’t go into all the places/details I ride and what comes up every time a walker or dog charges at me, but running the bike thru dog poop is just crazy.. lol

fivefrud
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fivefrud

WSBOB: The lengths that you’ll go to in order to play devil’s-advocate and give ANYONE at odds with anything related to a mountain bike the benefit of the doubt are simply mind-boggling. This is why J-Maus has called your bias out on this blog before.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I don’t mind getting sniffed but Ive hit a dog when he charged at me. 🙁 going slow too, hit him in the head

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

Of course this is only the latest of many, many threads saturated by wsbob, to their detriment. Might he be the BP comment areas’ greatest obstacle in remaining useful and relevant?

It’s often, though not always, the case that truth and accuracy are easier to defend and thus require fewer words. Might be fun to plug comments into Microsoft Word and keep track. (This comment has 68 words.)

Spliffy
Guest
Spliffy

These dumb meth heads need to go up wildcat creek road 5 minutes away
It’s gated and paved- it’s very similar to sandy ridge

Spliffy
Guest
Spliffy

Ya he’s a cretin