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Citing environmental concerns, City says no to mountain biking at River View Natural Area

Posted by on March 2nd, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Riding and working at Riverview property-1

Allowed until March 16th.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

A memo released today by Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish, laid out a new future for River View Natural Area.

And that future, we’re sorry to report, does not include mountain biking.

The City of Portland does not think that mountain bike riding is compatible with their conservation goals and says all biking at River View must cease on March 16th. This is a stunning blow to off-road bicycling advocates who had set their sights on River View as a key trail-riding area that would also feature a family-friendly skills course.

The memo references several environmental concerns that led to the decision, including endangered fish species that rely on the 146-acre parcel’s seven streams that flow into the Willamette River.

Here are the key parts of the memo:

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Deferring advocates to the Off-Road Cycling Plan isn’t likely to assuage their frustration — especially since many of them see the plan itself as nothing more than a stall tactic that is unlikely to result in new singletrack riding opportunities.

The Portland Parks & Recreation bureau (which Fritz heads up) and the Bureau of Environmental Services (run by Fish), teamed up to buy the 146 acre wooded parcel in May 2011. Since the day the sale went through, off-road biking advocates have assumed the area would be developed to include bike trails. People have been riding the dirt trails at River View for several decades, and it seemed that, especially after being snubbed at Forest Park, mountain biking would be a natural fit at this location.

Even city staff were publicly open to the idea. In August 2012, Emily York, a policy coordinator for Commissioner Fish, said biking and conservation efforts could co-exist. “Our team is open to those two things happening at the same time,” she said, “they’re aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Portland’s legions of off-road biking lovers have been pushing the city for years to provide more access to close-in trails that don’t require local residents to drive up to an hour away just to ride.

To help make the case that mountain bike access should remain once River View got developed, volunteers have donated many hours of their time at several work parties to clean up the area and restore and maintain existing trails.

Just last year, the Northwest Trail Alliance came out with a plan to build six new bike trails and a family-friendly skills area.

We’ll have more on this story later this week. Download the memo here (PDF).

– Learn more by browsing our River View Natural Area story archives.

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VTRC
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VTRC

Coastal run fish. HA!

Michael Whitesel
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Michael Whitesel

I guess it should be closed to all human access then.

John R.
Guest
John R.

No community outreach/engagement around this? Seems odd to have a decision that impact a change to current users come out in a memo…

Brian
Guest
Brian

Hilarious. Hiking and salmon-> ok. Cycling and salmon-> not ok. Wildlife viewing -> ok for wildlife. Cycling -> not ok for wildlife. The anti-mtb bias continues.

velograph
Guest
velograph

I think a number of us saw this coming, but it’s still a huge disappointment.

Way to go City of Portland, you continue to disappoint me and my fellow citizens who really just want a fair shake at recreational opportunities inside my city.

invisiblebikes
Guest
invisiblebikes

I challenge Amanda Fritz to go one month with out her car! And lets see how she gets to her beloved “hiking only” trails then? by Bike? doubt it…she’d probably call a limo service before actually using her feet!

she is to much of an ***portion of comment deleted – no name calling please*** ! She needs to go the way of the DoDo!

Eric
Guest
Eric

Bikers, we have been bamboozled.
I would like to call on all of you to come to the River view area on Sunday March 15th for the “RVNA Freedom Ride!” Come and enjoy the last day to legally ride the steep, narrow, Ivy laced trails. Take it all in, because you are no longer welcome!

But really, Bikers, its your own fault, you ruffians.
Your terrible rubber tires, energy drinks and incessant “whooping!” and “Gnar!” calls pollute the serene fish tributary waters that are so incredibly important to the fish that are yanked out of the river ever year by hoards of “Sportsmen” in boats. Just look at what MTB’s have done to the creeks in the Sandy Ridge Mountain biking area. Just look in those streams, past the crystal clear waters and you will see…ummm, well something bad I am sure!

But what about the multi-year construction project that is rebuilding the Sellwood Bridge just yards away? Well, your bikes are much worse than any multi-gazillion dollar river bank construction project could ever do! So dont even go there!

The advanced technology in trail construction techniques just does not exist in a way that makes it possible to build trails in sensitive areas without utter destruction all around. I mean, we are talking advanced stuff here, like rocks, dirt and sticks and water. Imagine the horror a trail can do to the surrounding wildlife! Slugs would be found dead on the trail, spider webs forcefully removed by smiling faces, and the bunnies! oh lord, the bunnies!

So there, put away your fish habitat destroying 2-wheeled full suspension destruction weapon and get out your walking stick, binoculars and AARP membership card and enjoy the freaking forest in a quiet, civilized manner. You ruffians!

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Emily Roth is the project manager for this, and she was the project manager for the NOPO Greenway trail. For both projects, she appeared very dismissive of the recreational needs of bicyclists. For the NP Greenway project she advocated for a route along Greeley, and a route behind the MODA center in the face of pleanty of objections and without bothering to address those objections. IMO, she does not value bicycling as a means of transportation or as a recreational activity. I have had a few conversations with her, and the repeated impression I get is she is a strident environmentalist (a keep people out-type) who does not value getting more people into our natural areas within the City, doing more types of activities, to foster a love of the environment and sense of stewardship among a broader spectrum of people. I have concerns about mt biking, and I have had some unpleasant encounters, but I am positive that biking and hiking trails can coexist with healthy streams and healthy forest eco-systems with careful planning, designing, construction and maintenance.

ricochet
Guest
ricochet

no wheelchairs either, I assume

soren
Guest
soren

“Passive recreational uses are allowed including hiking, wildlife viewing, stewardship activities, environmental education, and research.”

Why is mountain biking no longer an allowed use?
In order to protect RVNA’s sensitive natural resources, the Commissioners of PP&R and BES have decided to limit uses to passive nature recreation.”

From the January project advisory committee:
“The top disturbances (identified by the TAC) in order are:
1) Dogs on and off-leash
2) Off- trail use by cyclists and pedestrians”

Platinum!
World Class!

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

Sad…nowadays you may as well not even own a mountain bike in PDX. They seem as well received as a Chevy Suburban around here.

RH
Guest
RH

One step forward and two steps back….Outdoor recreation options are needed for a healthy community! Come on Fritz, leave a legacy…

oliver
Guest
oliver

“The city recognizes the existing and growing need for nature based mountain bike experiences within the City park system”

Horse manure.

daisy
Guest
daisy

Hiking is “passive”? Surely there are studies out there about the damage done by hiking access versus mountain bikes?

matt picio
Guest

Good decision on the part of Fritz and Fish, but it should be balanced with enhancing MTB opportunities in Forest Park. Also, does this mean the area will be closed to dogs? Since dogs are the primary disturber (above hiking/biking), dogs should also be prohibited from this parcel. If not, then the city isn’t serious about their conservation goals and this would appear to be a punitive measure against the MTB community.

It’s not necessary to provide for every use at every natural area. Forest Park already has use areas for biking and dogs as well as hiking, and despite the efforts of local residents to shut them out, those uses should be maintained – Forest Park is a *park*, after all, and the conservation aspect *should* be balanced with recreational use. Natural areas, OTOH, should have preservation and conservation as the primary focus with recreational concerns secondary.

Let’s see more mountain biking in Forest Park, and Gateway Green, and Powell Butte.

Michael Whitesel
Guest
Michael Whitesel

In case you want to share your concerns (as I did):

Commissioner Nick Fish
(503) 823-3589
nick@portlandoregon.gov

Commissioner Amanda Fritz
(503) 823-3008
Amanda@portlandoregon.gov

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Waitwaitwait

Did anyone actually do a study, or did they just go SALMON? (and the wrong salmon at that)

We’re talking about the same lower Willamette that they had to be dragged kicking and screaming by the EPA to stop dumping sewage? The same one that has multiple superfund sites, industrial areas, and active mining on Ross Island with barge wakes up and down the channel. With people living and disturbing the east bank?

The lower Willamette is not spawning habitat, and fish above the falls never existed before the fish ladder went in in the 50s.

Fred
Guest
Fred

This is total BS! Well done anti-MTB contingency…well done. 🙁

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

This location would be good for Mountain biking. I don’t mountain bike, and I do hike, watch wildlife and I don’t like erosion, so it is with some background that I would have endorsed this location for Mt. biking. The site is already severely impacted with noxious weeds. for mt. bikers to use close in, natural locations, that would take pressure off high value natural areas farther out into the country. The City should have opened it up on a provisional basis to do studies on the impacts of mt. biking and to allow mt. bikers to demonstrate if they are capable of good resource stewardship. I have no dog in this fight, but I think mt. bikers got a raw deal.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

Amanda Fritz has been anti bike at every opportunity that she has had as far as I can tell, from scuttling bike share due to “safety” concerns, to blocking mountain biking in the city. I hope that someone runs against her now that she is plotting a third term because we need to get her out of there if we have any hope of getting any improvements to mountain biking within the city limits.

Paul Souders
Guest
Paul Souders

Absolutely livid. I’m a neighbor & have a little visibility into the politics of how this parcel was acquired. Early concepts included housing developments at both the bottom and top of the parcel — and it was a few prominent local MTB personalities who convinced the cemetery and college to donate the entire parcel and not just the unbuildable middle portions.

If it weren’t for the MTB community, this might be more Dunthorpe McMansions, sorry salmon!

So !@#$ pissed. Same as with Forest Park in 2009: I (and many other IMBA/NWTA members) volunteered to remove ivy, improve trails, and plant native flora. All with the good faith that by being Good Citizens we could sway hearts and minds. I involved my kids with this process, for example my son and I planted vine maples along Palatine Hill road last winter (https://www.flickr.com/photos/axoplasm/12549475044/in/photolist-pgXQtf-k7XkHo-k7UPrM-k7UNpM-k7Vwie) He was REALLY EXCITED to ride here — that’s why he bought a mountain bike, and indeed he talked me into NOT selling mine, so we could ride together on the trails almost literally out our back door! Sorry little buddy, you can’t ride here anymore either.

I put literal blood and sweat (no tears yet…) into showing that I’m a good guy and can I please have a little singletrack? Well, sorry, chump!

For 20 years I’ve recommended this course of action: work within the system, be a good citizen, etc. vs poaching trails. I feel like a sucker. You can see where that will get you.

“Platinum.”

Frank
Guest
Frank

Fritz hates bikes and cyclists. Fish is 100% political and feels fewer cyclists will vote against him than hikers will vote for him. Perhaps we can prove him wrong next time he has a real opponent. Both think Gateway Brown gives them the political cover they need to screw us repeatedly. Fritz and Emily Roth are also tight with Audubon, so they get more say than mere citizens who own the property in these matters. It becomes hard to view their rules as having any legitimacy.

Fred
Guest
Fred

Are they saying that bikes could be allowed pending the completion of the City-Wide Off Road Cycling Plan? Or that bikes are off the table (or trail) for good at this site?

rdac
Guest
rdac

Portland WILL NEVER HAVE SINGLE TRACK within the City LIMITS, NW rich people have their awesome “PRIVATE” woods Forest Park, NOW SW does too!!!!!! So rich old people can go watch birds and talk to the salmon’s. I AM GLAD that ridiculous sign “AMERICA”S BIKE CAPITAL” its gone. Our “Platinum” certification should be a “BROWN” certification!!!!! WHAt A JOKE its Portland Park and Rec. SAD indeed!!!!!

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Cyclists should vote against Amanda Fritz when she seeks a third term. She occasionally says something vaguely hopeful about cycling, but when it comes time for decisions, she has never missed a chance to show her disregard for those of us who ride bicycles for transportation or recreation.

krhea
Guest
krhea

Soooo, what about the group(s) of trail runners that use that “preserve”? Making a non-educated guess, I’d say that a large group of runners wearing gnarly bottom trail running shoes are about as “disruptive” as mtn bikers, especially when the trails are soft. I really think we should be told EXACTLY what they’re afraid of a mtn bike doing to the eco system of the park. Is it loosing soil that then gets moved into the streams. Is it riders actually riding into and through the streams, do the big bad bikes actually scare the little fish as they cruise by, what is it that literally makes riding a mtn bike in a park on dirt non-passive and endangers fish? And again, how is it that all the trail runners who use the park are “passive” users and mtn bikers are not?

Michael Whitesel
Guest
Michael Whitesel

We need a “Razzie” award equivalent for worst bicycle advocacy decisions each year. We can call it the “Fritz”.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

I think the only thing politicians listen to is money coming out of Lake Oswego.

Jeff M
Guest
Jeff M

Interesting that Fritz and Fish felt it necessary to ban mountain biking, yet say nothing about dogs, which their own project committee has stated is the number one threat to habitat.

The committee also made it very clear that off-trail use, by foot or bike, is second, with no distinction between them. And that trails could be constructed for either hiking or biking, without concern for erosion.

In other words, this was political decision without regard to facts.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

I smell the Audubon Society of Portland working the backroom. That is what happened at Forest Park and Powell Butte.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

Last year when they counted there were 60 separate homeless camps dumping garbage into streams and rivers along the springwater corridor, and the city does nothing, Fritz’s comment was “there is no where else for them to go” but they are all over banning cycling on traditional mountain bike trails. Maybe if homeless people were more into singletrack she’d be falling over herself to get some more trails put in.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

I wrote emails to Fritz and Fish, autoreply from Fritz claims that because of her husbands death (over 5 months ago) she is 2000 emails behind and not to expect a timely response. It seems to me like maybe she should be considering stepping down rather than running again if she can’t keep up with the job.

Geoff Grummon
Guest
Geoff Grummon

This is utterly disappointing. Their memo implies that mountain biking at Riverview would have a negative impact on Salmon but provides no data to support this argument. The whole thing comes off as disingenuous.

rdac
Guest
rdac

Let’s ALL COME OUT THIS WEDNESDAY and LET THEM KNOW WHERE WE STAND!!!!

Please note: The next Parks Board meeting will be held on:

Date: Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
Time: 8:00-9:30 AM
Location: Lovejoy Room, 2nd Floor, City Hall, 1220 SW 4th Ave

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

If these guys want to help salmon and water quality in the Willamette, they should be pursuing a plan to sue Lake Oswego for illegally impounding, heating and polluting the water to create their lake!

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

And once again, I’m so happy to have moved myself and my business out of Portland. MTB access and attitudes towards it were no small part of my decision.

I certainly hope that everyone in the mountain bike community realizes that there is no hope for a better situation “from inside the system” and takes to a tactic of outward civil disobedience until things improve.

You’re all getting screwed, stop taking it lying down.

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

So, as I read their reasoning, they believe this is a critical aquatic habitat area for salmon. Would love to see a picture of one of those lovely fish in that area. They have pictures, right?

Or are they honestly saying they are going to “restore” it. That I have to see.

Donnie
Guest

So legally speaking, how does one get this new policy changed? Referendums, filing lawsuits, voting folks out of office, etc. I’m ignorant of how local politics in PDX work (yea, yea…) but generally there are ways to fight this kind of idiot bureaucracy.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Keep in mind that there is almost no enforcement of park rules. I have never in my 25+ years in Portland seen a ranger stop someone for having a dog off leash. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ranger in Forest Park, Marshal park, mt. Tabor, etc. So, if the city is never going to allow bikes on single track there is no reason to worry about following the rules. What is the city going to do – ban bikes from single track? They already have done that so I think the message is ride wherever you want and bet that you will never get a ticket.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Can someone write a guest article on Salmon? They’re a big issue whenever we talk about a project near a river, or any time we’re talking off road.

I like rivers, and even try to occasionally catch one of these things, but I don’t understand the nuance, and historical part of it. Were there salmon up there before the culverts? Are we really worried about just feeding cold water to the Willamette for runs that didn’t exist before the fish ladder? Any historic runs were in the winter, with high, cold flow to get over the falls.

If anyone has seen the White River, you know there is plenty of run off from the volcano (and uncovered dirt roads mere yards from it), so is there any merit to all the claims about the potential sediment from Timberline if we all did our best to make as much as possible?

Frank
Guest
Frank

We should demand that Hales take Parks away from Fritz.

She does the bidding of the Green Mafia (FP Conservancy and Audubon) and shows no respect for citizens, cyclists, or the public process.

We can’t just keep taking it.

She must go. Now.

rick
Guest
rick

Dog poop left behind along with all of the dog urine has a much worse impact upon Portland area creeks than mountain biking on trails.

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

i have no qualms about poaching these trails.

Charley
Guest
Charley

ARE YOU KIDDING?????????????? They’d better ban people hiking and people walking dogs, too, otherwise this is just more evidence of plain old animus. They just don’t like bikes. Trail use of any kind does not harm fish, otherwise the Columbia River would be fish-free in the Gorge. SO PISSED.

Charlie Sponsel
Guest

Totally ridiculous. Totally unacceptable. This is a huge step backward and a huge blow to all mountain bikers in Portland. Mountain biking should allowed in Riverview, should be part of the long term plan there, and mountain bikers desires to ride trails in town should not be dismissed. Portland’s MTB policies make us look like a joke compared to every other major city on the West Coast.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

Fritz should actually spend time talking to the people she represents instead of simply issuing memos like a coward.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Commissioner Fish,

Years ago, after the Forest Park Singletrack Committee’s ultimately fruitless effort to meet demand for mountain bike trails in Forest Park, I wrote you an intemperate email, blaming the final non-decision on your “political cowardice.” Your response was surprisingly reasonable, and you asked me to “keep the faith.”

All of these years, I have waited for any positive development on this issue; keeping the faith, as you say. You’ve disappointed me, yet again. Your political decisions have yet again eroded my faith in evidence-based, responsive local government.

With this in mind, I’m writing again to you, to tell you that specious concerns about fish habitat in the Riverview Natural Area are a mere cover for the lack of political will that you have again demonstrated.

I have several questions for you:

1. How are salmon in the Columbia harmed by cyclists riding the trails in the Natural Area? I’d like to see some peer-reviewed science on this, too, and not just quotes from local anti-mtb activists.

2. How is the current trail system, consisting of poorly built, fall line trails, preferable to a sustainably built trail system created by volunteer mountain bikers, free of charge?

3. How is it better for the environment that residents of this close-in neighborhood are forced to drive their car many miles just to ride a bicycle on a dirt trail, when emissions from fossil fuel powered vehicles are a leading contributor to global warming? Global warming, I unfortunately feel the need to point out, is a leading cause of temperature rise in creeks, while bicycles on dirt trails doesn’t even figure into the equation.

4. Given that dog use was listed (by the TAC) as the leading cause of disturbance, why is dog use is not disallowed concurrently with mountain bike use?

5. Can you tell me the difference between hiking and biking, considering the fact that the announcement claims that cycling is active and hiking is passive? Can you define “active” and “passive”?

If you cannot explain these inconsistencies, then I must again tell you, your decision reflects political cowardice at the very least, or, at the worst, animus against the activity of mountain biking entirely. It’s particularly galling that, given that dog use is listed as the leading cause of disturbance, you would continue to allow that activity. I think this is the best evidence of cowardice: surely banning dogs would be unpopular with the many dog owners of Portland, but keeping bikes out only affects a few of us.

I’m tired of this. Your decisions as Commissioner have consistently set back years of hard work that would have a positive benefit for this City. You’ve permanently lost a supporter.

Thanks for your time,
Charley Reneau

Alex
Guest
Alex

For anyone who still has faith in the Off-Road cycling master plan, good for you. For everyone else, can we start riding Forest Park now and maybe even start to build some illegal trails? After this many years, I would like to be able to enjoy nature while not hurting the planet.

To call mountain biking at odds with the environment is offensive and has no backing in science. I would certainly love to hear who they are citing as their resources (Houle anyone?).

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I thought the city would sign off on use of the Riverview land, for mountain biking. It’s a rather small piece of land, not having already been designated a nature park, so I figured the city would feel the compromise would be acceptable.

Question of the day for bikeportland, and its readers: How many people does the word ‘legion’, refer to? Notice that bikeportland’s Jonathan Maus in his story above, chose to use that word to suggest how many mountain bikers there are in Portland:

“…Portland’s legions of off-road biking lovers…” maus/bikeportland

Figure there may be one or two thousand mountain bikers in Portland, to the extent that the petition that the NWTA circulated in the last few months or so, is an indication. However many more mountain bikers in Portland than this there may be, they don’t appear to have made much of an effort in the way of requesting other lands than that in Forest Park, be assigned to use for mountain biking.

They also don’t appear to have made an effort to put their interest in having a vote for acquisition of land within the Portland area or the greater Metro area, other than that already assigned to mountain biking, put on the ballot for a city wide or metro wide election.

This not having happened, may be due to there possibly not being anywhere near the number of people in the Portland area interested in mountain biking, and in using land within city and metro area for mountain biking, as mountain bike enthusiasts may think there are.

John
Guest
John

146 acres is 6,359,760 sq ft. It’s about 2800 feet from top to bottom. If there were four twisting trails of about 5600 feet each and they each were four feet wide, that would be 89,600 sq ft or 1.4 percent of the area. I bet these incredible fish hiking the 30 percent slopes (has anyone ever seen one?) would be alright sharing two percent of the hillside.