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Closed-door Parks bureau committee was set to recommend bike trails at River View

Posted by on April 8th, 2015 at 3:05 pm

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Detail from Portland Parks & Recreation River View Natural Area Habitat and Draft Trail map showing shared biking/hiking trail.
Full size PDF

As we continue to learn more about why Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish abruptly decided to prohibit bicycling in River View Natural Area (RVNA), there’s one large piece of the puzzle that has remained secret. Until now.

The project’s 16-member Technical Advisory Committee met four times between September 2013 and June 2014. However, their work was never made public. Citing Oregon’s Public Meeting Law (ORS 192.610-690), the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau has withheld meeting minutes and allows only invited members.

When the decision to ban bikes at River View came down last month, many people struggled to understand the rationale and it was natural to wonder about the TAC’s work.

Thanks to a public records request we know now that the TAC was prepared to present a draft management plan for River View that included bicycle access. Then, for reasons that remain unknown to us, the plan was shelved last summer and biking is now completely off the table.

Before I share some highlights from each meeting, let’s take a look at who’s on the TAC:

  • Paul Agrimis, ESA Vigil-Agrimis (the consulting firm hired to develop the management plan)
  • Susie Mattke-Robinson, ESA Vigil-Agrimis
  • Steve Roelof, ESA Vigil-Agrimis
  • Shannah Anderson, Natural Area Land Acquisition Team at Bureau of Environmental Services (BES)
  • Mary Bushman, environmental specialist at BES
  • Rachel Felice, stewardship coordinator at Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R)
  • Charlie Nappi, botanic technician at PP&R
  • Greg Hawley, trail program coordinator at PP&R
  • Kendra Petersen-Morgan, ecologist at PP&R
  • Emily Roth, natural resource planner at PP&R
  • Nathan Schulsie, botanic technician at PP&R
  • Maija Spencer, property management specialist at PP&R
  • Kate Holleran, natural resources scientist at Metro
  • Don Goldberg, senior project manager at the Trust for Public Land
  • Zach Jarrett, outdoor recreation planer at the Bureau of Land Management
  • Sage Jensen, founder and principal biologist at Sage Environmental Services
  • Doug Zenn, principal at Zenn Associates (a public involvement consulting firm)

One thing that stands on that list is the lack of recreation-focused representatives. Nearly every member has a background in ecology, conservation, or watershed issues. Only one member, Zach Jarrett has experience building, managing, and designing dirt cycling trails.

TAC Meeting #1, 9/18/2013 (PDF of meeting minutes)

“The team noted that biking use was a key issue for the site, and that water quality protection and habitat preservation is an equally important issue.”

The first meeting was a site visit to River View Natural Area that lasted about four hours. TAC members took a very close look at specific trails and conditions. They noted areas where damage from informal uses had occurred (including “newly constructed bike jumps”) and areas that deserved greater protections from public access.

In a discussion about “ped/bike trail sharing,” Paul Agrimis,”noted possible conflicts when including cyclists and pedestrians on the same path (30 mph bikes versus low mph pedestrians).” The group mentioned Powell Butte as an example where biking and walking trails co-exist and another case of successful shared-use trails at Alsea Falls in Corvallis. TAC member Kendra Petersen-Morgan, “noted the need to plan for increased future use at RVNA.”

Later during the site visit, the meeting minutes allude to the main tension surrounding this entire debate: the balance between public use and ecological preservation. “A major issue for RVNA is human site access. The first priority is to protect the natural resources, and not disrupt the site.”

Then toward the end of the meeting the minutes reflect a somewhat different stance: “The team noted that biking use was a key issue for the site, and that water quality protection and habitat preservation is an equally important issue.”

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TAC Meeting #2, 10/15/2013 (PDF of meeting minutes)
The committee received a presentation from Steve Roelof, a project manager at ESA Vigil-Agrimis. Besides a mention that the site might need more bike parking locations in the future, the most salient bit of this meeting was a list of “guiding principles” for the RVNA management plan: improve ecological health, direct future management priorities by a science-based approach, and􏰀 provide access to nature.

TAC Meeting #3, 12/19/2013 (PDF of meeting minutes)
In their third meeting, the TAC got serious. They started to finalize goals for the plan, went into detail on their “draft ecological prescriptions” and started to lay out their trail management ideas.

Here’s the section about goals:

“The group prioritized goals for the plan in the following order (note goals listed here are abbreviated): ‘Protect water quality and hydrology…’; ‘Protect aquatic and terrestrial wildlife…’; ‘Improve forest health…’; ‘Provide recreation access…’; and ‘Foster community engagement…’ The consultant team will present goals in the plan in this order, and will state they have been prioritized but not weighted.”

During a discussion of trail management best practices, the committee noted that the “mountain bike community wants technical trail features, including leaving berms and bigger grade reversals.” The committee decided those type of uses are “not appropriate at this site.”

Then, there was a question that again showed the city’s struggle with the park/preservation balance: “Are trails consistent with city’s multiple purposes for purchasing the site: water quality, stream protection for an intact watershed?” That question was not answered at the meeting (or if it was, it wasn’t recorded in the minutes).

Once the committee started to discuss trail designs and locations in detail, it appears they were under the assumption that mountain bike trails would be included in the final plan. “The consultant team next presented the draft Trail and Access Overlay Concept, indicating that trails typically focus mountain biking routes in one direction for increased safety.”

A discussion period at the end of the meeting brought up important issues and big questions that remain relevant today. This is also the first time we hear the mention of a complete prohibition of both dogs and cycling:

  • Would having pedestrian only trails reduce water quality/wildlife impacts to the site?
  • Historic bike use on site, note there are limited staff for enforcement if decide to eliminate cycling. Need to be able to manage the people to protect the habitat.
  • It may be challenging to explain the rationale for hiking only areas to the public
  • Concerns of multi-use directional trail at north due to long descent, possibly create a single use for biking only at this trail
  • Mountain bikers would like to experience the site with more contouring trails and higher bridges
  • How does the trail system meet the recreational consumer needs for the site? Could there be zones for hiking and cycling?
  • The upper loop would be a good place for children to learn to ride a mountain bike and for a family experience if it was a shared trail.
  • Show an alternative without bikes, making a perimeter-only option that limits fragmenting effects to edge. The plan would be the most conservative option to provide the maximum protection of streams, wetlands, and natural areas.

As you can see in that discussion, at this point in the project (about six months before it was paused), the TAC was seriously considering cycling while at the same time expressing deep concerns over how/if it would be possible while still maintaining the site’s ecological integrity.

TAC Meeting #4, 06/03/2014 (PDF of meeting minutes)
This was the final meeting of the TAC before it re-started just last month (under the operating rules of no bikes allowed).

“The draft Habitat and Trail plan strikes a good balance of providing recreation that is compatible with ecological values of the site.”

With the bulk of the management plan work fleshed out in the third meeting and six months to polish it up, PP&R’s lead planner on the project, Emily Roth, opened meeting four with a big update:

Dogs will not be permitted in the natural area due to adverse impacts to wildlife and water quality. Trails at RVNA will be primarily shared use for hiking/biking.

One of the issues that becomes clear in reading the TAC meeting minutes is that PP&R struggled with how exactly to build shared-use dirt trails in a dense environment where ecological concerns were paramount. However, despite those constraints, Roth (via the meeting minutes) uses relatively confident terms about hikers and bikers sharing the trails:

“They will be narrower than PP&R standard trail widths for shared use trails in order to reduce impacts to the site.”

Here’s more on the TAC’s planned “draft habitat and trail map” (emphases mine):

“… To protect interior forest habitat, wetland areas, and multiple streams, the design team set aside the central area of the property as protected interior habitat. To the extent practicable, the team routed trails along a 300-foot wide corridor at the edge of the property. To provide a family-friendly trail experience a short loop trail is shown on the flattest portion of the site. Due to topographic constraints and the desire to provide a beginner loop, certain portions of the trail system do not remain within the outer 300 feet. The interior habitat area boundary shown on the plan is 200 feet from the edge of trails. Lewis & Clark will allow a trail connection along the northern edge of their property, creating a loop trail around the natural area. Most trails will be two-way hiking/bicycle…”

What’s notable about this decision is the 300 foot buffer. You’ll note that a document provided by the city in advance of tonight’s Project Advisory Committee meeting says trails would be located within 200 feet from the property boundary. In that discussion the committee mentioned creative ideas to manage the shared trails, “such as limiting hours/days/directions.” “Techniques such as hiker-only days and clockwise or counterclockwise biking days may create better experiences for all, and limit conflicts.”

At this point in the process, the TAC members appeared to support biking in River View. “The draft Habitat and Trail plan,” reads the meeting minutes, “strikes a good balance of providing recreation that is compatible with ecological values of the site.”

This draft plan and map was all set to be shared with the Project Advisory Committee at a meeting on June 25th, 2014. After that, they would be shared with the public at an open house at Lewis & Clark College on July 9th.

However, shortly after this draft plan was revealed at the TAC meeting, the entire process was shut down for unknown reasons. The next time we heard from the city about River View was nine months later when city staff and staff from Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish’s offices called a meeting to tell the president of the Northwest Trail Alliance that biking would be banned completely and no longer considered in the project.

The question remains: What happened between June 2014 and March 2015 to make the commissioners change their minds about bicycling at River View?

Perhaps that question will be answered at tonight’s meeting of the Project Advisory Committee. Stay tuned.

Read all our coverage of this story.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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pixie
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pixie

Le Sigh

paikiala
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paikiala

Those individuals listed as members appear to be more than qualified to determine the impact bicycle trails would have on a natural area.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Which is why we are dumbfounded that their decision to include mtb trails is now off the table. I would venture a guess that not all of them are well-versed in modern mountain bike trail-building techniques, but hopefully they leaned heavily on those who are more qualified in that area (Mr. Zach Jarrett from the BLM, for example).

spencer
Guest
spencer

great work, thanks for getting it out before the meeting!

davemess
Guest
davemess

“It may be challenging to explain the rationale for hiking only areas to the public”

You think?

davemess
Guest
davemess

Jonathan is it possible to reach out to some of the ecologists and other scientists to try to understand what kind of ecology and potential this site actually has? I think many are just trying to understand the sites environmental value, given that it sits under housing sites, and is uphill from a large highway.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Honestly, at this point, I would rather see this location just shut down to all human access (if ecological preservation is the goal) and we can just focus our efforts on getting access to Forest Park – a location where it makes even more sense to have mountain biking.

VTRC
Guest
VTRC

But going after Forest Park is going to land us back in the ring against the biggest interests in Portland: Wealthy established homeowners, Old established environmental NPOs, and the extremely loud and whiny.

It’s important to remind people we belong there, but FP isn’t happening. Not without a new parking lot so the homeowners never have to see us.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Then lobby for a new parking lot and access point at the bottom of FL1. We really shouldn’t give up on it and having been denied at rvna is just more reason to gain access there.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Why does Forest Park make more sense?
River View has a 20-30 years history of mountain biking, and with the new Sellwood Bridge there will be even better access from the East side than before. And as pointed out the roadblocks to FP are much greater.

I really don’t think we need to squabble of where mountain biking makes more sense. We need multiple parks throughout the city. FP, River View, Powell Butte, and Gateway Green would be a nice start, covering a good chunk of the city (in all four corners).

Alex
Guest
Alex

Because of its size and proximity to the city.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Riverview is proximate to a substantial portion of the population of Portland as well.

matt picio
Guest

Not to mention that it will be easily accessible when the new Sellwood Bridge is completed. Especially from the Springwater Trail.

davemess
Guest
davemess

You didn’t read my above post, did you…… 🙂

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Allow MTB or disallow all public access.

If they think otherwise they need to PROVE empirically that a single MTB user is more damaging than a single pedestrian user.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

And dogs are still allowed.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Have you seen how cute they are? They are adorable.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Small goats can be cute too.
Let’s see what happens if a truckload are dropped off there…

JK 😉 I think.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…The question remains: What happened between June 2014 and March 2015 to make the commissioners change their minds about bicycling at River View? …” maus/bikeportland

Very likely, the active legal issue Commissioner Fritz alluded to in her email to the IMBA rep (I forget the exact words she used to refer to that issue in her email.). As I said in a past comment elsewhere, I’d guess it’s a condition of sale issue.

It does not make sense that for many other reasons, the commissioners would abruptly curtail mountain biking on this newly acquired land, and not be forthcoming about the specifics of the curtailment. Looking forward to reading the answers for the mystery.

davemess
Guest
davemess

If it was a condition of sale than NONE of this process should have happened. The city should have been upfront from the beginning. Why would they string people along for over 2 years?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I’m guessing a problem came up after planning with the public for use of the park had been going on for some time.

When the mystery is finally explained, if it turns out the commissioners have all this time been working to resolve legal issues so that mountain biking at Riverview can resume, I wonder if people that have been making disparaging remarks about the commissioners, will reproach themselves for having done so, and offer an apology and thanks to commissioners Fritz and Fish.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Sounds like this could make a good bet.

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

Don’t hold your breath on Bob ever coming back to this or paying up. I’m still waiting for his explanation of the conundrum that I’m in as a tax paying Portland resident who mountain bikes. By his logic in an earlier post on this topic I both own this property (Portland tax payer) and don’t own this property (mountain biker). I’m sure he’ll get back to it eventually though. He’s just really busy at the moment.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

Let’s make an honest wager WSBOB.

If what you’re saying is true I’ll agree to never comment here again. If it’s not true, you never comment here again.

Do we have a deal?

Alex
Guest
Alex

Even if that turns out to be the case, they have handled the whole situation horribly and given their track record on the topic, I don’t feel the need to apologize about anything.

JC
Guest
JC

That’s not likely to be the case. If so, then why haven’t they said as much? Why not respond to the repeated questions by NWTA, the media, and their own staff? Why haven’t they stepped up to fund the Mountain Bike Master plan? Why all the cloak and dagger? Why keep your staff (both parks and BES as well as consultants) completely in the dark about your decisions?

If this is the way they are actively trying to ‘help’ bikers gain permanent access, it is one of the most bizarre ways to go about it I’ve ever seen.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“That’s not likely to be the case. If so, then why haven’t they said as much? …” JC

Think about it: Does it not make sense that Mayor Hales would be among the possible small number of people that know the reason for the pause in working with the public on use of Riverview, and the reason for the mountain biking curtailment? Hales is the ‘chief’, so to speak, the boss of the commissioners, and he’s not saying anything either.

I’m interested in legal types of matters, but my knowledge of them is admittedly limited, so I’m just guessing about what’s going on. If it turns out I’m wrong to feel the commissioners may have a legitimate reason for their actions with regards to Riverview, I’ll acknowledge that. No big deal. I want to understand what’s going on, and why.

And for some of you inclined to feel I’m of the opinion the curtailment is definitely due to a condition of sale issue: I’m not. I’m saying that’s one of a number of possible reasons for the curtailment. To try understand what’s gone on, it’s important to consider a range of possible reasons, rather than to just jump to the one or two that have popular appeal.

davemess
Guest
davemess

If it truly was a condition of sale (as your suggesting), than the city should have known what they were signing in the purchasing agreement. A condition of sale should not be a “surprise” a year or two down the road.

fivefrud
Guest
fivefrud

Bob: that’s a huge presumption coming from someone who likes to talk about how presumptuous we all are about this issue in this forum.

Fritz went on the local news and spread misinformation and antiquated bias about bikes and ecology. Are you leaning on her to apologize to mtb’ers?

Dave
Guest
Dave

There is no active lawsuit. In the case vs BES and the water bureau the judge issued a summary judgement for dismissal, in the city’s favor, over a year ago. If the city is going to make policy judgements on the basis of failed lawsuits from now on we’re all in deep doody.

Jolly Dodger
Guest
Jolly Dodger

And yesterday a nature threatening pipeline was voted for on the other end of the river…go figure.

Noel Bergren-Dizon
Guest
Noel Bergren-Dizon

At this point all I want to know is when Fritz and Fish are up for reelection so that I can voice my displeasure of them with my vote. I want people who actually represent my interests (of fair access to trails in Portland parks).

davemess
Guest
davemess

Fritz is next year, and Fish was just last year.

Found this little gem in Fish’s wikipedia page:
“In 2011, Portland Parks & Recreation won the National Gold Medal for “Best Park System in the Nation”.[citation needed]”

Mike Quiglery
Guest
Mike Quiglery

That’s partially because they keep mountain bikes from running amok in their parks.

MNBikeLuv
Guest
MNBikeLuv

Actually:

http://parkscore.tpl.org/rankings.php

Minneapolis has urban mountain biking in their parks. In fact, the new Master Plan for Theodore-Wirth (which everyone should read, its a model on how to a fair and open public master plan) includes not only an expansion of trails in to the Quaking Bog area but includes a mountain bike event course for NICA races and other mountain biking events.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Ha. Who would have guessed?????

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Having just moved to Minneapolis from Portland, I feel compelled to comment on this. Although the Portland park system is excellent, Minneapolis completely blows it out of the water. We are continually astonished by how well-maintained and staffed the parks are here, and the incredible range of programs offered year round. This goes not only for Minneapolis but for St. Paul and many of the suburbs as well. The level of service we’re getting from our parks departments goes far beyond what most Portlanders would even dream of.

Not only that, but the quality and quantity of natural areas embedded in the metro area would surprise most “isn’t-the-the-midwest-just-a-bunch-of-flat-farmland?” Northwesterners, and IMO surpass those of the Portland metro area. And while there are places here where bikes and other trail use are limited to protect natural values, there are also places where clean, quiet recreation – including mountain biking – is encouraged.

And back to mountain biking: yes, there’s Wirth. I rode past there (on a paved trail) yesterday and was drooling over it (trails are currently closed as we await the final dry-out after spring thaw). But not only that, we have about a dozen other mountain bike trail systems in the metro area. Several are within reasonable riding and/or transit range from my house.

From 1700 miles away it is ever hard to understand the argument that bicycles are more of a threat to the rugged Pacific NW environment than the hordes of (politically powerful) hikers. To think that I spent nearly a quarter of a century fighting for the chance to bike near my own home and getting in my car and driving an hour or more for the chance to do it. It was by far my biggest frustration with living in the Northwest. Really glad I don’t have to deal with this absurdity anymore, but I salute those who continue the difficult fight.

JC
Guest
JC

Current Terms of City Elected Officials

Mayor
Charlie Hales: 1/1/2013 – 12/31/2016

Auditor
Mary Hull Caballero: 1/1/2015 – 12/31/2018

Commissioner, Position No. 1
Amanda Fritz: 1/1/2013 – 12/31/2016

Commissioner, Position No. 2
Nick Fish: 1/1/2015 – 12/31/2018

Commissioner, Position No. 3
Dan Saltzman: 1/1/2015 – 12/31/2018

Commissioner, Position No. 4
Steve Novick: 1/1/2013 – 12/31/2016

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

4 year terms. Ugggg.

I thought local government was supposed to be “more responsive.” We vote for them less often than congress. Not a single person up for re-election this year.

davemess
Guest
davemess

well at least the house.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

We were never supposed to vote for Senate anyway. Even that is only 5 years for what is an intentional counterweight to the rapidly changing 2 year house.

davemess
Guest
davemess

The senate is 6 years. That’s why odd year elections (like this year) are not usually thought of as important as even year elections.
It’s also one of the reasons I”m guessing they have the commissioner elections on even years, when voter turnout is highest. Though oddly they have the commissioner elects in the spring election, right? Never understood that.

George H.
Guest
George H.

This is the first time that Amanda has had to face re-election *with* a significant bloc (mountain bikers and cyclists who have sniffed out her pattern of anti-bike -ism). Unfortunately, she has strong support from the groups to whom she panders: People who resent sharing the road with cyclists, NIMBY homeowners against new development, and the bleeding heart/SJW -types.

She will be very difficult to defeat, but things like River View won’t stop or change as long as she is Parks commissioner.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I agree that she will be tough to defeat. Many people think she has done a great job with Parks (I disagree with this). And Parks is easily one of the best assignments from a PR standpoint. You don’t really have to do that much, and get a lot of praise. Compare that to running the Water Bureau.

Charley
Guest
Charley

The great irony of this is that the city used citizen money to buy the property for, in part, the public good, only to exclude the largest group of users. They used our money to open a park for us then kicked us out.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

ARE mountain bikers the largest single demographic user?

This could be a good and bad stat if a solid verifiable number could be produced.
Good because it would support the MTB position that they should have a say in the issue.
Bad because any case the majority user is usually the majority source of damage even if it is only incidental & accidental damage.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Good points. My comment was based on anecdotal evidence and the complete lack of coverage on Portlandhikers.org (now Oregonhikers.org). There’s been nary a peep about the closure because. . . seems like it’s off the radar of most hikers. It’s too new to be in any guidebooks, and too marginal, scenically, to have been a real destination previous to its purchase by the City.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Jonathan, I just wanted to say thank you for all the killer work you’ve done covering this issue. Keep the pressure on and we’ll get there soon!

Charley
Guest
Charley

This is fantastic reporting, by the way. You’re making a bureaucratic kerfuffle into quite a drama. For the sake of every citizen who lives here, please keep the pressure up! Our government should have no secrets.

Snowden
Guest
Snowden

Aside from the question of what drove the change in policy from the time of this plan, the bigger question is how specifically did the TAC arrive at this plan, which sets aside most of the property for “conservation” purposes? Was there agreement among the TAC that these buffers were required to meet the conservation goals? And how were those goals really derived? I suspect Zach Jarrett might have some opinion on this.

I suspect the answer is that these goals, and the resulting policy and plan, are driven by a small group of ecologists and conservation focused interest groups that are very adept at working within the existing framework, developed over a number of years (decades), which continues a policy of strictly limiting public access to Natural Areas (unless your recreation choice is hiking or birding).

Is it surprising that the TAC forwards a policy that almost entirely excludes public access when their background and focus is ecological and not recreation based? Only one of the TAC members has any real background with a focus on recreation. All the Parks and BES employees are ecologists/naturalists.

Aside from the inherent biases that these staffers bring to the table, I suspect none of them have any relevant or significant experience in the latest management techniques which effectively combine active recreation and conservation goals. They don’t get it, and they probably never will. They spend their weekends participating in bird-a-thons with Audubon, not biking at Sandy Ridge. Not saying that’s wrong, just pointing out that the outcome of the public process is largely determined at the outset. If we want real change, it starts at the core.

dave
Guest
dave

I feel like they were headed for a pretty decent compromise, frankly. Conservationists got a large swath of land set aside completely, and an alternate-day arrangement for bikes vs foot traffic would have been workable and a great opportunity to demonstrate how trail access in FP could work. Everybody got something, everybody gave something up.

But instead, the city chose to burn the whole thing down and start this ode to first world problems.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Those are pretty large buffers that I don’t know if we need. Those streams in the middle are especially head scratching since they’re intermittent, they wont be flowing when human usage is highest. I’d think that would be an easier thing to manage than the edge trails over year round streams…

Brian
Guest
Brian

Agreed. How about a mtb-specific, more technically challenging trail down the middle? It would take some pressure off of the larger loop, and give mtb’ers a chance to show what they can do with modern trail-building techniques and add some additional trail options.

spencer
Guest
spencer

I love birds, trees, frogs, salamanders, and River View. Trails and habitat/ fauna/ flora preservation are not mutually exclusive. That is what is missing from the PAC discussion. It needs to be there. The TAC is saying they are. They are not. It’s disingenuous to say they are.

The large human free zone proposed will become a giant transient camp. History and the Springwater corridor (currently managed by Portland Parks and Rec) show that hard to access urban forests are ideal illegal camping zones. How is the Springwater going for the Portland Parks Department? I ride by piles of garbage, human and dog feces, and signs of rampant drug use daily. Way to go parks huh?

The trails discourage such camping, because they get frequent/ daily/ hourly use, keeping those who want to camp scared off. So in fact the trail is a vital component to keeping camps full of human excrement, IV drug use, and other garbage out of the forest and watershed

The TAC proposes a large 87 acre trail free zone in the center of the property but then condones and promotes
“Groups to go off trail in the sensitive wetlands and riparian zones between (intermittent) streams 3 and 6” – (paraphrased from PAC meeting 4/8/15- Emily Roth PPR).
This is blatantly hypocritical and against the very preservation goals of the property. The wetlands and the slopes cannot support off trail use at all. A purpose built and graded trail will NOT cause the runoff being claimed. It will NOT impact bird species as claimed, and it will not raise water temperatures as claimed. Allow Portland Parks to pave it like they do at Tryon, and it will be terrible for the property.

The parks dept and BES could and should and will likely be forced to provide a trail that decreases the 87 acre size of the forest preserve. What the TAC doesn’t readily admit is that the ENTIRE property is treed and is a forest preserve! A trail does not discourage bird species from using the forest.
In addition, the trails proposed cross MORE streams than the existing main downhill trail does. The TAC has proposed MORE stream crossings than are there now. How is that preserving the ecology? How is that preventing stream disruption? It’s not; it’s just creating a planning document that will make permanent the “temporary” (Fritz) biking ban.
The streams that are crossed are permanent, and the ones that are left alone are temporary (winter only).

A mountain bike specific trail on the north end of the property could pass within the 200 ft buffer of the hiking trail, and then diverge to the south side of the intermittent (seasonal) stream 3 and down to the loop trail, ultimately making most happy. It would avoid user conflict and there would be NO “fast careening out of control bikers running over native plants or people (Fear mongering Fritz)”. In fact, the most established trail currently takes that exact same course!
A trail here would leave roughly a 20 acre and 67 acre untouched forest preserves on either side. If parks and BES demand a large preserve then the transients can camp on either side of the trail (in the sensitive wetlands).

The “200 ft buffer” suggested in the PAC and TAC is not accepted by the scientific community. The trail and site plan that is proposed is more detrimental to the water and ecology goals than with the now prohibited (and now excluded /expunged) people on bikes group.

A segregated trail system will keep everyone safe, happy, and let them enjoy the birds. It will allow me, my wife, my niece and nephew, and my friends to use our green spaces (as we have done for years). It will provide park access to a large discriminated user group. Ultimately the parks department is charged with providing recreation for its citizens, and its failing.

I suspect that a large number of people will use the loop trail anyway, creating a more unsafe experience for all. It’s very short-sided and naive to think that this ban will hold park users from using the park. I hope IMBA is involved with the BES/PPR hiker trail, because it will be an abject failure if built as is. It will be downright negligent as well.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

“The TAC proposes a large 87 acre trail free zone in the center of the property but then condones and promotes
“Groups to go off trail in the sensitive wetlands and riparian zones between (intermittent) streams 3 and 6″ – (paraphrased from PAC meeting 4/8/15- Emily Roth PPR).”

Can someone confirm/explain that? That is the most bizarre thing I’ve heard on this entire issue.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

It was first reported that Fritz and Fish closed RVNA because stipulations in the BES funding, which went into the property purchase, dictate that the land be used for watershed. Considering that careful trail design, the use of bridges over creeks, springs and seeps, the use of boardwalks over wetlands and use of the host of erosion control products and procedures, there is no reason that bicycles could not use the RVNA with no impact to the water quality running off the site.

The thought now is that conservation is the reason that the site be made off limits. The scope of weed (ivy) infestation within the site would probably mean that the site conditions would not be conserved, but restored by means of weed removal and revegetation. If site improvements are planned for the site, what are they for? Replacing 100% vegetative cover of weeds with 100% vegetative cover of native plants will not improve the quality of water running off the site. It will improve biodiversity and subsequent wildlife habitat, it will improve the health of the plants in the site and it will improve the aesthetic qualities of the site (all good things), but the watershed value will not be affected.

Considering the RVNA is basically urban, the large “no access” area designated for the middle of the site will (almost) certainly become the refuge for the homeless. With confidence I can state that these people will litter, urinate and defecate trample and remove both weedy and native plants and have dogs. Considering there is no funding or mechanism for enforcement, the “no access” body of the site will ultimately have a negative impact on both watershed and conservation.

On the other hand, the homeless tend to avoid areas where there are people, or at least curtail the most negative behaviors where people of forthright intentions witness their behavior. If off road cyclists are using the RVNA, that could diminish the impact of the homeless on the site. Furthermore allowing cyclists to use this urban site will take pressure off of higher quality natural areas out side of the urban area which would positively impact higher quality watersheds and habitats.

The Fritz and Fish directives have been disingenuous and poorly thought out. I don’t mountain bike, but I do like my political representatives to be open, honest and to use facts on which to base decisions.

Brian
Guest
Brian

NWTA has trail patrols in place at other sites, and could potentially be used at RVNA as well. Patrols could be beneficial in a number of ways.

Fivefrud
Guest
Fivefrud

The center of RVNA already was a homeless camping and what looked to be a “party zone” encampment, complete with earth benches around a fire pit and sporadic tree houses. They’ve been cleared out as part of the recent rehabilitation but it does seem that the current city trail plan would let that happen again.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Anyone have a report from the meeting earlier this week? I couldn’t make it.

Joe
Guest
Joe

There have been media reports that the Mayor is planning a shake-up of bureau assignments soon. Probably in no way related to or motivated by this situation, but it’s worth keeping in mind that Parks and BES could very well have new bosses in the near future. That may or may not change things. We’ll see.

Frank
Guest
Frank

This is a re-run of the Forest Park Committee on bicycling that Fish assembled. After nearly a year of contentious and difficult work the committee – with overwhelming public support for improved trail riding apparent in polling and letters – recommends progress toward more trails for cycling.

Then Fish and Parks managers shut it down and ignore the recommendations, give nadda, zilch. No scientific basis, just politics and revealed ties to influential groups and biases. Facts had no role.

The process has no legitimacy or integrity, just kangaroo-court “public involvement” until they don’t like where it’s going, then arbitrary political edicts. It makes it hard to respect the resulting rules that simply codify unfair access and the power of select groups.

Charley
Guest
Charley

The constant lack of respect, transparency and progress is eroding the trust that this small community puts in our City government. I fear that the result of this kind of policy making process is to push riders into poaching trails: for the first time in my life, I’m considering doing so myself. I’m practically allergic to poaching, because I’ve felt that it’s counter-productive. But I’m starting to feel that this process has been revealed to be illegitimate. In that case, possibly the only way to move the process forward is to increase the consequences of the City’s willful inaction.

Charley
Guest
Charley

“One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” -MLK
Obviously our context here is not as serious, but I think that the parallel is clear.

spencer
Guest
spencer

+1

Alex
Guest
Alex

Considering the red-tape they put in place for Forest Park (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/459045) – I really don’t see any other choice at this point. I can easily see how this process could be hi-jacked (as other attempts have been) by the “conservationists” and the neighbors of Forest Park.

That link does refer to cycling as 8% of usage – imagine how much that would increase if there was actually a good place to ride instead of a road that is dangerous to share or firelanes which are environmentally horribly built and not good for biking (or anything really). I could easily see it going to the same as running. The other interesting thing to note is that about 50% is for exercise and fitness(i.e. – “active recreation”). One of the recommended actions is increased mountain biking trails – but it really seems the rest of the document will be used to stand in the way of that especially considering the history of the subject.

Charley
Guest
Charley

I’m about to die over here, waiting to hear about Wednesday’s meeting.