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Major regional timber company now requires permit on popular logging roads

Posted by on July 1st, 2015 at 3:00 pm

wyerhauerssign

New sign spotted near
Green Mountain in Vernonia area.
(Photo by Tyler Robertson/Two Wheel Travel)

I have some bad news, some good news, and some very good news.

First, the bad news…

As of today (July 1st), timber company Weyerhaeuser Columbia Timberlands has started a new program that requires all users of their tree farms and other land in Columbia and Washington counties to have an official permit. This new “recreational access program” is something Weyerhauser has done on their land in other parts of the United States but it’s a first here in our region. The company owns about 126,000 acres in dozens of parcels between Portland, Longview and the Oregon Coast.

As you can from the lead photo, new signs have already been posted.

This is a big deal because many of these roads have become popular routes in recent years as gravel riding has taken off. Making matters worse is that Weyerhaeuser only issued 100 non-motorized use permits (and that was only after they were urged by bicycling advocates to sell more) and the $50 permits are already sold out.

This means some of our favorite routes, like the Bacona-Pisgah road between Scappoose and the Banks-Vernonia Trail are now off-limits unless more permits are made available (or a friend will let you borrow theirs).

In Weyerhaeuser’s map image below, the purple parcels now require a permit:

permit-map

In an email about the new program, a Weyerhaeuser rep shared with us that, “This recreational access program allows us to have more control over who is on our land.” So far there’s no indication that the new program was put into place in response to an increase in use by bicycle users. Sources tell us the main use-management issue Weyerhaeuser faces on these lands is hunters and motorized vehicle users.

And now the good news:

This new permit program is only in effect through December 31st of this year. Hopefully at that time Weyerhaeuser with either release more non-motorized permits, or simply revert back to how things were before. The company says it’s likely the permits are here to stay and will transition into a year-round program. Here’s how the Weyerhaeuser rep put it in a recent email:

“Since the program is new we are taking it slow and allowing ourselves time to make improvements in our program prior to the next implementation season.”

And now the very good news:

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For years, people have enjoyed riding the mountain bike trails south of Scappoose. They’ve long been owned by timber companies that have allowed bicycling as long as the rules were followed. However, with the adoption of this new program, Weyerhauser put a popular 190-acre parcel up for grabs to the highest bidder. When word spread of this last week there was panic in biking circles because whoever won would own an exclusive recreational lease on the property.

Ventura Park Pump Track grand opening-9

Dabby Campbell riding the Ventura Park
pump track in 2012.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Northwest Trail Alliance was offered a one-year lease, but due to liability insurance issues they were unable to secure it.

Today we confirmed the good news that a local bike advocate and experienced trail builder won the lease. His name is John “Dabby” Campbell and he is already putting together a new advocacy group — “Friends of Scappoose” — to help him manage the parcel in a responsible way.

Campbell is a former Portland bike messenger who now works as a custom trail builder. He’s a dedicated volunteer with the NW Trail Alliance and has worked with parks agencies around the region to develop and maintain pump-tracks, a service he also provides for private clients. (Want fun bike trails in your backyard? Dabby is the man to call.)

Reached today for comment, Campbell said he’ll work with members of existing local clubs and advocacy organizations to decide who can use the property. “This allows to offer it to as many users as possible, while still staying within the confines of the lease.” Campbell added that he has already been in contact with Weyerhaeuser and people who live adjacent to the property and will develop a simple management plan that, “reflects directly upon the many years of already amazing stewardship shown by various user groups.”

As for how much he paid for the lease, Campbell didn’t say exactly. “I will just say, that for less than the price of a daily 12 oz Latte, I have secured for 1 year the the Northside Scapoose Trails for qualified responsible users.”

To help offset costs, Campbell has launched a crowdfunding effort at GoFundMe.com. He hopes to raise $3,000 to offset the cost of the lease, insurance, legal fees, and maintenance.

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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rick
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rick

What about the emergency aspect of the logging roads for nearby people needing to ride a bike quickly to someone or something in danger?

Dan
Guest
Dan

Did Weyerhauser build these roads with their own money? Or were they a government gift?

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

In Norway you can’t prevent recreational uses of property outside city limits… http://www.environment.no/Topics/Outdoor-recreation/Right-of-access-/

CaptainKarma
Guest

Corporations are people, my friend.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Dabby you are the man!!! Thanks for stepping up.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

To be clear – is Dabby’s lease only for the trails on the north side of Rocky Point Road, or does it include the trails on the south side too?

Kenji Sugahara
Guest

A new person came on board Weyerhauser last year. It’s all about money. Mike Ripley knows the entire story.

Tom
Guest
Tom

How many permits of the 100 would you estimate would be in use on a given weekend day? And how many miles total are affected? I’m thinking this would be a density of one user per a at least a few hundred miles of road. Not exactly overcrowded. If their goal is to make money, why not make available more permits?

Huey Lewis
Guest
Huey Lewis

Sort of a duh question but how serious are they? Riding up here on these roads are some of the only rides we go do on the weekends, oh for quite a few summers now. I have not once seen any active logging on a weekend day. In fact you hardly see *anyone* at all.

You see signs of other people obviously; shotgun shells, Skoal cans, Grizzly cans, Keystone Light cans, Busch Light cans, Coors cans, Coors Light cans, Steel Reserve cans, Bud Light cans, Budweiser cans, Budweiser bottles, Dutch Bros cups, Mtn Dew CODE RED bottles, bottles of piss, Red Man cans, Camel Snus tins, Miller cans, Milwaukee’s Best cans, shotgun shells, dumped trash, dumped furniture, Natural Ice cans, Miller Lite cans, Budweiser Chelada tall cans, shotgun shells and truck tires.

But aside from that and the clear cuts it’s pretty nice and I don’t see how quietly riding my bike through these areas is hurting anyone.

Jonah
Guest
Jonah

Good time to use eminent domain to take over Weyerhauser lands and fucking protect them as forests instead of tree plantations.

Seriously zero surprise that a company who clearcut Oregon and has moved onto old growth forests in Malaysia doesn’t care about your recreation.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

They also destroyed the hiking trail to my favorite waterfall in Oregon when they bought that land. Now the only way to access it is by bushwacking…

Tait
Guest
Tait

The way they’re permitting this is perplexing to me. Jonathan never mentions it, but it sounds like they’re issuing a tiny number of all-season permits when a big piece of the demand seems to be for single-use permits. How many of their permit-holders use their permits more than 10 times per season? Or even 5 times? The whole model seems misfit to the use.

Serge
Guest
Serge

I’ve only lived here half a year and can’t count on one hand anymore in all the ways cyclists are getting screwed out of everything.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Security: Sir, do you have a permit to ride here?
Mtb’er: No, sir, I do not.
Security: Do you have any ID so we can add you to the exclusion list?
Mtb’er: Sorry, sir, I do not.
Security: What is your name?
Mtb’er: Nick Fish
Security: You are banned from these properties henceforth.
Mtb’er: Thank you, have a good day.

Fred
Guest
Fred

Their ‘permitting’ paradigm is flawed. Individuals that do harm to the forest will still go out on their lands and do harm. They will not obtain a permit before accessing the land. The better course of action would be to work with local advocacy groups (cycling, hiking, hunting, equestrian) and foster relationships to develop programs to help them be good stewards of the land. Having people out in the woods (eyes and ears) reduces illegal activities and land owners costs.

dan
Guest
dan

If they bump the cap on non-motorized permits, I have no problem with this. It costs more to ride a chair lift for a day…

Many thanks to John Campbell! I just chipped in to his GoFundMe, hope that he hits his funding target so he’s not bearing the whole financial burden of getting access to these trails.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Hunters want to go off the road, and often. You need to scout for your elk before the season, then you need several days to find and shoot your elk. The seasonal permits make sense there.

Most riders just want to pass through. It would make more sense to work with a bike group to make an on road corridor that is free but requires a permit like the mt hood wilderness areas. You sign your name, so they know who is there, and they can ticket you if don’t have one.

Brian
Guest
Brian

This is really unfortunate news, I was building up a bike almost specifically to ride these amazing roads after I ended up there on my “road” bike and fell in love. Jonathan could you provide a link to that map? The Weyerhauser site is near impossible to navigate unfortunately.

I am sure you will but if you could keep us posted about the situation, it would be great. Let us know about any avenues for advocacy as a lot of us would be willing to help in what ever ways we can.

Ann
Guest
Ann

Not sure it matters a ton, but Weyerhaeuser is spelled wrong throughout the post.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

Did anyone notice that the exclusion areas actually overlap each other in a couple of places? And one encompasses a section of US-26. You could ride thru it on Rt. 26 because it’s State highway, but the intersecting roads in that area would require a permit and therefore are de facto closed. The sign doesn’t say who to call for permit info. Isn’t that supposed to be standard practice for this sort of thing?

Howard Draper
Guest
Howard Draper

Does the Crown-Zellerbach trail (and/or Pittsburgh road) pass through their land and now require a permit? Kinda hard to tell from the map.

Howard Draper
Guest
Howard Draper

Agreed – I doubt any of those roads are gated, since people live on them, so they already see motorized use, and that would be a huge win if we could at least ride the roads.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

Anyone know where to get those boundaries in let’s say .kml format so I can plan my routes AROUND their property?

Cliff Mair
Guest
Cliff Mair

Most companies are best at understanding money. If it costs them money specifically “taxes” to block off lage plots of land and do nothing with it … expecially prohibit public usage, they may rethink their policy.

The lobby would need to be big and that means alot of groups coorperating who is interested in public use, working to push our state represenitives to pass such an act, and it would take some real work.

If there is one thing this state is good at is drawing taxes out of land owners.

Just saying all other things I have heard to get warehouser to move seem likely to fail.

p
Guest
p

Does anyone know whether this permit requirement is still in effect, and whether it affects CZ Trail/Columbia Forest Rd? Thanks.