Special gravel coverage

Major regional timber company now requires permit on popular logging roads

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

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:

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.

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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

  • rick July 1, 2015 at 3:21 pm

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

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    • middle of the road guy July 2, 2015 at 11:03 am

      What’s wrong with the non-logging roads they were on in the first place?

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  • Dan July 1, 2015 at 3:29 pm

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

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    • spencer July 1, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      Weyerhauser is the international corporate remnant of the land grab robber barons that “discovered” the west. Its poor form to take all the resources and ‘red line’ vast swaths of US forests. If they truly cared about protecting their land holdings (from fire), they’d ban logging and motors from their lands. Everyone who has ever been in the wilds should call weyerhauser’s PR person and give them a scolding. People biking on their roads and forests do not pose any risk to their timber.

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      • Scott H July 1, 2015 at 4:14 pm

        Just to play devil’s advocate, it doesn’t seem far fetched to rebut that non-motorized users could in fact harm their forests with a careless cigarette or campfire.

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        • Dan July 1, 2015 at 4:48 pm

          And who would put out those fires?

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          • Scott H July 2, 2015 at 3:05 pm

            Firefighters put out fires. residential fires, commercial fires, forest fires.

            Again, I’m not disagreeing, that bikes obviously don’t pose any kind of threat, just trying to predict the types of responses we should expect from one of the worlds largest land owners.

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            • Dan July 2, 2015 at 3:10 pm

              Federally-funded firefighters.

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        • Norcal rider July 2, 2015 at 5:52 pm

          In today’s world fires aren’t the only issues faced by private land owners. In all to many cases if someone gets injured while driving or riding on private land and the injury is very serious then the land owner is probably going to end up getting sued, especially if the land owner is seen as having deep pockets, for the claim that they haven’t properly maintained the roads. I’d bet part of the new permit process is having to sign a liability waiver in order to get the permit

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      • wsbob July 3, 2015 at 11:37 am

        In Oregon for decades, timber was ‘the’ major industry, and it’s still very important to the state’s economy. There’s still a lot of privately owned timberland in Oregon, and maybe not just in the northern part of the state. There’s good and bad to that, but one of the good aspects, is that it being timberland, has helped prevent it from being converted to more suburban sprawl.

        Population increase may have a lot to do with timber companies deciding they need to monitor and regulate more closely the people and activities they allow on their timberland. More people in the region, and a lot of them are looking for things to do and places to go. Diversifying use of the land seems like a great idea, and mountain biking should be able to work out well with it.

        Hunting has been a very big deal in Oregon. Today? I don’t know how big it is. Wherever people are walking around looking to shoot stuff, besides the game, other people in the area are at risk. Timber companies very likely have this in mind as they seek to figure out how to manage use of their timberland for purposes other than logging.

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      • Dan Reed Miller July 8, 2015 at 11:01 pm

        Agreed, anytime you see large chunks of “private” or corporate owned timber land, that is/was public domain land that was ceded outright to railroads and other “robber baron” plutocratic interests in the mid to late 19th century. Poor form indeed for Weyerhause to tightly restrict public access to such land.

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      • Ed Martiszus BA,BS,RN July 11, 2015 at 4:10 pm

        I think that under law the lands are still Chinook Nation Land. The US government had no legal right to give the land to anyone. According to Stephen Ambrose all the lands from the crest of the Oregon Coast range to the ocean are stolen since the treaties were never ratified by the US Senate. Does their corporate charter give them the right to deal in stolen goods like billions of dollars in timber. Look at the Kobell v. US case about oil, natural gas, coal, pipelines across Native Nations land. The case was settled a few years ago. The US government had to pay 2-3 billion dollars, give land back and fund Native Nation Colleges. Should we apply for permits from the real landowners that have rights, not claims? Should we ask the Chinook Nation for biking, fishing, hunting, camping, residential, mushroom picking permits instead of Weyerhauser. Take a trespass arrest, after we have asked the local DA, State Attorney General and US attorney to enforce the law, international law and Indian Treaty Law, and use international law as a defense? Are their corporate officers that know the truth, but ignore it, candidates to appear in US or International Criminal Courts? Why do I right this? I was at the Nevada Test Site on 12 actions between 1989 and 1994, to help the Western Shoshone Nation under the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley, to stop testing nuclear weapons. The Western Shoshone gave us permits at $5 each to be on their land and when confronted by Nevada Test Site security at that time Wackenhut to show the permit and ask where is their permit. I personally witnessed 10,000 folks from around the world apprehended inside the test site and crossing the cattleguard, put in cages resembling the high fences around tennis courts, men and women segregated but we ignored the rent a cops and kept climbing into both sides mixing men and women and all released in a matter of hours.Isthis relevant? Oregon was brought into US statehood in 1859, Western Shoshone and US Treaty of Ruby Valley took place in 1863, and Weyerhauser received their land after this I don’t know the exact year but comes after Ruby Valley and Oregon statehood. If there is no treaty between the US and Chinook nation, by what authority (quo warranto?) is Weyerhauser claiming ownership? I myself have won cases in court using international law to resist paying for nuclear war. I could say more but lets open these comments up for legal eagles to support and tear apart.

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        • wsbob July 12, 2015 at 10:00 am

          “…According to Stephen Ambrose all the lands from the crest of the Oregon Coast range to the ocean are stolen since the treaties were never ratified by the US Senate. …” Ed Martiszus BA,BS,RN

          Ought to be a heap of fun for someone with the requisite abilities, to sort out the government’s position on that claim, and what actually is ‘the right thing’.

          Bottom line, is all those millions of acres of forestland, have long been and to considerable extent still are, a huge economic resource (also, a hugely important environmental resource, and potentially, a much greater recreational resource than it currently is…but perhaps not so in the minds of timber company officials.). The government, nor private companies are going to easily cede claim to the land. At the same time, a growing population presents a correspondingly growing need for recreational opportunities, of which forestland can help answer. In the short term, what’s the more pressing need?

          Trees are great, forestland is great. There’s plenty of both good and bad about the timber industry and how it has used forestland. Transition by timber companies, to greater use of this land that doesn’t oblige extensive clear-cutting, shooting with firearms and other weapons, and aggressive use of roads and trails on the land with off-road motor vehicles…would be a positive move. And everything always gets back to who is going to pay for it, and how.

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    • cariel July 1, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      At least near Vernonia, the land used to be owned by Longview Timber who sold it to Weyerhauser a couple of years ago. What’s been cropped out of the photo above (understandably, Jonathan), was Longview’s old rules for recreational users. They allowed all non-motorized transport (foot, bike or horse) during the weekend as long as you followed the rules (no fires, camping, taking forest products, etc.)

      Since bicycles are clearly NOT the problem, (the PR rep even admitted as much) what can we do to help re-instate Longview’s very sensible rules for non-motorized recreational users? There’s lots of good riding out there they hold some of the only ways to get to the coast on back roads/gravel roads from Banks/Vernonia area.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 1, 2015 at 4:41 pm


        Yes, I cropped out that photo so as not to confuse folks. I agree with what you’ve said and I hope there’s an avenue for advocacy on this. My fear is that the timber companies are similar to the railroad companies in that they aren’t very open to public discourse and feedback — but I hope I’m wrong. My hope is that through the NW Trail Alliance, perhaps Weyerhauser can be educated about how important their roads are to bicycle riders and then change course to allow more bicycle use.

        I couldn’t help but notice that on Weyerhauser’s website they feature a photo gallery of people using their lands and nearly 100% of the 50 or so images are of hunters and their kills. It’d be very cool to see bicycles in those photos!

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        • cariel July 1, 2015 at 5:03 pm

          Thanks for the advocacy suggestions. My fear with the timber companies is that this is where we feel the “bikelash”: they can finally charge bicyclists a fee for using roads and keep it “fair” to all users.

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        • Eric July 1, 2015 at 10:16 pm

          Or at least hunters with cargo bikes.

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      • AC July 1, 2015 at 10:50 pm

        Contact your local politicians, suggest that a reduced property tax rate for land zoned as timber isn’t appropriate for companies that close their lands to nonmotorized public access. CC weyerhaueser.

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    • AC July 1, 2015 at 10:52 pm

      Pretty sure they built their own roads.

      They do benefit greatly from a reduced property tax on property zoned as timber. Here is the playbook to fight this. http://www.kplu.org/post/grays-harbor-county-tries-tax-gambit-stop-weyerhaeusers-recreation-fees

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      • Dan July 2, 2015 at 1:32 pm

        It has been policy for a very long time for the government to reimburse timber companies for the cost of the roads. Not sure if that’s still current policy, but I bet it existed when these roads were built.

        Here’s an article from 1998 that discusses how, when the USFS finally included the costs for building logging roads, they reported losses of $88 million. A GAO report indicated that they lost around a billion dollars in a 3 year span in the 90s.


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        • AC July 16, 2015 at 11:38 am

          That applies to roads built on Federal land, not roads built on private land.

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  • Bjorn July 1, 2015 at 3:34 pm

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

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    • BicycleDave July 1, 2015 at 8:06 pm

      Seems like we could pass something like this here.

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    • Joseph E July 2, 2015 at 1:31 am

      That’s generally true in England and the rest of the United Kingdom as well. I believe there are old common-law rulings that public paths have to remain open if they have been used historically. People can even open and close gates to walk across fields, as long as they leave the gates in the same state as when they arrived.
      Unfortunately, the USA courts have given much more power to individual landowners to prevent “trespassing”, even where there are no fences, as long as signs are posted.
      Seeing that forest fires don’t care about property lines, and Weyerhauser’s properties are never more than a mile from other private or public lands, they timber owners would do better to fund prevention of crown fires via good forest management, education and enforcement of rules about fires and cigarettes, smoking cessation, and encouraging non-motorized recreation.

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      • oliver July 2, 2015 at 9:44 am

        “power to individual landowners to prevent “trespassing”, even where there are no fences”

        Yep, what is often defined as “freedom” in this country.

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  • CaptainKarma July 1, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Corporations are people, my friend.

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  • Andrew July 1, 2015 at 5:59 pm

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

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  • Andrew July 1, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    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?

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  • Kenji Sugahara July 1, 2015 at 6:09 pm

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

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    • Eric July 1, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      This is not an unexpected action on the part of a private land holder. I would like to hear the whole story.

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    • Pete July 1, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      If money’s what their after, why such a low cap on the number of permits? If the coice is between paying $50 and not riding these fantastic roads, I’d rather pony up the cash. My understanding is that almost all of the permits sold went to hunters.

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      • AC July 1, 2015 at 10:47 pm

        Good question. Near Seattle, Hancock has put a similar permit requirement in place, EXCEPT, nonmotorized permits don’t have a cap. So it’s not really that bad of a deal, $45 a year to ride on 100K acres of former Weyco land. They do limit the number of motorized/hunting permits, which makes sense, as hunters want fewer other hunters in the area.

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    • AC July 16, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Mike should share the story. I doubt it’s all about the $. If it were, the permit system would be structured to sell way more permits and accommodate more users in order to obtain every bit of potential revenue. User fees from recreation are a pittance compared to log sales. It’s far more realistic for user fees to cover the cost of administrating recreational use and the permit process to be intended as a means of reducing costs that result from the small % of bad actors that ruin it for the rest of us.

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  • Tom July 1, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    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?

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  • Huey Lewis July 1, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    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.

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    • Huey Lewis July 1, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      You cyclists ruin everything. First the Outback and now my favorite roads.

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  • Jonah July 1, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    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.

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    • Tait July 2, 2015 at 2:40 am

      Because National Forest land is so rare around this part of the country? Because you are building your house with concrete and brick, and everybody who wants to use wood products instead is misguided? Or because you’d rather import lumber from Canada or Brazil? And nobody uses paper these days, right? Or is it just a “screw corporations” sentiment?

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      • Gary July 2, 2015 at 8:53 am

        You do realize that we harvest state and national forests, right?

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        • Tait July 3, 2015 at 5:44 am

          I do, yes. Protection from that is done via Wilderness designation, and we have a lot of wilderness, too. But to Jonah’s point, state/national forest is not managed (well, directly) by Weyerhauser or any other corporation; it’s overseen by USDA.

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  • bjorn July 1, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    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…

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  • Tait July 2, 2015 at 2:42 am

    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.

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  • Serge July 2, 2015 at 7:28 am

    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.

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  • Brian July 2, 2015 at 8:57 am

    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.

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  • Fred July 2, 2015 at 8:58 am

    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.

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  • dan July 2, 2015 at 10:26 am

    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.

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  • Psyfalcon July 2, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    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.

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  • Brian July 2, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    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.

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  • Ann July 2, 2015 at 4:43 pm

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

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  • Mike Sanders July 2, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    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?

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  • Howard Draper July 2, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    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.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 2, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      The CZ is publicly owned so it DOES NOT require a permit. Not sure about Pittsburgh road.

      It occurs to me though… That we should ask Weyerhaeuser to consider allowing bicycle access on roads only, not in the wooded land. I wonder if they realize we only want to go through their parcels, we have no interest in hiking around them like hunters do.

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      • Steve (Magnetic Wheel Co.) July 7, 2015 at 10:22 am

        Jonathan, I recently rode through the Weyerhaeuser land last weekend NW of Scappoose as per the CZ-Baker Pt. loop you posted. It was fantastic! And you’re absolutely right, as cyclists using the main road to pass though this is and entirely different scenario than hunters going there to harvest animals. I’m also a hunter since childhood and noticed on my ride many areas set up as target practice with spent casings littered all over the place. As an advocate of the outdoors I find this sort of behavior reprehensible, and it’s a classic case of a double standard on Weyerhaeuser’s part to be treating a cyclist passing though on the main roads who more than likely won’t leave garbage all over the place, to irresponsible hunters who trash it. Was there on a weekend and didn’t see a single solitary person anywhere. What are they going to do to enforce the new lic, hire somebody at $12/hr to wait at the gates for hours for someone to maybe show up? Hoping to hear a follow up on this story, and/or a way we can take action.

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        • Fred July 7, 2015 at 2:52 pm

          Last time I rode Bacona Road I came upon three separate groups of people shooting. One was three young guys shooting pistols at the ground right in front of them. I also saw several places where trash was dumped and off-road vehicles created huge ruts and damage to trees.

          Allowing bicycles access along the established dirt/gravel roads seem about as benign as it possibly could be. And, it puts eyes and ears out in the woods.

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  • Howard Draper July 3, 2015 at 9:25 am

    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.

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  • Glenn July 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm

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

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  • Cliff Mair July 7, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    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.

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  • p August 9, 2016 at 4:45 pm

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

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