Tour de Lab September 1st

Parks’ new ‘land stewardship manager’ could have big impact on off-road cycling

Posted by on December 2nd, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Forest Park "No Bikes" signs-2

(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A new position currently being offered by the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) bureau could have a huge impact on the future of off-road cycling.

PP&R’s new Land Stewardship Division Manager will be a senior-level manager who will make between $95,000 and $128,000 and will report directly to bureau director Mike Abbaté. Currently when Parks approaches a large policy or project they use a number of different types of planners and managers who all report to one project manager. This new position would, “bring together all land management expertise, knowledge and strategies under one manager.”

Here are the responsibilities of the new position as taken from the official job description:

Responsibilities include planning, organizing, directing and evaluating the programs, activities, and personnel of the division of approximately 150 employees who protect, maintain, restore and enhance the 11,000 acres of land managed by the Bureau that are part of a regionally ecologically significant system of open spaces, ranging from natural resource areas to highly developed parks to active recreation facilities. This position also oversees ecologists, horticultural services, community gardens, a plant nursery, turf and irrigation maintenance, environmental education, the integrated pest management program, and the recreational trails program.

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Given the ongoing tensions within PP&R around the balance between conservation and recreation and how best to manage bicycling in parks and natural areas, the person who gets this job will have to weave through some difficult issues.

While the much-anticipated Off-Road Cycling Plan is (thankfully) being managed by the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, PP&R will ultimately be involved in conversations regarding bike access at key sites like Forest Park, River View, Powell Butte, Gateway Green, and others.

If the person who ultimately fills this roll embraces the possibility and potential of bicycling in Portland’s parks and natural spaces, he/she could have a major impact on the future.

The Land Stewardship Division Manager position closes on December 14th, so be sure to apply if you are interested and pass along the listing to friends who are qualified.

In related news, PP&R is currently hosting an important online survey to gauge “Community Budget Values.” Please take a few minutes and fill it out.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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

18 Comments
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    Todd Hudson December 2, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    With Amanda Fritz in charge of Parks, there’s every reason to be skeptical that off-road cycling will ever happen.

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    wsbob December 2, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I think that first and foremost, stewardship prioritizes care of the land, and assignation of activities the land is to be used for, second, third, fourth and so on.

    With that in mind, what might be the obligations of the person assuming this new Portland Parks position, with regards to the hopes some Portland residents have, of using parks such as Forest Park, for mountain biking? I’m not sure. Not enough information reported yet, to allow developing a very good idea of what the new person’s obligations in this respect will be.

    If sufficient support exists for it, Portland should be actively pursuing the acquisition of new lands for parks, with Metro’s help if necessary…specifically, and up front, for the purpose of using some of that land for mountain biking.

    Population is growing in Portland, and throughout the Metro area. In addition to increased emphasis on sound stewardship of existing lands, more recreational opportunities are in need of being created, to keep pace with that growth. If the interest in future availability of mountain biking opportunities within Portland and Metro area urban boundaries, is becoming large, all of the people within those boundaries, rather than a relatively small number of people in a niche group, should be included in the efforts to acquire such lands for that usage.

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      MNBikeLuv December 3, 2015 at 8:53 am

      Stewardship and enjoyment by humans are not mutually exclusive. It’s all in balancing the two. The factors that most endanger all natural areas (global warming, pollution and resource wasting) don’t need humans in said natural areas to threaten them (see coral bleaching). So having people in a natural area doesn’t automatically mean it’s being downgraded in some way. Its how that natural area is managed.

      Existing parks and natural areas in Portland could easily handle mountain biking. There is no need to purchase new land for mountain biking. However, there would be nothing wrong with taking existing developed parks and “de-developing” them, that is, increasing the amount of natural area vs. developed area of the parks system. Mountain biking could fit in there as well.

      I know a large part of your premise against mountain biking is that a) its a small tribe of people that asking for something special and that b) mountain bikers, nature and the other users of parks can’t get along. However, in places with urban mountain biking, those two things just don’t seem to be true. First, the number of mountain bikers grows with availability of local trails and second, mountain bikers (as a group) have shown they can and do get along with other users and the environment just fine, thank you very much.

      I hate to sound like a broken record, but you are talking about something you’ve never seen, i.e. a robust urban mountain biking system. Your assumptions about it are all wrong. My suggestion is that you go somewhere you can see it. I think you will find it much different than you expect.

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        Charley December 3, 2015 at 10:20 pm

        I really like your idea about re-wilding some of the many parks in the city. There are lots of places that could use more native vegetation (the biggest examples I can think of are the margins of the Springwater and Columbia Slough trails, though I don’t know if those are PP&R properties). What about re-wilding Pier Park?
        Along these lines, seems like we could probably get lots and lots of trails in lots and lots of parks, if we accept that some of them would be really short “fun loops” for kids. Like, a 100 yard loop in a neighborhood park would be fun and accessible. To nurture the next generation of environmentalist voters and activists, we need to get kids outdoors, get them active and get them to love the wild places in their neighborhood. Packing areas of these smaller parks with native shrubs and trees, then winding singletrack through those areas, would be a win win that maybe even the Audubon Society could support!

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        wsbob December 4, 2015 at 10:43 am

        Jonathan….and why do you not post my response to the accusation made, that I have a “…premise against mountain biking…” ?

        The ‘premise’ in terms of care and usage, if it’s desired to approach discussion of the situation with regards to the park, arises from the park itself. It’s not my writing to this weblog, about the nature of Forest Park, and ideas about using that park for mountain biking, that holds mountain bike enthusiasts back from using that park for mountain biking. If not myself, somebody at this weblog should be trying to explain to readers, what it is about that particular park’s dedicated purpose, that has the city’s residents likely to be disinclined to allow vehicular use of the Forest Park.

        It’s very doubtful that a handful of rich or otherwise, neighbors to the park is holding up use of the park for mountain biking. Or that occasional articles from the neighborhood newspaper are doing the same thing. Portland Parks apparently has had no confidence in the idea that the city’s residents truly want to use Forest Park for mountain biking. If it had every had any such confidence, mountain biking would have been introduced to the park long ago.

        Many times in comments to bikeportland stories about mountain biking within Portland city limits and surrounding cities, I’ve written that efforts should be made to acquire land for that activity. This is what should have been happening starting at least ten years ago around the time when it seems bikeportland commenced its efforts towards seeking the use, primarily of Forest Park, for mountain biking within Portland city limits.

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          Alex December 7, 2015 at 6:45 pm

          > If not myself, somebody at this weblog should be trying to explain to readers, what it is about that particular park’s dedicated purpose, that has the city’s residents likely to be disinclined to allow vehicular use of the Forest Park.

          The city’s residents have voted in favor of more mountain bike access in Forest Park. Please quit making things up that you wish to be true, but simply are not.

          > It’s very doubtful that a handful of rich or otherwise, neighbors to the park is holding up use of the park for mountain biking.

          Really? You should read up on the history of off-road cycling and Forest Park. It seems as though you would be surprised to find out that you are wrong. You can start with this: http://bikeportland.org/2010/05/24/city-club-report-parks-survey-see-different-future-for-forest-park-33890

          > Many times in comments to bikeportland stories about mountain biking within Portland city limits and surrounding cities, I’ve written that efforts should be made to acquire land for that activity.

          So you think we should just listen to you as if you are some sort of leader of mountain biking that you can just tell us what to do? If you want this to happen then you should go try to acquire some land and give it to mountain bikers. Forest Park should be shared with environmentally sensitive activities and mountain biking is completely compatible with this and the history of the park itself.

          Regarding your comment to Jonathan, I would love to see all of your historically inaccurate and repetitive comments removed from the conversation. You sound like a broken record and have made so many inflammatory/inaccurate posts here that are not useful nor do they seem sincere at this point (unless you are a suffering from dementia, in which case I have the utmost sympathy for you and your family).

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  • John Liu
    John Liu December 2, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    What happens to the other planners and managers whose duties are transferred to this new position? Are they rendered redundant? Or is another management layer being created?

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      MNBikeLuv December 2, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      Often this type of “fix” is trotted out because the existing management isn’t efficient or doesn’t get along. The thinking is that one overseer can get all the ducks swimming the same direction.

      It only works if the new overseer position has the authority to direct everyone and if the first person in the job can respectively demonstrate how this makes things better. Otherwise, it becomes a mess.

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        BeavertonRider December 3, 2015 at 9:30 am

        “Trotted out”? There’s some irony here to your skeptical tone. You seem to be criticizing this change, but then suggest it will only work if authority is assigned and exercised.

        Well, project managers rarely have supervisory or management authority. So, replacing manay project managaersywith a division manager with management amd administrative authority serms to address your concern, yes?

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          MNBikeLuv December 3, 2015 at 12:26 pm

          I’m skeptical for 2 reasons:

          1) If the reason for this position seems to be to get all the cats in a box and working together. However, unless that person has the authority to throw out the misbehaving cats, then they end up with a box of angry cats. They still don’t get anything done.

          2) What happens if you give this person has said authority and they don’t like mountain biking? As you may know, Portland mountain biking initiatives have had some issues with persons just pulling a NewSpeak with a publicly processes (RVNA) or killing publicly approved decisions (Forest Park Singletrack). Could this person argue that stewardship trumps everything else? Per the job description all the technical and scientific information that go into making park use decisions would flow through them.

          It would be great if this person liked mountain biking and had cat punting powers. Given Portland’s track record of a weird disliking of mountain biking and an overly diluted government, I’m skeptical of this.

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    Robert Burchett December 2, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Portlands Park Department is presently running a survey to decide what they should spend their time and your money on. It closes Friday. If you’ve ever been in touch with Parks, it’s in your in-box. Unless they hate you!

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      Robert Burchett December 2, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      Also: Tell them how many hours you volunteered last year. Parks understands that. Take a guess, or fill their inbox with dates, times, and places.

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    Paolo December 2, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Thanks Robert, had not seen this one, done it.
    You all should too.

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    mran1984 December 3, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Thanks for the picture. Maple is a nice trail🚵🏼🙀.

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    Brian December 3, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Given the authority this person will have, and the continued trail controversy in our city, it would be great to have an off-road cycling advocate on the hiring committee.

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      BeavertonRider December 3, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Should off-road cycling advocacy be a hiring characteristic for this position? Do we really want to impose what really is a political policy litmus test into hiring decisions made by the City at the staff level?

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        Alex December 7, 2015 at 6:07 pm

        Yes.

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