Splendid Cycles

Judge denies motion of conservation groups trying to stop Timberline MTB Park

Posted by on April 3rd, 2018 at 12:51 pm

A 2011 map created by Timberline of the proposed bike trails and chair-lifts.

A plan to create a full-service, lift-assisted mountain bike park on the southwestern slope of Mt. Hood got a boost last week when United States District Court Judge Ann Aiken denied a motion by three nonprofit groups who aim to stop it.

Judge Aiken’s 21-page opinion (see it below) signed on March 31st denies a Motion for Reconsideration filed by four plaintiffs: Bark, Friends of Mount Hood, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, and Sierra Club. The defendants on the case were the U.S. Forest Service, three regional forest staffers, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The conservation groups have made several attempts to derail it through the courts and this is just the latest judgment to go against them.

As it stands, the project would build 17 miles of bike trails and a small skills park. When we first covered the park in 2010 we likened it to a major destination on the order of Whistler’s famous bike park. On a website (that has since been removed), Timberline said, “We see mountain biking as an integral part of our year-round recreation plan, and will treat this project as one of the primary pillars of our company’s future.”

Everything was going according to plan after the USFS issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact” with their 2012 permit approval. Then in May 2013, several nonprofits filed a complaint seeking judicial review of that decision. The groups alleged that the USFS has failed in their duty to uphold the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and that more rigorous environmental analysis was required. In August 2013, a conservation group discovered the presence of Western bumblebees in the project area. USFS biologists analyzed that finding and determined the project, “may impact individual bees or habitat but will not likely contribute to a trend toward federal listing or loss of viability of the population or species.” Shortly thereafter, the plaintiffs filed another lawsuit7 saying that the USFS failed to perform additional environmental analysis on bumblebee populations and on steelhead.

“I find that the arguments raised by plaintiff are repetitive of those previously raised in the last round of summary judgment motions.”
— Judge Ann Aiken, US District Court

In August 2014 the National Marine Fisheries Service concluded that the project would not adversely impact steelhead populations or their habitat; but they also ordered modifications to the project to ensure protection of individual steelhead.

After the USFS analyzed measures to protect steelhead in September 2014, they again said no supplemental NEPA analysis was required. Two months later, the plaintiffs filed a second complaint alleging those findings by the USFS were “abritary and capricious” and that more analysis on bumblebee and steelhead populations must be performed. In March 2016 Judge Aiken ruled in favor of the defendants.

In the intervening years Timberline had already begun several large restoration projects which had been approved to go forward even while the injunction against new biking trails was in effect. When more acreage than expected had been disturbed during those projects, the USFS once again analyzed the impact to steelhead populations and found it, “would not jeopardize their continued existence.” The plaintiffs argued that the restoration projects themselves constituted “significant new information” that should trigger a supplemental NEPA analysis. In December 2016 the USFS disagreed with them. In January 2017 the plaintiffs filed another complaint (their third) to challenge the USFS’s assertion yet again.

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The legal details get complicated; but the arguments essentially boiled down to this: The plaintiffs felt that findings of impacts to bumblebee habitat and steelhead populations warranted additional environmental analysis. The plaintiffs also felt that restoration work in the project in the past few years has had a large enough impact to trigger more analysis. Furthermore, the plaintiffs complain that the USFS had failed to follow federal law. The USFS says they’ve done all the analysis required by law and that more analysis is not needed.

For instance, in her opinion, Judge Aiken cites the work of a USFS biologist hired to survey bumblebee populations. “The biologist noted that the project would not impact known bee foraging locations,” she writes. “The report also stated that the documented bee sites are adjacent to roads and near the Timberline Lodge, where there is already heavy human presence.”

Judge Aiken supports the USFS and wrote in her opinion, “In the present case, the Forest Service did not provide inaccurate or misleading information in the environmental assessment.” The plaintiff also failed to prove that the USFS decisions were “arbitrary and capricious.”

In her conclusion, the Judge writes:

“Plaintiffs argue that the motion should be granted because there is new evidence in this case and because I committed clear error of law. However, I find that the arguments raised by plaintiff are repetitive of those previously raised in the last round of summary judgment motions. None of those arguments… persuades me that my initial ruling was incorrect or contrary to law. Thus, I deny the motion for reconsideration… Accordingly, this case is dismissed.”

We’ve reached out to all parties in the lawsuit and will update this post as we hear back.

Below is Judge Aiken’s opinion and order signed 3/31:

TIMBERLINE-judgement

UPDATE, 1:28 pm: Crag Law Center Staff Attorney Oliver Stiefel is the spokesperson for the plaintiffs. Here’s his statements on the ruling: “Our clients care deeply about Mt. Hood and the unique portal to public land on mountain’s southern flanks that Timberline provides. We’re reviewing the decision and assessing next steps.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and 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

110 Comments
  • Mike Quigley April 3, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    How can you ruin this place any further? It’s already an overused, overcrowded mess. Let ’em have it.

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    • matt April 3, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      The bike park proposal also included a huge amount of restoration projects and road decommissioning. It was win/win…

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    • FRED_TRAMPLER April 3, 2018 at 6:07 pm

      THE SAME THING PORTLAND WAS THINKING WHEN THEY BECAME A SANCTUARY CITY?

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      • Alex April 3, 2018 at 8:12 pm

        Can this comment please get deleted – it really has nothing to do with the topic at hand and adds nothing to the conversation.

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        • FRED_TRAMPLER April 6, 2018 at 8:36 pm

          WOW NO SENSE OF HUMOR ALEX SAD AND CALLING FOR CENSORSHIP OF SOMEONES OPINION HOW TOLERANT AND PROGRESSIVE OF U!

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          • Alex April 9, 2018 at 7:51 pm

            lulz. love you.

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    • Alex April 3, 2018 at 7:59 pm

      If you are saying that, you are living under a rock.

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  • maxD April 3, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    I think it sounds fun to ride a bike on a trail on Mt Hood. I can imagine that it could easily be done in a sensitive way that would limit speeds and keep people on trails. If anyone knows of similar projects that have been built, please post them- i want to learn more!

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  • rick April 3, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Why don’t these conservation groups combat sprawling car parking lots? Better mass transit?

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    • Leif Warner April 3, 2018 at 1:57 pm

      As it stands, people will primarily travel there in cars…

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      • Chris I April 3, 2018 at 3:05 pm

        Which could be said for any activity in America. Timberline actually has regular transit service, with buses that pull bike trailers in the summer. That makes it better than most places in the country.

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      • Jon April 3, 2018 at 3:45 pm

        Driving is how the people from BARK and the Sierra Club get to the trails on Mt. Hood. My interactions with groups like BARK and Sierra Club have led me to conclude that they want to exclude every user group except for their own so that they have their own private use of public land. They may have once advocated for some ideal like no clear cutting forests but now they are just another NIMBY group trying to set aside public land for their user group to the exclusion of all those they deem to be less deserving.

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        • Kyle Banerjee April 3, 2018 at 4:29 pm

          I am not involved with either group, but that is not an accurate description of the attitudes of those I’ve known who care about conservation.

          The lift served areas have much more of an amusement park vibe than anything else so the question is why develop (i.e. totally mess up) the few natural areas left to create experiences that aren’t unique? Nothing says getting out in nature like throngs of people using mechanization so they can tear around. May as well set up a motocross track while we’re at it.

          Mt Hood has spectacular wilderness but it’s been shrinking and none of it can be found near the ski resorts. After they develop the bike trails, they can move onto other stuff — in ziplines, alpine slides — I’m sure it will be popular.

          In the case at hand, I don’t think it will hurt Timberline — that area is already wrecked. Not sure if increasing the total amount of traffic in the area is a good thing though.

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          • Barry O'Connor April 4, 2018 at 9:16 am

            Mt Hood Wilderness is not shrinking–absolutely the opposite. It expanded in 2009, and Bark, Oregon Wild, and Sierra Club are pushing for further expansion that would remove access for mountain bikes on trails that were BUILT by, are MAINTAINED by, and used primarily by mountain bikes. This is an attempted land grab for spaces that don’t even qualify as wilderness. In my experience in trail advocacy meetings, these conservation groups have a very self-righteous and selfish mindset, trying to limit access to their preferred mode of travel.

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          • Brian April 4, 2018 at 10:15 am

            I can’t tell if you’re serious or not. “The wilderness wraps around the mountain from west to northeast, and borders Timberline Lodge and Mount Hood Meadows ski lifts on some of the south and east slopes of the mountain.”

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          • Chris I April 4, 2018 at 1:53 pm

            From your description, it doesn’t sound like you have experienced the Mt. Hood Wilderness.

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            • Kyle Banerjee April 5, 2018 at 6:31 am

              I’m frequently out in Mt Hood Wilderness as well as the surrounding designated wilderness areas.

              Technical designation of an area as wilderness doesn’t make it actual wilderness. It takes a lot of contiguous space and spaces where there aren’t significant human impacts especially for animals to thrive.

              As Barry and and Brian’s comments both imply, the wilderness area is in fact tightly bounded and contains areas that are not really wilderness area. It’s impossible to be very far from the edges or from other people though it’s easy enough to get to where you don’t see them.

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              • BradWagon April 5, 2018 at 12:03 pm

                Ah yes, nothing like a little subjective and pedantic definition of what’s “real wilderness” to clear things up.

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              • Kyle Banerjee April 5, 2018 at 8:11 pm

                The pedantic definition is the bureaucratically determined one that only an urbanite would accept. Likewise, small patches marshy ground that’s expensive to build that can only support small numbers of birds are not really wetlands nor is a poisoned industrial area that a couple eagles and a small number of animals properly called a “wildlife refuge.”

                When you’re bumped up against civilization and can move about with relative ease, the fauna are different as is what you do when you’re there. Many people refer to what’s there as “sidecountry” — which more accurately conveys what it really is.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty April 3, 2018 at 10:46 pm

          Being available to everyone is an odd definition of “their own private use of the land”, unless someone is proposing some sort of membership requirement to access the trails.

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          • Alex April 4, 2018 at 7:48 am

            Oh you. This type of argument is tired.

            The point he is making is, who are they to say their type of recreation is ok and others aren’t? For this, we should look at something neutral to determine what is appropriate for the land in question. I would think, based on their arguments, we would be having a talk regarding the ecological impact of whatever was being proposed. If you read this article, which I hope you did, they do often make arguments that aren’t valid and just greenwash it and imply mountain biking is somehow ecologically worse than hiking – it just isn’t. I get limiting the number of people on the land – but how do we determine that. Should it be lottery? Permit? or limited by sport/recreational activity? I would prefer the most neutral so we don’t have tyranny by the majority.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty April 4, 2018 at 10:10 am

              Would those orgs support increasing hiking by running chairlifts all summer to get hikers higher on the mountain? I’m objecting to what sounds like a deliberate misrepresentation of what opponents of the project are saying.

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              • Alex April 4, 2018 at 10:19 am

                The opponents of the project are saying there is negative environmental impact. I have read the lawsuit. I am not misrepresenting the lawsuit. Tbf, pretty sure timberline is the only ski area in the lower 48 that has skiing open year ’round. I don’t see them fighting that.

                Can you cite me some evidence that they are doing anything but that? That would be great.

                Here is a great article from the Sierra Club that pretty much sums it up to me – https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2013-6-november-december/escape/timberline-lodge.

                Let me quote a piece of it for you – “BEST MOMENT Taking a ski lift to the peak and finding the world below covered in clouds. Cold wind and chapped lips failed to diminish the thrill of an otherworldly view.”

                So yes, I would say exactly that – and it turns out, so would they!

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 4, 2018 at 7:03 pm

                That article is hardly a policy statement. It’s puff. I wouldn’t read too much into it.

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              • Alex April 5, 2018 at 9:18 am

                It just goes to show you what the general attitudes of that group is and what they are willing to finish. You can write it off if you want to so your narrative checks out – it’s just more proof to me.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 5, 2018 at 11:36 am

                I don’t really have a narrative — I’m not vested in this decision one way or the other. I just see the common problem of opposing sides misrepresenting each other (assuming Sierra Club et al are also doing this, I don’t know) because it’s easier to attack the organization itself rather than address the real issues that are more complex and nuanced.

                They’re probably right on the environmental issues (which may be different than what the lawsuit alleged), and you’re probably right on the recreational issues, so we have to weigh one set of values against another.

                That would be a much more interesting conversation.

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              • Alex April 6, 2018 at 6:55 am

                They aren’t right about the environmental issues in regards to mtbing. That’s what the lawsuit was about. Talk about misrepresentation. If they are different than what the lawsuit alleges, that would make no sense. While I can see your point I think you are ignoring a long sordid history with Sierra Club and mtbing specifically. So, like I said, tell yourself whatever narrative you want, you haven’t really been involved, don’t seem to follow the issue at a national level, but yet, here we are having this conversation.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 6, 2018 at 9:36 am

                They may not be right about about the issues raised in the suit, which is why they lost, but as you well know sometimes you sue on the issue you can sue on even if the real issue is different. This is very common throughout the legal system.

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              • Alex April 6, 2018 at 4:49 pm

                Absolutely. They don’t like mountain biking, they sued for environmental reasons. I get it. I have been saying that all along.

                You are also saying they would sue to stop other uses, which I don’t disagree with. I am saying those other uses are not all equivalent to mountain biking and how/where do we draw that line, which you seem to mostly ignore.

                Sierra Club is no friend to riding bikes. You would think they would be, but they aren’t. I fully understand that bikes (and people for that matter), don’t belong everywhere or we should try to limit impact. A ski resort that has been in operation this long, which areas have been clear-cut for recreation already, maybe isn’t a horrible place to allow some more recreation. Perhaps they should pick their battles a bit more wisely instead of just going after it every single time. I might feel different about them if they did that. They should also maybe not write articles promoting riding lifts to get a great view on the exact same hill without a bike. To me that is the same impact as riding up a chairlift with a bike. While that may not be their “official” stance, they still published the article and promote it. If they can’t provide good scientific reasons to stop specific user groups, perhaps they should just try to promote permits and not specific ways to recreate. At this point, I just see them ignoring science in favor of a specific way to recreate.

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            • Kyle Banerjee April 6, 2018 at 6:14 am

              “I get limiting the number of people on the land – but how do we determine that. Should it be lottery? Permit? or limited by sport/recreational activity? I would prefer the most neutral so we don’t have tyranny by the majority.”

              There is no such thing as neutral — the assumptions (i.e. biases) baked into the assessment method determine the outcome.

              These things really need to be decided on a case by case basis, though I would hope that what the area can support, what people want, the impact of what they want, what kinds of activities can be mixed are major factors.

              The only reason there’s any debate at all is that mountain biking requires some kind of trail. The only reason a reasonable argument can be made that building such a trail in this specific area won’t cause undue impacts is that this space is already developed and many thousands of people already go there.

              It’s important to recognize that some activities have a significant impact on others and don’t really mix. Significant speed and size differentials make for bad combinations in tight areas. This means foot and bike traffic don’t mix well on trails. Nor does motorized and nonmotorized traffic — keep in mind that a huge chunk of the population places a high value on motorsport recreation. And space has to be made for everyone.

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              • Alex April 6, 2018 at 4:52 pm

                The point being, the impact of said trail is the same whether it is hiked on or biked on. While I agree there is no neutral stance, not allowing a specific user group to recreate on the land while not incurring additional strains on the environment seems ridiculous to me.

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        • Johnny B. April 7, 2018 at 9:22 am

          Oh, I’m pretty sure members of these groups only visit their natural areas by walking or bursting-at-the-seams carpools in their electric vehicles…yeah, right. One thing about this I can’t help but point to is that most mountain bikers believe in the same environmental conservation principles that these groups espouse. I hope, however, that no mountain bikers, or even road cyclists, give another dime of support to these groups until they change their view on mountain biking. There are so many other activities shown (through studies, not off-the-cuff NIMBY presumptions) to have equal or greater impact that they support.

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      • Charley April 4, 2018 at 11:22 am

        Because they won’t let us ride our bikes on singeltrack in Forest Park. They just want us to not exist. Sorry! I exist!

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty April 4, 2018 at 3:34 pm

          And you will continue to exist. So if that’s their desire, they will never win.

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    • I wear many hats April 4, 2018 at 10:02 am

      Exactly Rick!

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  • Bjorn April 3, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    When do we reach the point where these groups should be required to start paying Timberline when their obvious delay tactics fail in court. Timberline has lost 5 years of revenue already and it isn’t clear to me that there was much in the way of merit to any of these lawsuits, they all just seem designed to drag out the process. It seems like the groups have 2 goals, one to drag out the project so long and make it so costly that Timberline will give up on the project, and two to discourage any other group from creating a mountain bike park in the future because they fear similar tactics will be used against them. Enough is enough in my opinion and I certainly hope this is the end of it, although it wouldn’t surprise me if they already have the next one ready to file.

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    • Kyle Banerjee April 3, 2018 at 4:36 pm

      Be careful for what you wish for. Those same tactics are used by people who oppose road projects. It cuts both ways…

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      • Bjorn April 3, 2018 at 6:59 pm

        I cant think of the last time a private group tried to build a major new road in Oregon on land they already controlled. Apples and oranges.

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        • Kyle Banerjee April 4, 2018 at 4:53 am

          Timberline is on public land managed by the National Forest Service under a special use permit. The land does not belong to RLK any more than the Forest Service and BLM lands exploited for profit by loggers, ranchers, and miners belong to them. Mt Hood Meadows is also run under a special use permit.

          I find the dynamic in this thread very interesting. Overall views on BP are strongly anti-car and anti-development, protection of the environment is a major motivation for cycling, and people are concerned about making things better for the disenfranchised.

          This project and ones like it represent almost the opposite of all these things.

          The only reason there is a crazy amount of traffic in this area is so for profit businesses can operate on public land. The footprint on the environment of the project itself and all the people it brings in on an ongoing basis is enormous, and as a practical matter, only people are pretty well off can take advantage of the services these business offers. When this project is complete, few people will spend as much time pedaling as driving — and that’s before we consider that they’ll be lifted using mechanization rather than pedal power.

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          • Bjorn April 4, 2018 at 9:19 am

            First off I said controlled not owned, that wasn’t by accident I recognize that RLK’s control of the land is by lease.

            Second I’d love to mountain bike in town like I did when I lived in Corvallis, but the same folks who say that mountain bikes are great just not at Timberline feel the same way about riverview, forest park, etc etc etc.

            Third Timberline is well served by transit including a multi-bike trailer, and the cost of a day pass at Batchelor is only 35 dollars. While that isn’t free it also is not some astronomical cost that puts it out of reach to most people. In fact it isn’t all that much different than what many people pay currently to ride their bikes inside at the Lumberyard. I expect pricing at Timberline will be similar with discounts for buying multiday passes etc.

            Fourth there is no evidence that riding a bike on a properly built trail is any worse than hiking on that trail. If we are going to allow hiking there is no reason not to allow cycling. If the sierra club/bark was trying to ban all access to mount hood I wouldn’t support that, but at least it wouldn’t be so hypocritical. As it is they are just like the Forest Park folks who want unlimited access for one user group and no access for another.

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            • Kyle Banerjee April 4, 2018 at 4:34 pm

              The whole point of a limited lease is that RLK does not control the land. For example, they can’t log it, mine it, fill it with livestock, etc. The terms of the lease are based on an assessment that a public good worthy of the impact is served. That RLK describes the project as “one of the primary pillars of our company’s future” is a good indication that this is not a minor thing and that a rigorous debate is appropriate and healthy.

              As you observe, foot trails have a significant impact (includes all aspects of getting people to and from the trail down to roads, maintaining them, services, waste disposal, etc. ) that matches a well-built bike trail.

              In both cases, the vast majority of the demand is induced. If you make things convenient with easy roads, plenty of services, and effortless consumption, lots of people will go. For example, very few people will climb a couple thousand feet to ski even one run on ungroomed slopes and practically none will go if they have to pick their way through miles of wilderness terrain to find that run. But thousands show up for many descents if you can drive up to high speed lifts and they can descend well maintained runs. Likewise, few people will hike if there is no trail but they’ll overrun those that provide easy access.

              That people have fun bombing down the sides of mountains on bikes that they didn’t pedal up is certain. But I find it strange that a forum that so often describes those who drive an average of 14 miles round trip to get to work as selfish because of what they do to the environment is so supportive of facilities that people will drive almost ten times that far (i.e. practically two work weeks) for recreation. A saying about glass houses and stones comes to mind.

              Whatever the case, the issue has been decided and the project will move forward.

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              • BradWagon April 5, 2018 at 11:23 am

                Some of us commute entirely by bike so that can allocate our sparing use of a vehicle for when it is truly needed, like traveling long distances for recreation not possible in town. If the only driving folks did was on the weekends to go ride / hike / paddle /etc.. there is not question the environment would be better off.

                Personally I lean a little harder towards not using a car to ride your bike but understand when people do it given the Portland area opportunities. There are much larger battles to fight, I think there is a bit more nuance to it than just suggesting BP commenters are hypocritical because they oppose some car use but not all car use.

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              • emerson April 5, 2018 at 10:46 pm

                I have enjoyed your comments on this post.

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  • Brian April 3, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    I wonder if having Rob Sadowsky as the new ED will change their course of action on this issue.

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      • Bjorn April 3, 2018 at 1:47 pm

        It didn’t seem like The Street Trust was ever much help lobbying for in town mountain bike access under his leadership. I don’t see anything in his history that leads me to think he would advocate within BARK against the lawsuit.

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      • Brian April 3, 2018 at 1:48 pm

        Thanks, Jonathan. I forgot about that interview and I guess it answers my question.

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  • Bjorn April 3, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    If you want to get an idea of how long this has drug out start trying to figure out how many directors has the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club has had during these lawsuits. It is at least 3 but I think the answer is actually higher than that.

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  • Jon April 3, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Finally a little common sense from the law. If you can’t build bike trails on a ski hill full of mechanized lift equipment where else would they be appropriate? The groups opposing this are missing the forest for the trees. There are many people who drive all the way to British Columbia to do lift assisted riding. Now instead of burning 6 hours of gasoline they can drive for an hour to ride. I don’t do any lift assisted riding but it seems to me a good thing. Next thing we know Portland might green light some local single track so people can ride their bikes to the trail.

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  • Michael Whitesel
    Michael Whitesel April 3, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    I want to express my thanks to the staff and ownership at Timberline for persevering through all of this. It would have been easy to say “screw it” and bail on the plans. There is a very real cost to making a bike park happen. Let’s all continue to fight for more mountain bike access.

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  • Fred April 3, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    Hopefully this will end the long wait to get trails built and open on Mt. Hood.

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  • FRED_TRAMPLER April 3, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    CANT WAIT TO STICK MY EBIKE IN SUPER EXTRA TURBO MODE AND SKIP THE CHAIRLIFT LINES

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    • Alex April 3, 2018 at 8:05 pm

      Takes longer on the ebike. I have done both. Hope to see you out there!

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  • Alex April 3, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    I think this just goes to show how disingenuous these groups are. They just keep trying to throw up red tape because they don’t like mountain biking.

    After tonight’s ORCMP meeting, I am more sick of it than ever.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty April 3, 2018 at 10:58 pm

      Do you think it’s mountain biking specifically they dislike? If Timberline wanted to add a new ski trail, or a zipline park, or a bobsled track, or a ski jump, or a gondola to the summit, would they oppose those as well? Maybe (and I’m guessing here, because I’m not affiliated with any of the groups involved) what they really dislike is further “amusementizing” and “mechanizing” Mt. Hood.

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      • Alex April 4, 2018 at 7:01 am

        I think it is both. I would say all the things you listed are quite different than only adding a bit of trail and it is also disingenuous of you.

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        • Alex April 4, 2018 at 7:43 am

          And to put a slightly finer point on it – there is a difference between passive and active recreation. Everything you described is not passive, whereas mountain biking is.

          Also, skis are “mechanical”, canoes are “mechanical” and you could argue even hiking boots are. I think, as the argument has gone for the X number of years, they want any group out of the mountain that isn’t them. We are talking about a resort on a mountain, not some fragile, pristine alpine wetlands.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 4, 2018 at 10:22 am

            Chair lift assisted mountain biking falls at about the same level on be active / passive spectrum as does resort skiing. To me they are both fairly passive, even though you can get tired doing both.

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            • Alex April 4, 2018 at 10:49 am

              Getting “tired” has nothing to do with it being passive. Passive means requiring little infrastructure – which, ski lift assisted riding definitely requires a lot of infra – but simply mtbing does not. I am using the vernacular of planners to define passive/active – not whether a person gets tired from doing it.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 4, 2018 at 3:39 pm

                I see. I interpreted “passive” as having other energy sources do the work for you, and active as meaning you put did the hard work (maybe because it’s tax season, and I’ve been reading about passive [interest, dividends] vs active [earned] income). Using your definitions, lift-assisted mountain biking and skiing are both about equally active.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty April 4, 2018 at 10:16 am

          I concede your point on the summit gondola, but a new ski run, or zip-line park, could be added without major new infrastructure. They would just require cutting some new paths in and around the existing impacted area. Wood BARK et al object so strenuously to people riding on existing ski area access roads, without use of the chair lifts? I am trying to see why this is an example of anti bike bias, but I’m having a hard time.

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          • Alex April 4, 2018 at 10:32 am

            You said a ski jump area – which is new infrastructure and would probably have hydrological effects. I don’t know if you have ever been zip-lining, but that would most likely include a lot of new infra structure as well.

            The funny part about adding a “new ski run” is that they don’t need to do that because they can basically go anywhere and ski as long as they don’t mind being in the trees. Mountain biking is much more contained.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty April 4, 2018 at 3:26 pm

              I’ve been ziplining, and, at least where I did it, there was very little on-ground impact. At a place like Timberline, you’d probably need to cut narrow channels through the forest similar to a series of bike trails, but with less erosion impact.

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              • Alex April 4, 2018 at 5:57 pm

                The number of trees impacted for the whole plan was something like 10-20. It wasn’t much. And as I said, it’s not like clear cutting a new ski trail.

                I don’t think most of these groups care, as long as they get to continue their experiences they enjoy. They don’t care about the environment as much they care about themselves.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 4, 2018 at 6:58 pm

                Why do they even care if people are mountain biking around Timberline? MTBers there are not ruining anyone’s wilderness experience. Do they just hate bicyclists? I suspect they would not equally object to people riding on the existing ski roads without using the lifts, or on the paved roads around the area. If so, it would suggest it’s not bicycles, or the company of bicyclists, that they oppose.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty April 4, 2018 at 3:29 pm

              The more important point is that I’m will to bet the opposition comes from making the mountain into more of a destination, with more mechanized amusements, not the fact that bicycles are involved.

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              • Greg Spencer April 5, 2018 at 9:19 am

                I’m with Hello, Kitty on this. Some of the commenters are trying to demonize groups who are cyclists’ natural allies just because of one campaign. Let’s have some perspective.

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              • Alex April 6, 2018 at 7:00 am

                “mechanized”. Lulz. Tell me how skis aren’t mechanical. Such tired and obvious misuse of language to specifically single out bikes while not saying bikes. What besides bikes falls under the category “mechanized”?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 6, 2018 at 9:26 am

                The lifts, not the bikes. In this context, resort skiing is just as mechanized. Would the SC object to people riding on the existing ski roads without the chairlifts? If you can show me they would support expansion of skiing, I’ll concede the point.

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              • Alex April 6, 2018 at 4:58 pm

                Sure – the lifts in this case and yes, mountain biking is banned up there on the PCT and other trails in the area. I can’t ride a bike up there.

                Having a conversation with you about something you seem to know very little about is more than a little frustrating. I would hope that you put as much effort into studying the topics you are talking about in these forums as you do typing responses here.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 6, 2018 at 11:02 pm

                I’m frustrated too because I can’t seem to communicate my basic point. I think you may misunderstand the perspective of groups like Sierra Club, and while it is clear you are highly invested in developing mountain biking on Mt. Hood, understanding your opponents would make you a more effective advocate.

                Or maybe I misunderstand, and the Sierra Club and BARK really don’t like bikes in general, and don’t object to more cars and chair lifts as long as the carry hikers. That seems unlikely, but it is possible.

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              • Alex April 9, 2018 at 8:03 pm

                I completely understand your point. Do I think they that they think they are diametrically opposed to bikes? No. They think they belong only on roads and that they are “concerned” about off-road use of bicycles. They list this as their concerns: “The Sierra Club is concerned about the effects of use of bicycles off-road. Concerns have been raised about effects such as soil erosion, impacts on plants and animals, displacement of other trail users, and impacts on other users’ safety and enjoyment.”

                So, it’s funny they bring up things like soil erosion, impacts on plants and animals – they cite no science. They don’t provide links to any research. Just nothing. In fact, all of the studies that I have read – and I have looked far and wide – have stated the impact is the same (or less) than hiking.

                The impact on “other trail users”. What other trail users? Hikers? Why should they have to tolerate other users. Equestrians? Why shouldn’t you get to bring a 1200 pound, non-native species into the woods who widens trails, post holes and is recognized by every study to have a much more negative impact on ecology. Please go look it up. Or just think about it – it’s pretty much common sense and some easy math.

                Other people’s safety? Ok? I guess? But the chances of them getting hurt driving their car to the trailhead is much more statistically significant than getting hurt on the trail from a mountain bike. It’s a little ridic. I would be fine to make it mandatory to have a passive bell to make people/animals aware of my presence to avoid that. Or share trails on specific days. Or really, there are many ways we can deal with this in a sane way rather than just a blanket ban.

                I would say, the whole language and tone of their publications in regards to off-road cycling is negative and it shows a disdain. Don’t take my word for it, google it and read it yourself.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 9, 2018 at 8:25 pm

                Here you make a reasoned argument, and actually address some of the concerns they’ve expressed. I don’t agree with all your points (and don’t support bikes on hiking trails), but I agree with some, and this is much more useful than just saying they hate bikes.

                There is, quite simply, a conflict between values; recreation/more intense use of the mountain vs. preservation of a more natural state. And you’ve won.

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              • Alex April 11, 2018 at 9:07 pm

                The whole point is that it isn’t more intense use. It is the same impact. It might increase load, but it isn’t a more intense use.

                I apologize for not making the arguments earlier. I feel like they get repeated over and over and over again – only to not be listened to. Honestly, I feel like your response still says to me that you don’t get it. But I digress.

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          • Alex April 4, 2018 at 12:11 pm

            Also, adding a new “ski run” is basically tantamount to clear-cutting a new swath of trees instead of pulling single trees out of the forest – it is orders of magnitude difference of impact.

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      • Chris I April 4, 2018 at 1:56 pm

        Did they sue when Timberline added the Jeff Flood lift?

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    • Hello, Kitty April 11, 2018 at 10:06 pm

      Going back to the “they hate biking” thread… I just happened on BARK’s website looking for something else, and here’s what they say about mountain biking:

      >>> Bark absolutely supports mountain biking as a way for people to get out and enjoy the forest. Over the past many years, Bark has worked to create more bike access in Mt. Hood National Forest by advocating, and securing funding, for road-to-trail conversions. Recently, we’ve partnered with mountain bike enthusiasts to protect the popular Dog River trail from logging impacts, and are advocating for new recreation areas that will provide more trails for mountain bikes. <<<

      They go on to distinguish mountain biking (that they support) from lift-assisted mountain biking (that they oppose, at least in this specific context) because of the historic context of the Lodge, and the profit-based nature of the project (related to concerns about accessibility), as well as a few other less unexpected reasons.

      I wish I had read this earlier, as this radically different from the way you described their position and attitude.

      Read it yourself:

      http://bark-out.org/project/timberline-mountainbike-trails-and-skills-park

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      • Brian April 12, 2018 at 9:43 am

        I want to believe that they see mountain bikers as allies, but I don’t have the same faith as you given the context (the Timberline lawsuit) and what I have read on their website by digging a little further. The quote you referenced reminds me of the man who vocally opposes mountain biking in Portland and begins with the statement, “I’m not against mountain biking, I own a 1984 Stumpjumper.”

        Though I’m grateful they were part of the group who helped to maintain the Dog River Trail, I’m skeptical that they did so to assist mountain bikers as it is also a very popular hiking trail. I think the mountain bikers just got lucky with this one.

        Regarding the road to multi-use trail conversions, I do not see any evidence that this has actually happened. If you know of any projects that have come to fruition that support mountain biking I would love to read about it. From their website:
        “Unfortunately the final plan did not arrive and in winter 2013 the road decommissioning increments were put on hold, stalling analysis for Increments 3 and 4, as well as implementation of all increments. Bark was quite excited when we were told the White River Decommissioning analysis would soon begin again – that is until the Forest Service released a new scoping letter in May of 2014 for Increment 3. This most recent proposal would decommission a mere ten miles of roads throughout the White River Watershed. This is less than two percent of the road network in the watershed (remember- the Forest Service says they will eventually need to remove half of the roads) and it a huge step back from the plan the agency initiated in 2010!”

        Looking at the review of the various road decommission projects listed on their website, there is no mention of cycling. I guess mountain bikers are considered “more” and “other recreationists.” It might help to sway cyclists to their side if they were explicitly mentioned.
        “By decommissioning unneeded roads, the Forest Service can focus its limited resources on maintaining the roads we use most to hike, swim, fish, gather mushrooms and more.”
        “We worked to incorporate the voices of community members, hikers, equestrians, and other recreationists into the final plan,”

        I want to believe that they do, in fact, support mountain biking as part of their mission. I’m just not yet convinced that that is the case. I’m willing to keep an open mind as they are one of the organizations I have followed since moving here and I do appreciate much of what they do.

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        • Hello, Kitty April 12, 2018 at 10:44 am

          Given that they have specific reasons for opposing the Timberline project, articulated on their website, whether they right or wrong, it is hardly surprising they would try to stop it via legal means.

          Regarding road to trail conversions, you are right. According to their website (which provides the total of my knowledge on this topic), they have been unable to get the Forest Service to cooperate, so the project has not made much progress. They did explicitly mention mountain biking in the material I read. It is likely true that they are more motivated by road removal than trail building, but so what?

          I do not believe that BARK is out there specifically advocating for mountain bikes — that’s not their role. But based on their own words, I don’t think they are anti-bike, and characterizing them as such for opposing one particular project on its merits is unfair. Maybe there is other evidence of bike hate I don’t know about. But even if the caricature of them portrayed here is accurate, they are still, as you say, fighting the good fight.

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          • Brian April 12, 2018 at 11:16 am

            But part of their mission is to advocate for “quiet recreation,” which they do to a significant degree with hiking. So, why not more explicitly with mountain biking? They could really broaden their base if they did so, IMO.

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      • Alex April 12, 2018 at 2:52 pm

        How do they feel about allowing mountain bikes in wilderness?

        Also, they say they support it, but I haven’t seen support. I have seen them fight it and maybe, at best, remain neutral in some areas. That’s not support to me – that’s just them picking their battles.

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        • Hello, Kitty April 12, 2018 at 3:24 pm

          I don’t know, and I don’t know why it’s relevant.

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        • Alex April 13, 2018 at 10:50 am

          Because I think it shows just how much they “support” mountain biking and the impact of it and how they put hiking over mountain biking even though the science doesn’t support it.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty April 13, 2018 at 4:59 pm

            Right. If bikes in wilderness areas is your litmus test, I’d wager most people here are anti-bike.

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            • Alex April 17, 2018 at 7:02 pm

              I don’t know about that. I think most people don’t care. I would argue, that my litmus test is this – what impact do bikes have on environment? Why are they banned from wilderness? Sometimes in the reality vs imagination war, imagination wins because people don’t understand the facts.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 17, 2018 at 11:26 pm

                Why are chainsaws restricted in wilderness areas? I would argue they have next to zero environmental impact — their prohibition does not change what ends up getting cut.

                My understanding of wilderness areas is that they are supposed to be primitive. Bikes aren’t. I don’t buy the argument that to not be anti-bike, you have to want people to ride in wilderness areas.

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              • Alex April 23, 2018 at 8:07 pm

                Again, you are bringing up a motorized thing up against a non-motorized thing. Chainsaws remove trees. Removing trees has impact. Chainsaws can easily start fires with how hot they get. Fires have a huge environmental impact. All that being said, the Forest Service sees value in using them there, too – http://methowvalleynews.com/2017/06/21/u-s-forest-service-seeks-ok-to-use-chain-saws-in-wilderness/

                Are horses “primitive”? What’s “primitive”? Is the the cave man diet primitave? Can you drink soda there? Are aluminum cans primitive? Can you bring plastic there? Where do you draw the line? What does primitive use mean? Are hiking boots primitive or can you only wear footwear you personally made instead of being manufactured by children in a 3rd world country?

                Again, “primitive” is pretty subjective and there really is no definition around that. The wild horses we have in the US were introduced by the Spaniards – is that primitive? (https://www.livescience.com/9589-surprising-history-america-wild-horses.html). I mean, a couple hundred years difference? I dunno. We basically have gravel roads driving to the center of wilderness and then designate that road non-wilderness. Is that “primitive”? Technically it isn’t wilderness, but for all intents and purposes, it is. Allowing dogs, which are known to have big impacts on the environment (both flora and fauna), is allowed – is that primitive?

                Let’s not just come up with some BS definition of wilderness, ignore the impacts on the environment and call it “primitive” because it suits our needs. I would rather work with our current knowledge, which greatly surpasses our knowledge of the environment of hundreds of years ago, and go with that.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 23, 2018 at 8:26 pm

                Chainsaws have no impact when clearing a fallen tree from a trail; it’s going to get cut, either by hand or by machine. The end result is the same.

                “Primitive” is subjective, I agree, but there is a pretty clear definition. Chainsaws and bikes are out, horses are in. It might not be where I’d draw the line, but the line is there.

                It doesn’t bother me that you want to ride bikes on wilderness trails. It does bother me that you label others as being anti-bike because they don’t agree with you. I am about as pro-bike as they come, and I fairly strongly oppose bike riding on wilderness trails.

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              • Alex April 24, 2018 at 1:16 pm

                False – chainsaws do have impact when removing a fallen tree. The loud engine noise scares animals, they pollute and the potential to start fires all exist.

                ““Primitive” is subjective, I agree, but there is a pretty clear definition. Chainsaws and bikes are out, horses are in. It might not be where I’d draw the line, but the line is there.”

                Well, no one talks about things – legally – as “primitive”. Horses weigh over 1000 lbs and have big negative environmental impact. I find it a little hilarious that just because something is “primitive” it would be ok to you even though it is actually more damaging to the environment and not naturally there. To me, that’s just subjective and, again, tyranny by the majority that isn’t based on anything objective/scientific.

                I would say if you are banning bikes because they aren’t “primitive”, but would allow non-primitive things that do more damage than bikes like horses and chainsaws – I would say that you are are anti-bike. Sorry/not-sorry it bothers you. It’s definitely not pro-bike and it definitely isn’t pro-science.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty April 26, 2018 at 10:57 am

                I know you’re not sorry (nor do you need to be). You’ve intertwined a rational position (make rules based on science) with a radical one (allow biking on wilderness trails).

                If you want to argue that horses do too much damage to trails, and should thus be restricted, you might have a good case, and I might be inclined to agree.

                If you want to fundamentally change the meaning of what a wilderness area is (an area where anything that does not degrade trails are permitted), a lot of pro-bike people, including myself, are going to oppose you.

                Claiming that people who oppose any restrictions on where you can ride are anti-bike just doesn’t pass the smell test. I am strongly pro-bike. I support restrictions on where people can ride. There is no contradiction.

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              • Brian April 26, 2018 at 1:52 pm

                How about you two meet in the middle? You can ride a mtb in wilderness if, and only if, you take a horse to get to the trail.

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  • Jim Lee April 4, 2018 at 8:25 am

    A “mechanism” is something with at least one moving part.

    Other things are “structures.”

    Bicycles are composed of structures and mechanisms. Most of the moving parts are in the chain.

    The only moving parts on skis are the bindings.

    A canoe itself is a structure, as is a paddle.

    I have no dog in this fight, but mountain biking is mechanized recreation in wilderness, just as motorcycles and snowmobiles are, but with an “organic” prime mover.

    There is a fundamental difference between boots and bikes on a trail.

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    • Brian April 4, 2018 at 8:38 am

      What about someone riding a bike and a competitive/endurance hiker with shock absorbing trekking poles and a GPS unit? Personally, I would put the cyclist in a category with the hiker rather than the motorcycle or snowmobile.

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    • Alex April 4, 2018 at 9:37 am

      Mechanism and mechanical refer to two different things. Skis have moving parts, it consists of the ski itself and the foot attached. It is that lever (the moving parts) that make it mechanical – and I guess since part of the mechanism is human – bio-mechanical.

      A canoe does not move by itself. It needs a paddle, which is a lever and requires a human to push it. That moving part is the paddle with a direct human interface.

      You bringing up these points are great as it shows a great deal of misunderstanding of what “mechanical” actually means and where one stops and the other starts. I am curious why you say you have “no dog in this fight”, but yet you fight – why?

      You made one big, bold claim at the end with no facts – “There is a fundamental difference between boots and bikes on a trail.” What is that fundamental difference? Is it that boots have a wider gait than bikes? Every time they move they essentially kick the trail instead of smoothly rolling over it? What is it? I am looking forward to hearing your answer.

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      • Alex April 4, 2018 at 10:02 am

        To make the point a bit more clear – if we removed the chain from a bike and the gears and simply rode downhill without that, would it be ok? I don’t think it would be, because it has more to do with the fact it is a rolling device and hikers don’t want to share their trails with that type of movement (which isn’t mechanical).

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    • Dan A April 4, 2018 at 10:46 am

      There is a fundamental difference between flip flops and hiking boots. There is a fundamental difference between 50lb kids and 250lb adults. There is a fundamental difference between a hiker group of 2 people and a packhorse group of 10 horses. All are currently allowed in the wilderness, with presumably different effects on the land they trod upon. Really, what is your point, other than aesthetics?

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    • Chris I April 4, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      Good thing the Timberline ski area is not a wilderness area…

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  • Jon April 4, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Look at the traffic going to and from Mt. Hood. In the winter there are hours long traffic jams and thousands of people taking mechanized lift rides all over Mt. Hood. Evidently this is ok with “conservation” groups. The same area proposes mountain bikers use the exact same mechanized lifts and it is a huge problem. The number of people utilizing these lifts for mountain biking will most likely be 10,000 times less than the number of skiers. I personally won’t be using these lift assisted trails but there are plenty of people that will and they won’t have to drive 3-7 hours one way to do this lift assisted riding which seems like a win for the environment. There will be far more people driving up to timberline to hike up to the top of the mountain then will use this lift service. If “conservation” groups want to preserve the mountain start with banning people from climbing to the top or better yet turn the whole mountain into a no humans zone instead.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty April 4, 2018 at 10:40 am

      I would bet that if there were an opportunity to scale back skiing on Mount Hood, the same groups will be pursuing it with great vigor. Why do you think they are okay with it?

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      • Alex April 4, 2018 at 12:13 pm

        Because, like the article I linked above from the sierra club, they sure don’t seem to mind taking a lift to the top to take in the view. It’s not “their” mountain, it’s everyone’s. They shouldn’t be able to dictate whether or not riding a bike on it is ok – the environmental impact should.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty April 5, 2018 at 11:19 am

          I agree. Why not address the real issues instead of claiming the Sierra Club hates bikes, which you know is not true. The environmental impact of constructing the new trails is likely minimal (especially compared to what’s already been done in the area). The environmental impact of expanding mechanized recreation on the mountain is more complex, and that’s what we should be discussing.

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          • bendite April 5, 2018 at 9:38 pm

            Does the mountain give a s*** if it’s mechanized or not? Doubt it. The impact it cares about is tread on dirt trail. The discussion should be about tread on dirt vs. hiking boot tread on dirt.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty April 6, 2018 at 4:06 am

              The discussion shouldn’t include the impact of more people driving to the mountain, more running the lifts, and higher intensity of use? Those factors may not outweigh the benefits of more recreation, but they shouldn’t be swept aside.

              Also, the mountain hates it when you anthropomorphize it.

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            • Alex April 6, 2018 at 4:56 pm

              Absolutely – let’s cut down usage and use permits and not base it on the mode of recreation. There are better, more fair ways and people need to realize their impacts on the land. Let’s start with the question – “what is the environmental impact we are allowing on this land per user/activity and what is the load the land can take?” From there you can start to write better rules and move to science based reasoning instead of bs propaganda from the hiker industrial complex.

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  • Brian April 5, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Greg Spencer
    I’m with Hello, Kitty on this. Some of the commenters are trying to demonize groups who are cyclists’ natural allies just because of one campaign. Let’s have some perspective.Recommended 0

    I hear what you are saying, and many of the commenters here on bikeportland have been demonized for the last twenty or so years simply for wanting more opportunity to ride a bicycle in our natural areas. Many feel that it is the groups who are denying this potential partnership based on the policies and stances taken over the last 20 years. I think it’s unfair to say that because of their current stance with regards to these groups that they lack perspective. Some of these people have dedicated huge amounts of their personal lives to this issue and are very well versed on the topic.
    Cheers!

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