With lawsuit dismissed, Timberline will break ground on new bike park this summer

Posted by on April 4th, 2018 at 9:44 am

Samples of trail work by Gravity Logic, the firm working with Timberline to build the new bike park.
(Photos: Gravity Logic)

Fresh off the dismissal of a lawsuit that has tied up their mountain bike park plans for nearly six years, Timberline announced this morning that they are “moving forward.”

“Timberline is very pleased with the Court’s decision and is excited to move forward.”
— Steve Kruse, GM of Mountain Operations at Timberline

In a new press release, Timberline said they are “very pleased with the Court’s decision” and they are “excited to move forward with lift-assisted mountain biking at Timberline Lodge and Ski Area.”

In her ruling dated March 31st, U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken found that the U.S. Forest Service has followed all applicable federal environmental laws. In her opinion, the complaints and suits filed by Portland-based nonprofit groups failed to raise substantive objections to the project on either ecological or procedural grounds.

Timberline’s General Manager for Mountain Operations Steve Kruse wrote in an email to me this morning that, “This is a good, environmentally sound project.” He also lauded U.S. Forest Service biologists and environmental analysts who “worked long and hard” and “in a very thorough fashion.”

We also heard from a representative of the plaintiffs (Sierra Club, Bark, Friends of Mount Hood, and Northwest Environmental Defense Center) yesterday after publishing our report. Crag Law Center Staff Attorney Oliver Stiefel said, “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.”

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The plan.

As per the Timberline’s plans first revealed in 2012, the project calls for 17 miles of bike-specific trails, a bike skills park, and chair-lifts to help riders reach trailheads.

The project will be built by Gravity Logic, a Whistler, Britsh Columbia-based company that has built very successful bike parks and trail systems all over the world.

In their statement today, Timberline also made it clear that they see themselves as stewards of Mt. Hood and that they, “remain committed to providing quality public recreation within the capabilities of the ecosystem.” The company sees the bike park — which they refer to as a “modest and carefully designed project” — as a key part of their plan to become a year-round destination. Once complete, the park is likely to create a significant economic boost to Oregon and the region. A 2006 study by the Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association found that the Whistler Mountain Bike Park generated $39.1 million in economic activity from its visitors in just one, four-month summer season.

The first phase of the new park will begin construction this summer and will include elements for riders of all interests and skill levels. In addition to a skills park and trail system, the Timberline Mountain Bike Park will include both natural and built riding features, jump lines, and a full service retail bike shop that will offer rentals. “Riders interested in being among the first to ride the park are encouraged to stay tuned at www.timberlinelodge.com.”

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

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38 Comments
  • Avatar
    JBone April 4, 2018 at 9:46 am

    YES! Thanks for persevering Timberline!!

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    Alex April 4, 2018 at 9:54 am

    This is great news! Considering it doesn’t sound like we will have any singletrack in Portland for the next 20-50 years. The city that works!

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      christopher April 4, 2018 at 10:16 am

      True. Stoked!

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      NC April 4, 2018 at 10:26 am

      From last night’s Portland Planning Bureau review of the Park Service’s Off-Road Master plan, “Well there isn’t any money in the budget, this a long term plan of 20 years and we might have raised some money by then” <- paraphrasing but very close to the Planning Bureau comments. The Park Service was much more positive and supportive and it's their plan, so we'll see.

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      I wear many hats April 4, 2018 at 11:04 am

      There is singletrack now. Ride it. No one can wait 25 years for the city to put in a lame steep fireroad conversion on FL 1. Be polite when you encounter other trail users. Peace.

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        Alex April 4, 2018 at 12:09 pm

        Oh, I do. 🙂 I will be dead before anything happens officially. Maybe creating a bit more ruckus will light a fire where it is needed.

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        flightlessbird April 4, 2018 at 12:14 pm

        After seeing the meeting last night, I can’t agree more. The only people who seem to be concerned about the topic seem to be those who don’t want to see any MTBing in portland and those who do. The most realistic hurdle is the city itself. Riding existing trail politely and responsibly does 2 things: 1, it allows you to continue to live in Portland without going completely insane and 2, it creates a “problem” for the city to fix. MTBing is the fastest growing outdoor activity. The city can do nothing while the trails get filled with bikes, or they can either invest in solutions or enforcement. Bikes are not going away whether there is funding or not.

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          Brian April 4, 2018 at 12:20 pm

          This is what I see potentially happening:
          1. Plan fails for any number of reasons
          2. Off-road cyclists begin riding where they want more frequently out of desperation
          3. This infuriates those who oppose mtb’ing
          4. The mtb opposition either sets up a dangerous trap that leads to serious injury, or
          5. There is an on-trail confrontation that leads to violence
          6. Portland, the “Platinum” bike city, makes national news for all the wrong reasons

          I hope I’m wrong.

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          Cyclekrieg April 4, 2018 at 1:00 pm

          There is a third option.

          Mountain bikers in Portland could “roll their own”, that is self-fund. Coming to the city with a bank account ready to go greases the wheels quite nicely. Its hard to say “no” when you have the money to make it happen.

          Its done all the time in the Eastern half of the USA. Heck, clubs sometimes buy their own land to build trails. See: http://www.nemba.org/trails/massachusetts/vietnam-milford

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            Eric H April 4, 2018 at 2:07 pm

            That’s pretty much what was done for Gateway Green (http://www.gatewaygreenpdx.org/) and yet here we are, fighting to get Lucy to finally not snatch the ball away just as we go to kick it.

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              Cyclekrieg April 4, 2018 at 2:57 pm

              What I was suggestioning that if NWTA came to Parks and said, “We have the money to hire a trail designer and builder,” it makes it easier to move ahead.

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                Eric H April 4, 2018 at 2:59 pm

                And I quote “Recognizing the need for additional design work in order to seek major grant funds, FoGG launched a crowdfunding campaign in September 2013 on Indiegogo to assist with the associated costs. At the end of the five week campaign, the community helped FoGG meet and exceed the goal to raise $100,000. Those funds were used to contract with with David Evans & Associates, GreenWorks and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) for additional design work on the proposed new park.”

                And yet, here we are.

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            Brian April 5, 2018 at 6:14 am

            Absolutely a possibility for the larger needs, but as you know we have some low hanging fruit that could significantly improve the riding scene with little cost and some volunteer effort. We have trail infrastructure in place that currently allows riding, it just sucks. It provides no challenge to the intermediate and above rider. With some trail enhancements some of these smaller networks could again become “ride to where you ride” destinations. Two that come to mind are Powell Butte and Mt Tabor.

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            bjorn April 6, 2018 at 10:26 am

            this has been tried many times including a decade ago in forest park. The money angle is a red herring, the city knows that if they allowed trail construction it would be largely paid for and done by volunteers, that argument convinced them to allow construction at gateway green which was a wasteland surrounded by freeways. Now it is a park surrounded by freeways, which is cool, but yeah this strategy isn’t working in Forest Park because of organized nimby homeowners who view the park as their private property.

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    Middle of the Road Guy April 4, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Not thrilled with BARK’s support of the lawsuit. I will probably pull my monthly donation to them. Sometimes, environmental groups just seem to say “No” to everything.

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      Jeff S(egundo) April 4, 2018 at 4:13 pm

      I’m a Bark member/supporter, but really felt they were misguided on this one, and told them so. The Mt. Hood National Forest is a big place, with lots of truly remote areas that need protection from clearcuts and misuse.

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        Middle of the Road Guy April 4, 2018 at 9:32 pm

        Completely agree.

        There is a demand for this type of activity – might as well leverage existing infrastructure (such as the roads getting there) to fulfill that demand rather than having unsanctioned riding.

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        bjorn April 6, 2018 at 10:28 am

        We shouldn’t forget about the Mazamas a group that actually took a hard look at what was proposed in a reasonably length of time and then withdrew their opposition. If BARK had joined them we’d probably have a bike park by now.

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      Johnny B. April 7, 2018 at 10:04 am

      Everyone: simply pull your donations to BARK, Sierra Club, Northwest Environmental Defense Center, and Friends of Mount Hood, and TELL THEM WHY you are withdrawing your support. Until these groups, and others, stop demonizing mountain biking – despite research showing impacts in line or less than other non-motorized recreational uses – they should receive no money from our, otherwise, like-minded two-wheeled user group.

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    Evan April 4, 2018 at 10:29 am

    Take the MHX to Timberline, ride the park, then descend to ZigZag to finish the day. This is incredible.

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      Paolo April 4, 2018 at 9:01 pm

      Yes but not too many bikes on the bus and 3 rides in the morning and 3 in the afternoon!!!

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    Charley April 4, 2018 at 11:35 am

    I think this is good. I’m a backcountry skier, alpine skier (season pass holder at Timberline), and a mountain biker. I should say, also, that I’m a hiker and mountaineer and environmentalist, as well. I acknowledge that any development on the mountain will have negative environmental effects, but I think that a diverse recreational profile of our public lands is an overall positive: when the loggers and miners and condo-builders come, we need as many people as possible to stand up for public wild lands. I think that the more people take advantage of our public recreational opportunities, the more people will advocate for conservation (in some places) and preservation (in other places). When it comes to mountain biking, specifically, I see that sport as a way to encourage younger people to get outside, especially boys. We need those young people to get off the couch, off the phone, and out into the woods. They’re not all going to want to go on wildflower hikes. How do you propose to keep the next generation from staying inside on their computers?

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      JBone April 4, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      Couldn’t agree more with this sentiment and others expressed here. I’ll reserve the majority of my comments for what I’m assuming will be Jonathan’s story on the ORCMP meeting yesterday, but the truth is, there is a groundswell of energy ready to erupt to promote youth cycling that addresses the equity and diversity concerns of the Parks Board.
      If any of ya’ll are interested, please check out Trips for Kids (https://www.tripsforkids.org) and NICA (http://www.nationalmtb.org) and consider getting involved.

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        I wear many hats April 4, 2018 at 2:08 pm

        Something’s got to give. No one in the room last night is going to wait 25 years to ride Fire Lane 1. The diversity argument is valid, but it was made in spite of the Parks’ Boards’ synopsis that stated the same arguments were made regarding skateboarding 25 years ago where it was dominated by white males. Now, the skate parks are very diverse, serving underserved communities of color, and the park’s board even stated that in their printed review. It was sad to see board members then bring up the diversity card though it was already explicitly addressed in the plan. To end the meeting on Tennis court funding made even less sense, given that we were discussing the ORCMP.

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 4, 2018 at 2:18 pm

          I wear many hats… Can you copy this comment over to the other post where it really belongs? Thanks!

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          NC April 5, 2018 at 10:13 am

          What’s the number of Tennis players vs. Urban bike riders?

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            Brian April 5, 2018 at 11:15 am

            672 tennis player and 590,96 urban cyclists.

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              I wear many hats April 5, 2018 at 12:05 pm

              but per the Parks Board, “Passage of the ORCMP does not indicate priority over other uses. . . . but we are in an economic downturn so no funding is available for bikes and we cannot forget about our tennis infrastructure”. Perhaps we can convert courts to bike parks?

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      Kyle Banerjee April 5, 2018 at 11:04 am

      “I think that a diverse recreational profile of our public lands is an overall positive: when the loggers and miners and condo-builders come, we need as many people as possible to stand up for public wild lands. I think that the more people take advantage of our public recreational opportunities, the more people will advocate for conservation (in some places) and preservation (in other places). When it comes to mountain biking, specifically, I see that sport as a way to encourage younger people to get outside, especially boys. We need those young people to get off the couch, off the phone, and out into the woods. ”

      Agreed that people need to feel a strong connection to areas to be interested in preserving them and that recreation can play an important role. I’m not so convinced projects like this contribute to that objective even if they might be worth doing for other reasons.

      I have been a outdoorsperson my entire life. My consistent observation is that activities that are really about the physicality, technical challenge, and belt notching rarely instill these values. Appreciation typically flows from reflection which is hard to do when an area is treated as a playground — which is not the same thing as learning to have fun in a natural area that requires knowledge as well as physical and technical capabilities to navigate.

      Especially in recent years, social media and advertising has contributed shift away from appreciating nature and towards one based on image and consumption. This mountain bike theme Outdoor Research ad pokes a little fun at the dynamic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEjyZPCdrdI

      My own feeling is that outdoor recreation is a good thing, but that human activity in needs to be managed. And yes, I agree with the concerns people raise about foot trails as well as the impact of bringing so many people into an area.

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      Johnny B. April 7, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Amen, brutha! I’ve got a 9 and 12 year old that can ride down trails better than most adult riders out there and have a great appreciation of the outdoors and protecting the environment. They didn’t get that way from some incredible genetic gift or from learning to ride from the XBox. They learned because their parents brought them out to the trails to ride, and bring them out to trail work parties. The easier we make it for other families to get to the trails, the more we instill an appreciation for our natural areas in the coming generation(s).

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    rick April 4, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    Great stuff. Professional engineering.

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    lil'stink April 4, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Sweet. I only hope the quality of the dirt and trails will be better than at Mt. Bachelor (not that I’m a big bike park guy). It would also be nice if Timberline allows customers the option of riding up if they choose.

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    rf April 4, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Do these opponent groups oppose the huge parking lot and tour busses at timberline lodge itself? That seems like a much bigger problem than a bike park.

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      emerson April 5, 2018 at 10:53 pm

      They likely do, and more development brings more traffic and more parking lots.

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    randolph April 5, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    this sort of ecologically invasive project really gives bikers a bad name. usually not a good sign if the sierra club is suing you. swing and a miss!

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      Alex April 6, 2018 at 6:47 am

      It’s funny you say that, because to me it just looks like a frivilous law suit that the Sierra Club lost. Hardly a phyrric win.

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      I wear many hats April 6, 2018 at 8:03 am

      The resort already has huge metal towers, strung with cable, that reside above the treeline, in alpine meadow habitat, year round. This modest transition to year round recreation, in an area that is already greatly impacted by people (Govy + T line), is an excellent way to rehab already clear cut (ski runs?) habitat, and to instill a love of the natural world in our citizens. The suits were misguided. The loggers and condo developers laugh all the way to the bank when the sierra club opposes recreation, rather than blatant exploitation of our natural world. I stopped giving to Sierra Club and BARK when they started this anti-MTB BS. Keep the condos and clear cuts out of the forest, not people.

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