NW Trail Alliance says Metro purchase puts Rocky Point access at risk

Singletrack like this is one of many reasons the Rocky Point trails are so popular.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Metro is considering using money from its $475 million 2019 parks and nature bond measure to purchase the Rocky Point Recreation area near Scappoose.

The NWTA says its priorities for Rocky Point differ from Metro’s.

Portland-based nonprofit Northwest Trail Alliance says that, as it stands, this purchase could put trail and nature access at Rocky Point at risk. The NWTA has done a lot of recent work to improve and build hiking and mountain biking trails at Rocky Point, and the organization says Metro has not yet indicated that maintaining the current level of trail access would be a priority if the property was under its jurisdiction.

“The way Metro is currently prioritizing its objectives for the purchase, it could eliminate access to the trail system NWTA created and managed at Rocky Point,” the NWTA says in a call to action.

The NWTA says that Metro is “selectively emphasizing water quality and fish/wildlife habitat objectives for the purchase, and downplaying broader Bond Measure objectives like investing in trails for biking and walking, and expanded access to nature.”

NWTA members support Metro’s acquisition of this property if it will maintain access to trails at Rocky Point as a priority.

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The NWTA has managed this property since July 2019, when they signed a lease agreement with Weyerhaeuser to oversee the site.

This was a big deal, because there aren’t a lot of other off-road bicycling opportunities near Portland. When the NWTA began managing the 3000 acre site, Portlanders could go mountain biking without having to travel very far. We’ve reported before on why this is meaningful, especially for people who don’t want to or can’t drive to other mountain biking trails.

NWTA is asking community members to fill out a Metro survey about the bond measure and ask the council to prioritize biking and walking trails and access to nature at Rocky Point.

“Tell Metro you love the Nature Trail Access you currently have, and you don’t want to lose access to those trails,” The NWTA says.

Some of the points the NWTA says it’s important to tell Metro in the survey include that “recreating 25 miles of biking and hiking trails elsewhere in the Metro region would be very costly” and that “losing 25 miles of trails would displace over 5,000 trail users to other overcrowded trails.”

“This is one of the most critical advocacy opportunities in the last decade for maintaining access to mountain bike trails,” the NWTA says.

The Metro survey is open until Feb. 20 and can be found here. The Rocky Point area is listed as Multnomah Channel Headwaters in the survey, which is number 17 in the survey’s target areas of interest list.

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Chris I
Chris I
4 months ago

The survey website doesn’t even mention that there are current uses for the space. Not encouraging.

JJ
JJ
4 months ago

Metro might be better served spending money and time on solutions to water quality in the Willamette, homelessness, equity in transportation, and drug abuse/mental health…than worrying about that are of watershed.

Steve Hash
Steve Hash
4 months ago

Yeah, this is not good news. The North Tualatin Mountains project is still under environmental review. If Metro does make the purchase, I would expect it to be immediately closed to public access (liability) until the years of study, planning, and, if they deem it appropriate, “improvements” are done.

Pedaling in PDX
Pedaling in PDX
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve Hash

Reading back on the North Tualatin project, I’m rather surprised at how the community at large has not fallen into the skater mentality discussed in the linked comments, i.e. ride where ever until they build infrastructure out of necessity. The comment that struck home for me was that we don’t have “organized dog park advocacy” for dog parks. People take their dogs into the park and to mitigate and centralize some of that traffic, the city develops dog parks.

Pedaling in PDX
Pedaling in PDX
4 months ago

Provided the worst case scenario, and these trails are lost to the community, NWTA points out that their userbase would be pushed into already overcrowded nearby trails. Reading between the lines that would mean more unsanctioned trails in the numerous parks that don’t allow bikes, and may fuel a negative feedback loop.

Would the best case scenario be Metro making the purchase and then allowing NWTA to continue their work? Gateway Green might be the only legitimate example of that current relationship, and I personally find it difficult to be optimistic that it would not turn out to be empty promises leading to trails being shut out to bikes more slowly.

Pedaling in PDX
Pedaling in PDX
4 months ago

To be clear, my pessimism did not stop me from following the NWTA’s advice in responding to the survey, and with no threats of trail piracy, thinly veiled or otherwise.

Jrdpdx
Jrdpdx
4 months ago

This is terrible news. The survey, as noted does not mention current use. Not using the name most folks know creates diversion and confusion. I also submitted w lots of notes, thanks for the heads up.

Toby
Toby
4 months ago

Really beyond disappointing that this is even a discussion or possibility.

maxD
maxD
4 months ago

There is certainly good cause for alarm. Metro does a very poor job at meeting the region’s recreational needs. They have a lot of talented ecologists and biologists on staff, but they are allowed to drive the agenda. They routinely buy property and exclude all people, or exclude people on bikes or people with dogs. While I laud Metro’s preservation, their refusal to accommodate recreation is causing more harm than good. Not meeting people’s recreational needs within the UGB causes people to seek recreation elsewhere. This harm the environment because people with means simply travel further. This hurts society becuase people without means are left unserved. In our current social situation with parks, riverfronts, natural areas and paths being occupied by homeless campers, the people without the means to travel to access nature or outside recreation are being hurt even worse.

TK
TK
4 months ago
Reply to  maxD

I agree. If I had known how metro would be managing many of the properties they acquired as a result of the bond measures, I may not have been as gung ho about supporting the measures. Likely would have done so anyway, but they appear to be managing the properties for only a segment of the 1 million plus metro population. I was out at the newly opened Chehalem Ridge Nature Park last week. it covers 1,250 acres. Bicycles are allowed on many of the trails, but not all. The place was packed, with the rather large parking area completely full and vehicles spilling over into the horse trailer parking area and also out onto the road. Dog’s on leashes are not allowed. My wife and I are responsible dog owners and have been avid bird watchers and into natural history for decades. The idea that leashed dogs are anymore of a disturbance to wildlife than the hoards of walkers, as well as horses, is ludicrous. This particular place was a tree farm at one time. The forest is in recovery mode and was a nice place to visit, but I likely have no interest in returning, as it fails to meet our needs.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  TK

I think this is pretty accurate. Metro seems to build for everyone and therefore no one. The largest user group will basically usurp the park and make it unusable for the others. The worst part about this is that they could then use this as a data point and say that mountain bikers aren’t using their trails and the demand is low.

Nick
Nick
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex

It’s worse than building for everyone/no one. Metro’s emphasis on habitat restoration seems to consistently override their stated goal of offering recreation/nature exposure for citizens. I’ve supported their bond measures based in large part on the promise of expanded recreational opportunities. I find it harder to see an “inherent value” argument in the properties that they buy, and I think they need to have a more balanced approach between restoration and active management for recreation. Existing area trails (for all users!) grow more crowded by the year and yet land managers like Metro (and Parks) consistently prioritize “habitat restoration” over access.

At the end of the day, I’ll continue to support purchasing land even if I don’t get to use it because I can see the value of conservation over more intensive development uses. This is a viewpoint that has been forged in large part due to the ready access I’ve had to urban-adjacent natural areas when living in other places. If Metro continues to limit access to public lands for reasonably low-impact recreation, I find it hard to believe future generations or new transplants will have the sort of exposure that it takes to foster any sort of conservation ethic.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  Nick

All fair points. It’s a very frustrating process from so many different aspects.

rick
rick
4 months ago
Reply to  TK

The metro area has gobs of dog parks and too many schools have dog poop.

JD
JD
4 months ago

I pay dues to NWTA, but they are woefully ill equipped to deal with anything related to Metro. Most of the wins they claim were made possible long ago.

The golf course already isn’t happy about Rocky Point. Like what happened with the North Tualatin project, the loud, rich NIMBYs will eat their lunch.

jeremiah jenkins
jeremiah jenkins
4 months ago

This area has been recently clear-cut and I can’t see any use for it in at least a couple decades. It’s a joke to think that the reason for the purchase is “selectively emphasizing water quality and fish/wildlife habitat objectives for the purchase”. A recently clearcut property has no value in this regard. This is just a way for Weyerhauser to maximize their tax write offs, and gives Metro a place to spend entitlements. I think Metro will do the right thing if they purchase the property. They have included trail planning in newly acquired properties out in Chehalem Ridge and Newell Creek. I think it’s unfortunate they couldn’t have acquired the property last year BEFORE Weyerhauser devastated the property and the existing trails.

Charley
Charley
4 months ago

I’m concerned about losing access, and agree that it’s too bad Metro is purchasing it only after Weyerhauser clear cut it… but I disagree that the property has little value after being cut. Metro is probably making very long term investments in the watershed here, and this property will be covered in forest in little time. Habitat restoration can proceed while the property is open to recreation. 100 years from now, the benefits of the preservation will have compounded. . . and there will be one less parcel subject to a market-driven logging schedule. I do think that’s valuable.

Eric H
Eric H
4 months ago

I’m not really shocked that NWTA got out smarted on this issue. It has been happening for years. I recall back in ’08, shortly after I moved to Portland, there being a big workday organized at Forest Park by Chris King and PUMP that was finally going to be the break through that got legitimate mountain biking into the area. That lead to nothing.
Then there was the redo of trails in Powell Butte that was going to improve mountain biking there. That lead to some horribly built trails and an overall reduction in trails open to mountain biking.
Then there was the Riverview fiasco. A big show of people protesting lead to a huge change in the way the city saw mountain biking (end sarcasm) and kicked off the ORCMP process. How did that process turn out? What happened to it?
And don’t forget that NWTA actively encouraged their membership to vote for this bond measure. Now they’ve been outflanked again. Don’t expect this to end well for them and in retrospect is probably wasn’t in their best interest in splitting from IMBA since having the support from a larger organization with a much deeper understanding of local policy could have been beneficial in this case.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  Eric H

While I agree with you on some matters, I also disagree on some. FP was basically a non-starter and I honestly think it was more of a judgment error from Chris King’s side than PUMP’s at the time.

Riverview was a classic Amanda Fritz move and that was pretty unpredictable. I still don’t think that there has been any legitimate reasons that was pulled made public. Were they outsmarted? I don’t know about that, they just had the rug pulled out from under them.

As far as IMBA goes, I think they have lost a lot of trail and the trail that they have gained isn’t the greatest trail, imo. It’s great for a certain part of the population, but not all. They also have not pushed hard for any sensible movement on the wilderness act.

I have said it 100x and will continue to say it; the only way we are going to get decent mountain biking trails in the metro area is by building them illegally and riding them. I am pretty certain policing them won’t be priority. I am much more scared by the violence coming from the hikers, birdwatchers, and the “environmentalists”, like what we have seen both in Portland and all over both the US and Canada.

cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex

I have said it 100x and will continue to say it; the only way we are going to get decent mountain biking trails in the metro area is by building them illegally and riding them.

That’s an excellent to piss off potential allies and build terrible trails that validate the opinions of folks who believe mountain bikers are bad land stewards.

I am much more scared by the violence coming from the hikers, birdwatchers, and the “environmentalists”, like what we have seen both in Portland and all over both the US and Canada.

I’ve never head of violent birders. It sounds like there is a lot of violence coming from ‘…hikers, birdwatchers, and the “environmentalists”…’ Can you give some examples of what you are talking about? Is the word environmentalist in scare quotes because you believe they don’t actually care about the environment?

Brian
Brian
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

This debate (work within the system versus against it) has occurred many, many times over the last 15+ years so all I will add is that some quality trails have been created by rogue builders over the years. Not all illegal trails are “terrible trails,” and some eventually get adopted. I have serious doubts that people in this area who believe mountain bikers are “bad land stewards” will ever be swayed.

cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago
Reply to  Brian

I have serious doubts that people in this area who believe mountain bikers are “bad land stewards” will ever be swayed.

Anyone he creates their own trail on public land is a bad land steward. Period.

Brian
Brian
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

That’s a different argument.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

This is a false argument, regardless of if you believe it or not. Sometimes the people controlling the land have ulterior motives and are themselves bad land stewards. Sometimes it takes someone breaking the rules to make a positive change. You can argue about it, but you aren’t going to change my mind on that one.

If you look at the history of mountain biking and trails (I don’t know how much mountain biking you have done), many, many rogue trails have been legalized and adopted. This has been a well-proven pattern.

The whole idea is to piss people off enough in order for them to change their stance and give access. It seems like somehow you missed that point. If you haven’t noticed, we are literally losing many miles of trails and playing “nice” sure hasn’t worked out for us. It has been pretty insane just how much the mtbers have not ridden or dug illegal trail (yes, I know there has been a couple incidences, but not many compared to other areas).

I can’t say what user groups have been setting the traps, but I can see any of them doing it because they don’t want to share the space – didn’t want to single one group out over the others. And TBF, it’s probably usually some NIMBY…and they probably hike and watch birds and ride horses and are an “environmentalist”…
https://katu.com/news/local/walkers-find-booby-trap-on-trail-near-forest-park-11-20-2015
https://unofficialnetworks.com/2021/11/12/mountain-bike-trail-saboteurs-busted/
https://bikeportland.org/2017/09/14/two-reports-of-tripwires-this-week-including-one-at-gateway-green-bike-park-243017
You can keep googling and find many examples from all over the place – there have been more around portland, just too lazy to do your googling for you.

cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex

If you look at the history of mountain biking and trails (I don’t know how much mountain biking you have done), many, many rogue trails have been legalized and adopted. This has been a well-proven pattern.

Hmm, I wonder what could contribute to the idea that mountain bikers are bad land stewards…

The whole idea is to piss people off enough in order for them to change their stance and give access.

Well, if we know one thing, its that pissing people off is the best way to get them to change their stance.

It sounds like you are set in stone, just don’t be surprised when bad behavior is cited as the reason to prohibit legal access to spaces.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

> Hmm, I wonder what could contribute to the idea that mountain bikers are bad land stewards…

Oh please. It’s mainly been a conflict between users. Hikers and equestrians have been around for longer and have very deep political ties and historical precedence. I understand why they don’t want to share their trails – I usually don’t love sharing it with them either. That being said, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get anything.

Well, if we know one thing, its that pissing people off is the best way to get them to change their stance.

> Well, if we know one thing, its that pissing people off is the best way to get them to change their stance.

It sure worked for the founding of this country. And a lot of trail access. What hasn’t been working has been playing by the rules of the current establishment. MTBers continue to lose many miles of trail while playing within their rules. There are basically only two options here, play by the rules, which has resulted in many years of losing trails or try something else.

> It sounds like you are set in stone, just don’t be surprised when bad behavior is cited as the reason to prohibit legal access to spaces.

I have seen what gets results. I don’t think you have been involved in any of this, but I would be happy to be proved wrong. It sounds like you know how to best solve the issues, but you haven’t put forth any ideas to actually solve the problem. I have. You can sit on your high horse and caste stones all you want, but until you actually say or do something that can actually be acted upon, your arguments don’t amount to much other than some lame judgment.

cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex

I have seen what gets results.

Building trails on forest service land and Weyerhauser properties, entities that manage millions of acres is going to be a different ball game that trying to build illegal trails on metro property

I don’t think you have been involved in any of this, but I would be happy to be proved wrong.

Just to be clear, Metro not only doesn’t own this property, but they also haven’t stated that the mountain bike trails would be shut down.

It sounds like you know how to best solve the issues, but you haven’t put forth any ideas to actually solve the problem.

Why do you think the Forest Park Conservancy has more say than the NWTA? People who work with land are going to have way more say than people who want to just put in trails. NWTA has worked very effectively with the Forest Service and Oregon State Parks both at Sandy Ridge and LL Stub Stewart. Hell, there was a federal cut out of land near Mt Hood just to protect bike access up there.

Illegal trails only work when the land manager either doesn’t care enough to stop it or doesn’t have the funding to stop it. Metro is neither. If I were you I’d continue working with Metro to maintain trail access, and as a due-paying NWTA member I hope thats what they continue to do to.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

> Why do you think the Forest Park Conservancy has more say than the NWTA?
I already answered that.

> Just to be clear, Metro not only doesn’t own this property, but they also haven’t stated that the mountain bike trails would be shut down.

I have been seen how metro works. I don’t want them to own it so they can’t make that decision.

>Illegal trails only work when the land manager either doesn’t care enough to stop it or doesn’t have the funding to stop it.

You think Portland is funding anything right now? They aren’t doing much to stop much. People have put in trails when things were more well-funded and more actively monitored. Also, there are trails to ride that don’t have to be built.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  lvc

There are too many incidents to account for all of them…There are more than enough Mike Vandeman’s out there scattered across the globe.

cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex

There are too many incidents to account for all of them…There are more than enough Mike Vandeman’s out there scattered across the globe.

My understanding from reading articles about this over the years is that it’s not ‘environmentalist, ‘hikers’, or ‘birders’ but people who specifically hate bikes. I don’t think it was an environmentalist who set the trip wires on the Eastbank path last year. When they find the person, its usually someone who lives near the trail who hates all the extra traffic.

It’s not like Earth First or the Audubon Society is out there sabotaging trails.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

Ok. From first hand involvement in the process, it definitely as been birders (members of the audobon society in the portland area have been very active in stopping more mtb access in FP) and ‘hikers’ and ‘environmentalists’ that specifically hate bikes because it encroaches on their recreational activity.

I think you should actually participate in the process and not just read those articles and feel like you know what is actually going on. You could read the singletrack advisory committee’s results where the public voted in favor of adding more mtb access to forest park, but was overridden by those very same political groups. I believe there were members that essentially represented each of those groups that sat on that board. It really feels like you are talking out of your depth of knowledge, but again, perhaps I am wrong. Maybe I have seen at metro, city council, and parks meetings advocating for? or against? mountain biking and just never knew it was you.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Excuse me, I didn’t mean to say that the audobon society, etc had involvement in violence; only that they were very actively bike haters. OF course they all said they weren’t. I think Audobon society, or at least certain members, do their sabotage in meetings.

My intention was merely to say that these groups are all have a sizeable mountain bike haters contingency, and I am sure some of the people identified as members of some of those groups.

cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Ok. From first hand involvement in the process, it definitely as been birders (members of the audobon society in the portland area have been very active in stopping more mtb access in FP) and ‘hikers’ and ‘environmentalists’ that specifically hate bikes because it encroaches on their recreational activity.

I mean mountain bike trails aren’t environmentally neutral. They probably don’t like mountain bikes for the same reason I hate dirt bikes and snowmobiles, I see them as unnecessarily invasive in nature. Now, I personally think the trade off is worth it for mountain bikes. I mountain bike myself and I’m not sold on mountain bikes in Forest Park because the land, especially closer to Portland is already stressed with crowds and trash. Mountain bikes would mean more trailheads and more traffic because mountain bikers tend to bike to trailheads.

I think you should actually participate in the process and not just read those articles and feel like you know what is actually going on.

I think you might be confused. Do we know each other? I’m not sure why you think we do.

You could read the singletrack advisory committee’s results where the public voted in favor of adding more mtb access to forest park, but was overridden by those very same political groups.

The ‘public’ voted when?

I believe there were members that essentially represented each of those groups that sat on that board

I’m not sure what you are talking about. Are you talking about a committee made up of community stakeholder?

It really feels like you are talking out of your depth of knowledge, but again, perhaps I am wrong.

Ha, well we can go toe to toe. Why don’t you figure out what you mean by ‘public vote’ and I’ll give you an education on how public agencies work.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

> Ha, well we can go toe to toe. Why don’t you figure out what you mean by ‘public vote’ and I’ll give you an education on how public agencies work.

Thanks for trying to gaslight me! Obviously you haven’t been too involved in the process. I specifically said the public voted in the singletrack advisory committee process. You don’t even know enough about what happened there to know that they had an open house and let the public vote on bike access in Forest Park. But please tell me how involved you have been, how deep your knowledge is, and keep lecturing me on how know things work. It’s pretty cool.

cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Thanks for trying to gaslight me!

I’m not gaslighting you, I’m trying to help you work through your confused statements.

I specifically said the public voted in the singletrack advisory committee process.

Here is what you wrote

” You could read the singletrack advisory committee’s results where the public voted in favor of adding more mtb access to forest park”

The ‘public’ didn’t vote for anything. Members of the advisory committee, which is distinctly different than the public adopted a report. Usually when one says ‘the public voted’, they mean voted in an election, using their right to vote.

You should have said, “You could read the singletrack advisory committee’s results where the advisory committee adopted a plan that recommended adding more mtb access to forest park”

That would be an accurate and less confusing.

You don’t even know enough about what happened there to know that they had an open house and let the public vote on bike access in Forest Park

You can read my earlier comment. I told you to clarify what you meant by ‘public vote’ because I was sure you were using that term wrong and I was right. Words matter and if you use them effectively other people can understand what you are saying.

But please tell me how involved you have been, how deep your knowledge is, and keep lecturing me on how know things work. It’s pretty cool.

I mean, you don’t understand the difference between an advisory committee and the actual public and think the results of an open house are a ‘public vote’. Hopefully you aren’t a leader in this space, but if you were it would example one of why the mountain biking community is losing space.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  cmh89

Hi Alex and cmh89,

I’m just butting in here to remind you that personal back-and-forths can deter others from engaging with a thread. Also please remain respectful of one another and focus your energy on your views and the other person (if that makes sense). And remember it’s ok to disagree and not get the last word. Thanks for helping us keep the comment sections useful and productive to everyone.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

The public did vote at an open house as part of the of the advisory committee’s process. Want to know how I know? I was there.

Cyclekrieg
Cyclekrieg
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

So, cmh89, have you ever been to a city that has an integrated urban mountain biking trails system? Like one where trails are legal and there is a real relationship between the users (in this case mountain bikers) and the city? If so, where?

I ask this because while you are claiming to be a mountain biker, it seems like you are busy giving voice to a lot of anti-mountain biker sentiment in Portland. I doubt that is your intent.

Let’s be clear here: there are smart ways and dumb ways to do urban mountain biking. And honestly, I’m not sure if land managers and, to far lesser degree, NWTA knowns that. Because if you go to cities that have urban mountain biking, its actually neither the current vision of City of Portland/Metro, etc. Neither is it what local mountain bikers seem to want/build if given the chance, either. Its very different then either vision. Yes, there are a lot of cool trails right out your back door, but with the types of management controls local land managers seem to be dumbfounded by. Yet on the other side of the coin, those trails are more of a “East Coast” style trails. Things like true loops with equal parts up and down (no winch-n-drop riding), directionality, no free ride structures and an emphasis on all users. None of what works in places with urban mountain biking coming out their ears seems to be on anyone’s radar, which is hampering an already uphill climb. No offense to any one, but you are John Q. Metro Employee and you saw this video: https://youtu.be/Ibz9AVUnSMc , how high on your list would be maintaining the existing trails?

cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago
Reply to  Cyclekrieg

I ask this because while you are claiming to be a mountain biker, it seems like you are busy giving voice to a lot of anti-mountain biker sentiment in Portland. I doubt that is your intent.

I’m not ‘giving voice’ to anti-mountain biker sentiment. It’s possible to care about multiple things at once. I enjoy riding my mountain bike, I’d like to do it closer to home, especially because I live near Forest Park. But I also walk the trails of Forest Park and see how degraded the they are. I see the trash. I see the congested trailheads and desire paths all over, and I worry about the effect even more usage will have on the land.

Perhaps you could flip the narrative in your head and rethink the problem? You’ve convinced yourself that they just hate mountain bikers, and some of them might. But you should ask yourself, why should the Audubon Society or Forest Park Conservancy or any other group that values and uses Forest Park support mountain bikes?

There is no upside to them. It’s literally just more users and more degradation of the land. When is the last time NWTA or the mountain bike community showed up to remove English Ivy? Whens the last time the mountain bike community organized a trash clean up in Forest Park?

Try to put yourself in others perspective and see it how they see it. It’ll help

SERider
SERider
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

“There is no upside to them. It’s literally just more users and more degradation of the land. When is the last time NWTA or the mountain bike community showed up to remove English Ivy? Whens the last time the mountain bike community organized a trash clean up in Forest Park?”

Again just a lazy narrative that isn’t even accurate. MTBs show up and volunteer to take care of trails. That’s what they did in rebuilding trails at Riverview before access was then yanked from them. There is upside because now you’ve just enfranchised a whole new group of volunteers to help maintain, build, and clean trails. Right now those people are disillusioned with the city, so I’m not surprised they aren’t making a huge effort to “give back”, given how they’ve been treated in the past.

Here’s an example at Powell Butte: https://nw-trail.org/powell-butte-work-party-recap/

Brian
Brian
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

I organized one a while back. We all rode out to Linnton to pull ivy from a trail we are not allowed to ride. It was a great day.
Many of show up to already-organized events (you may just not recognize us as mtb’ers), and choose to organize our own events at other areas such as Gateway Green. There is most certainly an upside to additional volunteer labor, additional equipment, additional financial resources and some of the most knowledgable trail builders in our community. Imagine if those hiker-only, degraded trails in Forest Park were taken care of and maintained regularly by the mtb community. Despite the additional usage, I believe they would be in better condition with better partnerships.

Cyclekrieg
Cyclekrieg
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

Those are great questions! I will answer them.

But, first the argument you are articulating is that more people (in this case mountain bikers) automatically mean more problems (trash, etc.). So lets back up here a bit. If you look at a place like Knoxville, TN or Duluth, MN (which I have chosen because they are the largest urban trail networks in the USA) the land managers just aren’t building trails and turning the hordes loose. There are requirements for mountain bikers to continue having access to those trails – not purely trail maintenance, but doing things like restoration or trash pickup. This makes mountain bikers an asset, not a liability. That is what I meant by saying that that local land managers don’t seem to think about management controls.

It’s possible to care about multiple things at once.

I do too. Due paying member of Rewilding Institute & Nature Conservancy here. You can like things and learn to balance them.

But I also walk the trails of Forest Park and see how degraded the they are. I see the trash. I see the congested trailheads and desire paths all over, and I worry about the effect even more usage will have on the land.

Good, you just articulated the reasons for holistic management and using the potential access by a group as the catalyst for change. For instance, my local trail group is required to remove social trails (“desire trails”) BEFORE we can do other work. This means that we become hawks about social trails and shut that down ASAP. Our desire for something is used as carrot to get us to do something for the land manager. The result: social trails or illegal trail building become socially unacceptable because it hurts your activity.

But you should ask yourself, why should the Audubon Society or Forest Park Conservancy or any other group that values and uses Forest Park support mountain bikes?

Well, perception is reality. If some group is coming to these groups and telling them about how much they care about this and that, they need to make sure they don’t do anything that nukes those statements. See previous Jeff Kendell-Weed video. If the perception is that a group says X, but does Y, that is reality. But… if local mountain bikers could articulate a complete management and process method that addresses their concerns, then this becomes easier. We will get Marcy Houle to to love bikes in the woods? No. But, we can make her position look stupid and peel off the people that can make the decisions from her viewpoint. That might mean focusing hard on what other places do as examples, it might mean changing who is designing trails, it might mean focusing on small scale wins in the short run.

Since you will ask, if I was Lord Emperor of NWTA, what would be my plan? 1) Walk away from the Off Road Master Plan, its a trap. 2) Find and buy a piece of Portland, OR adjacent property, get a trail designer from one of these places that has done urban trails for awhile, build the trails and then donate it to Parks/Metro (with convents preventing trail loss). This provides a template to use in the future. 3) Be willing to pressure then bejesus out Parks to get Fritz’s ‘no bikes’ order rescinded at Riverview. Meanwhile, hire a real trail designer (again, from a city with good trails) to design a workable trail system and not the deathtrap shown in the master plan for the park. Come to parks with cash and plans in hand. 4) Repeat step 3 on Powell Butte. 5) All this will disprove all the crazy ramblings of antis and grow NWTA, allowing for the trench run on Forest Park. Do the horse trading required to get 400-500 acres of Forest Park available for a 20 mile trail system in return for a conservation easement on the remaining 4600-4500 acres that would prevent any new uses forever. Feel free to steal this!

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

> Whens the last time the mountain bike community organized a trash clean up in Forest Park?

This is such backwards thinking. Every time the mtb community has tried to help FP, it has been rewarded with absolutely nothing. Lucy pulling the football has been used time and again as a metaphor for how Portland has interacted with mountain bikers and you think that if MTBers just keep showing up cleaning up trash, there will be forward movement? We spent years cleaning up ivy, picking trash, and investing a ton of time and money in RVNA and they pulled support right from under us. MTBers have historically had the highest participation rate of trail maintenance, cleanup, etc.

If this is you trying to help, I would be very curious what it looks like when you are against something.

SERider
SERider
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

“I mean mountain bike trails aren’t environmentally neutral. They probably don’t like mountain bikes for the same reason I hate dirt bikes and snowmobiles, I see them as unnecessarily invasive in nature.”

Multiple studies have demonstrated that on properly built trails MTBs have no more impact than hikers. Attempting to lump MTBs in with dirt bikes and snowmobiles is lazy and incorrect.

Cyclekrieg
Cyclekrieg
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

My understanding from reading articles about this over the years is that it’s not ‘environmentalist, ‘hikers’, or ‘birders’ but people who specifically hate bikes. I don’t think it was an environmentalist who set the trip wires on the Eastbank path last year. When they find the person, its usually someone who lives near the trail who hates all the extra traffic.

The people doing the attacking consider themselves environmentalists, even if you and I might consider them a person that hates bikers. People like Mike Vandeman, Tinke Kraal, etc. And locals like John Miller openly praise and defend these people, making one wonder if they too would be open to harming mountain bikers.

cmh89
cmh89
4 months ago
Reply to  Cyclekrieg

The people doing the attacking consider themselves environmentalists, even if you and I might consider them a person that hates bikers.

I’d be extremely careful if I were you when it comes to painting a massive group such as environmentalist, birders, and hikers with such a broad brush.

Like I said, people like Mike Vandeman are the exception. Most environmentalist or birders are not attacking people on trails and to describe them that way is probably a bad idea because they could easily turn around and paint all mountain bikers by the worst.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

But you are ok painting mountain bikers as bad land stewards? Sounds great!

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  cmh89

I put “environmentalist” in quotes because there are many people that consider mountain biking as not a “green” sport and they wash their arguments in environmentalism. In fact, if you have participated in any of the mountain biking access around Portland, you would have seen this patter. Biologists arguing that mountain biking could contribute to the warming of the Willamette at the base of RVNA to frogs getting stuck in MTB treads in Forest Park trying to make it to the Willamette up there. I, for one, have never seen a frog get stuck in a mountain bike track and everything I have ever read about the impact of cycling on trails, is about the same impact as hiking. Happy to review any studies that you have that goes against either of those arguments, but I would prefer to not just be greenwashed by “environmentalists”.

maxD
maxD
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Metro’s hyperbole about dogs and bikes is so frustrating! They cherrypick science and publish articles like they are just being objective when they are really just creating propaganda. What is actually harmful to ecology? Roads/cars/trucks. Greenfield development. Invasive species. Ivy is degrading habitat many times more than all the dogs of Portland! After that, Humans and cats and pest control rank higher than dogs. Dogs, bikes and people all have impacts, that is undeniable. But the impacts can be mitigated to the point where they are acceptable. Depriving people access to nature is not worth the tradeoff of excluding people from our public lands.

Matt
Matt
4 months ago

That survey sucks. The amount of time and knowledge that would be required to answer it meaningfully excludes the vast, vast majority of people from participating.

plm
plm
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

NWTA has a detailed walkthrough of the survey on their site. But yeah, totally agree the survey sucks

maxD
maxD
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

100% agree- those maps are the worst I have seen a public agency produce

plm
plm
4 months ago

Man, kind of a crap week for Portland cycling; the passings of Bud Clark and John Joy (one of the original trail builders at Rocky Point). And now the threat of the closure of his legacy. So, rather than drench my day in bummer sauce, I hit up Rocky Point and had an amazing day soaking up the work of dozens and dozens of volunteers who created this awesome trail network. I found myself stopping more than usual, I couldn’t help myself from taking in the beauty of it all. I’m thankful I’ve been able to enjoy it for the past few years. The bittersweet knowledge that this was all maintained and permitted by the agreement with the landowner, and they had to close parcels intermittently for tree harvesting. Trails would disappear, but then be reimagined after the operations were done. Always changing, and always improving.

If you’ve never been, you can get a glimpse of what it’s all about, you can do it on foot too (bikers and hikers get along here). Take the trail up Andyland to the top knoll and check out the 5 mountain view, not to mention the city skyline. Do the survey. Trail access needs to be preserved.

Bill
Bill
4 months ago

I moved here from Salt Lake City 12 years ago. I have been so disappointed with the progress of building mountain biking trails in Portland’s nearby hills. At nearly every turn in the last 15 years or so NWTA has worked in good faith to create mountain biking trails and nearly every time city and/or metro officials have strung them along then deny any new trails that were planned. Salt Lake City and surrounding suburban cities have actively invested in building mountain biking trails. Now there is a contiguous network of trails all along the hills there. The same with many other cities. I just keep thinking of all the trails that we could be riding in the hills around here but were denied years ago by a few powerful and insular interests.

bjorn
bjorn
4 months ago
Reply to  Bill

How do we still only have one Gateway Green style park? I live nearby and I am not sure I have ever not seen a line for the pump track. So much demand for trails and local governments have closed more than they have opened since I moved here.

 
 
4 months ago
Reply to  Bill

I took the exact opposite path, moving to SLC from Portland. I’m not a mountain biker at all, never have and have zero desire to. But the trail system in the foothills around SLC is absolutely incredible. And best of all, users of all modes (hikers, runners, and mountain bikers) are all able to share the trails respectfully. On the many, many runs and hikes I’ve done, many of which are on shared-use hike/bike trails, I’m not sure I’ve had a single confrontational encounter with a mountain biker (in contrast, I’ve had many with entitled off-leash dog owners).

Just goes to show that if the trail network is there, people will respectfully use it. Portland is really lagging behind in building mountain bike trails.

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to   

It’s pretty incredible how far and fast Portland has fallen off this compared to so many other cities. It’s just sad at this point.

SERider
SERider
4 months ago
Reply to  Alex

I wouldn’t say “fallen”. Has Portland ever been great for mountain biking??

Alex
Alex
4 months ago
Reply to  SERider

Nope – but we have lost miles of mtb access and the other cities weren’t there either. Fallen is all relative to what everyone else has been doing.

Kurt
Kurt
4 months ago

This will be the straw that broke the camels back for me. If they close these trails I will ride them everyday. I will ride whatever trails I want in forest park. I won’t care who I piss off, in fact I may enjoy it at this point.

Charley
Charley
4 months ago

Well, even if we lose Rocky Point, at least we have Gateway Green!*

If Rocky Point follows the path of Riverview, that would be a great loss. It would also be completely unnecessary: recreation is compatible with the kind of habitat restoration the property needs, and maintaining the existing trails would be the least disruptive way to maintain public access.

I’m generally in favor of joining existing power structures and bending them in a more equitable, just direction (I am Mr. Respectability Politics), but the way local government has treated NWTA and the local MTB community makes me think twice. I’ve never been a fan of “rogue trails” (no one calls any hiking trails “rogue,” but such unplanned hiking trails exist all over the region), or “poaching” (for hikers, this is called “off trail travel” or exploring). But when local governments are so perverse as to purchase properties and then exclude people who have been recreating there for decades, we need to think more creatively.

Some organized civil disobedience might be called for. Individual riders ignoring trail closures does no good. A few kids heading into a park with a shovel will probably yield a crappy trail and a ton of crappy press, gleefully made viral by Audubon activists. But leaders of the local mtb community should consider activities that would, in a fun, non-threatening way, show the community that we care about these lands, and might move the needle on access.

There’s a long history of environmentalist actors (governments, NGO’s) working to actively exclude local human communities from newly designated preserves and parks. That’s a toxic path, complete with racist and classist motivations. Metro should follow a different path: purchase the property and work with NWTA to maintain access, while restoring the habitat.

*(I’m kidding. GG is great, and it’s a real testament to what energetic community leaders can accomplish.)

bjorn
bjorn
4 months ago
Reply to  Charley

It is too bad that gateway green can’t get the kind of protection for bikes that riverview did for banning bikes. Everytime I turn around they are closing half the park to tear it apart. Really we can’t even maintain the level of service at gateway green which is a specifically designated bike park, seems like it will continue to be even harder at shared use parks.

Ron
Ron
4 months ago
Reply to  Charley

“(for hikers, this is called “off trail travel” or exploring)” AKA bushwacking. Unlike illegal Mt. Bike trails, this is can be an LNT activity.

Charley
Charley
4 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Ron- it’s true that off-trail-travel can be LNT, but the reality is that many off trail destinations have only one feasible or obvious off-trail route. So the reality is that there is often a path of denuded ground that marks that route. Sometimes it’s a braided path, which is even worse; often the “trails” are just deep, fall-line ruts, subject to severe erosion. I know this first hand, because I’ve been climbing mountains in Oregon and Washington for a while now, and it’s rare to find an “off-trail” scramble that doesn’t, in 2022, have an unofficial boot path.

In our region, mountain climbing generates much more of this kind of erosion and plant loss than rogue MTB trail building, yet mountaineering receives none of the public opprobrium and little of the pushback from land managers. (Exceptions include Crater Lake NP, which has made travel to one of its peaks illegal, except when the peak is covered by continuous snow).

It’s even more galling to me, considering that these high mountain boot paths often scar incredibly fragile, rare, alpine meadows, (which climate change is turning into high-elevation ecological refuges for climate sensitive species), while rogue MTB trails are often built near urban areas, in highly impacted, previously logged forests. These locations are decidedly not rare.

In both cases, land managers should create sustainable trails that allow the public to recreate on wild lands. That would be a far more equitable and ecologically sustainable situation.

Charley
Charley
4 months ago
Reply to  Ron

I should add:
The differences in the responses to unofficial mtb trails and unofficial hiking/climbing trails reveals that the angry and exclusionary response to mtb use is not based on ecological science. Instead, it’s an artifact of social class: “normal,” upstanding citizens (Sierra Club members, say) get a pass for booting through a high elevation meadow to get to a peak that is a two hundred mile drive from their home, but only “lower class” people would hump a shovel and chain saw into a recently logged, industrial forest near their home to make a bike trail.

Once seen, that dichotomy is hard to unsee. I may be wrong, but I would guess that the managerial ranks of Metro and the City of Portland are filled with the former kind of people, and not the latter. I don’t mean to denigrate the work they do: someone does actually need to be defending the region’s ecology, and it takes a college education to understand the science best! But I do think their decisions reflect values that are informed by implicit class biases.

Lisa
Lisa
4 months ago

I hope whoever acquires it makes sure it gets back into stewardship of the tribes
#LandBack

Charley
Charley
4 months ago
Reply to  Lisa

If a tribe or nation wanted to operate it as an affordable, fee-based mtb/hiking destination, that might just be a win-win.