In light of run-ins with angry couple, BLM will increase patrols, presence at Sandy Ridge

In light of run-ins with angry couple, BLM will increase patrols, presence at Sandy Ridge

Sandy Ridge loop-6

Riders at the Sandy Ridge parking lot.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Bureau of Land Management says they will step up patrols of the Sandy Ridge Trail System after reports of confrontations gained traction among local riding groups and in the media last week.

Last Tuesday, we reported that several users of the trails at Sandy Ridge claimed they were confronted by an “older couple.” The allegations described a man and a woman who had used mace on dogs owned by people riding mountain bikes. In one case, shared by a man named Chris Hess via a comment on BikePortland, the woman approached a family and pulled a stun gun on Mr. Hess’s wife “with her finger on the trigger sparkling it and taking steps towards her.”

We’ve been in contact with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office about the case and they’ve confirmed receipt of several complaints. On Friday, CCSO Lt. Robert Wurpes confirmed they have forwarded the case above to the Disrict Attorney for consideration of criminal charges.

Also on Friday, BLM Salem District Manager Kim Titus published a statement about the incidents:

The Sandy Ridge Trail System is growing in popularity, serving 60,000 visitors in 2013. The BLM Salem District strives to make it a family-friendly biking destination where riders of all ability levels can improve their skills and enjoy a day in the woods. As use increases, so too does the potential for conflicts between users.

The BLM has been made aware of reports of conflict between visitors. BLM law enforcement and recreation staff will be working with Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office to find a resolution. The BLM urges visitors with dogs to keep control of their animals at all times. We also ask that all visitors are polite and respectful of others and obey the posted rules and regulations. In the meantime, we’ll be increasing our law enforcement presence and promoting visitor education.

It’s no surprise the BLM is taking this matter seriously. Sandy Ridge and the greater Mt. Hood area is in the midst of a bicycling boom and the tourism dollars generated by trial users is an important part of the region’s economy.

Stay tuned for further developments.

— Watch video coverage of this story via KATU and KOIN.

CORRECTION: The initial version of this story described the incidents as “assaults.” That was a mistake. We are not aware of any physical harm to anyone as a result of these confrontations. At this point, if the allegations are true, the couple would be guilty of “Menacing,” a misdemeanor according to Oregon law.

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