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League night isn’t just for bowlers: MTB group launches monthly social event

League night isn’t just for bowlers: MTB group launches monthly social event

mtbleague

MtBike League official flyer.

Having a place to talk about bikes with other people who love bikes is an essential building block of successful advocacy. While opportunities to talk about urban and utility-oriented cycling abound in Portland, up until now there has not been a go-to place for those whose prefer their cycling to happen off-road.

Looking to build a stronger culture and community around mountain biking, a leader with Portland’s non-profit off-road cycling advocacy group Northwest Trail Alliance is starting MtBike League. The first of what will become a monthly event happens tonight (11/12) at 6:00 pm at Velo Cult.

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Brian Baumann with the Trail Alliance says it’ll be purely social. A Sheboygan, Wisconsin native, Baumann said he recalls that every adult back in the day had their league night; whether it was pool, darts, softball, or bowling. “And nothing interrupted League Night,” he said.

“Daughter has a parent-teacher conference? ‘Sorry, that’s League Night.’ Your buddy needs help rebuilding his carburetor so he can get to work the next day? ‘Sorry man, that’s League Night.’” reads the event’s description.

MtBike League night will be the second Thursday of every month. Show up and expect movies, tire swaps, drinks, and “BS’ing about bikes”. Check NW-Trail.org for more info.

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


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Challenge to River View biking ban dismissed by State Land Use Board

Challenge to River View biking ban dismissed by State Land Use Board

River View Protest Ride-25

A decision to prohibit biking at River View
Natural Area sparked large protests.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals has dismissed a case that sought to reverse a decision to prohibit bicycling at River View Natural Area.

The case was filed back in March by the Portland-based non-profit Northwest Trail Alliance.

In their 12-page decision published on June 3rd (PDF here, scroll down for embed) LUBA explains that the case does not fit within the bounds of their jurisdiction because the City of Portland’s actions did not constitute a land use decision. LUBA said that local governments, acting in their capacity as “custodian and manager of public lands,” are withing their legal right to make decisions that restrict public access.

Here’s a snip from the decision:

“For example, a city parks bureau may decide to close trails within a public park to dog-walkers, in order to avoid conflict with other users, to prevent harm to wildlife, or for many other reasons that have little or nothing to do with land use planning or regulation, and which may not be governed by any standards at all.”

The legal action came on the heels of a decision made on March 2nd by by Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Bureau of Environmental Services Commissioner Nick Fish. After a long and collaborative process to determine the future of trail uses at River View, NWTA reps were summoned to a meeting and told — without warning or detailed explanation — that biking would be banned until further notice.

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NWTA Board President Kelsey Cardwell said at the time of the LUBA filing, “We would much rather continue in that partnership to resolve this issue. However, the gravity of this decision, the lack of justification, and the lack of answers has led the board to believe that the next right step is to take legal action.”

“We agree with the city the March 2, 2015 letter does not appear to concern the application or amendment of any statewide planning goal, comprehensive plan provision or land use regulation, and for that reason does not constitute a ‘land use decision’.”
— Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals

A key argument that the Trail Alliance’s case stood upon was a disagreement over whether the March 2nd memo about the bike ban issued by the City constituted a final decision (versus a temporary one), which is one of the thresholds a case must meet to be considered by LUBA.

The Trail Alliance argued that the ban on biking at River View is a de facto final decision, “because it purports to permanently close existing trails that were previously open to mountain bikes*, and permanently exclude mountain biking from consideration as a potential use within the RVNA in the current land use management planning process.”

(*There is some debate over the idea that the trails were “previously open to mountain bikes.” For decades prior to the city’s purchase of the 146-acre parcel in 2011, people rode bikes on the trails. However, the previous landowner says they were trespassing. Then, after the city purchased the land, biking was allowed.)

The City made it known publicly via a statement on their website and after the publication of their initial memo, that the decision wasn’t meant to be final. They have maintained all along that biking is prohibited only while, “a citywide assessment of appropriate places for cycling is funded and completed.” (Since then, the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan has been funded and work to complete it is underway.)

After looking at both sides, LUBA agreed with the Trail Alliance that the City has not proven that the decision was only temporary. “However,” they wrote in their decision, “we agree with the city the March 2, 2015 letter does not appear to concern the application or amendment of any statewide planning goal, comprehensive plan provision or land use regulation, and for that reason does not constitute a ‘land use decision’.”

The Trail Alliance has chosen to not appeal this case any further.

Aaron Berne, the lawyer who represented the Trail Alliance on the case, told the Willamette Week newspaper, “We’re optimistic that they’ll reconsider their decision to ban mountain bikes. Mountain biking was the longest-standing and most popular use at River View.”


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City files motion to dismiss River View land use case

City files motion to dismiss River View land use case

Riding and working at Riverview property-3

Photo taken in August 2012,
before biking was illegal.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland says the State Land Use Board of Appeals has no jurisdiction over its decision to prohibit bicycling on trails at River View Natural Area.

In a “motion to dismiss” filed on April 13th (which we obtained through a public records request, PDF here), Chief Deputy City Attorney Kathryn Beaumont argues that Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish acted within their “managerial discretion” when they informed the community via a letter on March 2nd that bicycling would no longer be allowed on the 146 acre parcel.

The decision shocked riders and biking advocates. People have been riding the trails at River View for decades. And, following its purchase by the City of Portland in 2011, advocates were working in partnership with the Portland Parks & Recreation and Environmental Services bureaus on a management and trails plan under the assumption that bicycle trails would be allowed. The Northwest Trail Alliance, a Portland-based non-profit that builds, maintains and promotes off-road bike trails, responded by filing a Notice of Intent to Appeal with the State Land Use Board of Appeals on March 23rd.

“Pursuant to Metro’s conservation easement, the City retains the right to regulate use of the property consistent with its intent to operate the RVNA as “an open space, natural area.”

But Beaumont says the Trail Alliance is barking up the wrong tree. In the motion to dismiss she writes, “It is neither a land use decision nor a final determination of any kind. Whether it is reviewable in any forum is questionable. If it is, that forum is not LUBA.”

Commissioners Fritz and Fish first said they made the decision due to “an abundance of caution and to protect the City’s investment,” in the natural area. That vague rationale was then followed by a more clear insistence that the bicycle ban was necessary due to an old lawsuit about whether the parcel was purchased as a watershed or recreational asset. Now, as explained in the motion to dismiss, the City says the decision was made because of an existing conservation easement owned by Metro.

Metro paid $2.25 million of the $11.25 total purchase price in order to hold a conservation easement over the property. That easement is a contractual agreement that requires the land to “be retained forever predominantly in its natural condition” and to make sure that no activities on the land interfere with its “conservation values.” It also lists several potential uses of the property that are compatible with the agreement.

Here’s how the City refers to the Metro easement in their filing with LUBA:

Among the activities allowed under the conservation easement are “public access for nature based recreation, such as hiking or nature watching, environmental education and research.” Pursuant to Metro’s conservation easement, the City retains the right to regulate use of the property consistent with its intent to operate the RVNA as “an open space, natural area.”

While Metro’s conservation easement does not mention cycling specifically as an approved use, it also does not say cycling is incompatible.

According to a source at Metro (who didn’t want to go on record), nothing in the easement prohibits cycling. They’ve left the language purposely vague so that local managers of the property can make their own decisions about access. “As long as it upholds the spirit of the easement we don’t step in,” our source said.

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Metro has a representative on the River View Technical Advisory Committee — the same committee that agreed to allow bicycle access back in June 2014.

Back to the City’s motion to dismiss. Here’s how the City attorneys further explain the bicycling ban:

PPR and BES became aware that mountain bikers were using RVNA for off-road mountain biking both before and after the City purchased the property. As is often the case, BES and PPR were faced with several competing priorities: to maintain RVNA’s water quality and ecological functions, to complete long-term planning for the RVNA, and to address the mountain biking community’s desire for places to engage in nature-based mountain biking… Fish and Fritz concluded the best way to fairly balance these priorities is to halt mountain biking activity until the natural area management plan is completed and a citywide off-road cycling plan is funded and developed.

The City’s argument rests on two key points: First, that it’s not a land use decision and therefore not LUBA’s jurisdiction; and second, that the decision is not final (LUBA will only consider cases where the decision is final).

Here’s their argument about how it’s not a land use decision:

“Neither the City’s comprehensive plan nor the zoning code regulate the subject of the March 2nd letter: who may use city-owned property and for what purpose. As a result, there is no applicable comprehensive plan or zoning code provision Commissioners Fish and Fritz are legally required to apply or failed to apply in deciding whether mountain biking may or may not occur in the RVNA… The letter simply informs stakeholders the commissioners are exercising their managerial discretion to halt one activity — mountain biking — in the RVNA for now.”

According to 1000 Friends of Oregon’s Citizen’s Guide LUBA, there are some cases where the board will consider decisions that aren’t clearly defined as land use decisions:

An action by a local government that does not fit the statutory definition of a land use decision would still be appealable to LUBA if it would “create an actual, qualitatively or quantitatively significant impact on present or future land uses.”

NW Trail Alliance’s attorney Aaron Berne (a graduate of Lewis & Clark College who used to ride the River View trails on a daily basis) said the law is written in a way to give LUBA some leeway. “They are leaving an opportunity for a case to be heard if it is was in some sort of circumstance they haven’t thought of yet… they also think it would be crazy not to hear this case just because it doesn’t fit statutory definition.”

To the finality question, as we reported last month, the March 2nd memo from Commissioners Fritz and Fish could reasonably be construed as a final decision. “Mountain biking will no longer be an allowed use at RVNA as of March 16th,” they wrote.

It was only in a follow-up posted online when Fritz (perhaps thinking ahead to a potential LUBA appeal?) wrote, “We are not saying River View will never be used for mountain biking, rather just not now, before the citywide assessment of appropriate places for cycling is funded and completed.” (That follow-up was important enough for the City’s attorney to call it out in the motion to dismiss.)

Berne says he expected the City to try and get the case dismissed. He’s still working on his counter-argument but said he still believes the case meets the merits of a land use decision and that LUBA is the proper forum to appeal the decision.

In addition to the motion to dismiss, the City has simultaneously filed a motion to extend the time they’re given to file a record of information about how they reached their decision (a procedural requirement for all LUBA cases). That timeline has been suspended pending the outcome of the City’s motion to dismiss.

Berne says the NW Trail Alliance will file their response by the end of this month.

Stay tuned.

— In other River View news… The minutes from the April 8th Project Advisory Committee meeting have not yet been published. An open house event will be held on Monday, May 4th from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at the Multnomah Arts Center (7688 SW Capitol Highway). Read more of our coverage here.

The post City files motion to dismiss River View land use case appeared first on BikePortland.org.

River View advisory committee forces Parks to address biking, access issues

River View advisory committee forces Parks to address biking, access issues

riverview-pAC-group

Back to work.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

On Wednesday of last week, the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau hosted a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting for the River View Natural Area. It was the first such meeting in 14 months for the group charged with developing a management plan for the 146-acre parcel.

Mountain bike advocates have been eager to re-engage with the process and learn more about why their activity was banned by Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish last month. (Prior to the city’s purchase of River View, Portlanders had ridden bikes on its many trails for over two decades.) That decision came without warning and was made completely outside of the established public process.

The decision has made Portland a national embarrassment.

While he can’t keep Portland’s anti-mountain biking stances out of the headlines, at Wednesday’s meeting Parks Director Mike Abbaté did his best to make sure the topic of biking remained out of the public process around River View.

Here’s Abbaté attempt at doing that in his opening address to the committee and the assembled public:

riverview-ABBATE

Parks Bureau Director Mike Abbaté.

“Tonight, we can’t address the change in policy direction that restricts mountain biking use on the site. That’s not the topic of the meeting tonight and we’re not going to talk about that… What we’re really here for today is moving forward the planning process that protects the natural resources of the site and compatible uses. As such, bicycling will not be considered — yay or nay — as part of this management plan.”

Several times in the course of the meeting, Abbaté and Parks planner Emily Roth were forced to repeat that they could not talk about the mountain biking decision.

“Why is cycling considered not compatible?” asked committee member and Northwest Trail Alliance representative Brian Baumann. “We have not made that decision,” Roth replied. “Then why is it restricted?” Baumann followed, “At this time, we’re just not allowed to talk about it at this moment.”

I tracked down Parks Director Abbaté when he left and asked him myself. “I can’t talk about it Jonathan, I just can’t talk about it,” he said.

This echoes what Parks announced in early April when they re-opened the public process. They also told their Technical Advisory Committee to carry on without biking in the mix.

The silence around cycling is likely due to the pending legal action against the city by the Northwest Trail Alliance.

Even before that legal filing, Abbaté, Roth, and their boss, Parks Commissioner Fritz, wanted all discussions of mountain biking in city parks to happen within the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan process. Yet despite talking like the plan is inevitable, it isn’t funded and it remains to be seen whether City Council will authorize its $350,000 price tag.

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This sudden silence around cycling was a bit awkward on Wednesday because two members of Project Advisory Committee (PAC) were there specifically to represent the activity: Charlie Sponsel, a professional rider; and Baumann with the Northwest Trail Alliance. Sponsel recently led a large protest rally in River View and it’s Baumann’s group that has filed an intent to appeal the Commissioners’ bike ban decision with the State’s Land-Use Board of Appeals.

“I’m not sure about the wisdom of finalizing the trail system before we’ve finalized the decision of trail uses.”
— Jay Withgott, Audubon Society of Portland

After Abbaté’s opening remarks, Sponsel asked the obvious question: “If we’re not going to discuss mountain biking, why are Brian and I here and how are you hoping we can contribute?”

Abbaté replied by telling Sponsel his perspective should not be “narrowly defined to focus on bike issues” and that his input in the River View process could help inform the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan.

Sponsel was very active during the meeting. He dogged Parks staff with a constant stream of questions that forced them to address not just bicycling’s future at River View but a myriad of other trail and access issues. His questions, combined with Baumann’s clear voice of opposition, resulted in a meeting that ended up with some positives for bike advocates, not to mention a few more supporters.

For Parks, the meeting didn’t go as planned. Instead of moving forward and getting committee endorsements of their draft trail plan prior to an upcoming open house event on May 4th, they’ve been left with more work to do and some tough questions to ponder.

Once the committee got to work, Parks’ Natural Resources Planner Emily Roth (she was also the agency’s point person on the Forest Park singletrack process) introduced the latest “access concept” map. This map shows two phases of a hiking-only trail that runs just over four miles and stays mostly around the outside edge of the parcel.

riveviewlead

Detail of Parks’ draft “access concept” for River View.

This draft map raises concerns for bike advocates for several reasons: It was created (mostly) in secret by the Technical Advisory Committee without input from the PAC; it includes no trails built for bicycling; and it leaves a large interior section of the parcel devoid of public access.

On the other side of the debate, Jennifer Seamans, manager of the Southwest Watershed Resource Center, offered support for Parks’ current plan. “There are very few or no other areas like this in the city,” she said, “This is an unprecedented opportunity for a relatively in-tact watershed and I think Parks is right to recommend that we protect that interior habitat.”

The decision to endorse the draft access map is important, because of something Roth made clear at the outset meeting. “If, through the citywide mountain bike plan, River View is selected as an appropriate site,” she said, “the final recommended trail concept [approved by the PAC], will not change.”

Since whatever management plan and access map is approved by the PAC will be set in stone, much of the discussion on Wednesday centered around an effort by Baumann, Sponsel, and other supporters of cycling on the committee, to not preclude bike access or additional trails in the future.

In a discussion about the design of the trails in the draft plan (presented by Steve Roelof of ESA Vigil-Agrimis), Baumann from the NW Trail Alliance said any trail design that doesn’t have biking in mind might be a de facto prohibition (because some trails designed for hiking might not be suitable for bike use). “I’m concerned that if we’re not forward thinking about that, we’re putting this plan forward and eliminating the possibility of other uses in the future.”

Both Baumann and Sponsel made it clear that the current draft trail plan falls far short of what they’d like to see.

Here’s more from Bauman from an email he sent us after the meeting:

“The current plan calls for approximately four miles of trails. Even if these are to become multi-use, I feel this Plan falls miserably short of meetings the needs of cyclists… Mountain bikers have different trail needs than hikers, and if these trails are built for hikers (as they will be since cyclists are banned) they will not be quality trails for cyclists if/when they are allowed back into RVNA [River View Natural Area]. It will become Powell Butte West, which is not what cyclists want to experience. If the plan remains at 4 miles of shared use trails (assuming cyclists are added into the mix in the future), we may have overcrowding leading to user conflict.”

riverivewpac-crowd

The public was allowed to comment at the end of the meeting.

At one point, as Baumann and Sponsel both expressed grave concerns that the existing plan would make it almost impossible to go back and add more biking access later, Abbaté stepped in and tried to soften Roth’s stance that the PAC’s adopted plan would be final. He wanted them to think that even if the plan goes through, it could always be changed at a future date.

“In the world we live in, nothing is forever,” he said. “Plans and policies that get adopted by city council get amended and modified… And that’s part of a democratic process.”

This did nothing to quell the fears of Sponsel and Baumann. They felt like Parks was trying to set them up for failure. Here’s how Sponsel replied to Abbaté:

“If this is a ‘forever plan,’ I’m trying to figure out if trail expansion is possible under this existing document. Because to change this existing document you’d be asking mountain bikers to not pay attention to the ecological prescriptions in this document…that’s a completely un-winnable argument. There’s no scenario where mountain bikers win by telling people to ignore ecological prescriptions, so it’s a de-facto ban forever for trail expansion. Or is it?”

Sponsel then proposed that the PAC endorse a new trail — one not in the current draft plan — that would go down the middle of the parcel (and not cross any streams).

The discussion that followed exposed how tricky and messy this process has gotten.

Roth, the Parks planner, says since biking is not currently considered a “compatible recreational use,” it cannot be considered in developing this trail plan. And when this trail plan is adopted by the PAC, Roth says it would be set in stone. But, what if a potential Off-Road Cycling Plan finds that biking is compatible at River View? Would the City and advocates have to then go through an entirely new process to amend the management plan?

That’s a question that Roth and the Parks bureau don’t seem to have fully thought through.

Jay Withgott, the committee’s representative from the Audubon Society of Portland, supports Parks’ conservation stance, but even he raised concerns about pre-empting future bike access. “I’m not sure about the wisdom of finalizing the trail system before we’ve finalized the decision of trail uses.”

To that end, Baumann then remarked, “If we’re going to make an educated trail plan here, doesn’t it make sense to do it all at once instead of doing hiking now and trying to do bicycling later?”

Roth tried to clarify by saying that even if the PAC endorsed a new trail in the middle of the parcel, the committee would have to assume it’s a hiking trail because biking can’t technically be even considered at this time.

Because bicycling is a “a restricted use at this time,” Roth said, the only option for the PAC is to endorse the existing draft access map and possibly add language to the management plan that would leave the door open for new trails in the future. There wasn’t much support for simply adding what would be an empty, one-line promise to the plan.

Or, as Baumann put it to me after the meeting,

“I felt the language that was being considered was too weak and open for interpretation that could be used against our desired outcomes. It did not mention the word “cycling,” nor did it include a timeline or even a requirement for doing so. In other words, the language included nothing measurable thereby reducing accountability for Parks to our desired outcomes as a user group.”

When asked by Sponsel if there were other access plans that were considered or that didn’t make the cut, Roth said no.

“For this process we didn’t give options,” Roth said. “We looked at the criteria and asked: ‘What is the best plan that could meet that criteria?’” Sponsel replied by saying, “Well, if that’s the plan that fits the criteria, do we really have a choice? If that’s the best a team of trained trail designers can come up with than there really isn’t a choice here.”

riverviewpac_maddy

Aaron and Maddy Malone.

This debate fostered skepticism about Parks’ plan and seemed to win Sponsel and Baumann support on the committee. Steve Manton, a park neighbor, said he doesn’t want to see the door closed on future bike access at the park. Another committee member and nearby resident Chris Sautter said he also wants another trail in the middle of the parcel. “I like the idea of more loops… whether I’m walking or biking or running. Having more choices is great.” Mauricio Villarreal, a member of the Portland Parks Board and the committee, also supported the consideration of bike access in the future.

Since this PAC is only an advisory body and not able to make decisions, nothing was finalized on Wednesday. Parks hasn’t scheduled the next PAC meeting and their version of the notes have not been published yet.

At the end of the meeting, the public was allowed to make comments. Several people stood up to support cycling. One of them was Aaron Malone. He had sat through the entire two-plus hour meeting with his 20-month old daughter in his arms. “This is my daughter Maddy,” he announced to everyone in the room, “If this area is off-limits to mountain biking, where is she going to ride?”

The next step in this process is a public open house on May 4th. Parks hopes to have a draft plan in front of City Council by the end of September. Read all our River View coverage here.

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River View bike ban: NW Trail Alliance takes legal action against City of Portland – UPDATED

River View bike ban: NW Trail Alliance takes legal action against City of Portland – UPDATED

nwta-lubalead

The Portland-based non-profit Northwest Trail Alliance has decided to take legal action in response to the City of Portland’s decision to ban bicycling in the River View Natural Area. Yesterday, the group filed a Notice of Intent to Appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (PDF).

In a letter to their 1,000 members explaining why they’ve taken this step, the Northwest Trail Alliance Board of Directors said they “strongly believe” the decision published in a March 2nd memo by Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish was made, “in the absence of due process and without any rational basis for exclusion.”

“… the gravity of this decision, the lack of justification, and the lack of answers has led the board to believe that the next right step is to take legal action.”
– Kelsey Cardwell, Northwest Trail Alliance board president

“Citing only a vague ‘abundance of caution,’” the letter states, “the commissioners sidestepped the planning process initiated in 2013. Subsequent communications provided by the commissioners fail to address our questions and concerns.”

In a press release, NWTA Board President Kelsey Cardwell made it clear that she’d much rather work with the city and not have to file an appeal, but the way this decision has been handled by Fritz and Fish has left them no other choice. “For years we have worked with the city in good faith,” she wrote, “and we would much rather continue in that partnership to resolve this issue. However, the gravity of this decision, the lack of justification, and the lack of answers has led the board to believe that the next right step is to take legal action.”

The initial paperwork to file the intent to appeal has cost $400 so far. To help them wade through the complicated land-use appeal process, the NWTA has hired lawyer Aaron Berne of Harris Berne Christensen LLP.

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River View Protest Ride-26

A protest ride in River View on March 16th drew over 300 people.
(Photo: J Maus/BikePortland)

From here, the City of Portland has 21 days to deliver “the record of local proceeding” to LUBA. This record should contain all the information the City used to inform their decision. If necessary, the NWTA would then have 14 days to question or object to the contents of the record and the City would get another 14 days to respond. Once the record has been settled and received by LUBA, the NWTA would have three weeks to submit their official petition and the City of Portland gets twice that long to file their brief. After hearing oral arguments from both sides, LUBA would then make a final decision.

The ultimate LUBA finding will take one of three forms: An approval of the city’s decision, a reversal of it, or a “remand” of the decision where they’d send it back to the city for further consideration.

It’s unlikely LUBA would issue a reversal in this case because no clear violation of law or breach of jurisdiction has taken place. A remand, or a “do-over,” makes much more sense. According to the land-use experts at 1000 Friends of Oregon, here are some situations where LUBA would remand a case:

“LUBA will also remand a decision if the local government fails to follow proper procedures to such an extent that the failure ‘prejudiced the substantial rights of the Petitioner.’

LUBA will remand a decision that is not ‘supported by substantial evidence in the whole record.’ This means that LUBA will send a decision back to the local government if (1) there was virtually no evidence to support the decision, or (2) the supporting evidence was so undermined by other evidence that it was unreasonable for the local government to decide as it did.”

In the River View case, the NWTA does seem to have had their rights violated. They were led all along to believe that bicycling would be allowed in the 146-acre parcel, only to be blindsided by the commissioners’ decision. As we’ve reported, even members of the Parks Board were unaware of the bike ban. One member, Jim Owen, was so disturbed by it that he asked Parks Director Mike Abbate if there was a way they could “re-open the conversation” about it in order to accept more feedback.

Documents we’ve obtained through a public records request show that as late as June 2014 the city planned to build bike trails at the site, only to abruptly halt the public process a few months later.

In the past few weeks, Commissioners Fritz and Fish have offered no evidence to support their decision other than vague references to conservation concerns (which have no basis in science) and what they refer to as an “active lawsuit.”

Also noteworthy as we head into this appeal process is that the NWTA’s lawyer has included the March 2nd memo from Commissioners Fritz and Fish as the official decision they plan to appeal. This is important because LUBA requires that the decision to be appealed is a “final” decision, not a temporary one. Then recall shortly after the March 2nd memo was released, when Commissioner Fritz posted a follow-up message to the River View website where she appeared to try and backpedal from the decision:

“We are not saying River View will never be used for mountain biking, rather just not now, before the citywide assessment of appropriate places for cycling is funded and completed.”

Was Fritz advised to do make that statement by city attorneys specifically in hopes of staving off a LUBA fight? This is just one of the issues that will hopefully get hashed out in the weeks to come.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 11:24 am: The NWTA has just released an open letter to members and supporters. I’ve posted it in its entirety below:

An Open Letter to Our Members and Supporters,

Yesterday, the Northwest Trail Alliance filed a Notice of Intent to Appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals regarding the recent mountain bike ban in the River View Natural Area. We did so because the Board of Directors strongly believes that the decision to ban bikes was made by City Commissioners Fritz and Fish in the absence of due process and without any rational basis for exclusion. Citing only a vague “abundance of caution,” the commissioners sidestepped the planning process initiated in 2013. Subsequent communications provided by the commissioners fail to address our questions and concerns.

We do not take this action lightly. We would much rather work in partnership with the City to resolve the issue. However, the gravity of this decision, the lack of justification, and the lack of answers has lead the board to take legal action. We simply cannot stand idle.

NWTA was first notified about the change in policy at River View in a meeting with representatives from Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) and the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) offices on March 2. Understandably, we were caught off guard by this announcement, having participated in the planning process until it was halted abruptly in August 2014.

We empathize with the community’s frustration with this decision. We have observed displays of dissatisfaction in various forms, including the recent protest ride at River View on March 16. These reactions represent frustration not only with this decision, but also the glaring lack of progress on the topic of access to natural surface trails in the City of Portland over the past decade or more. We encourage our members and supporters to continue to make their voices heard in an appropriate fashion. At the same time, we cannot condone and strongly discourage any acts which defy current regulations related to trail access. As frustrating as it has been, we are committed to working within the system.

In addition to filing this appeal, we have leveraged our collective voices to apply pressure on the City to reconsider this decision:

  • We continue to actively engage with the commissioners and their staff to maintain an open dialogue. We submitted specific questions regarding the process and justification for the ban. To date, we have not received a satisfactory explanation. (http://nw-trail.org/?q=node/7886)
  • We continue to engage with Mayor Hales’ office to encourage his direct involvement in this change in policy, and the larger issue of trail access in Portland.
  • NWTA members testified before the Parks board two days after the decision. Surprisingly, the Parks Board was not made aware of the decision beforehand and expressed concern about this abrupt change in policy.
  • NWTA also testified at a City Council meeting about what cyclists can bring to the table when allowed in our green spaces. (https://www.facebook.com/nwtrail/posts/867238923318203)
  • We are actively employing social and traditional media to build awareness and support. Encouragingly, the Oregonian and other news outlets have covered this issue, and a recent Oregonian editorial strongly criticized the City’s actions. We anticipate continued local, regional and national coverage on this issue. (http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/portland_sticks_it_to_mountain.html#incart_river)
  • We worked with our parent organization, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and their partner organizations PeopleforBikes and the League of American Bicyclists to weigh in on this issue. On March 18, these organizations delivered a joint letter to the commissioners and Mayor Hales expressing their dissatisfaction with the recent decision. (http://bikeleague.org/content/league-supports-portland-mountain-bikers).
  • While not officially involved in the River View Protest Ride, many of our members and supporters were present. It was a strong show of support with over 300 people participating. We received positive response from the City and other entities regarding our right to protest, our message, and the way it played out in a mature and controlled manner. (http://www.katu.com/news/local/Mountain-bikers-test-new-ban-on-trail-riding-at-River-View-Natural-Area-296527051.html?tab=video&c=y)
  • We continue to monitor the work of the River View Technical Advisory committee. We attempted to attend the River View Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting, but we were refused entry on grounds it was not a public meeting.
  • We will continue to participate as a member of the Project Advisory Committee scheduled to reconvene on April 8.

Mountain Bike Master Plan and Larger Efforts

Over the past several years, NWTA has engaged with PP&R and the City in good faith in an effort to increase access to singletrack. Previous efforts, including those of the Forest Park Singletrack Advisory Committee, haven’t resulted in any progress on the ground. In fact, the amount of singletrack trail open to cyclists within the City has decreased over the past decade. The River View ban would decrease access even further, which is why the issue is of such great importance.

The timing of the River View decision is particularly troublesome, given that NWTA is actively lobbying for the City to fund an off-road cycling master plan. NWTA initiated the funding for the proposal by presenting a petition signed by close to 3,000 supporters to the Parks Budget Advisory Committee. We continue to lobby for its funding, and are hopeful that Mayor Hales will include this funding in his final budget request. Should that happen, we are confident that we will have support from a majority of City Council.

While Commissioners Fritz and Fish did order the closure of River View, they also pledged to support funding for the off-road cycling plan. This pledge should be seen as a positive offer and we should agree to support their initiative and willingness to move forward with a larger solution.

We need a master plan because we need a roadmap for the future of off-road cycling in Portland. Without a master plan, access will continue to be limited. We anticipate it will be a lengthy process, and while we are not excited about a delay in progress, we recognize it is a critical element to protect and grow access.

As unfortunate as it is, the River View decision is another important event in our continued advocacy efforts. It has galvanized our community, and brought attention to the issue at a local and national level. We will continue to leverage this visibility to further our long-term goals of delivering a “ride to ride” experience in the City of Portland.

There are reasons to be optimistic. Our collective voice continues to get stronger. Public agencies recognize a benefit in providing cyclists access to natural surface trails, and to an active, healthy recreation. The majority understand how conservation and recreation can coexist by applying current recreation and resource management tools. They also recognize the significant enthusiasm and resources the mountain biking community brings to the table, particularly valuable in an era of constrained budgets.

Rest assured that while our focus has most recently been on River View issue and access in the City of Portland, we haven’t lost sight of the organizations’ larger mission of advocating for sustainable trails throughout the region. We’ve had numerous successes in recent history, including the development of a world class bike only network at Sandy Ridge, and the continued development of a trail system at Stub Stewart State Park. We continue to work collaboratively with our partner agencies Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Oregon State Parks, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Port of Cascade Locks, and others to expand and improve riding opportunities within the region.

We appreciate your continued support, and encourage you to follow these issues closely and make your voices heard. Together we are stronger.

Please lend your voice to this cause by sending a letter to Mayor Hales. We’ve included below a letter that you should customize with pieces of your own personal story. We have already filled in talking points about the Mayor’s priorities: “complete neighborhoods” and “equity and opportunity.”

Ride On!

Board of Directors
Northwest Trail Alliance

“Dear Mayor Hales,

As an avid cyclist, I would like to bring two issues to your attention. First, I urge you to support the off-road cycling master plan in your budget. I believe in healthy, active, livable communities and I promote the concept of “ride to your ride.”

I also want to alert you to Commissioners Fish and Fritz’s recent decision to abandon an ongoing public process, arbitrarily and with no basis in science or data. In doing so, they undermined the professional input of a technical advisory committee and devalued community involvement.

It’s clearly time for a citywide plan that identifies great places for safe, recreational cycling. It’s important to me that all communities in Portland have easy access to exercise and outdoor fun.

Thank you for your consideration,”
Sincerely,

Read all our coverage on biking at River View.

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Oregonian editorial calls on city to ‘reconsider its bike ban’ in River View

Oregonian editorial calls on city to ‘reconsider its bike ban’ in River View

river view natural area

River View Natural Area, looking north.
(Photo: City of Portland)

The City of Portland’s defensive legal move to ban mountain biking in Southwest Portland’s River View Natural Area is an unfair breach of trust with mountain bikers, according to The Oregonian’s editorial board.

“River View, where cycling has occurred for years, remained the best city option for serious, if limited, mountain bike trails,” the newspaper wrote in a scathing editorial published online Wednesday. “To that end, cyclists attended meetings, participated enthusiastically in the public process upon which Portland places so much emphasis and trusted the city to act in good faith. The city did not.”

As we reported on Monday, Commissioners Amanda Fritz (who runs the city Parks Bureau) and Nick Fish (who runs the Bureau of Environmental Services, which manages stormwater runoff) announced that although “passive” activities such as “hiking, wildlife viewing, stewardship, education, research, etc” will continue to be allowed in the natural area along the Willamette River after March 16, mountain biking no longer will.

For many in Portland’s large and rapidly growing community of mountain biking lovers, the response was outrage and despair.

Riverview Cemetery

A ride last fall in Riverview Cemetery.
(Photo: Paul Souders)

Southwest Portland resident Paul Souders seemed to crystallize many feelings in a comment on this site:

I (and many other IMBA/NWTA members) volunteered to remove ivy, improve trails, and plant native flora. All with the good faith that by being Good Citizens we could sway hearts and minds. I involved my kids with this process, for example my son and I planted vine maples along Palatine Hill road last winter. He was REALLY EXCITED to ride here — that’s why he bought a mountain bike, and indeed he talked me into NOT selling mine, so we could ride together on the trails almost literally out our back door! Sorry little buddy, you can’t ride here anymore either.

I put literal blood and sweat (no tears yet…) into showing that I’m a good guy and can I please have a little singletrack? Well, sorry, chump!

For 20 years I’ve recommended this course of action: work within the system, be a good citizen, etc. vs poaching trails. I feel like a sucker. You can see where that will get you.

We rely on financial support from readers like you.

The Oregonian’s Kelly House followed up with a report Tuesday that added some back story: the root problem here is that the city purchased the land in 2011 with money from stormwater utility fees. The purchase was pegged on a disputed claim that protecting the 146-acre riverside parcel from development would protect habitats in the Willamette.

From House’s coverage:

City officials acknowledge their decision puts the squeeze on mountain bikers, but they contend keeping the trails open creates environmental hazards that could put the entire property in jeopardy.

River View was one of multiple city projects called into question in a 2011 lawsuit alleging the city improperly used utility ratepayer money on items that didn’t qualify for the funds. A judge ruled the property’s ecological importance makes it an appropriate purchase.

City attorneys warned Bureau of Environmental Services leaders that allowing “active recreation” like mountain biking at River View could jeopardize that ruling, said Jim Blackwood, Fish’s policy director.

The city attorneys presumably consider biking down a hill to be active and/or recreational in some way that walking or running down a hill is not — or at least they fear that a judge might say so.

It’s the convoluted cause of this bike ban that seems to have pushed the Oregonian’s editorial board to weigh in on Wednesday:

The problem isn’t that mountain biking threatens to do meaningful environmental harm. Properly managed, it doesn’t. The problem, rather, is that the city is worried about the legal ramifications of using utility funds to buy parkland for the purposes of enhancing watershed health, then allowing aggressive, if badly needed, recreational use. … Cyclists aren’t the problem, in other words. They’re collateral damage.

The editorial closes with sentiments that echo Souder’s (and also of mountain-biking leaders like Kelsey Cardwell, board president for the Northwest Trail Alliance):

The memo concludes by promising to seek money for a “Citywide Off-Road Cycling Plan” and – gallingly – noting that “community advocacy will be necessary to encourage the Mayor and Council to fund this request.” Pulling the rug out from under a constituency that had been playing by the rules is a pretty strange way to enlist its assistance. It should come as no surprise to Fritz, Fish and other city officials that cyclists don’t trust them much.

There is a way out, however: If the city wants to re-establish faith with mountain biking advocates, it should exercise an abundance of leadership – heck, even a little will do – and reconsider its bike ban. On the off chance that this creates legal complications – and this is far from a certainty – at least commissioners can say they went out on a limb for their constituents.

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After years of disappointment, single track lovers have reasons for optimism

After years of disappointment, single track lovers have reasons for optimism

Newton Rd in Forest Park

With renewed energy from Portland’s off-road biking advocates and a Metro project that could open up 1,300 acress of trail possibilities, 2015 could be a very big year for advocates itching for more local single track trails.

As we reported yesterday, local advocacy and trail building group the Northwest Trail Alliance has thrown down a gauntlet of sorts by launching an online petition in the form of an open letter to members of Portland City Council. The petition urges them to “catch up with the overflowing demand for off-road cycling opportunities.” By the time this story is published there will likely be close to 1,000 signatures collected in its first two days.

It’s been four years since a bruising public process ended without any real progress on bike access improvements in Forest Park. After that loss, the NW Trail Alliance vowed to stay focused on the issue.

Now, with the passage of time and healing of wounds, it looks like they’re ready to start pushing once again. The Trail Alliance can start fresh with lessons learned and new faces in charge at City Council and on their staff.

Also working in bike advocates’ favor is a Metro plan to develop 1,300 acres of land known as the North Tualatin Mountains along Forest Park’s northern boundary. As we reported back in September, Metro is entering this planning process with eyes wide open.

But then again, mountain biking advocates were also optimistic back in 2009 when former Parks Commissioner Nick Fish made a bold promise that he was ultimately unable to keep.

However, this time around advocates have even more reason to expect a good result. The biggest difference is that their fate is in Metro’s hands now, not Portland Parks & Recreation. And unlike the 2009 Forest Park effort, biking hopes can be based on clear policy language, not a politician’s promises.

mccarthycreek

At 403 acres and accessible right off Skyline Blvd and McNamee Road, the McCarthy Creek parcel holds great promise.

The North Tualatin Mountains project is funded through Metro’s natural areas levy that voters passed in 2012. The NW Trail Alliance came out in support of that levy because it included specific language about mountain biking.

The levy was adopted by Metro Council in December 2012. Page 14 of Exhibit A in the adopted resolution contains an initial project list. Among the projects listed is one of parcels of the North Tualatin Mountains project. Here’s the text of that project description:

Agency Creek/McCarthy Creek
Various parcels near to but outside of Forest Park are currently or could be used by walkers or cyclists to access nature close to Portland. Access to the site is challenging and there may be opportunities to enhance use. Over the past decade the demand for single track mountain biking trails has increased. This project would explore the potential to provide quality cycling and hiking experiences for formal single track cycling and walking trails, and as appropriate, construct the facilities.

While that language doesn’t set anything in stone, it’s clear Metro has been thinking about single track from the outset and they’ve left the door wide open.

As you can imagine, people who want more single track trails within riding distance of downtown Portland are taking this Metro process very seriously. If they succeed here, it won’t just give them a great new place to ride, it would serve as a symbol of success right next door to where the City of Portland has thus far only failed.

Metro is holding four community meetings to gather feedback on this project. The second one is coming up on December 2nd.

Ryan Francesconi and Andy Jansky, two volunteer advocates with the NW Trail Alliance, hope to see a large contingent of bicycling supporters at the meeting. “Allowing bikes on trails is currently very much a possibility,” they wrote on Facebook, “however if we don’t attend this meeting and give voice to our perspective we may lose out.”

    North Tualatin Mountains Open House
    Skyline Grange
    Tuesday, December 2, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m
    11275 NW Skyline Blvd. Portland, OR 97231

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Call for city to create off-road biking plan draws 550 signatures in 36 hours

Call for city to create off-road biking plan draws 550 signatures in 36 hours

Sandy Ridge

Sandy Ridge, one of the many places Portlanders travel to ride mountain bikes.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Hundreds of local mountain biking lovers are piling signatures into a new petition saying Portland is “decades overdue” on writing a plan for “how to meet the overflowing demand for recreational cycling access.”

The petition, which picks up a suggestion from city Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz, was created by the Northwest Trail Alliance, which focuses on building and advocating for mountain biking routes. It’s the latest overture in a years-long debate over where to designate new mountain biking facilities in the city and surrounding lands.

At the center of that debate is Forest Park, the huge hilly, wooded and largely undeveloped area northwest of the city. After taking over the Parks and Recreation Bureau last year, Fritz rebuffed an effort to add a new mountain biking trail there.

In her blog post explaining that decision, Fritz wrote that “a citywide Master Plan for cycling recreation is needed prior to embarking on individual projects.”

Northwest Trail Alliance President Kelsey Cardwell said in an interview Thursday that after months of sharing their objections to that decision, the group decided to change course and urge the city to take up Fritz’s suggestion, which the group estimated would cost $200,000.

“We wanted to keep the conversation positive,” she said.

Whatever the reason, the idea has caught fire among mountain biking fans. Cardwell forwarded the link to four Northwest Trail board members Wednesday morning and asked them to share it. The proposal drew 298 signatures on its first day and was up to 551 by 4 p.m. Thursday.

Here are some samples from the comments people left, from David Messenheimer of Portland:

A city with our parks and our outdoor-oriented population desperately needs in town trails to ride. Let’s stop forcing cyclists to drive over an hour out of town just to ride trails.

and Max Miller of Portland:

The problem and solution are identical. Build trails. If the city does it, we all win. Pdx allready houses a veritable militia of trailbuilding resources. Why not be the west coast capital of urban off road cycling opportunities. Why not put a bike park in forest park. Mt biking is the fastest growing action sport and women’s and kids segments are exploding. A Pdx off road cultural renaissance could create massive economic gains for the city as well.

and Sean Corey of Vancouver, Wash.:

I speak for many others when I say I would love to volunteer to build and maintain LEGAL and environmentally conscious trails in Portland City limits!

and Ian Ness of Beaverton:

If there were more off-road cycling trails available closer to Portland, I believe we would benefit from increased revenue from people wanting to visit the city for its off-road cycling! But for now, all of that business is going to Hood River and the Mt. Hood communities.

and Susan Sherman of Portland:

Unbelievable that in the wonderfully progressive and vibrant city of Portland, we have to drive an hour to ride single track. Let’s make a change!

and Ryan Francesconi of Portland:

The need for off-road recreational trails open to bikes is obvious. Take this example: I was riding my road bike in Washington Park one day and was stopped by a mom who had two kids with her. All had beginner mountain bikes. She asked me if there were any trails there which they could ride, pointing to the Wildwood. ‘Sorry, no. There are no trails here you can ride on. In fact, it’s illegal to ride your bike in Washington park except on paved surfaces like this road here.’ ‘But there’s nowhere to learn how to ride with the kids besides the road?’ ‘No. Your best option is to drive 45 minutes to Cascade Locks.

and Patrick Fink of Portland:

Portland is one of the few cities on the West Coast which has not realized the boon that mountain biking brings to the community. Look to Seattle, Bellingham, Vancouver, BC and Whistler, and you’ll see that it’s an untapped industry. It’s time to move past the stagnant land management policies that have mired Forest Park and limited its uses. For every dollar spent expanding riding opportunities there, many more will come in to local businesses well beyond the biking world. The tourism behind mountain biking is enormous. Worried about costs? There are other models than pay-from-the-pocket. In Squamish, BC, the local riders foundation supports a full-time work crew that builds and maintains trails without municipal money. Worried about land management? Look to Sandy Ridge, Duthie Hill, or Galbraith mountain to see how small areas can be managed to provide world-class cycling opportunities. That there is no good mountain biking here is absurd. We are in the same forest that supports Whistler’s destination riding economy.

and Melissa Chernaik:

It’s time, friends.

Cardwell said the energy for progress among advocates comes from a widespread feeling that Portland has no good places to mountain bike. She described a recent conversation with a stranger in a restaurant.

“He had just moved to town and gotten rid of his mountain bike because it wasn’t needed here,” Cardwell said. “Another gal I met recently said she doesn’t even bother bringing hers to Portland. She’ll leave it in Bend. … People who are new to town all say the same thing. We just want to be working toward a place where we’re not all saying that.”

There’s strong evidence that mountain biking, including mountain-bike tourism, is a fast-growing economic force. In a press release about the petition Wednesday, Northwest Trail Alliance observed that “Sandy Ridge, a trail system an hour outside of Portland, will see between 80,000 and 90,000 visitors in 2014, up from 32,000 in 2012, according to the Bureau of Land Management.”

Cardwell said they decided to address the call to the entire Portland City Council out of a feeling that direction needs to come from the city’s top leadership.

“We don’t feel like we have a champion within Parks,” she said.

Cardwell added that trails advocates also want to show the city that they’re “ready to sit at the same table and talk to any and all groups that want to be part of that conversation.”

“A lot of our members are in support right now of Forest Park being what’s going to meet the growing demand,” she said. “But there are a couple other opportunities. … Basically we just need a plan that’s going to meet the needs of a group that’s felt shut out.”

If you’d like to add your voice, here’s the link.

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Guest article: Take a kid mountain biking and help grow the ‘Dirt Roots Movement’

Guest article: Take a kid mountain biking and help grow the ‘Dirt Roots Movement’

janksylead

Andy Jansky practicing what he preaches on a ride at Mt. Saint Helens with his two teenage daughters.
(Photo courtesy Andy Jansky)

This article was written by Andy Jansky, a volunteer trail steward with the Northwest Trail Alliance.

It’s time to start a new cycling movement. I call it the “Dirt Roots Movement” and it’s all about getting more kids on mountain bikes.

“With each kid we get on a mountain bike, demand for closer-in, off-road riding opportunities will grow. Harnessing that demand is what the Dirt Roots Movement is all about.”

Why do we need this?

The answer should be obvious: Kids are the future of mountain biking; future advocates, future trail builders and stewards, future racers, and — this one might surprise some of you — future bike commuters and everyday riders.

And with Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day set for Saturday, October 4th, now is a great time to plan that first ride.

Mountain biking appeals to the kid in everyone. When we share our love for the sport, it’s a great gift; but only if handled properly. I assure you that if you take kids who are new to mountain biking on a ride at serious trail networks like Sandy Ridge, Coyote Wall, or Falls Creek they’ll end up frustrated and might even give up on the activity altogether.

The goal is to get kids to actually like mountain biking.

Yes, you may have to lower your expectations for the ride, maybe turn back before the loop is done or spend more time prepping bikes than riding them, but this isn’t about you. This is the time to put away your Strava machine and do right by the next generation.

Play your cards right with this first dirt riding experience, and your future might include a family vacation built around mountain biking rather than Mickey.

takmtbdflyer

Click to enlarge

Not long ago, there were very few family-friendly locations for mountain biking in the Portland region. (Touring the fire lanes in Forest Park isn’t all that exciting and it might leave newbies wondering: “Seriously? Is this mountain biking?”)

The huge void in Portland’s off-road biking opportunities was the impetus behind the construction of the easyCLIMB trails in Cascade Locks. Just 40 miles east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge, easyCLIMB is a great place for kids, marginally-interested significant others, and mountain biking newbies of all stripes. The trail system — wonderfully free of asphalt and autos — was built by volunteers from the Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA) and designed to provide a mix of windy single-track, smooth berms, scenic views, and natural beauty over three miles — all with less than 200 feet of climbing.

On October 4th, NWTA is hosting Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day as part of the nationwide push by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) to get more kids on bikes. Last year our easyCLIMB event was one of the largest in the country, with more than 150 kids in attendance.

One kid spent the entire time attempting to ride a two-by-four in the parking lot. When he finally mastered it, there was a big round of applause. A group of Portland kids even rode out Cascade Locks to participate. They’re taking NWTA’s “Ride to your Ride” mantra seriously!

easyCLIMB is a gem and we’re lucky to have it. But 40 miles is not close enough. With each kid we get on a mountain bike, demand for closer-in, off-road riding opportunities will grow. Harnessing that demand is what the Dirt Roots Movement is all about. We encourage all of you to do your part.

— Learn more about Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day at NW-Trail.org.

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$10,000 REI grant will help boost MTB trails at Stub Stewart State Park

$10,000 REI grant will help boost MTB trails at Stub Stewart State Park

(Photo: NWTA)

Stub Stewart State Park is slowly but surely becoming a mountain biking destination. And it’s only going to get better this summer as the Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA) just announced a $10,000 grant from outdoor gear retailer REI.

According to the NWTA, the grant will help fund a package of trail stewardship and improvement projects at Stub Stewart. The park, just 33 miles west of Portland, has been the focus on NWTA work and advocacy since 2008. It already boasts 15 miles of mountain bike trails, a network of free-ride/mountain-bike specific trails, and there’s plenty more that could be built — the only thing missing is money and volunteers.

“Grant funding is only part of the solution to creating more access,” reads a statement from NWTA, “At Stub Stewart State Park we have recognized that the 20+ miles of shared-use trail within the park represent many more miles of trail riding opportunities, with the help of dirt-moving, shovel-enabled volunteers like you.”

The team at NWTA is currently working on a $100,000 grant through the federal Recreational Trails Program.

The local bike industry has also taken notice of the burgeoning biking possibilities at Stub Stewart. Portland Design Works, a Portland-based company that makes cycling accessories, has stepped up their support. They’ve just announced the Stub Stewart Trail Work Day on June 21st. The day will start with coffee and donuts and end with beer and a BBQ (and probably some riding on newly maintained and dug-out trails!).

If you haven’t ventured out to ride at Stub (it’s adjacent to the Banks-Vernonia Trail), make plans to do it this summer. And once you’ve enjoyed the off-road trails and experienced the potential, consider joining the NWTA and help make them even better.

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