- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Off-road cyclists are praising the Metro Council’s tentative plans to develop riding trails on land near Portland’s Forest Park after years of being denied access to most single-track routes in the park.

The regional planning government is looking to develop both hiking and off-road cycling trails on all or some of the four rural parcels it purchased using bond money approved by voters in 1995 and 2006, The Oregonian reported (https://bit.ly/1EXDolI) Monday.

If the trails are approved by the Metro Council, they could be open for use for the public as early as 2017.

“This is going to be terrific,” said Frank Selker, a longtime Portland mountain biker and outspoken off-road trail advocate. “It would be a huge asset to the entire region.”

Selker and other off-road cyclists have been frustrated since the city decided not to open up more of the 5,000-acre Forest Park for single-track riding a few years ago. The park is located in the Tualatin Mountains and is one of the largest urban forest reserves in the nation.

The city, citing concerns about environmental damage, banned mountain bikers from riding the trails in southwest Portland’s River View Natural Area.

The four areas being considered for new trails are Burlington Creek Forest, Ennis Creek Forest, McCarthy Creek and North Abbey Creek natural areas. Together, the so-called North Tualatin Mountains Complex totals about 1,300 acres.

Dan Moeller, Metro’s interim Natural Areas Program director, said Newell Creek Canyon in Oregon City is being considered as a possible fifth site.

The total number of trail miles that are in store is not yet known due to the final tally depending on how many sections of trail will be designated as cycling-only or as shared with hikers.

Moeller said three open houses, including one attended by more than 200 cycling advocates, have been held to gather public opinion, and final proposals should be ready for public comment within several months.

“I still think that, someday, we’ll get at least some access to Forest Park,” Selker said. “But for now, we’ll certainly take what we can get.”


Information from: The Oregonian, https://www.oregonlive.com

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