Westside Trail Federation had a booth at the inaugural Pedal Nation Portland Bike Show hosted at Oregon Convention Center (April 10th/11th). Our group setup a booth to showcase status of main projects (proposed DH network in Tillamook State Forest and a freeride skill area at Stub Stewart State Park).
There was an interesting mix of vendors and people attending this event. Had to bite our tongues on a few of the encounters and remind ourselves that we are trail builders not in the advocacy game. It's clear that there is more than a little overlap though. So we did our best when faced with negative comments from general public to "smile and nod, smile and nod" - the bike show wasn't the place to get into a heated debate. For the most part it was all positive and good. Chance to show that there's committed groups of riders willing to do what it takes within the system to put legit advanced singletrack trail on the ground. We are passionate about it, and there's growing collaboration between the various regional groups who are working to build trails near where they live.
Our talking points for our two active projects can be summed up as follows:
Project #1 lead by Ryan McLane
Out in Tillamook State Forest near Idiot Creek area of Larch Mountain, we have done extensive trail planning over past 5 years for a fully shuttlable DH specific trail network (2,000 feet of elevation descent, 7 miles of initial trail with 4.5 miles of contiguous DH trail and a sessionable skill area located 1 mile up from lower parking area). This area we have focused on is part of zone designated for mountain biking as part of an earlier recreation plan developed by ODF with public input. Currently, ODF is unable to move forward with further planning of this area due to lack of available resources (simply isn't available bandwidth for remaining project managers to take this on). This project has an "on hold" status and will be reviewed again in 2011 by ODF. In the meantime, W.T.F. will have one final meeting with district representatives to outline our plan and why we believe this is a cost neutral project to them (meaning all volunteer labor and opportunity to recoup admin expenses thru parking permit fees). After that we will turn over the project for ongoing support by IMBA and Northwest Trail Alliance representatives.
We do not expect to devote W.T.F. resources to this project until it enters the "build" phase because we are trail builders - doing the design, development, and ongoing maintenance, but we will collaborate with other organizations who do have resources to devote to education and advocacy efforts in support of mountain biking recreation opportunities and bike tourism.
At Stub Stewart State Park we are working with the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department to plan a freeride skill area as part of the mountain biking specific area within the park. OPRD has recently formed an internal project team lead by region manager which is focused on development of Stub mountain biking specific trail area. What has been proposed under new draft policy for engaging proponent mountain biking groups is a medium sized freeride skill area with beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails which feed into a small session area with variety of skill features. Initially the focus will be on building plain singletrack trail and then adding all-mountain style features to enhance available opportunity. Based on response from riding community and general public over next year for these trail options available within park, then the next step would be to provide more advanced features by enhancing the exiting beginner all-mountain trail to include freeride elements and beginning work on intermediate freeride trail. We agreed with OPRD management in the desire to "do this right the first time" and to take a slower approach to development of trail system. It is not a small thing to be creating a relatively new type of trail within an Oregon state park, and our pain in the planning process means less pain for others in the future who step up (who have stepped up) to build similar mountain biking specific trails in state parks. Expectation is to begin work on plain singletrack trail this summer but we are collaborating with OPRD staff on what works best for their timeline with park development.
We expect to schedule build days beginning in May with focus on beginner singletrack segment of freeride area (but don't expect to be building freeride style features until 2011).
In addition to having a booth to showcase our active projects, W.T.F. volunteers helped construct features for the Portland Bike Show skill area. Including a teeter-totter and a raised ladder bridge section. Unfortunately, due to a snafu with event insurance coverage, the wonderfully constructed and great example of teeter-totter was not allowed to be ridden.
Our booth was located on the other side of the curtain from the Northwest Trail Alliance booth which included display of the ST240 trail machine and NWTA trail projects. There's lots of cool stuff happening right now regarding opportunities for mountain biking nearer to Portland area. You should check out nw-trail.org for more info! We heard some exciting stuff about developing some opportunities for more advanced trails as part of the Sandy Ridge mountain biking system as well as opportunities currently available up in SW Washington which the Coldcreek Mountain Biking Association is currently working to complete. Lots of things in the pipeline!
For example, NWTA will be starting a new program for "Trail Development Partnerships" to make resources (such as the ST240 machine) available to agencies and organizations who are working to develop singletrack trails. That means trained W.T.F. operators would have opportunity to use ST240 in 2011 for building DH/Freeride trails on approved trail projects.