Portland Parks Recent Announcement on Forest Park Trail Projects
Last week, Portland Parks announced they would move ahead with certain projects that will result in increased singletrack riding opportunities for mountain bikers in Forest Park. We are extremely pleased with this announcement and are committed to working with Portland Parks, other project partners, our members, sponsors and supporters to see these projects through to completion (an article providing some context can be viewed on BikePortland.org).
Following is some additional information on the proposed projects.
During 2009/10 NWTA participated in the Forest Park Singletrack Committee, which was convened with the purpose of identifying opportunities for increasing singletrack riding opportunities in the Park. The final report can be found here
The report laid out several options for new singletrack opportunities within the current confines of the Forest Park Natural Resource Management Plan. Subsequently, Parks announced that before they would implement any of the recommendations specific to additional trail access, they needed to complete a number of management activities. In short, those management activities have either been initiated or completed and Parks now feels they can move forward with implementation of specific trail improvements.
During the past two years in which Parks has been implementing management actions, NWTA has been working with Parks staff to determine which projects could be implemented once the management actions were complete. Our hope is to implement several of these projects over the next few years.
What is being proposed now?
As mentioned in the recent announcement, two projects are currently being discussed. The first is an improvement to Firelane 5, which currently has the only stretch of singletrack open to bikes - approximately 1/8 mile above Leif Erickson Road. Originally, a road to trail conversion was proposed from the Saltzman Road entrance to the start of the existing singletrack. However, due to limitations imposed by the Portland Fire Bureau (which has jurisdiction over all firelanes in the park) and physical constraints, Parks and NWTA are proposing a re-route of the existing trail, roughly parallel to the current alignment. In 2011, a local consulting firm was hired to perform an analysis of existing conditions and to develop a concept plan for trail improvements. That plan was developed prior to the Fire Bureau determining they needed continued access to the firelane. As a result, some modifications to the concept plan are anticipated. This will be the first project to be implemented, with a completion date hopefully sometime in 2013.
The second project consists of two elements – a re-route of Firelane 1 from Leif Erickson Road to Yeon Avenue, and construction of a new trail from Yeon toward the Thurman gate. Together, these projects would be significantly longer the the Firelane 5 project, and are a more significant undertaking due to length, several drainage crossings, and steep terrain. No planning beyond what is shown in the accompanying maps has been done, other than some initial scouting. These trails (identified as the "Blaize" Trail and "Yeon" Trail on the accompanying map) would connect at the location of a proposed parking lot, which would form a new trailhead and access point on NW Yeon. Parks currently owns the property but funds have not been allocated for its construction.
Parks does not have funding allocated for either of these projects. NWTA has committed to raising funds for the Firelane 5 improvement and our hope is to utilize resources from our Trail Development Partnership Program to both reduce cost and expedite the project. Before construction can begin, the project design mst be finalized and permits secured. Due to the complexity and constraints of the Forest Park Management Plan, permitting is expected to be fairly complex. We hope to schedule a pre-application meeting in conjunction with Parks in the near future. Permitting is anticipated to take 3-4 months, during which time we will finalize project plans and undertake a significant fundraising efforts. To keep updated on the project, please keep an eye on our website, social media and monthly newsletter.
NWTA's long-term goal is to create a sustainable trail in the Park which provide a true "Ride to Where You Ride" experience. We consider these proposed projects a step in the right direction, and we will continue to work with Parks and other stakeholders to deliver a trail system which incorporates the latest in sustainable design techniques, minimizes construction impacts, incorporates restoration efforts and respects the sensitive nature of the Park's natural attributes.
Tom Archer met with Parks staff again on 11/16 to discuss our proposal in more detail. Parks staff is generally receptive, and agreed to review the proposal further. Once we agree on a concept level alignment, then we will schedule a pre-application meeting with Bureau of Development Services to gain a better understanding of what will be required as part of the permit process. This is expected to take 3-4 months minimum.
IMBA has agreed to provide design consultation services pro-bono to NWTA to flag the alignment, further refine the project and help develop detailed cost estimates. There's a possibility they will also provide machine operator time and wew will be discussing that early next year. The goal is to get the trail built as quickly as possible to minimize construction impacts, and to maintain a very high build standard. Our hope is alto to provide opportunities for local riders to help with the final finish on the trail.
Once we know more about funding needs, we will initiate a formal fundraising campaign. We will likely be looking for donations for certain items - signage, rock, and other items.
IMBA Trail Solutions provided pro-bono services to flag the proposed trail alignment. Parks staff walked the alignment in recent weeks. Next step is to schedle a pre-app meeting with the Bureau of Development Services to determine what documentation/requirements will apply for a permit application.