Forest Park Update: A Message from Commissioner Nick Fish

 

Dear Friends,
 
Two years ago, we made a commitment to undertake a series of management actions in Forest Park.
 
Today, I am pleased to share our progress in Portland’s largest natural area, and our continued plans for expanding off-road biking in Portland. 
 
Here is the good news. We have completed all of the management actions we identified as top priorities in Forest Park.  Since  2009, we have:
 
  • Completed an all-seasons Recreation Survey.
  • Developed a Desired Future Conditions report and a new set of Forest Park Ecological Prescriptions
  • Signed a new Partnership Agreement with the Forest Park Conservancy.
  • Created a new dedicated Park Ranger position for increased enforcement.
  • Developed an outreach and education program to promote public awareness of trail etiquette and safety.
  • Made significant progress in monitoring vegetation health.
  • Secured funding and completed a park-wide Wildlife Study.
 
We invite you to join us for a lunch-hour presentation by John Deshler on the recently completed Wildlife Study on Wednesday, November 7th, 12noon - 1pm in the Portland Building Auditorium.
 
The Forest Park Single Track Advisory Committee provided recommendations in 2010 for improving the biking experience in Forest Park. As you may recall, we agreed to complete the actions listed above before exploring additional trail options.
 
As part of these actions, we had hoped to improve the riding experience by revegetating portions of firelanes already open to cyclists.  After completing a concept design for firelane improvements and sharing these plans with the Fire Bureau, we learned that limiting access for emergency vehicles had unintended consequences.  Our team agreed that we needed to change our approach by focusing on singletrack that’s designed especially for cyclists - from the get go.
 
In partnership with Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA), PP&R is currently seeking permits to build enhancements parallel to Fire Lane 5 that will result in a true singletrack experience for cyclists in Forest Park.  This project has the added benefit of re-routing a steep section of the firelane that is particularly susceptible to erosion.  We expect to complete this project in the next 9 months; it is the first of several trail projects we hope to complete in the coming years.
 
We are also pursuing permits for the Yeon trail segment identified in the Forest Park Natural Resources Management Plan as a new multi-use trail. We’re working with our partners to develop a trail design that separates trail users and creates a great singletrack experience.
 
This trail will also be served by a new trailhead that will help mitigate congestion at the popular Thurman Gate entrance. Although we don’t currently have funding to construct the trailhead, we are prepared to recommend funding in a forthcoming parks bond measure.
 
The Northwest Trail Alliance and broader biking community have worked tirelessly to expand off-road biking opportunities in Portland.  Thanks to NWTA, we built the new Ventura Park Bike Skills Area and it has been a great success.  We also partnered with NWTA to offer the first mountain biking camp for Portland youth.
 
We are pleased with the progress to date, but also know that there is still much to do.  Deb Lev, Parks’ new City Nature Manager, brings a strong commitment to natural resource management. Mike Abbaté, our new Director, is highly skilled at balancing the needs of all our parks users.
 
We are a Gold Medal parks system because of our many volunteers, friends, and partners. Thank you for your continued commitment to stewarding Forest Park and providing safe recreation for all.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Nick Fish
 
Parks Commissioner