TRAC Meeting, Work Party, Mountain Bike Planning Meeting with ODF, and more!
The fall time Tillamook Recreation Advisory Committee (TRAC) meeting was held on Thursday September 18th. For those who don't know me, I am the current (2008-2009) Mountain Bike Community Representative on TRAC. I want to extend a big thanks to Ryan McClain with the Westside Trail Federation (WTF) for showing up and speaking briefly during the introductions portion of the meeting. It makes a huge impression on land managers to show a presence at planning and informational meetings - and definitely at work parties. I encourage folks to come out to these meetings and get involved in the Tillamook State Forest.
The TRAC meeting agenda first covered an update on the FEMA project work taking place in the Tillamook. This includes construction work on campgrounds and trails damaged during the flood events from last year. Of interest to many mountain bikers is the status of the Gales Creek Trail. Approximately 3 miles of the 6 mile long trail incurred damage including downed trees, destroyed bridges, and washed out trail sections. The new trail is being sited and the design will be prepared for bidding later this fall. The hope is to have this trail work completed by a professional trail contractor and ready for use by mid-late spring 2009. Impacts to the Summit Trail have been rerouted and I have heard positive reviews from mountain bikers on this section of trail. The Elliot Creek Trail should be completed in a week or so - this is the portion of the historic hiking loop that was re-routed around for non-motorized use. This section is shared use with motorized users, and has the whoops section along the gravel road. The new loop trail out of Reheers Camp has been re-routed and will be the focus of the non-motorized work party scheduled for October 18th.
Next, the Wilson River Access Management Plan was discussed. This relates to addressing problematic dispersed camp sites along the Wilson River and working to close and protect these areas from riparian zone damage incurred from OHV activity.
Third, the Recreation Assessment Action Plan was discussed. The Action Plan has been adopted by ODF to address the issues raised in the second party assessment. Several issues have been identified as high priority, including the need for a strategic vision for Northwest ODF lands, organizing a group to address the issue of nonconsitent and inefficient direction in leadership pertaining to recreational issues, and development of a contract to provide for an understanding by ODF staff of the supply and demand for recreational infrastructure (including trails for mountain bike use). The group looking into these matters met today (October 2nd) and have begun to plan for development of recreation guidance for the Clatsop State Forest, creating a standard geodatabase for trail inventories, initiating an inventory assessment of trails (motorized and nonmotorized), and completing and adopting a standards manual to provide consistency for design and construction of trails. These efforts will help to lay a groundwork for a comprehensive trail plan - mountain biking will be incorporated into this plan, including freeride and downhill opportunities.
The apology letter concerning rock quarry and timber sale activities pertaining to the Triangulation Point (Hole in the Wall Rock Pit) was discussed. The issues surrounding this activity generally are focused on a decrease in motorized user access, endangerment to users not aware of the development activities, and disturbance of culturally significant areas. ODF staff extended their apology to TRAC and asked to be provided information regarding significant user areas that they may not be aware of.
The Wilson River Trail Use Designation was discussed next. This trail is currently open to hiking and mountain biking only. There has been an expectation by equestrians that access for horseback riding will be available at some point in time. The section of trail between Jones Creek and Footbridge is being explored for this designation. However, currently there is no budget available to construct the necessary facilities to accomodate use by equestrians.
The last item on the agenda dealt with target shooting in the Tillamook State Forest. Target shooting has lead to hazardous conditions from both a safety standpoint by users not aware of their surroundings, proper/safe shooting practices, and in environmental damage at several locations.
The next TRAC meeting will occur on January 15, 2009. I encourage other mountain bikers to attend these meetings, introduce yourself to ODF staff and learn about TRAC. Even if you can not stay long, it makes a big difference to just show up.
A work party followed by a volunteer recognition BBQ was conducted on September 20th. I want to extend a big thank you to the folks that showed up t othat work party (Ray, Wayne, Michael, Todd, Wendy, Wayne). We had a productive work party, working on the re-route section between Diamond Mill and Jones Creek Campground where a road was constructed earlier this year through the trail. We also did some work on the switch backs put in at this same location at a previous work party this year. Go ride this section and check out the work! The BBQ was a great chance to sit down with ODF staff and talk about trails and our desire for more mountain bike trails closer to Portland - in the Tillamook State Forest. ODF staff provided us with updates on the status of the Wilson River Trail. The sections of the Wilson River Trail between Elk Creek Campground and the Storey Burn Trailhead are being sited in. This is steep/big country for the Tillamook State Forest, and will result in more than 10 miles of additional trail - eventually. This is of course why it is important for mountain bikers to make a strong showing at the work parties and planning meetings - if we express our interest and commitment, ODF will follow through and facilitate new trail construction. There was also discussion on the Tillamook district side regarding new trail construction near Rockaway Beach. This is exciting news for folks that camp or spend time at the beach and are interested in coupling their trip with a mountain biker ride.
Tonight (October 2) I met with ODF staff and WTF'ers Ryan and Joe. ODF recapped their Recreational Assessment Action Plan and also their first group meeting that happened today. WTF presented their thoughts on a freeride skills area and pilot downhill specific trail in Mountain Bike Area 1. ODF provided a map for the recent, current, and future logging operations in Mountain Bike Area 1. This was much appreciated by this rider, as it helps us to understand how to better integrate new trail infrastructure into the working forest. ODF staff encouraged mountain bikers to provide them with maps of proposed pilot trail and additional information on design guidelines and access issues (roadway use, parking, emergency access, etc). If you are interested in getting involved with these efforts contact Ryan or Joe with WTF.
This Saturday is the recognition BBQ for Trail Patrolers! I would like to encourage mountain bikers to get involved with the Trail Patrol program in the Tillamook. It is a great opportunity to receive valuable safety and first aid training, good way to meet and interact with ODF staff, and positively promote mountain biking and recreation in the Tillamook.
Lastly, I would encourage folks to get out and ride in the Tillamook. Check out Sikter Lars the only mountain bike only trail currently available in the Tillamook State Forest, that has been constructed in Mountain Bike Area 1. And ride the Wilson River Trail. This trail holds up great in the winter time! I will be leading some wintertime rides out there, so be sure to pick up some rainy season riding gear if you haven't yet.