Friends of Mount Hood
March 2012 Newsletter
Timberline Lodge Mountain Bike Park Proposal
In our previous newsletters, Friends of Mount Hood (FOMH) indicated vigorous opposition to the proposed mountain bike park at Timberline Lodge. We have met several times with the Forest Service, taken field trips to the site, attended public meetings, and written op-eds and letters to the editor. The Forest Service, Mount Hood National Forest, is scheduled to make their decision on this proposal this month.
In the meantime, we recently visited the West Coast’s first indoor bicycle terrain park, and chatted with one of the owners, Will Heilberg. The indoor park is called the Lumberyard, and is located on NE 82nd in Portland, just north of the I84/MAX corridor. The indoor bike park concept started in the Midwest about seven years ago, and those original parks are now a division of the Trek Bicycle Company. Will said that with success his business plan is to have a chain of Lumberyards on the West Coast. They are finishing construction now, and Will said they hope to open in a month or so, which is about the same time the Forest Service will announce the ruling on the Timberline mountain bike park proposal.
The Friends of Mount Hood is a big fan of the Lumberyard. We see indoor terrain parks as the perfect alternative to the Timberline proposal. The Lumberyard is open year-round instead of the brief 90 day or less window at Timberline. The indoor park is also the “green” choice. It is located in an urban area with mass transit connections, and has zero impact on the environment as opposed to the degradation that the Timberline proposal would bring to the watersheds, meadows, and elk herds on Mt. Hood.
When riders want to get in their cars and drive to an outdoor park there are already many choices in the region. You can make easy web searches to learn about Black Rock, Stub Stewart, Sandy Ridge, Post Canyon, Ski Bowl, and Willamette Pass. Additionally, there are plans for a mountain bike park at Mt. Bachelor.
The Friends of Timberline, the group dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and protection of the historic integrity of the lodge and environs, has also voiced concern saying, in part, that the proposal “has the potential to indirectly affect the lodge, particularly the building’s historic setting and its association”.
While there are many locations suitable for mountain bike terrain parks, the preponderance of evidence has established that Timberline Lodge is not one of them. With your help we will continue the fight to prevent unwise over-development at Timberline Lodge and the other special places on Mt. Hood.
Wetland Restoration at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Area
Readers may recall that FOMH obtained a Clean Water Act (CWA) Consent Decree that requires Mt. Hood Meadows ski area (MHM) to complete some wetland restoration projects at the ski area. One of the chosen sites was the former wetland that is at the base of the main ski lodge.
The wetland originally stretched between the base of the hill just to the south of the Blue lift base, and the stretch of the East Fork of the Hood River where it follows the Express lift line down to the Express lift base. That wetland area had previously been filled and its water supply cut off by a ditch and some culverts.
MHM has been working on the restoration for some time, following the designs and plans created by Dr. David Cooper, a high alpine wetland ecologist that FOMH had originally located and used as an expert in CWA litigation. The wetland’s water supply has now been mostly restored and this summer MHM will complete the excavation of fill down to what the experts hope will become a functional level for the restored wetland.
This next year during the growing season, native wetland plants that have been carefully selected and grown will be put in place. Careful monitoring, to try to ensure plant survival and proper wetland functioning, is to be conducted for several years. Ultimately, the plan is to make the wetland fully functional with no maintenance required.
Readers who want to see the progress of the Blue Wetland Restoration for themselves are encouraged to visit MHM during July or August. There is a waterfall near the restoration site (just to the south of the Blue lift line) and there are hiking trails along Michell Creek and the East Fork that can be accessed from near the MHM parking lot entrance.
Mt. Hood Meadows Plans for 2012
Friends of Mount Hood (FOMH) met again this winter with Mt. Hood Meadows (MHM) General Manager Matt Drake and key MHM staff. The Forest Service District Ranger for Hood River, Daina Bambe, was also present.
This meeting was the most recent of several meetings which Matt Drake had initiated periodically over the last few years to discuss projects or ideas that MHM is considering.
FOMH welcomes MHM’s efforts at transparency, and Drake’s openness to input from FOMH and other organizations or individuals.
At the most recent meeting, among other topics, MHM discussed its plans to try to move the Buttercup lift. A new alignment, along with a new base and a new top terminal are being considered. A temporary road would also be involved. The Forest Service will likely issue a scoping notice for that project under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), in the next month or two. FOMH encourages the public to provide the Forest Service with comments listing any potential issues (positive or negative) that folks see with that proposal.
Also discussed was the status of the Twilight (“HRM”) parking lot proposal. Scoping has already been completed on that project. The Forest Service is likely to issue the draft NEPA documents for that project, and to seek public comment on the proposal and those documents, some time this spring or early summer. FOMH also encourages the public to provide the Forest Service with comments on that proposal.
MHM also has long term hopes and plans to construct a new maintenance shop. The new shop would most likely be proposed for the north side of the Sunrise (“Annex”) parking lot. If a new shop is ultimately built, Drake indicated that the old shop building (on the southwest edge of the main parking lot) would be considered for “repurposing” as a Family Day Lodge.
FOMH looks forward to continuing its efforts to engage with and provide input to both MHM and the Forest Service.
Status of the Land Trade
After almost 10 years of legal battles to protect Cooper Spur and the Crystal Springs watershed, conservation groups, including Friends of Mount Hood, reached a settlement that would permanently protect the north side of Mt. Hood. We made trips to Washington, D.C., to testify and pushed a bill through Congress for more Wilderness, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and permanent protection for Cooper Spur. The bill, however, requires further action by the Forest Service, including new appraisals and consideration of the environmental impacts. That work is is still underway and we expect completed appraisals this year along with a plan of action to consummate the deal. The Forest Service has been hard at work surveying the lands and will be taking public input when the appraisals are complete. Ralph Bloemers, our attorney with the Crag Law Center, is tracking this every step of the way to ensure that the public gets a fair value fo the public lands at stake and that this historic agreement is fully implemented. If you have any questions, feel free to email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOMH Meetings with Oregon’s Congressional Staff
On November 7, 2011, President Obama signed the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011. The bill was intended to open the national forests for additional summer recreational activities and thereby promote the economies of nearby communities. Proponents of mountain bike parks who promoted the bill saw it as a way to facilitate the approval process of mountain bike parks in national forests.
FOMH met with Congresman Kurt Schrader, Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s staff person, Hilary Barbour, Senator Ron Wyden’s Legislative Aide, Mary Gautreaux, and Legislative Aide for Senator Jeff Merkley, John Valley, to explain our concerns and to verify that proposed mountain bike parks in the national forest would still need the usual environmental reviews and approval from the Forest Service that have been required in the past.
Notice of FOMH Annual Meeting
DATE: April 18, Wednesday
TIME: 7 pm – 7:30 pm
PLACE: Mazamas Mtn. Center
SE 43rd and Stark, Portland
AGENDA: Pending matters, Future plans,
Election of Directors
Refreshments. Public is invited.
Friends of Mount Hood is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation dedicated to monitoring development and management of national forest lands on Mt. Hood. The Board members of FOMH are all volunteers. Your support of our work to protect the alpine meadows, wetlands, streams, wildlife, and forested slopes on the mountain is deeply appreciated.