No Natural Theme Park

For over a decade I’ve kept my mouth shut about the increasing damage done to Willamette National Forest trails by rampant mountain biking. Over those years I’ve proposed better maintenance and winter closures with little result.

However, once I learned the Middle Fork District of the Willamette National Forest has proposed building miles of new trails just to accommodate mountain biking into wild road-less areas while simultaneously closing equal miles of hiking trails, I can’t remain silent.

The Willamette National Forest is doing this under its new “Zero Net New Miles Trail” policy.

One such trail proposal will expedite access to very wild pristine lakes in the Oregon Cascade Recreation Area near Diamond Peak with a new 2.5-mile trail. Currently a mountain biker can ride about 6 miles to access these same lakes, but apparently that’s not quick enough. Another proposal is to build a 15-mile new downhill “fat tire” track into a Late Successional Ancient Forest Reserve above Oakridge adjoining the Larison Ridge trail, which is dominated by mountain bike traffic.

I suggest the Willamette National Forest get out of the business of promoting another land-damaging industry like mountain biking, converting our national forests into a Disneyland theme park, and protect our national forests as a legacy for threatened wildlife and future generations.

Shannon Wilson