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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Doesn’t it seem like with all the community support for bicycling in general that Corvallis would be able to produce a few mountain biking trails that were actually designed and designated for bikers? After all, we have trails designated for hikers. When you watch shows like Pedal-Driven and see the trail complexes that are put into other areas much smaller and further out of the way than Corvallis it makes you wonder what kind of impact a real trail system would have on the Corvallis economy. Don't get me wrong, I love riding in the Mac as much as anyone, but wouldn’t it be great if we could transform McCulloch Peak into something like Black Rock and leave the lower sections of the Mac for the pedestrians with their little sacks of doggy-doo.
 

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It's all about the relationship of the trail builders to the land owners. That relationship is somewhere between guarded and hostile in the McDonald Forest. It's better if you get towards Mary's Peak and Blodgett, and it's downright awesome over at Alsea Falls. The next official build day there is calendared for Sunday 4/13 at 9am at the orange gate, and I'll post links to the event pages for that once they go up, in the Alsea Falls thread.

There's also few events coming up to learn about this stuff. Mudslinger Extravaganza at Peak on this Saturday 4/5 at 4pm will have the BLM folks to talk about the plans for Alsea Falls. Then Pedal Driven! movie night is hosted next Thursday 4/10 at 7pm by Starker Forests and OSU College Forests. Finally, the Team Dirt fundraiser and social at Papa's Pizza on Monday 4/21 at 5:30pm.
 

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While there is a fair bit of support for biking in Corvallis in general, don't confuse that with support for mountain biking specifically. There are a fair number of pro-bicycle folks who are pro-bicycling for strictly environmental reasons, and many of those folks are not pro-mountain bike in the least.

For an example of that, go look at a site like Bikeportland.org and read the comments section on articles about mountain biking in Forest Park. That site is a 100% pro-bicycling news blog, but you'll find plenty of vitriol and hate there the first time mountain biking is mentioned.

Second, I don't think mountain biking would have much of a noticeable economic impact on Corvallis. When you have a tiny town like Oakridge where there isn't much of anything else going on economically, MTB tourism is pretty noticeable. In a town like Corvallis that draws 45,000 people to each OSU football game, I don't think many people would even notice a few mountain bikers in town.

Also, and there has to be an incentive on the land manager's part to see something like this happen. OSU views the Mac-Dunn as a working research forest, and mountain bike trails don't really enhance those missions.

I think the term that best describes OSU's strategy on mountain biking is risk averse.
I was involved in an effort to put on a Cyclocross race a few years back on some OSU property close in to town. We met with a number of people, went through layers of approvals, and got it signed off by department heads. In the end, they had to go through OSU's risk management group who shot the whole thing down without any further discussion. This was despite the fact that our event would carry it's own insurance, and we had addressed the concerns of the department within OSU that managed that land.

Same thing plays out on the unauthorized trails out in the Mac. I don't think OSU has the resources to police the trail system, so they tolerate it as long as it is kept under the radar. I have seen it play out numerous times in the last 15 years. Trails that have been there for a long long time, with no issue, then somebody starts building rickety stunts and within a couple months OSU is out tearing them down and posting signs.

Once you start putting in built stunts, OSU isn't going to ignore it. And bonehead maneuvers like building steep fall line trails with stunts/jumps on them that end within 5 feet of the Oak Creek gate isn't going to help matters.

Same thing with night riding in the Mac. Not a peep about it, until somebody goes and writes a newspaper article about night riding in the Mac. There isn't a more obvious spot in all of the Mac than that.

I see some glimmers of hope with OSU management, holding focus groups and considering trail tread other than gravel, but then OSU is dropping trees over the plunge and Hi-Lo and posting signs about prosecuting people for UA trail building.

Point being, we are a long long way off from anything like blackrock being built in Mac-Dunn. OSU has to have some incentive to see something like that happen. Increased tourism dollars don't mean anything to OSU, unless they start charging for parking and trail use fees. Even then that would likely cost more to administer than they would bring in. The only way I see OSU really on board is having some professor or department bringing in significant grant money to do research on recreation/mountain biking that would champion the cause of enhancing or expanding the official trail system in the Mac.

On the bright side, BLM is totally gung ho on Alsea Falls. That is where we need to focus our efforts right now. Make it a showcase example to other land managers in the area to show them what the local mountain bike community can do.
 

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I have a degree in Forest Recreation Resources from OSU and we did study a little bit about trails and sustainable design. Mountain biking is a recreational activity but I agree with twd, OSU doesn't seem to think it's very important. Too bad, really. The potential for dispersed recreation on the Mac-Dunn is unrealized but great. (and I haven't been there in over 10 years) Has anyone local brought up the Oregon Recreation Use Statutes to the OSU Risk Management team? Also, a committed group must keep showing up in order to build that user / land owner trust.
 

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Thanks for the link Sans. I'm not in a position with any direct contact with the folks at OSU, but I'm pretty sure some of the Team Dirt folks who are, read the forums here.

One interesting thing I found in that link is "This liability protection is not valid if the landowner collects fees or rent for the use of the land."

Good to keep that one in mind if the idea of charging trail use fees comes up again. Of course, that could cut both ways in that the liability issue works in favor of not collecting trail fees, but if they went down that road anyway, then losing liability protection would make them even more risk averse toward developing MTB trails in Mac-Dunn.

A better model, as you pointed out is for the mtb community to work with OSU in a long-term partnership. I know a lot of attempts have been made to make in roads with OSU on this subject. I remember a small group of us meeting with OSU about 5 or 6 years ago offering to organize work parties etc. We basically got the ".....you can spread some gravel for us on Dan's trail" but no interest in moving beyond that.

I wasn't able to make either of the trail work days on the Firehouse trail (I think it was that trail anyway) where they were trying out some other options than gravel. That was encouraging, and I think the MTB community will step up to help out if we can see something other than burying ever trail feature under a foot of gravel.

The will is there. Look at the thousands upon thousands of hours that have been put into blackrock. Not sure what the running total for time put in so far at Alsea, but I bet it's well over a thousand.

I know Team Dirt has been talking with OSU land managers, and I think there was an invite for them to check out the work being done at Alsea Falls. My memory is fuzzy on the details, but I know that same approach is in the works for with Siuslaw NF.
 

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I have a degree in Forest Recreation Resources from OSU and we did study a little bit about trails and sustainable design. Mountain biking is a recreational activity but I agree with twd, OSU doesn't seem to think it's very important
Do you recall what class(es) covered that topic? Or which professors were teaching it?
 

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Do you recall what class(es) covered that topic? Or which professors were teaching it?
One of them was the Recreation Field Experience class with Royal Jackson in 1995. We went to Glacier Park MT and helped park managers with a trail re-route.

Also had a Recreation Carrying Capacity class with Bo Shelby but we learned only concepts of sustainable trail design, no field work.

With a "backyard" like the Mac-Dunn it was and still is a bit surprising that OSU doesn't incorporate more hands-on recreation field work.

twd I remember when the "graveling" of Dan's trail was begun. It was a shame to see, but the group involved was earnestly trying to build that good will, apparently to no avail.
 

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twd I remember when the "graveling" of Dan's trail was begun. It was a shame to see, but the group involved was earnestly trying to build that good will, apparently to no avail.
I have no doubt that intentions were good on the volunteer's part as well as OSU's. As pointed out, it is a shame that the more trail building knowledge/research hasn't been employed from within by OSU. The techniques employed have at least seemed rather rudimentary and lacking in skill/knowledge. That honestly isn't meant as a slam on anyone, I just think there is lots of room for improvement in trail building techniques in the MAC.

If OSU is willing to try new/better techniques (which I think they are starting to) then I think the local MTB community will get behind it. I have yet to see any really big efforts by the MTB community to put in authorized trail work in the MAC. There have been a number of attempts, but all seem to have been kinda luke warm response. I think the desire is there, but people aren't going to come out just to sanitize trails with gravel.
 

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As mentioned previously, I see the Alsea Falls project as the showcase for this entire area. If we, the greater MTB community in this area, can really make that into what I think it can be (a desination riding spot), and OSU sees the success it is having, then I could see things starting to change for the better in the Mac. If you haven't been out to a build day at Alsea Falls, you really, really need to get out there and see it. It is really impressive with what is there so far, and it is so encouraging to see 30 people out there on a Saturday building up this area.

One thing mentioned that I don't agree with is the effect that having an established and true trail system in the Mac could have on the local economy. I really think it could benefit the local economy from bike shops to hotels to home sales to all of it. Sure, would be on the level of Beaver football, not even close. But even with Corvallis and the size it is, I could see it being a benefit on a local level. Now, whether OSU cares about that or not, is a different story all together, and right now with the state of the Corvallis-OSU relationship, I'd have to say they don't care at all. But it doesn't have to be that way.

The thing is, it used to be good up there. The "legacy trails" were built by OSU profs that happened to ride as well. There was a time where trails were being built, although I don't know how "authorized" they were. Some of you know what I am talking about, and there is a map out there too showing these trails that were supposedly now ok to be there based on their longevity and being grandfathered in. But now, even those are threatened, such as The Plunge being closed because of the building and new route installed.

Let's just keep working on it the right way, as it will happen. Alsea Falls could truly be the key! I know some of you posting above are involved, but if you aren't, please, please get to a build day and check it out!
 

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Good points Chachi. On the economic front I see your point. I was thinking big picture in terms of % of total impact on the economy, but you are correct in that it could have a much bigger impact on certain businesses, bike shops in particular.

The Mac is a huge factor in the quality of life for a lot of people living in Corvallis. A couple years ago, my company tried to get me to transfer to Portland. I drove up there through PDX traffic to meet with them. Next morning I was back home, commuting to my office in Corvallis through the MAC on my mountain bike. Decided right then and there I wasn't leaving Corvallis, and turned down what would have been a better career opportunity.

That quality of life is also a draw to OSU for both recruiting (and retaining) students as well as faculty and staff. I have no real ties to OSU, so I haven't paid much attention to how well they embrace that aspect as a recruiting tool.

I'm still of the opinion that to have any success making in roads at OSU, they have to see some incentive or benefit to their core missions. It would be great to get to the point where OSU views recreation in the Mac-Dunn more as something to be developed and promoted rather than just managed and controlled. I'm sure there are some within OSU that go get that vision, but how much or how high up it goes I don't know.

And yes, Alsea as the showcase is the right way to go. BLM is totally behind it an supportive, and we as a community need to get behind that as well. Seems like there is a segment of the local MTB community that are sitting on the fence not getting involved with Alsea because it isn't right in their back yard.

I get that. The Mac is the most convenient riding spot, but if we build Alsea, it demonstrates what the local MTB community can do and becomes a roadmap for developing trails with other land managers, including OSU.

Back to the original title of this Thread "Corvallis Riding Vision" I've only been riding here for 16 years, but from my perspective, the "Vision" has never looked better. Lot's of exciting things happening. Just a lot more slowly in the Mac.
 

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Trey Jackson here. I am the Team Dirt contact with the OSU forestry department - I participate in the Forest Research Advisory Committee (fancy name for group of community representatives), and sit on the Team Dirt board.

Ryan Brown (OSU Forest Recreation manager) is very interested in increasing recreation in the OSU forests, and has been working with a group of people and a grad student to create a new recreation plan (eta perhaps early 2015 - just my guess). The new forest manager is also interested in increasing recreation opportunities in the forest.

Of course, being that the forest's primary role is: 1) generating revenue and 2) research area - recreation (currently) takes a pretty low priority.

Douglas Pereira is the Recreation Program Assistant - and leads up all the volunteer work in the forest. He has participated in several build days at Alsea, and took part in the IMBA trail building training last year. The work done on revamping the trail at the Firehouse was done with keeping those building techniques in mind (as opposed to the traditional OSU way of paving 4' wide gravel roads for paths).

So, I believe the commitment is there, and change is already being made, but there are many competing interests, recreation being just one (and mountain biking being just one part of recreation). And, due to a variety of factors, progress WILL BE SLOW. In contrast, the Alsea Falls work is leaping ahead with incredible speed - OSU just doesn't have that flexibility.

I'm optimistic about the future, but I caution folks that progress will be slow, and surely there will be setbacks along the way.

Note: I do not speak for OSU, and am just one of the many opinionated members of the Team Dirt board.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Great conversation! I agree that what is happening in Alsea Falls area could serve as an example of what can be done here. I am very excited about the Falls area and I am planning go out on the next trail build and help out. That being said, I do feel like the Mac is chocked full of untapped potential. I also feel that a real trail system could be built and maintained with a partnership between OSU and the mountain biking community and this partnership could be mutually beneficial.

There is a lot of talk about the trail building and the forestry department. But I wonder if working with the athletic department as well would be a beneficial approach. They have SCUBA classes at OSU why not mountain biking and sustainable trail building. This would not only enable OSU to offer more classes. A real trail system could serve as a recruiting tool for both athletes and students in general. Corvallis has some pretty stiff competition for students who are looking at schools in Seattle, LA, and the like.

I think that any benefit to OSU would be a benefit to the Corvallis from an economic standpoint. Furthermore, as others have mentioned, adding tourism to Corvallis by creating a Mountain Biking destination is going to help all kinds of local businesses. Right now, us locals are about the only ones who venture into the Mac. Our local trail maps pretty much are limited to Dan’s and Horse trails with a few other minor exceptions.

I am glad this is being talked about with the folks at OSU. I think the more we are heard from the more chance we have of getting something done.
 

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I like the idea of getting students involved. How about trail building for class credit? Or RecSports? Or the Adventure Leadership Institute?

I worry that nothing will change in the College of Forestry until at least one faculty (not staff) starts to champion recreation. Faculty won't pursue it unless they can pay grad students and get publications. Seems to me like a great research project for the Mac, but if it's anything like coastal/nearshore research, there just isn't funding.
 

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Then Pedal Driven! movie night is hosted next Thursday 4/10 at 7pm by Starker Forests and OSU College Forests.
This event gives me some hope that OSU is at least open to change since they are the ones hosting it. Starker has always been open to the idea from my experience. They have allowed local motorcycle clubs to build trails on their land in the past, and I don't why would not let the mountain bike community do the same. They have a permit system which requires you to get a new one every year by visiting/calling the main office. They require your vehicle licence plate numbers, so they can identify if you have a permit should one of their employees come by to check. It is a great system that is easy and free.

As a side note, I don't know that I want to see MAC/Dunn turn into Blackrock. We already have Blackrock, why have another area like it so close. I seriously doubt that would happen anyway, but I thought that I would throw that out there.
 

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Hi everyone, I’m Ryan Brown, the recreation manager out at the OSU College Forests. I wanted to chime into the conversation with a few thoughts. I won’t be able to address all of the issues that everyone brought up in this post, but wanted to at least get a start of it… First of all, I want folks to know that the College Forests’ attitude toward recreation has been changing in a very positive direction the past few years. I sat in on a meeting of the top brass in the College of Forestry, and was excited to hear everyone agreeing on the idea that we need to “embrace” recreation on the College Forests, in the interest of connecting with the community.

The mission of the College Forests is quite complex. Here is a list of things we manage the Forests for (in no particular order): classroom teaching, research projects, recreation, timber harvest, community outreach and interpretation, demonstrations for landowners, cultural resources, wildlife and other natural resources. As most people know, the College Forests have been donated to the College of Forestry for the purposes of teaching, research, and demonstration. Timber is harvested off of the properties, and the revenues go toward managing the forests (including the recreation program) and supporting learning and research in the College of Forestry. Over the years, the McDonald Forest especially, has become wildly popular as a local recreation destination. That’s a good thing, and it is one of the things we manage the forest for now!

We are making some significant progress at positively improving the recreation opportunities out here. Since I came on in fall of 2012, we have been working on a community-engaged recreation planning process. The idea is that we have a great amount of potential for recreation on the McDonald and Dunn Forests, and a wide variety of ideas of how we should develop it, what types of uses we should promote, and how we should implement changes with the limited capacity we have to manage the program (I am full time, and our program assistant, Douglas Pereira is half-time). We conducted 5 focus groups and met with a collection of community leaders representing all use types 4 separate times. For more information and preliminary results from this process, see: Recreation Planning | College Forests. We will be updating the page as we have more information to share (sometime later this spring or early summer).

These things unfortunately take time. Our next step is to meet with a group of College Forests/College of Forestry folks to really clearly articulate the goals for the recreation program based on input from the public involvement process. Then we will have a clearer goal of where we are headed regarding use-specific (ie-mountain biking) trails and how they fit into the opportunities for recreation offered out here. Basically, we hear you, and your thoughts are informing our actions and decisions. The thoughts on this post are very similar to those expressed in the focus groups, and we just need a little time to process them and turn them into actions.

Anyway, thanks for the good discussion! I’ll be at the showing of Pedal Driven on Thursday night and would love to chat with folks about these things some more. Hope to see you there.
 

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Thank you Ryan, for taking the time to read this thread and reply, and for working with the community at large in regards to recreation in the Mac and specifically, mountain biking within the Mac. I really appreciate it, and will see you Thursday night as well!

Giant Chachi (TREVOR)
 

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Thanks for the post Ryan. Great to hear your perspective and vision for the future. I hope to make it out Thursday night too.
 

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The Team Dirt Movie Night was an awesome event! How cool and encouraging was it to have local riders, Starker Forests, BLM and OSU in the same room for a movie with a cool message and further discussion of the state of riding in our local area?! Huge thanks go to Starker Forests, BLM and OSU for being there and representing their interests, as well as to other Team Dirt members and local riders in attendance.....it was awesome to see the strength in numbers!
 
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