Many years ago, when mt. biking first appeared around Bend, the Flagline trail was a remote, high-country trail with little use. The story I've heard was there were some FS Wildlife Biologists observing the Elk behavior in the vicinity of Flagline when along comes some mt. bikers. The biologists made the determination that mt. biking disturbed the young elk and decided to impose a mt. bike closure on that trail in order to protect the calving elk. August 15 was the day they chose as that was observed as the time when the elk move to other areas.
So we have this closure in effect on Flagline trail each year until Aug 15. It isn't relevant whether or not any members of the public actually see any elk at all, and there really isn't a problem with us waiting until then to ride the trail. Each year, however it becomes more obvious that people are riding Flagline before the official opening day, but COTA's position is to ask people to please respect the closure. With lots of snow up there still, the "closure" is kind-of moot. Still, some people just can't wait.
Nat - surprising how much clearing can be done without tools, eh? Makes you wonder why small logs that are easily moved remain on the trail for weeks... Thanks again!