Timberline Bike Park – comments needed by Oct 31
THE BASIC STORY
As many of you know, a proposal for a Timberline Bike Park was approved by the Forest Service back in 2012 and subsequently halted by a lawsuit against the USFS by a consortium of environmental groups including the Sierra Club, BARK, Friends of Mt. Hood and the NW Environmental Defense Fund.
Well, to make a long story short (you can read the longer story below), a federal judge recently ruled in favor of the USFS and Timberline. The only hurdle for the Timberline Bike Park now is a mandated comment period around the scope of the initial environmental assessment for the project.
This is where you can get involved by sharing your support for the Timberline Bike Park with the USFS before October 31, 2016. Comments should address support for the construction of the bike park without further delay and echo the decision by the courts that no further NEPA process is warranted.
The Forest Service has some requirements on comments:
– You must use the subject as listed below
– Comments must be sent in plain text (.txt), rich text (.rtf), or Microsoft Word
– Comments should not be a copy and paste of a form response.
Timberline Mountain Bike New Information
SAMPLE letter (please write your own)
District Ranger Westerbrook,
I am writing in support of the Timberline Ski Area Mountain Bike Trails and Skills Park project. This project has been analyzed and litigated since 2010. During that time I have stood in support of this project. In August 2016 the final National Marine Fisheries Service assessment found no risk Lower Columbia River fish stock. Three years of biological studies concerning Western bumble bees find their range broadening across the forest and no risk of them being federally listed. I recognize we need fish and pollination to live. I am fully satisfied with the comprehensive analysis. Please allow construction of this much desired public recreation asset to move forward on our land. Thank you for your public service.
YOUR NAME GOES HERE
WHERE TO SEND YOUR LETTER
Mt Hood National Forest
16400 Champion Way
Sandy, OR 97055-7248
MORE INFORMATION ON THE ISSUES AND PROJECT
The Longer Story
The Timberline Bike Park proposal was approved in 2012 following 2 years of environmental studies, resulting in a comprehensive Environmental Assessment (EA) of the proposal. The Forest Service issued a Decision and Finding of No significant Impact based on the analysis in the EA. This approval was subsequently appealed by a consortium of groups, led by the Friends of Mt. Hood. Upon review by the Region VI Regional Forester, the decision was upheld and the appeal was denied.
Just prior to the start of construction, the CRAG Law Firm, representing Friends of Mt. Hood, the Sierra Club, BARK and the NW Environmental Defense Center, filed suit against the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, and requested an injunction to halt any activity in regards to the proposed Bike Park. Timberline requested and was granted the right to be joined as a co-defendant intervenor with the Forest Service. A federal judge issued an interim injunction pending the court issuing a ruling regarding the merits of the issues in the case. This injunction applied to any trail building, but allowed most of the restoration work to proceed. The restoration work was substantially completed in the Fall of 2015. Subsequent to the initial stages of the law suit, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) was also named in an amended complaint.
In the Spring of this year, the federal judge ruled in favor of the Forest Service, NMFS and Timberline on most of the issues in the lawsuit, and deferred ruling on the few remaining issues pending Forest Service and NMFS completion of updated reviews of additional information in the form of an additional NFMS Biological Opinion, and the results of further Western Bumblebee surveys.
Yesterday, the Forest Service issued their review of the additional information on their website, their reasoning behind why they feel that the new information is consistent with prior work, concluding that no supplemental EA or other additional NEPA is required and provided for another public comment period regarding their review and conclusions, ending October 31st. The intent of the comment period is to receive input from the public as to whether or not to prepare a supplemental EA or otherwise reopen the EA process, which would further delay implementation of the Bike Park project.