Oregon's Land Use Board of Appeals has dismissed a challenge to Portland's ban on mountain biking in the River View Natural Area.
City commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish announced the ban in March, saying the 146-acre natural area adjacent to the Willamette River was home to fragile wildlife and habitat. Starting in mid-March, the city allowed only "passive" users—i.e., hikers, birders or school kids—in River View.
The Northwest Trail Alliance brought the challenge, which the city of Portland sought to have dismissed.
On Wednesday, the land use board sided with the city.
"In its capacity as a custodian and manager of public lands, a local government commonly makes decisions that have the effect of restricting public access and the use of that land," the decision reads. "For example, a city parks bureau may decide to close trails within a public park to dog-walkers, in order to avoid conflict with other users, to prevent harm to wildlife, or for many other reasons that have little or nothing to do with land use planning or regulation, and which may not be governed by any standards at all.
"In our view, such operational or property management decisions to restrict public access or public use of public property should not be subject to LUBA's review under the significant impacts test, even if such decisions can be said to significantly impact public use of the park."
Portland bought River View in 2011 for about $11 million, using $6 million from utility ratepayers. The property, previously owned by River View Cemetery, already had about seven miles of trails maintained by mountain-biking enthusiasts. Cyclists had been riding on them for years.
Aaron Berne, attorney for the trail alliance, says his group is disappointed but won't appeal the decision further.
"We're optimistic that they'll reconsider their decision to ban mountain bikes," he says. "Mountain biking was the longest-standing and most popular use at River View."