Oregonian: Oregon's Timberline ski resort wants big area for summer mountain biking

Timberline Lodge and Ski Area wants to open much of its lower ski area for downhill mountain biking in the summer by installing bike carriers on the Jeff Flood Express chairlift, developing about 15 miles of trails and building a separate "skills park" near the Wy'East Day Lodge that would include jumps, boardwalks, sea-saws and ramps.

The resort's plan, which the U.S. Forest Service made public today, requires an environmental review and Forest Service approval. The resort is in the Mount Hood National Forest.

In a summary of the plan, Zigzag District Ranger Bill Westbrook said the Timberline plan could reduce unauthorized mountain biking areas popping up throughout the forest. Timberline says the new trails could accommodate all skill levels.

Bark, an environmental group that watchdogs Mount Hood developments, said the fragile alpine terrain is the wrong place to develop mountain bike trails. Concerns include increasing erosion into nearby Still Creek, which hosts endangered wild coho and steelhead, said Lori Ann Burd, a Bark staff attorney.

The Forest Service should instead concentrate on developing trails for mountain bikers who want longer day trips, Burd said, calling the downhill biking proposed by Timberline "a niche extreme activity."

"I don't think it's going to meet the needs of the mountain biking community," she said. "I think they're looking for something more substantive."

The plan is open for public comment through July 30.