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Oregon Parks removes Metolius Loops Bikeway designation


The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission voted to remove the Metolius Loops Scenic Bikeway designation at thei r public meeting Wednesday in Lebanon.

The change resolves a conflict with the pre-existing federal Wild and Scenic River Management Plan that preserves the natural qualities of Camp Sherman area by limiting promotions, among other things.

The State Scenic Bikeway designation is a promotional designation. Even without the label “Scenic Bikeway,” all public roads in the area are available and open for bicycling.

The Metolius Loops State Scenic Bikeway was designated in 2011, and like all bikeways, was promoted nationally and internationally online and in print by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, its program partner Travel Oregon, and local bicycle and tourism proponents.

Officials said the promotional mission unintentionally conflicted with the Metolius Wild and Scenic River Management Plan, which was signed in 1997 by the Forest Service, following environmental analysis and public comment.

The Metolius plan calls for protecting the area’s primitive, historic character and preserving Outstandingly Remarkable Values by not permitting entities to promote the area, reducing congestion, managing signage to perpetuate historic character, and other standards.

A goal is to limit conflict and crowding in the Metolius Basin to maintain a quality visitor recreation experience.

After discovering the problem two years ago, Camp Sherman residents, bikeway proponents and staff with the U.S. Forest Service and OPRD tried unsuccessfully to resolve the inherent conflict between the two designations.

Because bikeways have to complement existing plans, the Metolius Loops route probably wouldn’t earn designation if proposed today , officials said.

Since the Metolius bikeway was never signed, nothing will change on the ground at Camp Sherman with the removal of the Scenic Bikeway designation.

Cycling will still be legal on those public roads, though the route will no longer be promoted in print and online by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and Travel Oregon.

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