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‘Don’t Bend Prineville’ citizen group challenging proposed Ochoco National Forest trail project

(Update: Adding information and video)

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A proposed mountain bike trail project in the Ochoco Mountains northeast of Prineville is facing some opposition from a citizens group calling itself "Don't Bend Prineville."

"There are a lot of deer and elk that live there and I think it would mess with them," Tyrel Cooper told NewsChannel 21 Tuesday.

The group is leading a 'Save the Ochoco's Town Hall' on Wednesday, April 20 in opposition of the Lemon Gulch Trail System Project, about 15 miles northeast of Prineville.

The Lemon Gulch Trail System Project consists of up to 52 miles of mountain bike trails, "with primary use by mountain bikes but also open to hiking," according to the Forest Service scoping notice, issued just over a year ago.

The proposal was put together by the Central Oregon Trails Alliance and Ochoco Trails , two advocacy groups for mountain biking and horse riding.

“You have mountain bikers advocating for equestrians and equestrians advocating for mountain bike trails," Kassidy Kern told NewsChannel 21. "We are really proud of the work that they are doing.” 

"The purpose of the project is to meet the needs of the community and the desire for new mileage, multiple loops, downhill riding opportunities, and trails designed and managed for mountain bike use," the scoping notice stated.

"(The) Lemon Gulch area would meet the community’s need for an easily-accessible network of trails. The project is also expected to draw and more evenly distribute current and future mountain bike use from the high-use areas of Lookout and Round Mountain. This would minimize interactions and improve the experience and safety of equestrians and hikers in these areas," it continues.

Cooper, though, said Prineville "already has enough trails. It’s more money to the taxpayers, and cattle raising and horseback riding doesn’t co-exist with bicyclists.”

Cooper provided NewsChannel 21 with a flyer about the April 20 town hall at Carey Foster Hall, stating "Don't Bend Prineville" is "a grassroots movement to preserve and honor a rural way of life that we all enjoy in Prineville and Crook County, through sustainable and well-managed growth."

The Don't Bend Prineville public Facebook group, created in February, has 450 members.

Darlene Henderson is the chair of Ochoco Trails and helped propose the trail plan.

Without the designated trails for mountain bikers, Henderson said, “There's potential of getting into a situation with unplanned recreation -- and it’s in the exact place where we don’t want it to be."

Kassidy Kern, public affairs officer for the Ochoco National Forest, told NewsChannel 21 the Forest Service will put together preliminary trail plans in early summer for public comment before releasing a final trail plan in late summer.

Here's the info sheet from the opposing group:

Article Topic Follows: Crook County
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Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jordan here.


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