Hundreds of people showed up to the Crook County Fairgrounds for a meeting about a major mountain bike trail system proposed outside of Prineville Wednesday night.
“Only the arrogance of man allows him to choose a point and time to say here and now I have the right to permanently alter something that has always been into something of my choosing,” Dave Nieslon, a retired Biologist and Ecologist in Prineville said, reading a quote.
He was one of several speakers opposing a Mountain Bike trail system outside of the city of Prineville.
“Let’s not let them make that change in Lemon Gulch or any other place like it, in any national forest,” Nielsen said.
The proposal is a collaborative effort from the group Ochoco Trails, nearly three years in the making, to build up to 52 miles of bike trails in the area.
▶️ Rangeland vs. Recreation: Lemon Gulch MTB project under fire in Crook Co.
More than 260 people gathered at the Fairgrounds to both listen and voice their opinions about the potential project.
“We felt that we should of had a voice (earlier) and now we are making sure that the forest service gives us a voice,” said Mill Creek resident and Permittee at the Ochoco National forest Don Vogal.
The proposed site in the area, Lemon Gulch, is in the Ochoco National forest about 15 miles away from the city.
It’s also near a few local ranchers like Shelly Santucci.
“It’s tough for me to understand how somebody with a passion can disregard somebody who makes a living and just want to take it over,” said Santucci.
▶️ Community protests Lemon Gulch trail proposal at Forest Service meeting
Crook County Commissioners met Wednesday morning and talked about the Lemon Gulch Trail system.
“What we did today was voted unanimously to ask the forest service to start the process over again,” said County Judge Seth Crawford.
The Forest service recently suggested a few alternative trail systems, with the smallest trails ranging 19 miles.
“This is a pretty pristine and important area for wildlife,” said Wildlife and Rangeland graduate student of Prineville, Elli Gage. “Central Oregon, as the population has grown, wildlife habitat has just become more and more fragmented which is a huge threat to species like Elk and Mule deer.”