Friday, May 04, 2012

Public or Private?

A few days ago, I was out riding one of my usual road-mixed-with-gravel rides and saw across a valley some logging roads I haven't seen before. Since I am always looking for new routes near home, particularly new routes that involve leaving the pavement behind, if even for a short while, I was intrigued.

Only, there was a small problem... these logging roads were at the end of what looked like a private road.

Here in Oregon we have quite a mix of public and private lands. Some are OK to ride on while others are definitely not. I break them down into four groups: Private-Private, Private-Public, Public-Private, and Public-Public.

These are the lands owned by private land owners and are closed to the public. These are the lands where you are likely to be confronted by a hostile land owner. Often, you stumble on these lands--you don't go there on purpose. If you are going to be prosecuted as a trespasser, it'll be on these lands.

Again, as above, this is land held by private parties. Unlike the above, however, they are generally open to recreation as long as it doesn't interfere with their own use of their land. Mostly, these are small woodland land owners. They own a few thousand acres and are often family operations. Riding here is generally not a problem on weekends or after hours, but a cyclist might need caution during business hours due to active logging.

This is land held by public companies. In Oregon, it is mostly Weyerhaeuser, but there are smaller companies, too. They bar access to their lands, but log in National and State forests. I ride these lands without issue. I lift my bike over the gate and go. I've never run trouble here.

This is the best scenario. Here the companies that own the land open the land up to recreation. This is where you will find ATV and motorcycle trails and the land owners will allow trail building. The only downside here is that the company could decide to log the area that contains the trail, obliterating the trail in the process. Often, these are the same companies as Public-Private, the only difference is their policy on this particular plot of land.

Back to the problem at hand...

The logging roads I saw that were up above private residences: where they Private-Private (and therefore off limits) or where they Private-Public? I'd hate to assume that they were the former and miss out on some new riding.

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