One of the absolute jewels of Willamette Valley horse country is the Bob & Crystal Rilee Park and Equestrian Trail network. Crystal was well known in the equestrian community and beloved for her vision and commitment to preserving natural areas for horses and horse people.
The 300+ acre property had been held in trust until it was acquired by the Chehalem Parks & Recreation District at a steep discount under agreement to maintain the property’s equestrian legacy. This special opportunity for equestrians close to an urban center makes it a valuable asset to the larger community, giving more people access to equestrian experiences.
For a while now, cyclists have taken to using the east side of this property. Recently, I was shocked to see these signs on the west side.
Despite having applied for an advisory position when the parks advisory committee was forming, I had not realized how far afield the advisory committee had gone, seemingly without perspective from the equestrian community.
Equestrians would have raised the incompatible safety of horses and cyclists in a shared trail network.
Though the advisory committee’s recommendation states, “Horses are large animals with strong flight instincts and so consideration needs to be taken to ensure that the multi-use activities of the overall BCRP do not cause increased risk of accidents and liability for CPRD,” it seems like the through didn’t follow here.
See advisory recommendations and site assessments attached below.
People are not familiar with the reactions of horses and may not grasp what 900-2,300 lbs of horsepower crossing blind corners, steep ravines, inclines and switchbacks really means. Coupled with fast whizzing cyclists, and this is a recipe for disaster, injury, lawsuits or worse! It’s unsafe for horses, equestrians and cyclists alike.
I don’t have all the answers but I do know if the horse community doesn’t speak up, the chance to do so may be lost!
I encourage any and all equestrians, horse people, cowboys, and pleasure riders alike to join in the effort to protect this natural resource by speaking up at the Chehalem Parks and Rec meeting this Thurs 9/29/22 @ 6:00pm in person or online.
– Ryann Reinhofer