Origins of the term “40 Mile Loop”

Sometime during the Spring of 2021, Gregg Everhart, a former PP&R Landscape Architect and staff assigned to assist the 40 Mile Loop, handed off to Jim Sjulin a file folder entitled “40-Mile Loop History.”

Obviously, the file contained information about the early years of the 40 Mile Loop as a concept and some information about the early years of the 40 Mile Loop Land Trust. One document was an eighteen-page transcription of an interview with Barbara Walker, a person whose name registered as synonymous with the 40 Mile Loop for over 30 years. The transcription is derived from a recorded interview conducted by Ryan Durocher, an AmeriCorps member from Portland Parks & Recreation’s Planning Department, on October 18, 2002, at Tulley’s Coffee in Portland City Hall.

The interview in its entirety pulled few punches and is an interesting read. The portion of the interview that pertains to the origin of the term “40 Mile Loop” is reproduced below (and slightly edited for brevity):

Barbara Walker: Well, there would be people who’d give you a different idea of where the 40 Mile Loop started. We’d found the Olmsted plan through Doug Bridges* , which had been shelved. I mean it was still considered, still operated, but there wasn’t even a copy anywhere. We had to go find a copy.

It’s called the 40 Mile Loop, not because the Olmsteds called it that, but because a person in the park bureau ran one of those little pie cutters that measure miles+, I don’t remember what you call those machines, but you go around on a map – now you wouldn’t do it that way, but back in those days, slide rule days – you went around and the route that the Olmsteds had planned on the map was 40 miles.

So we called it the 40 Mile Loop. And Doug Bridges knew from the beginning that it was going to be more than forty miles, we all did. Because that made Mt. Tabor the farthest east we went, and the city had grown. It was crazy to limit this idea – with the Columbia, and Columbia Slough, and Johnson Creek, and the growth that pushed us out – to Mt Tabor. So what’s interesting to me now is where we saw the circle coming around is what’s now the Gresham-Fairview Trail. Not the exact alignment, there was a power line we thought would be able to come down. And that wasn’t even a dream of anyone except some of us who had seen this in the back.

*Doug Bridges was Superintendent of Portland Parks & Recreation in the late 1970’s.

+A “pie cutter that measure miles” is formally known as a planimeter, a surveying tool.

Board Changes

During our last board meeting we reaffirmed Lou Reynoldson as President and Walter Valenta as Vice-President. Deb Scott was elected Treasurer and the Secretary office needs to be filled.

We invite you to join our work advocating for filling the gaps on the 40 Mile Loop Trail and maintaining them. Send a note to info at 40mileloop dot org!

New Board Members and Leadership Changes

After years of asking, Bob Akers finally talked the Board into letting him step down as our President. The Board members present at our December 2020 meeting unanimously elected Laura (Lou) Reynoldson as our new president.

Lou has been actively working with the board since 2018 and has supported the board since 2015.  She is a graphic artist and marketing professional with a passion for active transportation. Safety and equity are her priorities, and she is working toward a future for the 40-Mile Loop with a diverse board, to close gaps and encourage our communities to explore our active transportation assets. Read Lou’s full bio here.

Lou and her two children riding their bikes on the 30 Mile Loop Trail in Portland.
Lou and her two children riding their bikes on the 40 Mile Loop in Portland.

The Board reaffirmed the following directors/roles: Walter Valenta as Vice-President, Pat Jewett as Treasurer, and Deb Scott as Secretary.

The Board also welcomed new member Dave Elkin. Read Dave’s bio here.

If you are interested in our work, coming to meetings, even joining our board, please reach out to us at info@40mileloop.org. We’d love to see greater representation from all members of our community across the 40 Mile Loop!

Metro joined us for our meeting to pass the torch from Mel Huie, who is retiring from Metro after 44 years of public service! While Metro looks for a Regional Trails Coordinator, Karen Vitkay will be Metro’s liaison to the 40 Mile Loop Land Trust. Thank you to Metro for continuing to support our board’s work and safe access to trails, parks, and natural areas across the region.

If you haven’t received information from Rob Wojtanik, Metro’s Parks and Nature Planning Manager, about the celebrations being planned for Mel, contact us at info@40mileloop.org and we’ll forward the information.

40 Mile Loop Gaps Report – October 2020

The 40 Mile Loop Land Trust Board recently provided an overview of the 40 Mile Loop regional trail system. We hosted a Zoom meeting as a part of Metro’s Regional Trail Meetings on October 21, 2020.

The meeting was attended by 77 people from across the region, including advocates, agency representatives, and interested folks – thank you for joining us!

You can access a video recording here ( Passcode: f5G9f?3.  ).

Support for PP&R Operating Levy on November 2020 Ballot

Portland City Council is considering the referral of a Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) operating levy for this November’s ballot.

It would protect and restore recreation programs, park services, and our natural areas, including:

  • Recreation for All: end PP&R’s dependence on fees and transition to an equity-focused approach. Safely re-open community centers and pools, and resume fitness, arts, senior and youth, and environmental education programs for summer 2021;
  • Protect and Grow Nature: keep parks cleaner, safer, and more welcoming for all Portlanders. Plant new trees and proactively care for existing trees to help ensure clean water, protect wildlife, and diminish the impacts of climate change;
  • Community Partnerships: codesign recreational programming and provide resources to improve access to communities of color, families experiencing poverty, and refugees and immigrants, and provide community oversight.

If approved by voters in November, this levy would mark the beginning of a new, financially stable era for our parks and recreation system where parks and natural areas will be better cared for, and cost will not be a barrier to enjoying recreation programs. The proposed levy of .80 per $1,000 assessed value would raise an estimated average $48 million per year over five years. A home with an assessed value of $200,000 would pay about $13 a month.

Visit the PP&R website to learn more: https://www.portland.gov/parks/sustainable-future-our-park-system

You can share your input in a few ways:

  1. Tell us what you like about your parks and recreation system and what you’d like to see more of in the future: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XZVM3L8
  1. Reach out to your elected officials. On July 22, the Portland City Council will vote on whether to refer this proposal to the ballot. Please send your comments to Portland City Council Contact emails:            

Mayor Ted Wheeler (MayorWheeler@portlandoregon.gov)           

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty (joann@portlandoregon.gov)

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly (chloe@portlandoregon.gov)

Commissioner Amanda Fritz (amanda@portlandoregon.gov)

Adena Long, Portland Parks & Recreation Director (parksdirector@portlandoregon.gov)

  1. Share your enthusiasm with your networks. In this video, three Portlanders share why investing in our parks is so critical now, and so important for the next generation. Watch and share here: https://youtu.be/xPCwSEkJ6KY

Black Lives Matter

Dear community,

We abhor the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others. These murders reveal the systemic racism prevalent within our communities. 2020 has also proven the structural racism that is embedded in our country, as we have learned that COVID-19 is harming Black and brown people at a disproportional rate. Black Lives Matter and we are committed to bring about change through our work and through those with whom we work.

The 40-Mile Loop Land Trust is a private, non-profit organization whose purpose is to help acquire or access land for non-motorized trails and connect the most heavily used parks in the metropolitan region. These connections provide invaluable opportunities for recreation, community, and safe routes to jobs for all users, users in the neighborhood as well as visitors. This nexus of trails is called the 40-Mile Loop, and the Land Trust is working to complete the Loop.

We recognize that Black and brown people often do not feel safe using trail systems, and the Land Trust aims to figure out how to mitigate these barriers. Our first step is to recognize the past as we pledge to encourage positive reformation to systemic challenges and make certain the 40-Mile Loop is open and accessible to all.

The 40-Mile Loop Land Trust will

  1. Work with local non-profits on collaborative approaches to close gaps in the Loop and secure access for all (e.g., Oregon Wild, Coalition of Communities of Color, and The Intertwine).
  2. Continue to advocate for connections to the 40-Mile Loop and trails in high-risk communities in our metro region.
  3. Continue to work with communities to remove barriers to safe trail use and listen to our communities to understand those barriers through events, conferences, and special learning opportunities.

The 40-Mile Loop Land Trust will learn from the past via resources available to all such as

Black lives matter. The safety of our children and their families matter. Safe and convenient access to trails matter.

40-Mile Loop Land Trust Board of Directors

Bob Akers, President
Ken Ackerman
Pam Arden
Clarke Balcom
Glen Bolen
Michael Hayes
Pat Jewett
Scott Mizée
Lou Reynoldson
Deb Scott
Jim Sjulin
Walter Valenta

Letter version of our commitment post.