GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. -- A surprising discovery of a rare bumblebee near Timberline Lodge could put the brakes on a controversial mountain bike park.
The western bumblebee was a critical pollinator in the Northwest until around 15 years ago when the species mysteriously disappeared.
Then, this summer, researchers involved in a study funded by the Oregon Zoo uncovered several western bumblebee populations around Timberline Lodge. This included some that were found in the exact spot where the 15-mile mountain bike park will be built.
The bee is listed as a “sensitive species” and environmental groups said for that reason, the controversial mountain bike project should be shut down.
Alex Brown with BARK, an organization aimed at defending and restoring Mount Hood, is among those leading the anti-park effort.
“This is a really important piece of new information that we think is enough to justify withdrawing the construction,” he said.
Some outdoor enthusiasts like Wendy Williams counter that bicyclists and bees can easily live and play together.
“We're not out there to kill stuff or destroy stuff,” said Williams. “We're going out there to enjoy the wilderness.”
Forest Service officials said it’s unlikely the park will impact the bees’ habitat, but they will evaluate the concerns.
Background: Timberline mountain bike park