About

“Everybody has a hobby.” Traditionally thought of as an extreme sport for adrenaline junkies, mountain biking is a bourgeoning outdoor culture that is now enjoyed by people of all ages. The culture directly impacts people’s lives, their communities, and the environment on a grand scale. However, mountain biking is not the only outdoor hobby utilizing the forests. What if mountain bikers are destroying the very environment their lifestyle depends on? What would be of Hood River, OR, a community that depends on outdoor enthusiasts every year, without mountain biking?

“The Woods Belong To Us” examines two conflicting lifestyles: mountain biking and environmentalism, and the outcome when they collide. The conflict has been going on for over twenty years, but there seems to be no end in sight. Will there be a time when they can all peacefully co-exist?

Mountain bikers, dirt bikers, horseback riders, cross country skiers, hikers, and environmentalists like Michael J Vandeman – there’s only so much land to share between them all. For these enthusiasts, it is far more than a hobby. Their love for the sport and environment spreads to the communities where trails are frequented. One of the major mountain biking destinations is Hood River, Oregon. A monthly committee is held to determine which activities will be allowed in the forests: where trails are built, who is in charge of maintaining trails, and when loggers will be cutting down sections of the forest. The mountain bikers are never alone at these meetings, and many of the other attendees will defend their beliefs under any means necessary – including sabotage, the promise of violence, and theft. In other communities, things aren’t quite so progressive.

Douglas Johnson, founder of the Gorge Free Ride Association,  fights from the forests. He’s proudly part of a subculture known as “free riders” – mountain bikers who build and ride extensive, elaborate, and potentially dangerous trails that snake through dense forests all over the world. All of the trails built by Douglas are born from his own time, money, tools, sweat, and blood. People travel the world to ride his trails, yet his creations are constantly under the threat of vandals, opposition from the local government, disrespectful local citizens, and the inevitable day when the last tree in his sanctuary is claimed by the insatiable loggers.

Vandeman fights from lecture halls, classrooms, and online message boards. His life-long goal is to create an environment where humans are not welcome or allowed. To him, mountain bikers are the largest obstacle standing in the way of his vision.

In “The Woods Belong To Us”, Vandeman will bring the battle into the woods.