The creation of the Salmonberry Trail, planned to stretch from Banks to Tillamook, took several steps forward in January.
On January 17, the Washington County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a $630,000 grant request to the Oregon Department of Transportation to partially plan an approximately 3.2 mile section of trail that would stretch from where the Banks-Vernonia State Trail splits from the path of the Salmonberry right of way in Manning, through Buxton, and to the southern edge of Stub Stewart State Park.
Dubbed the “Unifier Loop” by the Salmonberry Trail Foundation, the nonprofit group formed to support the trail’s development, the trail would be the first section built in Washington County if the project were to be completed. Funding to build the trail itself could be accomplished under a different grant in the future, county documents submitted by the Salmonberry Trail Foundation.
If approved, the grant, part of ODOT’s Community Paths Grant Program, would fund 30% engineering, a process that would create an understanding of the costs to build that stretch of trail, and complete a comprehensive environmental assessment. The grant would also include opportunities for public engagement as part of the design process.
While the Salmonberry Trail could technically extend from the city of Banks to Tillamook, it’s likely that new trail building will begin instead in Manning, where the Salmonberry right of way splits from its adjacent path with the Banks-Vernonia as it heads toward Buxton, Timber, and then into the heart of the Tillamook Forest.
Users of the Banks-Vernonia State Trail can look to the left as they travel toward Vernonia from Banks until Manning to see the tracks of the disused rail comprising the Port of Tillamook Bay railroad.
The grant application approved by Washington County also notes that the county will put $65,000 in county Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program (MSTIP) funds forward as a match.
The county said that there was no known opposition to the grant application to date.
New Executive Director takes the reins of Salmonberry Trail Foundation
January 17 was an important date in all things Salmonberry Trail. The same day that the county met to approve the grant was new Salmonberry Trail Foundation Executive Director Caroline Fitchett’s first day on the job, according to public records obtained by this newspaper.
Foundation plans trail cleanup
Citing Fitchett’s hiring, and the ascension of other, as-yet unnamed board members, the Salmonberry Trail Foundation said it would host a trail cleanup Saturday, February 4 on the 3.2 mile stretch it hoped to build between Manning and Stub Stewart.
More information can be found online by signing up for the event, which will begin at the Manning Trailhead.
The cleanup event begins at 8:45 a.m., and volunteers were asked to commit to at least three hours of work. Work is expected to be completed by early afternoon.
The event is open to all ages, but those under age 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, and those ages 14 through 17 will need a waiver signed by a parent or guardian.
The event is sponsored by the Salmonberry Trail Foundation, Friends of Trees, Friends of Stub Stewart, and Clean Water Services.
STF said participants should bring the following:
- Sturdy footwear, such as work boots or tough hiking boots/shoes
- Long pants
- Long sleeve shirt
- Layers so you remain comfortable as temps change and Oregon rain
- Safety glasses and work gloves, if you have them
- Water and a pack to haul it in
- A willingness to get dirty!
STF noted they would provide tools, hard hats, first aid kits, extra gloves, eye protection, light snacks, and hot beverages.
The proposed Salmonberry Trail is an 87-mile corridor that follows the Port of Tillamook Bay Railway From Banks to Tillamook, passing through Manning, Buxton, Timber, Enright, Mohler, and other communities and cities in Washington and Tillamook Counties.