By Laura Swanson
From the beginning of the Tillamook County Wellness efforts, an emphasis has been on simple, easy changes folks can make that will have a positive impact on their overall well-being. Walking and hiking were part of that equation (which also includes making healthier eating choices, like adding more vegetables, improving self-care and drinking more water.)
Tillamook County Wellness has brought multiple partners together and early on identified that increasing and improving our local trails would assist with improving our community’s overall health. By enlisting local residents to help with trail building and maintenance is a win-win-win for everyone!
Through meetings with various local groups, including Tillamook County Wellness, Oregon Coast Visitors Association determined that utilizing funds for a Trailkeepers of Oregon position to support trail development and maintenance would benefit the local communities as well as support tourism efforts.
One of the first work parties occurred at Hoquarton Slough trail on November 3rd, led by Susan Schen of Trailkeepers of Oregon. The group of about a half dozen cleared brush on a portion of the trail. The newly formed Tillamook Mid-County Parks and Recreation was approached by the City of Tillamook regarding the need to revitalize the Hoquarton Slough trail, which connects to the newly established Crosstown Connections trail at Goodspeed Park. Board members for the Parks & Rec coordinated a meeting between the Rotary Club, Trailkeepers of Oregon and the City, which resulted in the work party. “This is just one example of how community partners are coming together in unique and creative ways to get things done in Tillamook County,” said Michelle Jenck, Mid-County Parks and Recreation board member.
There are more opportunities to assist with trail building and maintenance throughout Tillamook County. Trailkeepers of Oregon is also working with the Lower Nehalem Community Trust on new trails at the LNCT’s Elk Meadows property. Work parties have been held on November 14th and 28th. Elk Meadows is located between Manzanita and Nehalem, down Bayside Gardens Road, off Neptune Way.
Trailkeepers of Oregon to hold half-day “Scout School” at Cape Lookout State Park Saturday Dec. 15, 8:30am-12:30pm
Part of the Trailkeepers of Oregon (TKO) trail workshop series, TKO Scout School is a half day workshop, introducing participants to basic trail challenges and ways to report them. One part hike, one part class, the workshop is an introductory experience geared towards all supporters of trail stewardship. At the end of the class, participants will understand some fundamental concepts of trail design, the ways users and nature impact trails, and what kinds of maintenance go into keeping a trail open and enjoyable. TKO Scout School registration is free, though parking requires an annual Oregon State Parks parking permit or $5 day pass. Sign up at this link: https://www.trailkeepersoforegon.org/events/tko-scout-school-oregon-coast-trail/
Trailkeepers of Oregon is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect and enhance the Oregon hiking experience through advocacy, stewardship, outreach and education. Find out more at trailkeepersoforegon.org
Here’s what you can expect if you’d like to try your hand at trail building. Volunteers will help with cutting back brush and carving new tread using loppers, hand saws, and digging tools.
For more about opportunities with Trailkeepers of Oregon, contact Susan Schen at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.trailkeepersoforegon.org.
There will continue to be multiple trail-building and trail maintenance projects throughout the area with multiple groups and agencies, such as the Department of Forestry as well. Tillamook County Wellness will be an information resource to connect community volunteers with these fun and rewarding opportunities. Providing trails and more access for local residents to be able to experience and enjoy the natural beauty of our surroundings is one of the keys to improving community wellness.