The Washington County Visitors Association (WCVA) and Tillamook County recently announced they have granted additional financial support needed to complete the remaining master planning for segments of the Salmonberry Trail, described as Oregon’s most ambitious rail-to-trail project.
The WCVA and Tillamook County each awarded $175,000, the combined total of which - $350,000 - will help finance the master planning of the 18.6-mile canyon segment and the 15.3-mile river segment of the Salmonberry Trail, which are the remaining two of the four total segments of the 86-mile trail. Master planning on the coastal section was completed in 2017, and the valley section (from Banks to the top of the Coast Range) in 2018.
Funding from both counties is sourced from Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) and will be allocated for a study of the Canyon and River segments that will analyze the impacts and constraints of developing a recreational trail along the old rail corridor. Designs will be identified to help mitigate or eliminate multiple constraints. In addition, the study will evaluate rail bridges and tunnels to be re-used or replaced for trail development, as well as provide detailed cost estimates of trail development.
The 86-mile non-motorized trail will wind through valleys and forests, along rivers and a historic railroad line crossing through Washington and Tillamook counties as it passes over the top of the Oregon Coast Range, connecting the coast and the Portland-metro area. The project began after a segment of the rail line was severed by heavy winter storms in 2007 in the Salmonberry Canyon area. The high cost of repairing the line combined with reduced use led to the Port of Tillamook Bay’s decision not to restore rail service through the canyon, sparking interest in a rails-to-trails project.
“We are excited to be a part of this great project,” said Washington County Commissioner Jerry Willey, in a press release. “Trails improve health and wellness, strengthen social and cultural relationships among rural, suburban and urban residents and help residents forge new ties to our past and future.”
The WCVA funded the first tangible element of the Salmonberry Trail last year when it dedicated the Manning Trailhead, adjacent to the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) will take the lead on the Salmonberry Trail coast segment planning study and final plan report, with support from the Salmonberry Trail Foundation.
For more information on the Salmonberry Trail project and planning process, visit www.salmonberrytrail.org.