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 eating 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. 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, where volunteers 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. The first work party was on November 14th. There is another opportunity to assist at Elk Meadows on Wednesday November 28th from 9 am to 1:30 pm. Registration is requested – go to the Trailkeepers Facebook events page, or at https://tinyurl.com/yddeadyr. Elk Meadows is located between Manzanita and Nehalem, down Bayside Gardens Road, off Neptune Way.
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. There will be some walking on uneven ground and it may get muddy. A mandatory, detailed safety discussion will be held before work begins, and they will teach you all the skills you need to know, so feel free to join them if you’ve never done trail work before! For more information about LNCT’s Elk Meadows trail-building, contact Shane Sjogren, Stewardship Lead at email@example.com or go to www.nehalemtrust.org.
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 various groups and agencies, such as the State Department of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service. 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 experience and enjoy the natural beauty of our surroundings is one of the keys to improving community wellness.