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Salmonberry Trail to the coast hits milestone, begins fundraising effort

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

The Salmonberry Trail would connect Banks
to Tillamook on the Oregon Coast.
(Map by Oregon State Parks & Rec)

The proposed Salmonberry Trail, a path that would connect Washington County to the Pacific coast through the forest along a defunct rail line, has an official name and is about to get a full-time executive director.

Previously referred to as the “Salmonberry Corridor,” the trail also has an 11-member decision-making body with formal power to start raising the unknown millions that’d be required for the 86-mile proposal.

The Salmonberry Coalition will celebrate those milestones at its annual meeting next month. The public event is 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Oct. 9, at Stub Stewart State Park.

“We’ve been having steering committee meetings about once a month,” state trails coordinator Rocky Houston said in an interview Tuesday about the coalition’s progress.

The biggest upcoming milestone for the path is likely to be the hiring of its first full-time staffer. Houston said the hiring process is underway for a two-year job to lay the groundwork for a major and ongoing search for grants, donations and other deals that could make the project possible.

Rail-with-trail (above) and rail-to-trail (below) renderings from the Salmonberry Corridor Draft Concept plan released last year. It’s not certain that all segments would be paved, especially at first.

The Salmonberry Trail would run through Washington and Tillamook counties along the route of a mostly unused rail line that has repeatedly been washed out by floods. It’d connect with the existing Banks-Vernonia Trail and the planned Council Creek Regional Trail between Hillsboro and Banks to create a continuous trail network from the Portland metro area to the Oregon coast.

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Houston said the executive director will be a state parks employee and that the position will come with a budget of about “$200,000 over two years for salaries and benefits and all those things.” It’ll continue through at least the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years.

The money comes from the state Department of Forestry, from the Washington County Visitors Association, from Tillamook County, from the state Parks Department and from the nonprofit Cycle Oregon, which has been an instigating advocate for the project along with state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose.

The forestry and parks departments, along with Tillamook County and the Port of Tillamook Bay, are the four voting members on the Salmonberry Trail Authority.

That group’s official creation last week was reported Monday by the Tillamook County Pioneer.

The Authority also has seven nonvoting members: representatives for Washington County, the Washington County Visitors Association, the Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust, Cycle Oregon, the regional solutions representative from the state governor’s office, the office of the state representative for District 32 (currently Deborah Boone, D-Cannon Beach) and the office of the state senator for District 16 (currently Johnson).