Great news for those who like to take the road less traveled: The Crown Zellerbach Trail, a former logging road that gives riders an off-highway option between Scappoose and Vernonia, has just won a $150,000 matching grant from Oregon Parks and Recreation.
The funding will pay for access and safety improvements along the 23-mile trail that will include kiosks, maps, signage, safer highway crossings and other amenities.
What’s amazing about this grant is that it started from a humble desire to memorialize a man who loved to hike and bike on “the CZ”. Dedicated advocate (and personal friend and supporter of mine) Wayne Naillon chose to end his life on this trail in May of 2016. Friends and partners quickly joined together to remember him by raising money to improve the CZ. That initial, relatively meager sum of $6,000 is what led to this much more substantial grant.
Here’s more from a statement released today by Columbia County:
“”Wayne loved the CZ Trail and wanted more people to know about it, so we thought that promoting use of the trail would be a good way to memorize him,” said Dale Latham, Naillon’s friend and co-manager of the Wayne Naillon Memorial Trail Fund.
Latham and family member Marcus Iverson approached the county with the idea of using the $6,000 to improve access to the trail. That’s when Casey Garrett, the county’s General Services Manager, suggested the county apply for a grant from OPRD, which they did in May 2017. By December, the initial donation of $6,000 had turned into an approved $150,000 matching grant, with promises from the county, Oregon Equestrian Trails, and cartographer Jeff Smith partnering to provide labor and pro bono personal services. Smith was a good friend of Naillon’s and is an active advocate for biking trails in Oregon.”
The County says many of the improvements will take place at the Chapman trailhead about 8.5 miles from Scappoose. They’ll include a covered picnic area, bicycle rack, bicycle repair station, signage, an ADA horse mount assist and an ADA-approved vault toilet.
Five other trailheads will get new kiosks with maps. There will be a new flashing crossing beacon installed at the intersection of Scappoose-Vernonia Highway and Cater Rd. Caution signs will also go up at several other intersections to help make crossings safer.
Columbia County commissioners hope these improvements will raise the profile of the CZ trail and create more urgency for progress on other trails like the Salmonberry Trail, which will eventually run from Banks (easily accessible via the Banks-Vernonia Trail) to the Oregon Coast. (One missing link that remains is the gap from where the CZ trail ends at Pittsburgh and where the Banks-Vernonia begins.)
“The CZ Trail is a jewel, and we’re thrilled to be able to make it safer and more accessible, and to spread the word about this beautiful place,” County Commissioner Margaret Magruder said in the statement. “I thank the friends of Wayne Naillon for starting us on this incredible journey.”
A better CZ Trail will also be a key piece of the already growing interest in cycling we’ve seen in Columbia County.
Work on the trail will begin this spring and is expected to last up to two years. If you haven’t ridden on it yet, I highly recommend it. Check out just a few of the adventures I’ve had on it over the years here and here.
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