By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Trail open house caps 2-day workshop

National Parks Service consultant Dan Miller said the next step would be taking the various suggestions and using them to formulate a draft proposal for the trail design, a process he said would take about a year.

Miller and Shawn James are working with Yamhill County and Friends of the Yamhelas Trail, under the auspices of National Parks Service grant that provides technical expertise rather than money. The county is currently applying for grants to help cover the cost of the first action on the ground — the design and construction of bridges.

The open house drew an array of local farmers, landowners and residents, including several who own adjacent property.

Karen Hoyt, who lives outside Carlton, said she came because she favors the trail.

“I’m just really excited that we have a trail system we can walk or bike almost to Forest Grove,” she said. “I do understand that it goes almost through people’s backyards, but I’ve seen trails like this before, and they can work for everybody.”

Dave Rucker, a member of Friends of the Westsider Trail, also spoke in favor. He loves to run and bike, and hopes to use the trail himself.

A native of McMinnville, Rucker said while many people oppose more growth for the area, it is unavoidable.

“At least this is not pollutive,” he said. He suggested it would draw tourists to visit and spend money locally, boosting the economy without adding population.

The open house even drew a couple from Portland. They said they were interested in getting an update on progress.

Rick and Sue Pope said they had heard about the trail at a booth they visited at a Portland bicycle show, and it captured their interest.

“The pressure for off-road bicycle trails is growing,” Rick Pope said. He said people can and do ride on main roads, but said, “There are always bicycle and car conflicts,” some of them dangerous.

He said the couple hopes the Yamhelas Trail will connect with a similar trail in Vernonia. He said they envision coming out periodically and making a weekend of it, to “visit the wineries, ride the rails.”

Sue Pope said the couple has been riding Rails to Trails paths throughout the country. “I really think they have a positive impact on small communities, some of them much more rural,” she said.

She said the couple favors natural settings featuring interpretive signs of a historical nature.

The open house also featured a synopsis of the results of an online survey.

A paved or gravel trail surface was ranked highly important by a majority of respondents, along with garbage cans and restrooms, to help keep the trail clean. Most favored a paved surface, with a parallel dirt track for runners and horses.

Respondents also requested waste bag dispensers and water dishes for pets, and parking at or near trailheads.

Benches, tables, interpretive signs, maps and wheelchair accessibility all earned relatively high ratings. Ranked further down on the list were water fountains, bike racks and horse trailer parking.

Most said they would use the trail for walking or biking once a week to once a month.