by John Sparks, Newsletter Editor, Trailkeepers of Oregon Did you know that Oxbow Regional Park sits on top of a buried forest? Walk to the bank of the Sandy River where it cuts into a thick layer of…
Oregon’s South Coast is renowned for breathtaking views and bountiful recreation opportunities. However, challenges with staffing and funding for public agencies means some of these places have quietly slipped into disrepair. But not to fear! TKO volunteers are here to change the trajectory of these special places.
In Legacy Builders campaign Week 2, we are celebrating the effort TKO volunteers contributed to caring for trails and special places on Oregon’s South and Central Coast! The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is one of these places. This 12 mile long state park boasts breathtaking ocean views and tucked-away natural wonders, providing an excellent hiking experience in a rugged natural environment. Despite not receiving Federally-recognized status, the Scenic Corridor remains a popular nature destination for Curry County residents and visitors. Of trail stewardship in Samuel Boardman, TKO south Coast Stewardship Coordinator Trevor B. says “Working in Samuel Boardman has been a true pleasure, although a rugged one at that. Bees, poison oak, steep trails, and a never-ending jungle of thriving brush provide challenges and a constant workload. Despite the challenges, few areas in the state rival the rugged natural beauty of Boardman. Each trail party feels like an adventure…I love sharing these experiences of natural wonder with residents and visitors alike. Whether we are removing downed logs, scouting a long-defunct section of the Oregon Coast Trail, or cutting back the thriving jungle of brush, there are always plenty of sweaty hardhat liners and smiles to be had at the end of each day. Everyone always seems to have a great time at a Boardman Trail Party.”
A bit down the road, volunteer Crew Leader Marty O. has been leading crews at Sunset Bay State Park. Marty began as a Green Hat (entry level) volunteer with TKO and earned her Crew Leader Yellow Hat after completing training under the mentorship of TKO leaders. Between events, she recounts her favorite moment on the trail from this year – an Earth Day trail party on the Bog Trail: “We had a great turnout of volunteers…all eager to make a contribution to making our Earth a better place to live. A week later our group was featured on the front page of our local paper (The World)!”
Just when you thought the wonders of the south coast may end, we find ourselves at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve – the only such reserve in Oregon. One of the landmark projects at this location was a multi-day campout where volunteers, local Coast Guard members, and agency partners alike constructed the Hidden Creek Boardwalk. The work doesn’t stop there, though. Being the incredible classroom that it is, TKO hosted specialized trainings at South Slough, including a New Trail Development class where crews helped the Reserve identify the best location and contours for a new trail system and taught volunteers the skills needed to do so themselves. This year, the Reserve nominated TKO for the State Land Board’s Partnership Award. On Tuesday, October 10th, TKO was awarded this honor by Oregon’s Governor Tina Kotek!
This all may sound like a lot of work, but following TKO’s priorities of “safety, fun, and service” (in that order), Crew Leaders make sure volunteers are enjoying themselves on the trail, too. Through a creative collaboration with Travel Southern Oregon Coast and Oregon State Parks, TKO hosted several “Spot and Lop” trail days that combine trail stewardship with engaging outdoor activities, such as mushroom foraging and tide pool explorations. Each event brought in an expert in their field to immerse volunteers in the wonders of the coast. It is events like these that excite even the most indoorsy to become stewards of these special places.
With so many successes over just one year, the tide truly seems to be turning for southern Oregon coast trails. TKO Crew Leaders and volunteers are excited to continue existing projects and tackle new challenges. However, we need your help to keep this pace going. Funds we receive through donations from everyday folks allow us to pursue these unique projects and partnerships that truly make a difference. Support the south coast today by donating to our Legacy Builders fundraising campaign!
TKO would like to thank Oregon State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Travel Oregon, and the Oregon Coast Visitors Association for their support of TKO’s service to stewarding Oregon’s trails!