$200,000 grant given to the Salmonberry Trail

Timber, Buxton, Manning, Banks – A plan to build an ambitious rails-to-trail through the Tillamook State Forest got a large boost on March 16th with a $200,000 grant awarded by the Washington County Visitor’s Association (WCVA) to the Salmonberry Trail Intergovernmental Agency (STIA), according to Ross Halloway, STIA board member and Executive Director of the Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust.

The funds will be used to assist in planning and engineering field study work – work that will lead to a 20-mile segment of the trail being built through the communities of Timber, Buxton, and Manning, according to the official website for the trail.  The WCVA, and grants they dispense, are funded by a 2.33 percent transient lodging tax generated in Washington County.

In a letter written to the STIA Board by Nels Gabbert, Chair of the Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust, the non-profit spearheading the trail project, the planning work originating from the grant could result in trail construction in the Washington County portion of the trail in the next several years.

The Salmonberry Trail will connect the Banks-Vernonia State Trail to Tillamook via the former Pacific Railway & Navigation Company line, now owned by the Port of Tillamook Bay. When complete, the trail will cross more than 30 historic train trestles, cut through nearly a dozen tunnels, and pass through local communities and towns from the Banks area all the way to the Oregon Coast as it traverses more than 80 miles of some of the most rugged terrain in northwest Oregon.

Banks Mayor Pete Edison praised the trail project in a video released on March 16th, the same day the $200,000 grant was approved.  “This is a movement that has world-wide potential. To be part of that is a big deal, for me and I think for everybody here in Banks.” Edison said.

While the mayor of Banks may be in favor of the project, many residents of the unincorporated communities the trail passes through are clear in their opposition to the trail. “I don’t want this trail in my town, just like the rest of the community doesn’t want this trail in our town.” said Timber resident Eric Vertrees, who lives on Cochran road. Other community members are concerned about losing driveway access to their homes on Railroad Avenue in Timber.

Trinity Herr, a long-time Timber resident currently living in Hillsboro until she can move back home, isn’t entirely opposed to a trail. But she has concerns about her community losing something irreplaceable – its culture.

“I wouldn’t mind a dirt, mixed use trail like the trails that exist already at Reeher’s Camp. I don’t want to lose access to hiking the railroad tracks. But paving a trail into the center of our town and making it an ‘international attraction‘ in the words of Senator Betsy Johnson would fundamentally change the culture and livability of our community. Because we don’t have a commercial sector or recognized government doesn’t mean that we don’t exist, and that our opinions as to what happens in our literal backyards don’t matter.”

The STIA will hold a board meeting on Thursday, April 6 at 6 pm until no later than 9 pm at the Banks Fire Station at 13430 NW Main St, Banks, OR 97106.  There will be a thirty minute public comment period at the beginning of the meeting.

This article has been updated on April 4 at 7:55 am with the addition of a source, ROss Holloway, and information on where the grant funds went.

Sources & more information:

Official Project Website
Post about $200,000 grant from Salmonberrytrail.com
Ariel Kanable, Tourism Development Coordinator, WCVA

Eric Vertrees, Timber Resident
Trinity Herr, Timber Community Member
Ross Holloway, STIA board member
Salmonberry Trail Video Community Leaders Video
STIA April 6 Agenda
Letter from the Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust to the STIA board
Reehers Camp Map