Commissioners Working Hard to Close Oregon Coast Trail Gaps

Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) County Solutions is supporting three county commissioners, Melissa Cribbins (Coos County), Doug Hunt (Lincoln County), and Bill Baertlein (Tillamook County), in convening community based stakeholder groups in completing the Oregon Coast Trail.

There are 382 miles of hiking path along the Oregon coast between Oregon’s state lines, and on this vast trail, there are several sections that are disconnected, or have other updates needed based on safety, convenience, or accessibility concerns. Sixteen gaps have been identified.

There are three phases that exist in the process to close the gaps.

  • Phase One: Assessment and Scoping

This phase is complete. During phase one, conveners collected an abundance of information relating to gaps along the trail that impact user experience.

  • Phase Two: Segment Alignment Alternatives – CURRENT PHASE

AOC commissioner conveners are hard at work in this phase. Phase two established connection workgroups. The workgroups are charged with holding several meetings to identify possible solutions for each gap. This phase is expected to be wrapped up in the fall of 2019.

  • Phase Three: Final Recommendations

The work in this process will result in an Oregon Coast Trail Action Plan to be unveiled in 2020. This document will facilitate next steps for closing the gaps in the trail including short and long-term solutions.

During the last month the Commissioners have convened their second round of meetings with a broad array of landowners, agencies and stakeholders including but not limited to Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Transportation, ports, regional tourism agencies, chambers, county roadmasters, tribes, Nature Conservancy, Oregon Coast Visitors Association, cities, United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, United States Fish & Wildlife, Trailkeepers of Oregon, and Bandon Dunes.

Most recently, a workgroup meeting was held in Coos Bay on April 10 with close to 30 trail advocates present. The county commissioner convener appointed several trail connection team leaders to begin developing options for connecting the breaks in the trail along the south coast. Appointments included:

  • Reedsport City Manager Jonathan Wright
  • Douglas County Parks Director Rocky Houston
  • Tillamook County Commissioner John Sweet
  • Wild Rivers Coast Alliance Executive Director Jim Seely
  • Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Senior Parks and Trails Manager Robin Wilcox

These groups, as well as other groups from the central and north coast will be meeting in May and June to begin developing options to be considered for finishing the connections along the Oregon coast.

Contributed by: Mark Labhart | Former Tillamook County Commissioner