In a county commissioner led process, the Oregon Coast Trail Connections project has advanced to an important, new stage.

With a distance of 382 miles of hiking path along the Oregon coast between Oregon’s state lines, 16 points have been identified on Oregon’s coast trail as disconnected, or have other updates needed based on safety, convenience, or accessibility concerns. 

After first gathering data on gaps, including possible alignment, three county commissioners: Melissa Cribbins (Coos County), Doug Hunt (Lincoln County), and Bill Baertlein (Tillamook County), assisted by Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) County Solutions, worked with community-based stakeholder groups throughout 2019 to identify ways to close the gaps. The work was split into three segments of trail, south, mid, and north coast trail segments, each convened by the commissioner representing a region from where they reside.

With extensive stakeholder engagement, multiple meetings for each segment, and thoughtful process, the three segment groups reunited February 21 as a statewide team to share information about closing the gaps. At this meeting, convened by the Oregon Solutions, the next phase of work began. 

Commissioner Doug Hunt, who led the meeting commented on the process and success of the group, “we are on the homestretch of this meaningful project. With the hard work of each of the trail segment leaders, we will soon see recommendations compiled in an Oregon Coast Trail Action Plan. This document will serve as the blueprint of the collaborative solutions we’ve worked toward over the last year and will launch us into success. It is exciting to be a part of this effort resulting in specific plans and actions to improve the experience of those enjoying our Coast Trail.”

The work of the full group is expected to continue through the end of 2020, when the action plan will be finalized. 

The finalized plan will inform the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation (ODPR) and other agencies, as they award grants for improvement projects. In 2019, the Oregon Legislature, through the ODPR budget SB 5527 allocated $1.25 million to carry out assessment of conditions, facility needs, trail restoration and reroutes, and overall signage. The collaborative work is being funded by a $230,00 Federal Lands Access Program grant.

Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate