The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages their land for multiple purposes, including a tract of land in the Thurston Hills they refer to as the Pedal Power unit. Due to its adjacency to Willamalane Park and Recreation District’s Thurston Hills Natural Area and proximity to Springfield, it provides a unique opportunity to create something special for the community.
The BLM invested years of analysis and planning performed by field managers, biologists, and outdoor recreation planners. They crafted a dynamic plan that includes multiple types of habitat including riparian reserve around streams, an older stand, an untouched buffer area near a neighboring property, and a number of harvested areas dispersed in patches throughout the Pedal Power project area. Even within the harvested patches, dozens of wildlife trees will be left standing as well as some left on the ground for habitat. Of the 394 acres that make up the Pedal Power project, a cumulative 92 acres will be harvested in these patches.
Seneca proudly signed a contract with the BLM to purchase that timber from the Pedal Power project area. Seneca paid a little over $1 million for the timber, and half of that payment will be transferred from the federal government to Western Oregon counties for public services such as road improvements and law enforcement. The harvest itself will create jobs in the community and provide revenue in the local economy.
The BLM, in partnership with Willamalane, Disciples of Dirt, and other organizations in the community, will extend the trail system that already exists on Willamalane’s property onto the BLM’s Pedal Power site to create almost nine miles of new trails through the dynamic landscape for hikers, mountain bikers and the community as a whole.
Disciples of Dirt (DOD) is a mountain bike club that is well known within the cycling world for being stewards of local trails and champions for improved trail access for cyclists. “Disciples of Dirt is excited for the opportunity to develop more urban trails for multiple user groups,” Justin Price, treasurer of DOD, says. “This opportunity will allow the development of a new trail network, provide additional biodiversity, riparian, and late-succession reserves to be established within our local environment. All of which provide our members the ability to experience nature and trails closer to home.”
“Our patrons have told us that they’re hungry for more public access and more miles of open trail space,” Willamalane superintendent Michael Wargo says. “Through the Thurston Hills Natural Area project, we’ll be able to create nearly nine additional miles of interconnecting trails that will support convenient hiking, running, and mountain biking in Springfield. It’s always our goal to serve our community and working with all of the partners on this project allows us to deliver. We’re very excited to move this initiative forward.”
Willamalane’s North Trailhead in the Thurston Hills Natural Area (7575 McKenzie Highway, Springfield) is the access point to their current trails and will continue to be the sole access point to the growing trail system in the area. The North Trailhead provides restrooms, an information kiosk, picnic table, water, and a bike cleaning and repair station.
Wade Jude, Outdoor Recreation Planner with the BLM wrote in an email, “Given that we are looking at 8-plus miles on Willamalane connecting to just under 9 miles phased in on the BLM parcel, that’s a pretty sweet, purpose-built trail system right in our back yard!”
Seneca is proud to play a part in the creation of this new natural wonderland in the Thurston Hills.
Additional information and a map of the Thurston Hills Forestry and Trails project is available at: https://bit.ly/3aPz2Ei