Seaside signal. (Seaside, Or.) 1905-current, July 12, 2019, Page A3, Image 3

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    Friday, July 12, 2019 | Seaside Signal | • A3
Work begins on gaps in Oregon Coast Trail
The Astorian
Work is underway on the
North Coast to close two
gaps on the Oregon Coast
The gaps — where a
landslide at Ecola State Park
near Cannon Beach cut a
trail in half and a spot out-
side Oswald West State Park
near Manzanita where hik-
ers must walk the highway
between segments — have
taken years to address. They
are two of the first signifi-
cant breaks hikers coming
from the north encounter on
the nearly 400-mile trail.
State trail planners esti-
mate over 20 gaps exist on
the route, ranging from nat-
ural hazards like bay and
river crossings to interrup-
tions caused by private lands
and public roads. Some are
more recent developments,
like the landslide at Ecola.
“The coast is a really
dynamic environment and
there’s always new gaps
opening and closing,” said
Robin Wilcox, senior park
and trails planner for the
Oregon Parks and Recre-
ation Department.
In 2017, state legislators
directed the department to
close previously identified
gaps on the trail. Last year,
Gov. Kate Brown priori-
tized the development of an
action plan to address safety
and connectivity issues and
suggest fixes to the gaps.
Across the route, fixes are
underway and trail mainte-
nance will occur along cer-
tain sections this summer.
A big step
The work that will close
a gap between the popular
south Neahkahnie trailhead
down to Manzanita and the
next section of the Oregon
Coast Trail is a big step for
the local community. Hikers
have had to bridge this break
by walking U.S. Highway
101’s narrow and sometimes
almost nonexistent shoulder.
When Connie Soper,
author of “Exploring the
Oregon Coast Trail,” was
hiking the route, she just
skipped the portions that
required her to walk the
highways. But she owns a
second home in Manzanita
and continued to wonder
why the particular gap next
door had never been fixed.
With the support of the city
and other groups, she has
spent the past five years
working to address it.
Now members of the
Northwest Youth Corps are
beginning to cut out a trail
from the south Neahkahnie
trailhead to the city — work
funded by a state recreation
grant Soper wrote for the city.
“This is pretty small,
about 2 miles,” Soper
said. “Some of the other
Katie Frankowicz/The Astorian
Katie Frankowicz/The Astorian
A state Department of Corrections crew works to clear brush along a new trail route at Ecola
State Park, where a landslide cut off access.
Trailkeepers help to fill the ‘gap’
Seaside Signal
The Oregon Coast
Trail starts at the mouth
of the Columbia River and
spans the Oregon coast-
line to California cover-
ing 382 miles and crossing
28 coastal towns includ-
ing the City of Manzanita.
The trail follows the beach
for the most part and also
crosses state parks and
public lands. There are
portions of the trail —
gaps — that force hikers
to walk along the narrow
shoulder of US Highway
One such gap occurs
between the south Neah-
kahnie Trailhead and
Manzanita where hikers
follow U.S. Highway 101
to Nehalem Road.
With their recent acqui-
sition of 111 acres of land
on the south side of Neah-
kahnie Mountain, the
Lower Nehalem Com-
munity Trust has become
a partner in closing this
gap, providing access for
gaps are longer and more
The project was still
complex. It involved a maze
of state agencies and other
organizations, the support
and sponsorship of the city,
and a transfer in land own-
ership halfway through
that delayed the project for
nearly a year but also com-
Susan Schen/Trailkeepers of Oregon
Shane Sjogren, stewardship coordinator for the Lower
Nehalem Community Trust and volunteers pause for a
photo as they begin work on a section of the trail on the
south face of Neahkahnie Mountain.
new sections of the trail
that will take hikers off of
Highway 101 and connect
the Neahkahnie Mountain
Trail portion of the Ore-
gon Coast Trail directly to
Manzanita. Hikers will be
safer, first and foremost,
and will enjoy a more aes-
thetic hiking experience.
The Lower Nehalem
Community Trust, along
pletely altered what was
When the connector is
completed, hikers will have
access to a scenic route that
begins on state park land,
crosses into land held by
the Lower Nehalem Com-
munity Trust and takes
advantage of utility district
and Oregon Department of
with other organizations
like the Trail Keepers of
Oregon, have started work
to construct and maintain
the portions of the trail
that cross the 111-acre
parcel called “The Head-
waters” so named because
it is the upper most por-
tion —the headwaters —
of Neahkahnie Creek and
Alder Creek watersheds.
Transportation easements
and right of ways. Manza-
nita will have a trail to offer
visitors and a new pathway
to lead through-hikers into
“Projects like this take
years and years to happen,”
said Steve Kruger, execu-
tive director of Trailkeepers
of Oregon, adding that the
Hikers starting at the north end of Neahkahnie must cross the
highway to get to the trailhead. At the south trailhead, farther
down, anyone hoping to continue on the Oregon Coast Trail
must walk along the highway.
actual work of building the
trail takes the least amount
of time.
Trailkeepers of Oregon
plans to organize commu-
nity volunteer work parties
on the trail this month and
throughout the summer. The
nonprofit agreed to take on
long-term maintenance of
the trail, a key agreement
when it came to moving the
project forward. With other
Oregon Coast Trail gaps,
the question of who is ulti-
mately responsible for the
new sections could compli-
cate any solution.
Clear ownership makes
the work at Ecola State Park,
and the gap that developed
there in 2016, a bit easier to
Beyond “trail closed”
signs at Indian Beach and
straight up a hill covered in
downed wood and tangled
salal shrubs, a Department
of Corrections work crew
followed a bread crumb
trail of orange flags. Using
small saws and rakes, they
“brushed” the path, prepar-
ing the route for the construc-
tion of a new trail segment.
In 2016, a large landslide
swept a portion of the orig-
inal Oregon Coast Trail —
which ran from Ecola Point
to Indian Beach — into the
ocean. The new segment
will be constructed up to
solid ground and over the
landslide. State parks hopes
to reopen the entire section
of trail this fall.
All of the work will
take place on state land,
using state resources and
state funds — complicated,
expensive, but a relatively
easy fix when it comes to
closing a gap.
‘Conservation values’
The Lower Nehalem
Community Trust did not
acquire the land outside
Manzanita — 111 acres
total — with the idea of
building a new portion of
the Oregon Coast Trail. The
organization wanted the
land for wildlife and water
quality protection primar-
ily, along with the unique
opportunity to start to move
above the estuary and pre-
serve upland habitat.
“We didn’t get it for
a trail,” said Doug First-
brook, a board member and
one of the trust’s founders.
“We really did get it for its
conservation values. But
people are part of the land-
scape, too, and we want
people to realize we value
them and their health and
well-being and their oppor-
tunity to be out on the land.”
Some of the trust’s prop-
erties are too small or too
fragile to allow outside vis-
itors, so this property repre-
sented a chance to provide
some public access.
Before the trust took
over the property, Soper
had been working with the
Department of Transporta-
tion to locate the trail sec-
tion in a state right of way,
off the highway but more or
less parallel to it, a decid-
edly noisier and less scenic
option than what the group
has available now.
“I hope it can be an
example of, like, look, it’s
possible to do this,” Soper
said of the work at Man-
zanita. “Get the right peo-
ple around the table and
start the conversation. But
every situation is going to
be different.”
New round of testing planned for Cannon Beach waters
The Astorian
Cannon Beach is no
closer to figuring out why
fecal bacteria readings sud-
denly spike at city outfalls
and in ocean waters, but the
state hopes a new round of
testing could drill down on
the details.
The state already tests
waters at Cannon Beach
regularly under the Oregon
Beach Monitoring Program,
but the state Department
of Environmental Qual-
ity has a draft plan to start
analyzing for specific types
of fecal matter this fall and
through next summer when-
ever fecal bacteria regis-
ter at higher-than-normal
Whether the cause for
a spike is cow, elk, bird,
human or dog excrement,
the new test “doesn’t tell you
how much, it only tells you
if,” said Aaron Borisenko,
water quality monitoring
manager for the Department
of Environmental Quality.
“It starts to give you
some idea of what the more
likely sources are, and then
you can tailor any sort of
actions,” he said, adding,
Katie Frankowicz/The Astorian
The state plans a new round
of water testing at Cannon
“It could help refine what’s
going on there.”
The city weathered a
one-day health advisory for
ocean waters earlier this
Last year, after high read-
ings and a health advisory
during the summer, city
leaders said they had ruled
out human sources infiltrat-
ing from wastewater treat-
ment infrastructure.
Engineers started to look
at whether installing ultra-
violet light filters at out-
falls or opening up the pipes
and exposing runoff to sun-
light could be viable options
to kill off bacteria before it
hits the beach. But the city
is not proceeding aggres-
sively with either option at
this point.
There are costs to con-
sider. Open pipes would
likely require a reconfigura-
tion and usher in other moni-
toring challenges. City Man-
ager Bruce St. Denis said an
ultraviolet light filter sys-
tem could cost the city half a
million to a million dollars.
And there’s the fact that the
high readings of fecal bacte-
ria seem to come and go at
“You’d be spending a
great deal of money, but
most of the time there’s
nothing to treat,” St. Denis
Oregon has some of
the cleanest beaches in the
nation overall, Borisenko
said, but Cannon Beach con-
sistently ranks high on the
list of concerns.
The nonprofit Surfrider
Foundation has tested water
at outfalls around Cannon
Beach for the past decade
and says 25% to 50% of
readings have exceeded state
standards, depending on the
year. The state’s beach mon-
itoring program recorded
a handful of high readings
since 2016.
“We just have a few spots
here and there where trou-
ble crops up,” Borisenko said.
“(Cannon Beach) is high on
our ranking and always will
be because of the amount of
beach use and because we do
get these periodic (bacteria
levels above state thresholds).”
Ingesting infected water
can result in illness, accord-
ing to the Oregon Health
Get Your Feet Wet at the 53rd Annual
Seaside Beach Run!
Saturday July 20, 2019
8:30 am on the Prom at 12 th Avenue, Seaside
5K & 10K Races
5K & 10K Races
5K Prom Walk
5K Prom Walk
Awards Picnic
Awards Picnic
Kids’ Sand Dash
Kids’ Sand Dash
Treasure Hunt
Treasure Hunt
Souvenir T-shirt
Souvenir T-shirt
For further information, or to register: Call (503) 738-8304,
For or
to register: Call (503) 738-8304,
visit information,
us online at
or visit us online at
Proceeds support Clatsop County youth fitness opportunities.
Proceeds support Clatsop County youth fitness opportunities.