Friday, July 12, 2019 | Seaside Signal | SeasideSignal.com • A3 Work begins on gaps in Oregon Coast Trail By KATIE FRANKOWICZ The Astorian Work is underway on the North Coast to close two gaps on the Oregon Coast Trail. 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 101. 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 complicated.” 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 possible. 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 town. “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 solve. 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 By KATIE FRANKOWICZ 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 levels. 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 Beach. “It could help refine what’s going on there.” The city weathered a one-day health advisory for ocean waters earlier this month. 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 random. “You’d be spending a great deal of money, but most of the time there’s nothing to treat,” St. Denis said. 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 Authority. COAST COMMUNITY RADIO PRESENTS THE 1ST ANNUAL FERRY STREET FRIDAY BLOCK PARTY 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 x x x x x x 5K & 10K Races 5K & 10K Races 5K Prom Walk 5K Prom Walk Awards Picnic Awards Picnic x x x x x x 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 further or www.SeasideBeachRun.org to register: Call (503) 738-8304, visit information, us online at or visit us online at www.SeasideBeachRun.org Proceeds support Clatsop County youth fitness opportunities. Proceeds support Clatsop County youth fitness opportunities. LIVE LOCAL MUSIC BEER + WINE GARDEN ARTIST + MAKER POP-UPS SMOKED BONES BBQ KIDS’ ACTIVITIES FRIDAY JULY 19TH 2-8PM 14TH STREET BETWEEN MARINE + COMMERCIAL AFTER PARTY AT ALBATROSS & CO.