Repair work making progress on Foster trail

Scott Swanson

Local walkers and joggers, who have dreamed of having a useable trail running around Foster Lake, are seeing that vision come closer to reality.

Work on the trail, which started last summer, has been coordinated by East Linn Cohort 3 of the Ford Family Leadership Institute, a group of local community leaders and activists who are being trained in leadership skills through the Ford program. The trail along the north side of the lake, created about 10 years ago by local walking enthusiasts, has suffered a lack of maintenance since.

John Morrison of Brownsville, a Cohort 3 member who has led the trails effort, said that it has been progressing nicely. More than 300 hours of work have been put in on the trail between Gedney Creek Boat Ramp and Lewis Creek Park, most of it physical labor, he said. Cohort members have also raised some $10,000 from the Ford Family and other sources to fund the repairs, since the trail effort began last June.

“We’ve been doing pretty good,” Morrison said. What’s left are some bridge repairs and a need to improve drainage east of the Gedney Creek ramp, he said.

Some bridges along the trail have some rot and there’s talk of installing chicken wire to reduce the danger of slipping. “It’s not major repair,” Morrison said.

He said the cohort also plans to install three interpretive signs, at Gedney Creek, at Lewis Creek and near the dam, to alert people to the wildlife, fish and biology along the trail.

Cohort members are working on an Adopt a Trail program that would enable people to adopt quarter-mile sections, which would be identified by signs. Participants would be required to maintain their sections of the trail three times a year. He said the idea has gotten some wings.

“Every time I talk to people about it they say, ‘Gee, I’d like to do that,’” he said.

The Cohort is also looking to join forces with the Sweet Home Community Trails group headed by City Councilor Scott McKee and other groups or individuals in the community who are interested in trails. He said the Foster project could help rejuvenate the Community Trails group, which has not been active in recent months.

“This is an opportunity to bring people in,” he said.

One of the groups that has become very active is the Valley Girls Hood-to-Coast Relay team from Sweet Home, which has worked on the trail three times, including Saturday’s effort. They have also started to work on the section between Gedney Creek and the dam, he said.

The team is organizing a trail run over six- and three-mile distances to be held the morning of April 16, starting at Lewis Creek Park.

“I think they’re trying to get the community involved,” Morrison said. “The Valley Girls are out there with their kids and their dogs, running around and having a great time. That’s the kind of thing we’re trying to create. It’s not just about widening the trail.

“They’re not reluctant to get involved in something that needs to be worked on – even when the temperature is 16 degrees,” referring to the last work day in February, when temperatures were below freezing.

Andrea Culy, director of the Sweet Home Chamber of Commerce, is also a cohort member and has worked on the trail.

“As more and more people get into running, this will attract regional attention,” she predicted.

Ian Rollins, publicity director at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital, is another cohort member who has been involved in the project. He said that although other trails are being developed, such as one around Cheadle Lake in Lebanon, he sees “more potential” with the Foster project because of its location. Morrison agreed.

“Here you have a group of parks,” he said. “If you can hook the parks together, that will be great.”

He said the cohort is scheduled to end its project in June but members hope that won’t be the end of the trail.

“Then we hope to hand it off to another group,” he said.

For more information on the trail run, contactl Steelhead Strength and Fitness at (541) 367-1904.