J'Ville trail work begins soon

JACKSONVILLE — Federal stimulus money will pay a newly formed Northwest Youth Corp group to build a long-awaited trail in the hills south of town.

"This has been a dream for the last 18 years, to have a path that goes around that southern part of Jacksonville," said Larry Smith, executive director of the Jacksonville Woodlands Association. "It's taken a lot of agencies to pull it off."

Surveys for the project were completed 10 years ago. The new trail, a 2.3 mile route that connects Cady Road to Highway 238, will be named for the late Liz Braislin, who left a legacy fund to aid with route construction.

A portion of the trail will pass through Braislin's property and that of three neighbors. Part of the legacy fund paid for legal easements through the property that were recorded July 17. The trail also passes through another 60-acre private parcel and Bureau of Land Management acreage. Besides the main trail, two new, half-mile-long routes named Sugar Pine and White Oak will provide links to other trails.

Administrative pieces for the 2.3 mile trail came together rapidly over the last week after Art Pope, executive director of Northwest Youth Corp, learned that his organization had secured federal stimulus money to fund five 10-person teams for a new organization called "Outdoor Oregon" in the state.

All 10 workers and two supervisors for the project live in Jackson County and will return to their homes at night rather than being housed in a camp. Pope said the workers are 16 to 19 years old.

"We applied for money and were waiting for signed contacts before we could hire," said Pope. "We couldn't hire or line up jobs until we had signed contracts."

Local BLM employee Chris Dent suggested Pope contact the Woodlands Association to see if it had a project that could begin immediately. The group and BLM have worked on trail projects for a number of years.

Smith estimates construction will take from two-and-a-half to four weeks. Youth Corp services are valued at up to $7,000 per week, but the Woodlands association must provide a match of $1,000 per week. Part of the match will come from BLM, which has awarded the association $2,500 in community service funds. The rest will come from the Braislin legacy fund.

"They're going to build the trails from scratch," said Smith.

The trail will be 4 feet wide in most places and the route avoids most trees. But some stumps, rocks and fallen debris will need to be removed.

Youth Corps members received an orientation on Monday and started working on other projects later in the day. Association members laid out and marked the trails last weekend.

"It will make a huge and visible difference and has a great educational opportunity associated with it in a community that has huge support for this kind of stuff," said Pope.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.

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