Trail allows access from Talent Avenue to Hwy. 99

TALENT — A new trail along the south bank of Wagner Creek helps people get from Talent Avenue to Highway 99 through what was once a tangle of blackberries.

"It's the most obvious way into town for anyone on foot," said Elizabeth Zwick of the Together for Talent Committee, which initiated the project. "Before, people were going to work by essentially pushing through the blackberries."

More than 35 volunteers cleared brush and spread wood chips July 16 on the 250-foot section that starts at Highway 99 and connects with a paved 670-foot path in Old Bridge Village that ends at Talent Avenue.

Property owner Mike Davis of SOS Plumbing welcomed the project when Zwick and City Planner Mark Knox approached him. Davis is required under planning approvals to put in a hard-surface trail when he develops that portion of the property.

"That might be 20 years down the road," said Zwick. "He was enthusiastic about the trail and volunteered ... the use of his Bobcat." After Davis roughed in the path, the volunteers spread chips donated by Upper Limb-it Tree Service. Zwick said several people already have offered to take on trail stewardship.

"It really seems to be getting used," said Zwick. "I checked one day and there were about a dozen people on the trail or sidewalk portions." Previously, if walkers didn't want to fight blackberries they had to use either Rapp Road or West Valley View Road, both about the same distance from Wagner Creek.

"You can hear the water the whole way," said Zwick. "It's a cool alternative for a summer day." Trail advocates also would like to see a connection along the creek that goes from Highway 99 to Bear Creek. A master parks plan calls for the development of such a route, Wick said.

"The problem with that is the crossing of Highway 99. We'd have to work with (the Oregon Department of Transportation) to try to get some sort of safe crossing," said Mayor Bill Cecil.

Officials considered extending the trail farther up Wagner Creek in a city study conducted about nine years ago, Cecil said. But that idea was rejected.

"Most of the creek is a wildlife corridor. It's not very wide," said Cecil. "If we build a trail we wouldn't have the wildlife corridor. Any type of corridor along the stream is good."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

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