Swimming hole water tests begin

    One-year-old Ramensnae Quincy, left, and Io Ayriss , 5, cool off in Ashland Creek at Lithia Park in Ashland where the city tests the water for bacteria levels.<br>
    The Ashland-based Rogue Riverkeeper program this week launched its annual water-quality monitoring program to track bacteria levels in many of the Rogue Valley’s more popular swimming and fishing holes.

    Volunteers and a Rogue Riverkeeper intern will collect water samples for testing weekly to see whether the water meets or exceeds minimum water-quality standards for bacteria load.

    The results will be posted online at SwimGuide.org, and a free smartphone Swim Guide app is available to access not only test results but also an interactive guide of spots in the Rogue River Basin.

    Robyn Janssen of Rogue Riverkeeper says the annual program, which began Monday for this year, is a good way to inform the public about where to find safe water for recreation and to help volunteers learn more about water quality in their watersheds.

    The program, now in its fourth year, runs through October.

    Samples include Emigrant Lake, Lost Creek Lake, the Rogue River at Gold Hill and Grants Pass, the Illinois River at Six Mile Park, Bear Creek in Ashland, Wagner Creek in Talent, Applegate Lake and the Applegate River at Cantrall Buckley Park, Neil Creek in Ashland, Little Butte Creek in Eagle Point and Grave Creek near Galice.

    Though the program does not test water in Ashland Creek, the city of Ashland does sample the creek as it flows through Lithia Park, and that data is added to the SwimGuide site.

    Parks take Bikeway survey

    State parks officials are looking for feedback on what the cycling community thinks are the good and not-so-good facets of Oregon’s 17 designated scenic bikeways, including the Cascade-Siskiyou loop east of Ashland.

    The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has set up an online survey to collect comments on the experiences cyclists have on these bikeways. The short survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/PHPCFFL.

    “We’re trying to capture what people have enjoyed about bikeways so we can continue what’s good, as well as look at what we need to do on such things as road conditions and route-finding,” says Alexandra Phillips, state parks’ bikeways coordinator.

    The survey will be available online through the summer.

    The Cascade-Siskiyou run, which creates a loop from Ashland along Highway 66 and Dead Indian Memorial Road, is one of five designated bikeways listed under the “Extreme” category — set aside for what the website calls “epic rides” on which cyclists need to “climb like a mountain goat and go all day.”

    It’s a 55-mile loop with one long hill up and one long hill down, regardless of direction.

    “For a certain type of rider, it’s gotten quite a bit of interest,” Phillips says. “You need to like hills.”

    Since the Cascade-Siskiyou bikeway designation, the parks department has added three others.

    One is the Wild Rivers Coast, a 60-mile moderate ride from Port Orford and back. Also newer is the Sherar’s Falls ride, a 33-mile moderate ride out of Maupin, and the Crooked River Canyon Bikeway, a 37-mile out-and-back moderate ride near Prineville.

    Information about the rides can be found at the department’s website at www.oregonstateparks.org.

    Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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