Trail 3 East Project Breaks Ground

Under the leadership and guidance of Friends’ Trail Steward, Alyssa Larimer, volunteers broke ground on what will become the new alignment for Trail 3 East and have been able to lay much of the base gravel for this first stage of the project in short order.

The Trail 3 East project hopes to address issues of visitor experience and habitat protection and conservation along the trail corridor which are both negatively affected by the current alignment of the trail. 
Alyssa explains “From the beginning, trail 3 has always just been an old farm road, so it was never very intentionally planned out or placed. It travels through extremely wet, soggy terrain at the toe of the southeastern slope of Mt. Pisgah and through sensitive prairie habitat.” Trail 3 East has very poor drainage, causing hikers’ paths to braid through trail-adjacent habitat, impeding important native plant species. This visitor behavior affects animals in the area as well, principle among them, ground nesting birds, including Oregon’s state bird, the Western Meadowlark. One of the goals for the Trail 3 East project is to provide improved habitat so that Meadowlarks and other birds like them come back to stay.
The trail project is split into two phases and trail work is split into three segments. Phase 1, which will be entirely membership funded and volunteer-built, consists of building trail segment 1, which connects trail 5 as it turns northward to trail 56, and installing culverts on Buckbrush Creek and an adjacent drainage. This will consolidate two creek crossings to one creek crossing and include improvements that will allow for enhanced fish passage, which was blocked 20-30 years ago by ranchers. This fish passage is important since Buckbrush Creek, though intermittent, has been fish bearing in the past and certainly could be again.  Phase 2, which is being paid for through a grant awarded by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department's Recreational Trails Program, consists of trail building of segments 2 and 3 and a greater focus on wet prairie habitat restoration.

After months of planning and consideration, site surveys and preparation, work began in earnest earlier in September as a series of volunteer work parties cleared the ground surface and laid the first layer of bed gravel on segment 1. Volunteers from Eugene Mission’s LifeChange program, a 12-18-month residential life skills and relapse prevention program, were the first to pick up tools and make headway. They were followed by groups from PacificSource Health Plans, Lane County’s largest Oregon Health Plan insurer, and PeaceHealth Medical Group. All in all, these volunteers were able to reveal the future path and appearance for trail segment 1.

Reflecting on these work parties and the process of turning computer sketches and numerous applications into real usable trail, Alyssa had this to say, ”It was great, we got a lot done! There’s no feeling like it, and I mean this all sincerely. It’s just the best feeling to see all the ideas of what things will look like become reality. I’m so excited for our visitors to get a better, drier trail experience once this is complete and it’s just so fun to collaborate with so many different groups of people who are always so happy and excited to be a part of the project as well.”  

If you’d like to support Friends and the Trail 3 East project, come out for our next trails work party (9a-12p, October 22nd) when we’ll be joined by youth from Interfaith Earthkeepers and consider becoming a new member or increasing your membership today! 

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