Idea has spawned interest in a trail between Jacksonville and Grants Pass ~ Oct 2009

By By TONY BOOM for the Mail Tribune October 04, 2009 2:00 AM  Go to Mail Tribune Article

A group that wants to create a hiking, biking and equestrian trail between Jacksonville and Ashland is garnering interest as it works with state agencies and private landowners on an exact route.

“We are working away getting the exact on locations of the trails pinpointed,” said Hope Robertson, one of the founders of the Siskiyou Upland Trail Association, which started early this year. “There’s a map. It’s not cast in concrete. It could swing a mile or two in either direction.”

Parts of the trail may run through Bureau of Land Management holdings on Anderson Butte, she said. The group also would need to obtain easements from private property owners in the area.

“Our concern is to avoid any sensitive environmental areas,” Robertson said. “We will work with BLM. We’d like to have a huge loop around Anderson Butte that ties to other trails.

“The private landowners know what we are up to, but we haven’t started to work on private easements until we are clear with the BLM.”

Robertson said the association’s efforts have spawned interest from hiking enthusiasts to the west to build a similar trail from Jacksonville to Grants Pass.

John Gerritsma, BLM’s field manager for the Ashland Resource Area, says agency approval for a trail would be a long process. But the agency is cooperating with both groups, he said.

“We don’t have any plans at this time to do that specific analysis from Ashland to Grants Pass,” said Gerritsma. “We would need to do an environmental analysis.

“Our hope is to figure out a trail system where the motorcyclists can use the road and we will have a separate trail,” said Robertson. “I think it’s doable. We’re just talking about a little coordination.”

A still unnamed group is in its formative stages as it investigates trail possibilities between Jacksonville and Grants Pass.

“We heard about Hope’s proposal and (David) Callahan took the ball and ran with it,” said Jack Duggan, who is also working on the effort. “Any decisions are way off. Other than presenting a preliminary map to BLM and trying to get legislative support, we really haven’t done much.”

Residents in Forest Creek, Foots Creek, China Gulch, Humbug Creek and the Applegate have expressed support for the proposal, Duggan said.

“What we are proposing basically is a hiking and equestrian trail with accommodation for mountain bikes,” said Duggan. “We’ll need to do easements across private property.”

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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