Recreational Trails Program
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Recreational Trails Program Highlight: Whiskey Run Mountain Biking Trail

The Whiskey Run Mountain Mountain Biking Trail located in Bandon, Oregon was awarded $214,618 in Recreational Trails Program funds in the year 2016.

by American Trails Staff

The Whiskey Run Mountain Biking Trail was conceived as part of a Regional Trails Plan created in 2014. The final project calls for 30 miles of new bike-optimized single track trails located in the Coos County Forest to draw tourists to the region. The first phase consisted of approximately 10 miles of finished trail plus the support infrastructure required.

Forestry is a major economic driver in Oregon, particularly in rural areas such as Coos County. While forestry provides local jobs, the majority of the economic value occurs during harvesting, which occurs every 45-60 years. During the interim periods, county forest land is available to be utilized in a way that contributes to the local economy and does not preclude forestry activities, such as through natural surface trails. New visitors drawn by the trails will purchase 20% more goods and services in the communities by visiting restaurants, staying in hotels, and patronizing bicycle shops, helping to create new jobs in Coos County.

Construction and Design

The trails are excavated from the native mineral soil and are an average of approximately 24” in width (depending on sideslopes). Adopted best practices for socially and environmentally sustainable trails, as codified by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), will be utilized, particularly the concepts of contour alignment, frequent grade reversals, opposition to user-created forces, and avoidance of sensitive habitat areas. The proposed trail alignment was developed by a professional mountain bicycle trail consultant and meets the guidelines identified above for sustainable trail development. The trail alignments have been verified in the field and have been reviewed by the Coos County Forester to minimize impacts to forestry operations. Additional documentation will use construction standards developed by IMBA that are available to the public. As the project is being developed primarily for mountain bicycling it does not need to provide trails that meet accessibility standards (e.g., minimum grades, turning radii, tread durability, etc). The proposed trail development guidelines are therefore in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in that they are not intended primarily for pedestrians.

The trail system is almost entirely located on undeveloped open space and offers a range of opportunities to see and/or traverse through a variety of landscapes. Trail users will feel detached from the built environment with only occasional interactions with roads and structures. In particular, the views to the north into the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve will showcase a unique and complex natural landscape. The trail is useable year around, and offers unique opportunities to see a managed forest in different stages of growth.

Public-Private Partnerships and Access to/Use of Public Lands

The project is located entirely on the Coos County Forest, which includes over 15,000 acres of publicly owned, actively managed forest lands. In addition, there have been many active public and private partners that have worked to make this project a success.

Whiskey Run is the top trail development priority for several organizations on the south coast. For example:

  • The Outdoor Recreation Action Teams created through the Rural Tourism Studios of Travel Oregon named Whiskey Run as the number one priority for outdoor recreation product development in a joint planning meeting in April, 2018.
  • The Wild Rivers Coast Alliance Foundation and Wild Rivers Coast International Mountain Biking Association have prioritized Whiskey Run.
  • Travel Southern Oregon Coast, in its first year, has allocate $100,000 to the project.
  • Coos County counts Whiskey Run as its top destination development priority.

In terms of economic development, this project has buy-in from:

  • Southwest Oregon Workforce Development Board (SOWIB), has contributed $50,000 in match to employ youth
  • South Coast Business Employment Council (SCBEC), which is a partner in enrolling at risk youth into the trail corp.
  • Regional Solutions, which has funded $150,000 for the project and Youth Workforce in 2018.

Youth Conservation/Service Corps and Community Outreach

We had two separate phases of using youth crew workers to complete this trail project. In the first phase NYC led recruitment and management of the youth trail corp. Five youth were recruited by NYC, and were managed by the contracted trail builder, Ptarmigan Trails, and a SCBEC employee. The 5 youth assisted in the construction of 11 miles of trails, equaling 58,080 linear feet

The second phase managed by Coos County Forestry, allowed work to begin while SCBEC recruited youth for the trail crew. The crew was well managed, and managed in coordination with the trail builder according to the master plan trail building plan for Whiskey Run. Coos County Forestry managed the work of three youth from the Bob Belloni Ranch, Inc who worked 32 hours a week for six weeks. Initially, four boys worked the main crew. After one boy left the Belloni Ranch, the crew maintained three youth until the last day, when eight new youth worked to brush trails and prepare for trail building. The youth assisted in the construction of 2.5 miles of trails, equaling 13,200 linear feet. One youth has been hired by Ptarmigan Trails and has worked for them under a living wage since the end of the second pilot.

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