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Nearly nine new miles of trails coming to Thurston Hills

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, a local timber company and recreationists are looking to transform land near Springfield with almost nine additional miles of new trails for hikers, mountain bikers and the community.

The BLM announced a timber sale on part of its 394 acres of land adjacent to Willamalane Park and Recreation District’s Thurston Hills Natural Area that will result in additional trails along with areas of land preserved around streams, an older stand of trees and an untouched buffer area near a neighboring property.

The bid for timber was awarded to Seneca, who will harvest 92 of the 394 acres by 2021. Once completed, the BLM will partner with the Willamalane Park and Recreation District, Disciples of Dirt, and other organizations to extend the trail system that currently exists on Willamalane’s property onto the timberland.

The Disciples of Dirt is a mountain bike club that is well known within the cycling world for being stewards of local trails and champions for improved trail access for cyclists.

“Disciples of Dirt is excited for the opportunity to develop more urban trails for multiple user groups,” said Justin Price, Treasurer of the Disciples of Dirt Mountain Bike Club, in a press release from Seneca. “This opportunity will allow the development of a new trail network, provide additional biodiversity, riparian and late-succession reserves to be established within our local environment. All of which provide our members the ability to experience nature and trails closer to home.”

“Our patrons have told us that they’re hungry for more public access and more miles of open trail space,” added Willamalane Superintendent Michael Wargo. Willamalane currently serves more than 1.8 million people annually. “It’s always our goal to serve our community and working with all of the partners on this project allows us to deliver.  We’re very excited to move this initiative forward.”

“We are excited to work on this project with so many partners.  We live in the wood basket of America.  Oregon is the #1 lumber producing state in the nation and yet we have more trees today than we had 100 years ago.  We rock at silviculture and making renewable sustainable building materials.  We also value this opportunity to bring jobs to the community and provide revenue for the local economy with this harvest,” said Casey Roscoe, senior vice president of public relations with Seneca. “As an added bonus we’re looking forward to more than doubling the outdoor trail system in the Thurston Hills Natural Area after the harvest.”

Additional funds will be transferred from the federal government to western Oregon counties for public services such as road improvements and law enforcement. Once the acres have been harvested, four trees will be replanted for each one that is harvested.