I recently heard about the proposed Joseph Branch Trail, and would like to share some of the experiences we had in Klamath Falls when we established our OC&E Trail, which is a trail built on an abandoned logging railroad line. I am sure some people in your area have walked or ridden on the OC&E, which is the longest rail trail in Oregon at over 100 miles.
Like the proposed Joseph Branch Trail, ours passes through beautiful country, some of which is ranching country. Also like your trail, ours faced opposition in the beginning. It is natural for adjacent landowners to be concerned about the establishment of a public trail near their properties. They worry any about trespassing, theft and vandalism that might occur with the advent of public trail.
We had a number of public hearings on the proposed trail, and some were rather heated. Eventually, after discussions with Oregon State Parks and a visit by Oregon State Recreational Trails Advisory Committee, the OC&E Trail became a reality.
Now established as a multiuse recreational trail for 27 years, and is much appreciated by fitness walkers, dog walkers, cyclists, people who favor nonmotorized transport to get to work, among others. We have eight miles of paved trail, which is the most used section of the trail. Outside of town, equestrians also use the trail.
Concerns about the trail have largely fallen away, and I’m sure people would agree that the OC&E is a great asset to our community. I would encourage people who have concerns about your proposed trail to look at the Rails-to-Trails National Conservancy website to learn more about trail conversions that have occurred all over the United States. I hope, for the good of your community, that your proposed trail becomes a reality.