Dear Editor:

We wanted to share excitement of the news that the Yamhill, Oregon County Commissioners recently approved construction of the first three miles of the Yamhelas-Westsider Rail Trail. Walkers, joggers, bikers, and horseback riders will enjoy views of the Cascade Range while passing by multiple Century Farms. Like the Joseph Branch Trail, this trail is also partially zoned Exclusive Farm Use (EFU). Committed trail managers in Yamhill County are working to develop solutions addressing the concerns of the agricultural producers along the trail. Yamhill County community leaders have voted to move forward, recognizing the broad benefits of economic development, health, and public safety, while also recognizing the compatibility of a recreation trail to adjacent farming practices.

In Oregon in the 1990s, the 21 mile Banks-Vernonia Trail and the 109.9 mile OC & E Trail in Klamath Falls were both constructed. Both trails border cattle ranches. The OC & E Trail borders cattle ranches for approximately 82 miles. Today, both of these trails are part of the fabric of their communities, yet opposition and controversy were strong before construction. Efforts to block trail construction included the spread of untruths and ‘what if’ fear-based information to discredit these projects’ credibility. However, after these trails were constructed, trail users have peacefully co-existed with agricultural producers causing no negative impacts, verified by Trail Managers. With good trail design and management, concerns are prevented from becoming reality. The Yamhill County Commissioner’s evaluated these existing trails and the land use findings that created them to support their vote in favor of the trail.

Much like the Yamhelas-Westsider Trail, the Joseph Branch Trail Consortium hopes to build a trail within a publicly owned transportation corridor that travels adjacent to private lands just as our county roads do. In Board Order 19-094, Yamhill County Commissioners stated “farm uses have, for the most part, peacefully co-existed with nonfarm uses and existing transportation corridors in Yamhill County and throughout the state and nation for many years. Farmers and spray operators appear to accommodate travelers of county roads, and state and federal highways, without undue expense and without significantly impacting the use of accepted farm practices.” We are committed to maintaining this tradition of cooperation while improving the economic development, health and safety of our community.

The Joseph Branch Trail Consortium Board

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