'Everyone's Welcome'

Ashland Christian Fellowship has donated a trail easement on its property so that members of the public can walk along a section of Ashland Creek.

Pedestrians, people in wheelchairs and dogs will be among those who can enjoy the new trail segment.

Adults from the church and members of its youth group have already roughed out the trail's path.

Located on the corner of Oak and Hersey streets, Ashland Christian Fellowship has a parking lot and a strip of land that borders the creek.

An Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant trail topped with compacted soil will wind along the strip of land. It will parallel the creek, while remaining 20 feet back from the water to protect the creek's riparian area.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, which is helping with the project, will install trail signs and dog waste bag stations so that pet owners can clean up after their animals.

"It's a really exciting thing for the city and the church. The public can use it. Everyone's welcome," said Ashland Christian Fellowship Pastoral Assistant Jim Fieguth, who has been working on the trail project with church and parks department members.

A second trail segment that is not ADA-compliant will stretch from the creek-side trail up an embankment, connecting people to an Oak Street sidewalk that overlooks Ashland Christian Fellowship and its parking lot.

Fieguth said that second segment is too steep to meet ADA requirements.

People in wheelchairs who want to visit the ADA-compliant section of the trail can park in handicapped parking spaces next to the church, then access the trail.

The ADA-compliant trail section will be 450 feet long, while the non-compliant section will be 260 feet long, according to plans.

In its Trails Master Plan, the parks department has identified the Ashland Creek corridor as a key place to develop trails.

For now, the church trail segment is isolated, but the Trails Master Plan calls for someday creating a trail along Ashland Creek that would connect downtown's Bluebird Park with the Bear Creek Greenway, located off Nevada Street near Ashland's dog park.

After decades of work and acquisitions, the Bear Creek Greenway now stretches from Ashland to Central Point.

Parks Director Don Robertson said he doesn't have a cost estimate yet for the parks department's share for developing the trail segment near Ashland Christian Fellowship, but he said the costs will be minimal because of work being done by church members. He said he is grateful for the church's gift of the trail easement.

"They've been great partners," Robertson said.

In a formal agreement between the parks department and the church, the parks department is charged with maintaining the area, keeping it clean and encouraging volunteers to help out.

Fieguth said he thinks the church will partner with the parks department on maintenance.

A side benefit of the trails project is that the parks department will place some boulders in strategic locations to protect the area, he said.

The church has sometimes had problems with area residents parking in Ashland Creek's riparian area during high-traffic events like Fourth of July festivities, Fieguth said.

The Ashland City Council is scheduled to decide on Tuesday whether to officially accept the trail easement. The item is on the council's consent agenda, a spot mainly for uncontroversial items that almost always win council approval.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved the trail project on Aug. 22.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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