Salmonberry Trail clearing event to be held Wednesday in Manning

The Salmonberry Trail Foundation is hosting another trail cleanup near Manning Wednesday, June 21. The event will cap a project to clear 7.2 miles of track between Banks and Buxton.

Salmonberry Trail clearing event to be held Wednesday in Manning
The site of the Salmonberry Trail at Public Coast Farm April 18, 2018. Photo: Chas Hundley

The Salmonberry Trail Foundation is hosting another trail cleanup near Manning Wednesday, June 21, this time, a "surprise" event to finish clearing garbage, overgrown brush, and remove trees on another mile of overgrown track on the future site of the Salmonberry Trail.

Volunteers will meet at the Manning Trailhead starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, hike half a mile, and then begin clearing brush, trees, and Scotch broom that has grown up through the railroad tracks.

Volunteers were asked to RSVP to the event and sign a waiver online and bring water, and tools.

"Preferred tools for the task include gas-powered hedge trimmers, line trimmers, pruning saws, loppers, and a rake or pitchfork," said John Vogler, Salmonberry Trail Foundation secretary and trail clearing coordinator in a Sunday evening email.

"We recognize the short notice, but we are confident that with your support, we can make significant progress," Vogler said.

After the half-mile walk south toward Banks—volunteers should be prepared to carry their water and any tools they bring—along the tracks, volunteers will work their way toward the Highways 26 and 47 interchange, about one mile from the starting point.

There, sandwiched between Highway 26 and the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, years of neglect have seen trees and Scotch broom take root among the disused ties and rail.

Vogler said it's the last scheduled trail clearing event on this stretch of track by volunteers, capping a string of such events held in Manning and Buxton over the last few several months to clear 7.2 miles in total.

"It's an exciting milestone that we're eager to achieve together," Vogler wrote.

More than 40 people showed up at the most recent trail clearing event at Buxton's Public Coast Farm.

There, volunteers cleared about 1,100 yards of brush from the track adjacent to the farm and enjoyed the use of a barn and refreshments courtesy of Public Coast Farm's Ryan Snyder.

The original plan envisioned clearing brush from the Manning Trailhead on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail to the Williams Creek Trestle, but volunteers have been so successful at trail clearing that organizers made the decision to extend their original scope of brush clearing, Vogler said in a phone call with this publication.

After Wednesday, the tracks will have been cleared from Banks to the Williams Creek Trestle near Buxton, which may allow for the next phase in the process: Bridge inspections, and then, pending the soundness of ten bridges stretching from Banks to Buxton, the salvage and removal of the railroad tracks, ties, and grading of the railroad bed.

Vogler said that professional inspection work will start Monday at noon and continue until next Sunday.

Based on his informal view, Vogler said the bridges appear to be in good condition in this stretch of trail.

The same is not true in segments further in to the Salmonberry corridor.

Trail planning currently splits the route end-to-end into four segments: Coast, River, Canyon, and Valley. In the River and Canyon segments—stretching from the Tillamook and Washington County line to community of Mohler—of the proposed trail, many of the trestles and bridges were damaged as of a 2020 report.

Some are gone entirely.

In the upper River segment, two trestles have damage that may require significant repairs.

Another trestle at at Fall Creek requires a complete replacement. In the Canyon segment, three trestles and bridges have structural failures that, as of the report published in Feb. 2021, wouldn't yet impair trail use.

Three are gone entirely, claimed by floodwaters in 2007.

A positive review will clear the way for rail salvage crews to begin work at the beginning of August, pulling rail and ties and grading the railbed surface, Vogler said.

The day after the trail clearing event, the foundation also plans to hold a fundraiser in Hillsboro on June 22. More info on that can be found on the STF website.