Formal Salmonberry Trail negotiations set to begin

An intergovernmental agency working to develop a recreation trail linking Tillamook and Banks has received approval to begin negotiations with the owner of the railroad that once operated along the route.

Meeting in Tillamook in early August, the Salmonberry Trail Intergovernmental Agency (STIA) received formal notice from a federal panel that the rail line, owned by the Port of Tillamook Bay, could be available for trail use.

The notice, from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, gives a green light for up to 180 days of negotiations between STIA and the Port about items including long-term ownership and management of the Port of Tillamook Bay Railway corridor.

The federal board has broad jurisdiction over railroad matters, and plays a key role in rail banking, which enables a railroad owner and a trail agency to work out arrangements to transition out-of-service rail corridors to trails.

Also at its August meeting, STIA adopted a communication plan to emphasize that the project is a long-term endeavor, and that in the meantime, the corridor—its rails, trestles and tunnels severely damaged in a 2007 storm—is dangerous and closed to public use. The Port has posted no trespassing signs, and violators could be cited.

STIA encourages interested citizens to join the effort to make the Salmonberry trail a reality, and in the meantime to visit other nearby destinations for non-motorized recreation, including trails in the Tillamook State Forest and the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.

STIA’s next meeting will be from 10 a.m.–noon Oct. 7 in the meeting hall at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park.

For more information about the project, contact Dennis Wiley, Salmonberry Trail project manager, at 503-986-0723 or dennis.wiley@oregon.gov.