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In the towns, there are active cycling and running clubs. They complain the trails get overcrowded in the summer and are active in expanding trail systems.

The connections with the canyon communities are with the attractions of Detroit Lake, Mt. Jefferson, and Pamelia Lake. Kids programs unite upper and lower valleys. And many families have “special spots” for picnics and for trail use, such as Opal Creek and Silver Falls. The “Junior Police Derby” has been held for 19 years in which children from single-parent homes are taken to Detroit Lake to fish. The Forest Service is credited with support for this program and assistance in making it a success.

Related to the farming culture here, many people talked about “islands of habitat” amid agricultural fields that have become valued in local communities. The health of these islands is measured by the number of mushrooms (early and late morels) that grow in the deadwood areas.

This area has a few environmentalists who have participated in public land use decisionmaking related to timber sales, Opal Creek determinations and other issues. John Brandt is known locally as someone who has helped broker decisions that were environmentally sound but also socially responsive. He was influential in talking through the Opal Creek decision in the local community.

“Locals use the forest for harvesting huckleberries, fishing, hunting, rock collecting and firewood. The local attitude has always been that you don’t come out of the woods unless you have something dead.”

The City of Stayton’s Park Commission is trying to build a network of trails in Stayton along the river with the ultimate goal being to encourage pedestrian travel and outdoor activities. Efforts are being made to buy acreage next to the river and to promote future access to the river for future generations. The Trust for Public Lands is involved with the City in this effort.

A local retired schoolteacher is currently writing a book for senior citizens on how to safely enjoy the forest.

A JKA Report


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