The TSP is in partnership with the Wallowa Whitman National Forest and is funded by the The Trailhead 501c3 Nonprofit, Baker City OR. Anthony Lakes operates in partnership with the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest under a special use permit, and is an equal opportunity provider.

Background
& History

Over the past several years, the Wallowa Whitman National Forest (WWNF) has witnessed a significant increase in use by locals and out-of-area visitors. Multiple user groups have local trailheads, campgrounds, and parking areas at or close to capacity.

Understanding that the bulk of the WWNF budget has moved from recreation to fire, as well as understanding the significant impact outdoor recreation has on our local economy, The Trailhead Bike and Ski shop in Baker City has initiated the Trailhead Stewardship Project (TSP). The TSP was created to facilitate the need for human and monetary resources on the WWNF, helping to mindfully and effectively bolster Outdoor Recreation for our locals and visitors of Baker County. ​

While the trail systems throughout the Elkhorns and southern Wallowas are remarkable to say the least, these trails have deteriorated significantly (some are even unpassable), in large part due to lack of funding. The Trailhead is partnering directly with the WWNF to spearhead trailhead maintenance and repair, wayfinding, and coordination of all user groups to identify trail user needs. The TSP will not be specific to biking and hiking trails, but include all user groups; biking, hiking, equestrian, ATV/OHV, etc. ​

With a primary focus on Baker County, the TSP will encompass all trails within the Elkhorns, Southern Wallowas, and other trails in and around Baker County. Our initial projects will focus on trails within Wilderness areas – namely, the North Fork John Day Wilderness (Baldy Unit). The TSP aims to protect these motorized, non-mechanized, pristine areas through trail maintenance and stewardship. The Trailhead plans to invest in this project and initially hire one seasonal full-time employee specific to this project. As grant opportunities arise, we will continue to invest in trail infrastructure in our community, and hopefully be able to include additional staffing dedicated to trail maintenance and repair.

Additional
Driving Forces

#1 Local Economic Impact

Outdoor recreation is one of the main reasons people visit Baker County. With or without any advertising or marketing, a significant number of visitors are already traveling to Baker County from outside of our region. It becomes imperative to capitalize on the influx of visitors, educating them, and directing them to spend locally.

Therefore, in addition to trail maintenance and repair, it’s the Trailhead Stewardship Project’s goal to partner with all Baker County communities and initiate the discussion on the economic impact of outdoor recreation in our region.

  • The TSP will work to help Baker County’s small communities capitalize on the large influx of visitors to our region.
  • The TSP will work directly with each community, hearing their needs and desires, and help facilitate a plan to effectively manage the growth in visitation, resulting in a positive economic impact.

This is a significant priority for the TSP and the one of the main drivers behind it.

The Trailhead Stewardship Project will be encouraging all locals and visitors to understand and appreciate the paid and volunteer work that is being accomplished and in turn, show their support of our locally owned small businesses.


#2 Way of Life and Recreating Responsibly

The Trailhead Stewardship Project’s goal is to effectively manage the influx of visitors, so it has a positive impact on our community, and not become a detriment to our community.

We have witnessed other communities being overrun with visitors from outside of the area; visitors that are not respecting local values, not respecting proper trail etiquette, and not respecting the local way of life.

One of the main reasons we all call Baker County home is because of the many outdoor recreation opportunities. Whether it’s biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, or something else, we all recreate outside. With the influx of visitors we witnessed during the summer of 2020, managing the growth in users will be critical to our experience and our way of life. The Trailhead Stewardship Project will actively work with all community partners to inform and educate visitors from outside of our community to respect and appreciate Northeastern Oregon.


#3 Safety

Not just safety of those recreating in Baker County but also the safety of our community and first responders. Cell service is extremely limited, wayfinding is currently less than ideal, and EMS response times are long for the majority of these locations.

More visitors to the area had the Baker County Search and Rescue stretched incredibly thin this past summer. This will continue as more and more new visitors continue to come. If we are able to establish clear and consistent messaging and signage including cell phone service locations as well as overall wayfinding, it will only help.

Summary

The overarching goal of the Trailhead Stewardship Project is to bring our trail infrastructure back to life and help manage the influx of visitors to Baker County, all while having a positive impact on our local economy and our local way of life. This will involve not just work on the trails themselves but how the overall messaging, managing, planning and coordination are conducted.

Baker County will continue to see increased visitation for outdoor recreation, and the TSP is dedicated to help manage this influx so it has a positive impact on the visitor, the local outdoor recreationalist, and our small, locally owned businesses.

TSP 2021 Goals

  1. Identify all numbered USFS trails and create a comprehensive list of all trails and current status of all trails in and around Baker County. The list posted will start small with the most popular trails and the trails the TSP can accurately and consistently report on. It will grow over the next several years to include all trails and updated trail conditions.
  2. Identify all user-built trails within Baker County to discuss with WWNF and any plans to include as a numbered USFS trail, decommission, or continue with status quo.
  3. Contact and initiate a discussion with all other trail groups in NE Oregon. The goal will be to identify any way the TSP can assist and/or help promote the work being done by these volunteer groups. Including but not limited to:
    • Blue Mountain Single Track Club (BMSTC)
    • Greater Hells Canyon Council
    • Wallowa Mountains Hells Canyon Trail Association (WMHCTA)
    • Baker Loves Bike (BLB)
  4. Identify one representative of each significant user group:
    • Hiking
    • Biking
    • Equestrian/Pack Group
    • Motorized
  5. Host initial meeting with each representative from user groups and trail clubs
    • This group is not intended to be a committee or an organized group that will need to follow Roberts Rules of Order, or appointments, or elections.
    • Based on feedback, priorities will be identified by the TSP and submitted to the WWNF for review. Not approval, but review
    • Each user group will be representative evenly
  6. Hire one full-time, seasonal employee and one part-time seasonal employee dedicated to trail maintenance and repair.
    • Additional admin, leg work, trail inventory and condition update will be completed by Trailhead staff.
  7. Consistent signage including contact information to report trail condition, nearest cell service, nearest hospital or EMS, Baker County Sheriff Dispatch contact information and clear and consistent signage on how to recreate responsibly.
  8. In addition to physical trailhead locations, establish clear and consistent messaging via social media and any and all pertinent digital platforms.
  9. Work directly with the WWNF Road Department and develop a comprehensive plan on improvement of wayfinding.

2021 Projects

Cunningham Cove

Brushing, tree removal, tread reinstatement, and Trailhead improvements.

Status
Complete

Peavy Trail

Brushing, tree removal, tread reinstatement and Trailhead Improvements.

Status
Complete

Elkhorn Crest Trailhead

Kiosk and signage improvements, garbage service, Dog waste bags, painting and parking lot improvements.

Status
Complete

Martin Bridge

Start clearing of overgrown western end of trail and reestablish tread.

Status
Complete

Wayfinding

Overall signage improvements as time and funding allows.

Status
Complete

Thoughts, questions, suggestions?

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