Planning Study Approved for South Fork Alsea Byway Recreation Corridor
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Benton County and the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG) have been recommended for funding from the Oregon Federal Lands Access Program to complete a planning study for future infrastructure improvements to the South Fork Alsea Byway Recreation Corridor. The Federal Lands Access Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) supported the project at the application stage and will participate in the planning effort.
“We are excited to partner with Benton County and the BLM to complete a planning study for the Alsea Falls Recreational Area,” said Fred Abousleman, Executive Director, OCWCOG. “Alsea Falls and the corridor between Monroe, Alpine, and Alsea represent a fantastic opportunity for recreational and economic growth for the County and surrounding communities. We are confident that the study will provide the evidence for this future development.”
Located in Southwest Benton County, around the communities of Alsea, Monroe, and Alpine, along the South Fork National Backcountry Byway, the Alsea Falls Recreational Area includes the Alsea Campground, the Fall Creek Mountain Biking Trail System, as well as a day use area, which serves a variety of trails, camping, river, and falls visitors. This corridor of recreational opportunity is accessed via the South Fork Road, which is managed by both BLM and Benton County. The combination of recreationalists using the road to access recreation sites, road cyclists, logging trucks, and some commuter/box truck traffic from adjacent communities presents safety conflicts that are likely to grow with the increasing use of the recreation area and road.
“The ability to partner with Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments and BLM to complete a study of this nature is an exciting opportunity for the county. County residents and visitors want to access these recreation areas, and we have a responsibility to ensure public safety while also improving current infrastructure,” said Anne Schuster, Benton County Commissioner and member of OCWCOG’s Board of Directors. “This study will equip us with the information necessary to invest wisely in this area.”
While safety will always be a top priority, the economic potential of the corridor and barriers to capturing the current and future economic benefits for the Alsea Falls Recreational Area and its adjacent communities must be taken into consideration. To aid that process, this planning study will determine what amenities and infrastructure improvements need to be developed to attract and retain outdoors enthusiasts and other visitors alike.
“The Alsea Falls Recreation Area is growing from a hidden gem to a destination location for many outdoor enthusiasts,” says BLM Marys Peak Field Manager Paul Tigan. “As we continue to see double-digit growth in use year-after-year, we also have to make sure that the infrastructure is ready to handle that level of use well in to the future. We are excited to work with Benton County and the OCWCOG to understand the future needs and opportunities along the South Fork Backcountry Byway.”
The project team of Benton County, BLM, and OCWCOG will complete a planning study to take into consideration the economic benefits of the Alsea Falls Recreational Area; safety of all users; preservation of existing and future infrastructure and maintenance; development and utilization of federal lands and its resources; and continuity of a transportation network serving the federal lands and its dependent communities.
The planning study is expected to be completed within the next two years.
For more information, contact the OCWCOG Planning Department at 541.924.8430.
About the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments
The Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG), on behalf of the member governments, carries out a variety of local, state, and federal programs. The majority of funding is provided by way of contracts to administer specific services. As an Oregon intergovernmental entity, OCWCOG can provide for, or on behalf of, its member governments any service that they are authorized to provide. Whether it is helping a business find appropriate capital, helping seniors and persons with disabilities plan for independent living, or coordinating local roads improvement priorities, OCWCOG offers these and many other innovative services to the local governments and residents of Benton, Lincoln, and Linn counties. For more information, visit www.ocwcog.org.
About Benton County
Perfectly placed in the Willamette Valley, 90 miles south of Portland and 40 miles north of Eugene, Benton County has easy access to urban areas with ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and cultural activities. Corvallis, Oregon is the county seat and home to Oregon State University. Since 1972, Benton County has been an Oregon “Home Rule” County, meaning that voters have full control over the county’s governance structure. The Board of Commissioners oversee all functions of county government services and act as executives, overseeing county operations; legislators, setting county ordinances; and also fill a quasi-judicial role in land use matters. With a ’15-’17 total budget of approximately $207.9 million and 430 employees, Benton County provides a breadth of services through its 14 departments. Subscribe to the county news summary at www.co.benton.or.us/news.
About the Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. Infiscal year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands. For more information, visit www.blm.gov.