News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Grant sought for Little North Fork Trail recovery

Efforts to acquire a grant to help reopen the Little North Santiam Trail go before an Oregon State Parks committee next week.

The trail, which provides access to some of the most popular attractions in the Opal Creek area, has been closed since the 2020 Labor Day weekend wildfires, but the National Forest Foundation has been working on the reopening challenge and has applied for a grant from the Recreational Trails Program Advisory Committee.

The ten-person committee meets Feb. 28-29 in Salem to evaluate grant applications from around the state for projects to develop, improve or expand recreational trails. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department administers the federally funded grant program.

The committee meets at 9 a.m. both days at the Best Western Mill Creek Inn, 3125 Ryan Drive SE. The Little North Santiam presentation is scheduled to take place at approximately 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The committee is scheduled to make final recommendations on the grant requests at 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 29. State parks program coordinator Jodie Bellefeuille cautioned that the agenda times are estimates and that visitors should arrive early just in case the meeting is ahead of schedule. The meeting is open to the public but does not include time for public comments.

The advisory committee will submit recommendations to the Oregon State Parks Commission for review and approval at their April meeting. The state will then forward approved project proposals to the Federal Highway Administration for final approval.

The Little North Santiam Trail system runs along the south side of the Little North Santiam River, with its west trailhead off of Elkhorn Road SE and its east trailhead off of Forest Road 2207 near Shady Cove. Hikers can choose various lengths of trail to cover or shuttle between the two trailheads.

The National Forest Foundation request on behalf of the Little North Santiam is one of 16 applicants seeking awards in the large grant pool, which consists of $1,871,161 in requests. Bellefeuille said that $1,269,779 is available, meaning the program can cover 68% of the funds requested.

There are six grant applications in the small grant pool. Bellefeuille said that small grants are below $50,000 with the large grants above $50,000 up to a maximum of $150,000.

The minimum grant request amount is $10,000. Applicants must commit to at least a 20% match. The match can include volunteer labor or other donations. Eligible applicants include local, state, federal, tribal and other governments as well as non-profits registered for at least three years with the Oregon Secretary of State.

Types of projects eligible for the funds include construction of new trails, major rehabilitation of existing trails, development or improvement of trailheads and other support facilities, acquisition of land or easements for the purpose of trail development and safety and education projects.

The National Forest Foundation did not respond by The Canyon Weekly’s presstime to requests for information on how the foundation would use the grant. No word is available also on when the trail system might reopen.

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