Columbia Land Trust and the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District announced March 15 they are partnering on a plan to add a stretch of trail to Hood River’s Indian Creek trail network.

Through a partnership with Sieverkropp Development, the Land Trust recently acquired 40 acres of land between the Lower Hood River and where the Indian Creek Southside Connector Trail currently ends adjacent to Eliot Park. These steep bluffs feature Douglas-fir and oak forests that offer important riverside habitat for local wildlife, and the property adds to 400 acres along the river’s Powerdale Corridor already conserved by the Land Trust and Hood River County, said a press release.

The Land Trust and the parks district are partnering on this project in the hopes that in addition to benefitting wildlife, the property will also feature a scenic trail along the bluff. In order to do that, the parks district acquired an easement on a small section of land that connects the existing trail’s end point with the Land Trust property.

“We’re in the middle of a multi-agency parks master planning process with the city, the county, the Port of Hood River, and the local school district, and our outreach and surveys tell us the people of Hood River overwhelming want more trails and walking paths in town,” said Parks District Director Mark Hickok. “This is a great opportunity to help address their number one priority.”

While the trail project, which falls within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, is not currently funded and is at the beginning of the permitting process, the Land Trust and the parks district are optimistic that their partnership will result in a valued community asset that provides local neighborhoods easy access to scenic natural areas.

Hickok noted that plans could possibly include a naturescaped playground and picnic tables at a scenic overlook where a section of the Indian Creek Trail currently dead ends. The trail would also connect Culbertson Park to the existing trail network which runs through Eliot Park to downtown via the Second Street stairs and Hazel Avenue.

“This project provides an important buffer of natural land along the river as the city grows denser,” said Kate Conley, natural area manager with Columbia Land Trust. “We’re excited at the prospect of formalizing a trail in an area where many locals already walk to exercise and enjoy nature.”

The planned trail along the top of the bluff would not provide access down to the river due to safety and erosion concerns associated with building a trail down the extremely steep terrain. The Land Trust will continue to work with the community to find ways to safely connect the conserved lands in the Powerdale Corridor to the city.

About Columbia Land Trust

Founded in 1990, Columbia Land Trust conserves and cares for the vital lands, waters, and wildlife of the Columbia River region. The nonprofit has conserved more than 43,000 acres of land in 14 counties around the Columbia River, from the John Day River near The Dalles, to the Pacific Ocean. The Land Trust has earned accreditation from the Land Trust Alliance.

Columbia Land Trust recently launched its conservation agenda, a 25-year vision for a Northwest that is vibrant, thriving, and wild. The agenda prioritizes important lands across the five ecologically distinct regions of the lower Columbia River. Learn more at columbialandtrust.org/fearless.

About Hood River Valley Parks & Recreation

The Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District, formed in 1990 to save the Aquatic Center, later expanded its mission to provide parks and trails for the county. The parks district developed several public facilities over the years, including the Indian Creek Trail, the Rotary Skate Park, and Odell Community Park. They also partner with other local park providers by investing in community park projects such as Waterfront park, the Children’s Park rebuild, and the Mt. Hood Town Hall playground. Learn more at hoodriverparksandrec.org.

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