What the bills do
House Bill 2191 and Senate Bill 679 would appropriate $1 million from Oregon’s general fund to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for continued development of the Oregon Coast Trail.
The 382-mile Oregon Coast Trail is one of the state’s most beautiful hiking trails, and it has become an increasingly popular tourist destination that lures people from around the world.
The problem? The trail isn’t completely finished. Ever since it was declared “hikeable” in 1988, there have always been gaps where hikers must get off the trail and hike along the shoulder of U.S. Highway 101. Those gaps last anywhere from a half mile to a dozen miles.
Explore Oregon Podcast:Backpack the 400-mile Oregon Coast Trail in style; 5 best ‘segment hikes’
However, lawmakers and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department have increasingly prioritized closing those gaps and creating a better experience. In 2017, the Oregon Legislature directed OPRD to develop an action plan for closing gaps on the trail.
“Fully funding completion of the OCT would be a relatively small investment in exactly the kind of tourism we want more of on our coast,” wrote Bonnie Henderson, author of “Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail: 400 Miles from the Columbia River to California,” in testimony on the bills.
There are also issues such as landslides or the loss of tread that naturally happens with any trail, and particularly one almost 400 miles long.
This money would come from Oregon’s general fund. Normally, OPRD does not get general fund dollars, but is instead funded by the Oregon Lottery, user fees and recreation vehicle fees.
“Additional funding would allow OPRD to move forward on the recommended improvements outlined in the action plan,” the agency said in a statement.
OPRD does not take a position on bills in the state Legislature.
“Projects could include building new trail segments to improve safety, purchasing property to redirect trail to safer routes, updating signage and adding primitive campsites for thru-hikers,” the agency said.
Who’s behind it?
Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend), Sen. David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford), Rep. Boomer Wright (R- Coos Bay), Rep. David Gomberg (D-Lincoln, western Benton and Lane counties), Rep. Cyrus Javadi (R-North Coast/Astoria).
Where is it in the legislative process?
Assigned to the Senate Committee On Natural Resources with a hearing scheduled for 8 a.m. on Monday.
Read testimony on the bill
Public comments on the bill can be read here.
Zach Urness has been an outdoors reporter in Oregon for 15 years and is host of the Explore Oregon Podcast. Urness is the author of “Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon” and “Hiking Southern Oregon.” He can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or 503-399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.