Trail Frequently Asked Questions
More questions are always being added to this list.
"Why does there need to be a trail built when I already hike along and on the tracks?"
The rail bed, while flat in some areas, is elevated and slanted on both sides for approximately 1/4-1/3 of the 6 miles between Joseph and Enterprise (the pilot project segment). Construction of a trail is necessary for walking/riding beside the tracks. Additionally, the trail can be constructed lower than the rail bed on one side of the tracks to help privacy concerns of adjacent landowners. This trail will be ADA and stroller accessible, so even in the flat areas along the tracks, a trail is necessary to improve the access for families and elderly.
Hiking/riding on the tracks is not an option. The tracks are used currently 6 months out of the year by the Joseph Branch Railriders, and one day the Eagle Cap Excursion Train will be running on the tracks again. Additionally, the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority who owns the corridor does not want people walking/riding on the tracks.
"who will manage and maintain the trail?"
The Wallowa Union Railroad Authority (WURA), an ORS 190 entity, owns the railroad corridor. WURA manages the overall corridor and the Joseph Branch Trail Consortium (JBTC) will manage and maintain the trail for WURA, similar to the Friends of the Joseph Branch for the Eagle Cap Excursion Train.
"How will the trail be maintained?"
Like many other rail with/to trails across the United States that are not owned by a state park, this trail will be maintained by a local 501c3 non-profit volunteer group (JBTC). The JBTC is a membership base and will seek funds through membership and grants, as well as set up an endowment. Local partnerships have been developed as well to help maintain trailheads. The Enterprise trailhead will be a partnership with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) at the Marr Pond Wildlife Area. ODFW already has the funds to upgrade that trailhead location. The Joseph trailhead location will be a partnership with the Joseph Branch Railriders.
Weeds are a major concern already in the corridor and the Wallowa County Weed Control Department has been contracted with by WURA to help control the weeds. It is anticipated this partnership will continue. Additionally, there will be Adopt-A-Trail segments where local businesses, organizations, and schools can help control weeds and litter along the trail. Trash cans will be placed incrementally along the trail for litter control.
For more information about the management and maintenance of the trail, please visit the Management, Maintenance, and Signage Plan (3rd Draft)
"What polling data has been collected for this project? And what kind of support does it show?"
Three independent surveys have been performed in Wallowa and Union Counties (1 solely in Wallowa County). In summary, a substantial majority of respondents to three surveys directed to different groups support the development of the trail from Elgin to Joseph, or to trail segments. Opposition appears greatest among those living adjacent to the proposed trail. Surveys by definition often suffer from low response rates and a selection bias toward survey completion by the most extreme elements. These limitations notwithstanding, there appears to be a broad and consistent positive opinion regarding the proposed Joseph Line Branch Trail by the majority of respondents.