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Yamhelas Westsider Trail Map

Latest News From the Trail

Yamhelas Westsider Trail County Update

April 26, 2021

At their last meeting County commissioners continued to discuss how to deal with grant repayment demands triggered by their decision to stop all work on the trail. They also discussed a slew of emails regarding the trail that were released through a public-records request, and have published those documents on the county’s website. Eventually they will also publish staff answers to commissioners’ questions on the topics.

In advance of the publishing of the records or any staff responses, there were accusations being thrown around purporting nefarious dealings within the County and in communications with our organization.

The big myth at the heart of these accusations is that the Land Use Board of Appeals and ODOT had declared the trail dead last year. This is false.

LUBA did not issue its most recent ruling until December 30, 2020. When it did, it refused to grant the opponents’ request to reverse (nullify) the County’s Conditional Use Permit decision for the trail, and specifically said that the trail is not legally prohibited. The rest of the ruling was split between items where it ruled in favor of the County, and items where the County would have to do more to prevent impacts on adjacent farms. LUBA expressly declined to kill the trail outright.

ODOT did express concern about the land use process and required the county to come up with a certain date the trail could open to the public. ODOT entered into negotiations with the county on this issue, and were willing to work with the county as long as they felt the County was pursuing the trail.

ODOT did not demand grant repayment until the BOC stopped the land use process this year.

The Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail is a non-profit organization that advocates for the development of multi-use trails that support the health, safety and connectivity of our community. We enthusiastically partner with entities whose mission matches ours.

The Yamhelas Westsider Trail project was born from a citizen-driven vision for the historic railroad corridor between McMinnville and Gaston. County Commissioners supported the idea, and the Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail non-profit group was created to be a cooperative partner in the project. We have remained partners through the past decade as subsequent county commissions have continued to support the project. This is the first county commission since the project started to have a majority in opposition to the trail.

Recently, the County reached out to the Friends to explore various ideas and options for stewardship of the railroad corridor for public use. We see this transportation corridor as an extremely important public asset that should be protected for the future needs of the county. After doing our due diligence we determined that it was not feasible for FYWT to lease or take ownership of any property.

We recognize the widespread community support for the Yamhelas Westsider Trail, and calls for developing this opportunity to enhance the health, safety, connectivity and economic vitality of Yamhill County citizens and communities. We believe this is the best use of this historic transportation corridor and this corridor presents the most realistic opportunity for a trail.

Oregon’s strong land use laws protect the balance of many different publicly beneficial land uses, and provide a road map for successful coexistence. We support continued conversations with opponents, especially adjacent landowners, to find solutions to issues they foresee, as has been done on countless trails around the state and country.

FYWT remains committed to our mission, to this trail and to the network of trails in our region.

2020 Annual Public Meeting

January 13, 2021

The Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail 2020 Annual Public Meeting took place on January 13th, 2021. We were able to hear from Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla on the current state and direction of the trail. Stephanie Noll from Oregon Trails Coalition, Robert Spurlock from Metro, and Larry Klimek from the Wapato National Wildlife Refuge also spoke about an exciting vision for a regional trails and parks system, and how the Yamhelas Westsider Trail fits in.

In case you missed the meeting, you can watch the full Public Meeting here.

County beginning Trail Master Plan

Nov. 14, 2020

We’re very excited that Yamhill County has begun the Master Plan for the trail! The county has contracted with Alta Planning and Design to draft the plan. Alta is a national leader in active transportation planning, design, engineering and education.

This Master Plan will answer many of the specific questions people have had about what the trail will look like, design of trailheads and trail crossings, estimated costs, and how adjacent landowners’ concerns will be addressed.

The process includes robust community engagemen, including a project website, open houses, and a Project Advisory Committee made up of governmental and private stakeholders, including adjacent landowners, school districts, user groups and emergency services.

Specifically, Adjacent Landowner Engagement is intended to establish collaboration and coordination with adjacent farm owners and operators in order to mitigate and minimize perceived and potential impacts to farming from use of the rail corridor as a trail.

The plan is being paid for by a $122,280 Transportation Growth Management Grant through ODOT. Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail provided $16,674 in matching funds, eliminating the need for the County to provide any cash outlay. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to FYWT and made this grant match possible!

Thank You to Extreme Terrain

May 13, 2020

The Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail gives a big Thank You to Extreme Terrain for the $250 grant award for purchase of trail-clearing equipment. You can learn more about Extreme Terrain here:

Ongoing trail maintenance is coordinated between the Friends and Yamhill County, beginning with the stretches of right-of-way inside of Carlton and moving north. Volunteers are utilized for this work.

What is Happening with the Trail Now

Feb. 11, 2020

Construction: With a focus on developing the stretch of the Trail between Yamhill and Carlton (about 3.5 miles), Yamhill County in 2018 was awarded a $75,000 grant from the OPRD Recreational Trail Program as supplemental bridge construction funding in this segment. In 2019, OBEC Engineering Consultants were awarded a contract to engineer the bridge over Stag Hollow Creek and 30% design and engineer for two additional tributaries. In January of 2020, an award was issued to Farline Bridge Inc. for construction of the Stag Hollow Creek bridge with work set to be done by May 2020.

Planning: Yamhill County has been awarded $122,000 for Master Planning through ODOT’s Transportation and Growth Management Program. Alta Planning and Design will guide this process. The master planning process will incorporate advisory committee meetings, public open-houses, presentations, one-on-one and small-group meetings with partners and constituent groups, and online surveys. This is expected to take 10 to 12 months.

Maintenance: The Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail have coordinated with Yamhill County to do ongoing maintenance on portions of the Trail, beginning with stretches of the right-of-way inside of Carlton and moving north. Volunteers are utilized for this work, with work parties expected to become a regular every other month occurrence. The Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail appreciate your support to make this dream a reality.

Don’t let hyperbolic critics stonewall trail opportunity

June 8, 2018

The NIMBY element is in high dudgeon over the proposed Yamhelas Westsider Trail. Among more strident partisans, the rhetoric outstrips all reason.

We respect principled and thoughtful opposition. But fears whipped up over the trail seem greatly exaggerated.

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Banks-Vernonia Trail: Community Concern to Local Asset

April 16, 2018

Tony Hyde, Former Mayor of Vernonia, Oregon tells the story of one of the most memorable community meetings he ever attended.

As Hyde recalls, one of the families who was strongly opposed to the trail is now a regular user of this recreation and transportation infrastructure that connects communities in in rural Washington and Columbia Counties.

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Friends of Yamhelas Westsider Trail (FYWT)
2018 Annual Meeting Summary

7pm, Jan. 10, 2018
Carlton Legion Hall

Yamhill County Commissioner Stan Primozich opened the meeting with an update on the project. The county acquired the twelve miles of Yamhelas Westsider Trail right-of-way (ROW) located in Yamhill County in early December. This is from Gun Club Road north to the northern Yamhill County border. He is now working with his counterparts in Washington County so that they can acquire the remaining 5 miles of ROW located in that County, which would be from the County line north to the Hagg Lake turnoff. The next steps include both developing a master plan for the trail, and also beginning implementation of the grant that will be used to design 3 bridges across streams found along the ROW, and the construct one bridge.

After the Commissioner's presentation, FYWT Board President Wayne Wiebke opened the business meeting. The Board announced a number of proposed changes to its bylaws and governing policies. Among the most significant items are a change in the mission of the FYWT from trail acquisition to focus on fund raising, trail advocacy, and later trail maintenance in cooperation with Yamhill County. Along with this change, the FYWT Committee structure will also be changed. The Marketing Committee will become the Communications Committee, still chaired by Linda Cline. In addition, a Volunteer Committee will be formed, headed by new FYWT Board member, Jack Schwab. These changes were presented to the FYWT voting Members and public present, and were approved. In addition, the membership dues from 2017 were proposed and approved to be continued in 2018 without changes. Finally, a 2018 budget was approved by the Members present.

Concept Presentation Plan

May 24, 2017

McMinnville Community Center
600 NE Evans Street

Curious about the plan? We’ll be sharing the results of a multi-year collaborative planning process. Presentation will be led by Dan Miller of the National Parks Service, Rivers, Trails & Conservation Program.

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Technical Assistant Grant Received From National Park Service

Apr 13, 2015

The National Park Service has awarded a technical assistance grant to Yamhill County to develop a conceptual plan for the Yamhelas Westsider Trail Project.

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Trail Idea Has Regional Appeal

Apr 13, 2015

Portland Tribune, January 7, 2015 - Recreationists, nature lovers, historians and safety advocates in the area might want to take a look at the accelerating plans to create a scenic trail that

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Supreme Court Ruling...How Will It Affect Our Trail?

Feb 19, 2014

Yamhill County Administrator Laura Tschabold said initial analysis suggests it would not affect the 17-mile, multiple-use Yamhelas Westsider Trail proposed in Yamhill County for a rail corridor owned by ...

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 Friends  exploring the future trail site.

ODOT Grant Awarded for Yamhelas Westsider Trail

May 31, 2013

In the fall of 2012, the Friends of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail (FYWT) worked in conjuction with the Yamhill County Parks Department in submitting a grant application to the Oregon Department of ...

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