Knappa, Ore – It is possible to ‘have it all’ with Oregon's state forests, especially when state agencies collaborate and work together with other natural resource groups. The new addition to the Gnat Creek trail is a good example of this "all in" approach. The Upper Gnat Creek Trail near the Gnat Creek Fish hatchery in the Clatsop State Forest opens Saturday, June 16 at 10:00 a.m. as local boy scouts are the first to blaze the trail following a ceremonial ribbon cutting by the Astoria Chamber Ambassadors.
Rolling up their sleeves and working on this project were the departments of Forestry and Fish and Wildlife, and they teamed with the Columbia River Estuary Study Task Force and Oregon State Extension Service.
“The beauty of this watershed and its offerings has been the result of many years of collaboration,” says Roger Warren, Gnat Creek Hatchery Manager, ODFW. “Our different agencies came together with a vision to link our resources to create the best possible recreation and education opportunities for the public. Today, we’re proud to be expanding and improving our exhibit with the addition of our newest trail.”
Gnat Creek trail, itself, represents a commitment to recreation. It's a trail that connects a popular campground with a visitor-friendly fish hatchery, and now it extends even further into the forest - on a path to someday reach a distant waterfall. It's also an invitation to Oregonians to hike into the woods to see firsthand how forests, fish and wildlife are being cared for.
“The two mile trail provides opportunities for families as well as classrooms,” says Larry Sprouse, ODF Support Unit Forester. “In addition to being easily accessible from Highway 30 with ample parking, the trail offers a variety of vegetation both new and old as well as diverse wildlife viewing opportunities from the salmon and steelhead runs to a multitude of migrating birds.”
The trail begins at Gnat Creek Hatchery where visitors can learn about the salmon lifecycle and how hatcheries play a role in revitalizing listed and endangered native fish populations. Entering the trail, visitors weave through a working forest, one with an innovative plan for managing timber, protecting streams, developing young and old habitat for native wildlife, and having scenic forests for Oregonians to enjoy. This emphasis on multiple values and a wide range of goals is an innovative alternative to the reserved-based approach found on most federal forests.
Walking along the trail, it's clear that timber harvesting stopped well before it reached Gnat Creek to preserve the vital living space in and along the stream. Salmon and salamanders are among the species that depend on the undisturbed water areas. Deer, elk and songbirds, on the other hand, take full advantage of the harvested open areas for foraging.
A little farther along, the trail moves into more mature woods. Here the visitor is free to marvel at the many sizes and types of trees. A range of natural forest stages, or habitats, is a key management goal for the forest. The plan for the Clatsop State Forest has had scientific and public review so it recognizes the interdependence of economic, environmental and social values.