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February 6, 2015
LA GRANDE, Ore. – Eastern Oregon University has been awarded a $10,456 grant from the Cycle Oregon Fund at the Oregon Community Foundation.
The grant will support involvement from EOU students and the public in preparation of a Joseph Branch Rail-with-Trail Feasibility Study for the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority (WURA).
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Northeast Oregon Economic Development District and Joseph Branch Trail Consortium are partnering with the university on the study.
The Wallowa Union Railroad Authority has agreed to consider building a rail-with-trail project between Elgin and Joseph alongside the Joseph Branch rail line.
The feasibility study is scheduled to be completed in December 2015 and the WURA board of directors will make a decision at that time about proceeding with master planning and trail construction.
“The Joseph Branch Trail has the potential to create unique benefits for northeastern Oregon,” said Terry Edvalson, who provides project management support and is an adjunct faculty member at EOU.
“The development of the rail-with-trail could encourage additional interest in visiting the region, create new opportunities for the local economy, and enhance recreational and quality of life opportunities for local residents,” Edvalson added.
The 163 participants in public workshops held in Elgin, Wallowa and Enterprise in December 2014 provided information about concerns, constraints and opportunities along each mile of the proposed trail. This information is being used to develop a draft trail development design alternatives report.
The draft alternatives design report will be presented for review and comment in upcoming public workshops. A survey to evaluate public support for various design alternatives and gather opinions about other issues related to the trail will be conducted this spring.
Reports and other Information about the study are available at www.eou.edu/rails-with-trails and the Joseph Branch Trail Consortium website at www.josephbranchtrail.org.
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