A proposal to link Tumalo and Tumalo State Park with a new walking trail hit a snag in 2012, after a survey of the area turned up a previously undiscovered archaeological site.
But after more than a year of uncertainty, state parks officials say the project is still alive. Construction of the trail could start as soon as next year.
If built, the trail would start at Tumalo State Park and wind north between the Deschutes River and O.B. Riley Road, ending 1.2 miles later, just east of U.S. Highway 20.
Deschutes County officials had discussed the trail proposal for nearly four years, and received a $140,000 state recreational grant to construct the paved path in 2012.
But the discovery of “lithic scatters,” the remnants of rock fragments used centuries ago to create other stone tools, threatened to derail the project. University of Oregon archaeology students discovered the fragments on the west bank of the Deschutes River in late 2012.
Building a trail around the archaeological site, as well as two other historic sites in the area, ballooned the project’s estimated cost, Deschutes County Senior Planner Peter Russell said.
Building the trail without disrupting the sites would have required several alternate options to a standard path: placing a layer of permeable fabric under the pavement in some areas; using a different material altogether; or constructing the trail in another location.
Russell said the county returned the grant money to the state last year after the site was discovered.
“We didn’t budget for that amount of work or those amount of restrictions to build the trail,” he said. “We’re basically out of it.”
Yet the project is still alive. Deschutes County asked the state Parks and Recreation Department to take over the project and keep surveying the trail area, according to Rocky Houston, the parks department’s trails coordinator.
“We’re still working on the project,” Houston said. “We’re working with a geologist, looking at what we need to do to get the area ready to build the path.”
He said it’s still too early to know many specifics of the plan, like how much of the path would be paved versus unpaved. But Houston said parks and recreation officials would finish surveys of the area and apply for trail permits in the next six to eight months. Actual trail construction could start in 2015, he said.
The project’s goal is to give pedestrians and bicyclists a way to reach the park from Tumalo without having to cross U.S. Highway 20. The proposed trail would branch off east along the Deschutes River and beneath the Highway 20 underpass, ending on the other side of the highway near Riverview Avenue.
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