My View – April 2017

On the heels of the Oscar’s, I considered penning a feel-good Hollywood script about an idyllic small town that would make a hit movie. The plot started like this: Against all odds, a group of volunteer visionaries raises a ton of money to preserve 320 acres of woodlands from bulldozers and developers that surrounds their quaint, historic town. After winning that battle, the group pulls-off the impossible by constructing 18 miles of hiking trails that literally ring the southern and western edges of their beloved town. The hiking trail system soon becomes the envy of the region, gaining national attention and becoming known as the “Hiking Capitol of Southern Oregon.” Twenty years later, the script gets even better when an additional 600 acres in the town’s western Forest Park is preserved in a similar fashion. Incredibly, in less than seven years, another volunteer group creates 25 new trails, traversing another 31 miles in a forested wonderland.

Luckily for us, this “script” is real, as are the characters who brought it to life—in the form of the Jacksonville Woodlands Association and Forest Park volunteers. The truth behind the legend is that thanks to this band of super-motivated volunteers who formed the Jacksonville Woodlands Association 27 years ago, the creation of our world-class hiking trails really happened…the dream became a reality. This reality means that our town is partially ringed in green space, providing an outdoor recreation haven that’s the envy of many towns that couldn’t pull off something of this magnitude. For many, the trail system drew us here, or at least served to influence our decision to live here…and hike here. For that, we should be most grateful!

We all know that Jacksonville is a well-preserved, “living museum of a town,” best known for its history, food, music, art, shopping and wine scenes…and of course, its hiking and biking scenes. Join the Review in celebrating the success of the Jacksonville Woodlands Association at their 27th-annual Hike-a-Thon on April 15 starting at 9:00am at the CC Beekman Arboretum. This celebration is a great opportunity to celebrate the past, present and future success of our trails and convey our gratitude to those who made it possible in Our Small Town with Big Atmosphere!