My View – April 2016

This month, our pages are overflowing with “what-to-do” hiking articles that will guide you to the best trail systems in Southern Oregon. Located in our own backyard and within minutes of town, we are literally surrounded by hiking trails, managed and maintained by the Jacksonville Woodlands Association, Forest Park Trails Association, Applegate Trails Association and the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association. There’s no questioning the positive impact hiking is having on our environment, health and well-being as a town—it’s a big plus for residents and also draws visitors to town who then boost the local economy with their pre- and post-hiking shopping and dining activities.

When reflecting on how and why Jacksonville emerged as the “Hiking Capitol of Southern Oregon,” one must thank the original, visionary members of the JWA… and a plant! I’m not speaking of grape vines or pear trees here, but of the famous “Gentner’s Fritillaria.” This rare flower helped preservationists and land stewards make the case for preserving rather than developing wooded hillsides where the endangered species of lily grows. The Fritillaria gentneri, (on our cover) one of the rarest native plants in the world, is found only in isolated populations, with the largest concentration found in the woodlands encircling Jacksonville.

Back in 1989, alarmed by the prospect of potentially devastating development that could destroy our wooded hillsides, the non-profit Jacksonville Woodlands Association was formed. Since, the JWA has preserved 22+ parcels of forested open space covering 320 acres and has constructed 18 miles of recreational trails. The efforts have attracted national attention and set the standard for community land preservation in Oregon. Please join in celebrating this exemplary achievement by attending the 26th Annual Jacksonville Woodlands Association Hike-a-Thon Celebration on April 16 from 9:30am-to noon. Please see page 33 for more details.

Thanks to the JWA, pathways were cleared for other trails organizations mentioned above to succeed in developing newer trail systems—and protecting additional habitat from development. All four trails organizations are led by volunteers with passion and purpose, all of whom are strengthening our community, one trail at a time. Every month, the Review is proud to publish several hiking columns and encourages you to get out there and take a hike! Along the way, please thank the volunteers who make hiking a hit in Our Small Town with Big Atmosphere!