Willamalane Secures Grant to Expand Thurston Hills Natural Area

View a high-resolution trail map here.

Grant funds will enhance and expand the trail system on the southwest side of the property.

Willamalane Park and Recreation District secured a $238,954 grant to expand trail systems in Thurston Hills Natural Area (7575 McKenzie Highway in Springfield). The grant is sponsored by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department as part of its Recreational Trails Program.

Currently, Thurston Hills Natural Area provides 665 acres of land dedicated for recreation and habitat restoration in east Springfield. This area opened to the public in 2017, and it has provided separate trail systems for hikers and mountain bikers alike. While Thurston Hills has provided approximately six miles of multi-use trails, Willamalane has planned on expanding the system from day one.

Willamalane Superintendent Michael Wargo is eager to begin the next phase of this project. “When voters trusted us with a bond measure in 2012 to purchase and build the Thurston Hills Natural Area, we were thrilled to deliver a unique system of natural trails that are conveniently located for the Springfield community. That said, we see the property as something we can continually improve and meet new needs for our patrons. This grant will allow us to further develop the southwest side of Thurston Hills and lay additional foundation to expand on what we offer to our community.”  

Fraser MacDonald, Natural Resources Planner for Willamalane stated, “We’ve seen how much the Springfield community has valued the Thurston Hills trail system, and we’ll continue to seek opportunities to expand and improve it. This grant lets us make something great even better, and we are incredibly proud of that and grateful for the opportunity.” Fraser was the employee responsible for securing the grant from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Preliminary plans for this second phase of development include an additional five miles of trail that will have segments for beginner, intermediate, and advanced mountain biking, as well as shared-use hiking trails that provide convenient, non-motorized access for the community. Willamalane is also asking for input from all community members about this (and other projects) at Willamalane.org/ideas.

For more information about the grant, Thurston Hills Natural Area, or suggestions from community members, contact Kenny Weigandt, Willamalane Community Engagement Program Manager.

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