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Happy mtn bikersTrail crews on the McKenzie River Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest have completed a five-year project to improve the O’Leary Loop into a world class mountain biking trail. Already a “hidden gem” for both hiking and mountain biking, the enhanced trail is a 22-mile, single-track loop with an intense backcountry feel. Local partners and the McKenzie River Ranger District hope that increasing the mountain biking opportunities in the area will encourage visitors to stay and explore the area for multiple days.

The project started in 2011 when the Recreation and Trails sub-committee of the McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce identified a need for additional bike trails to better serve the mountain biking community. The McKenzie River Trail, which draws visitors locally, nationally and internationally, was the only substantial opportunity for mountain biking in the area. The Disciples of Dirt, a mountain bike advocacy group, worked with the Willamette National Forest to identify the O’Leary Loop, which had been infrequently used for hiking or biking, as an opportunity to expand mountain biking opportunities.

McKenzie logoEditor's note: On 9/21/16 The McKenzie School board voted unanimously to approve creation of a charter school. This report covers a community meeting prior to that vote:

FINN ROCK: “We are McKenzie so we study the McKenzie as a textbook, as a source of knowledge.” That sentiment from Science teacher Nate Day was part the rationale supporters of a proposed charter school presented at a meeting last Wednesday. He went on to note that charter schools have a “place based” emphasis that is, “Not all about sitting down in a classroom. With all the natural resources we have - from waterfalls, Clear Lake, mountains and the amazing river - every single classroom can have a direct connection to the world.”
For Corey Culp, the charter school concept wasn’t appealing when he first heard about it. “As a teacher I had to think about how would I start implement it and how would I have to start changing my classroom to make it fit,” he wondered.

Blue Pool diversMCKENZIE BRIDGE: The location of a bowl where spring-fed waters form a crystal clear pond is no longer privy to just locals. In recent years increasing numbers of hikers, bikers and cliff jumpers have all been going to the Blue Pool on the McKenzie River National Scenic Trail. Their numbers, and the impacts of their visits, have become issues for the McKenzie River Ranger District, which manages the site.
District Ranger Terry Baker said about five years ago those numbers ran a range of about 20 to 30 per day. In the last two to three  years another zero could be added at times, like one recent weekend when a Forest Service video recording showed 200 cars crammed into the parking lot at the Trail Bridge Reservoir.
Baker credits a variety of online social media outlets, websites and news articles for contributing to Blue Pool’s popularity. “It just becomes more and more of an attraction,” Baker said, “so we have increased visitation.”

McK EagleBy Jim Thomas
Superintendent
FINN ROCK: The McKenzie School Board will be holding a public hearing at 6:30pm on September 14th in the high school library to receive input on the proposed conversion of the district’s K-12 program into the McKenzie River Community School.
An application for the Community School was submitted by a group made up of community members, educators and parents who are interested in increasing opportunities for our students to receive the highest quality education possible with the resources that are available. The focus of the proposed school, if approved, will be natural resources and career technical education. The core curriculum will remain pretty much the same.
The board encourages all of you who have questions or concerns, to attend the meeting and to give your input.

Pony girlWALTERVILLE: The 66th annual “Walterville Community Fair – the Other Country Fair” is just around the corner. The event will showcase prime cookies, pies, cakes, and breads from area kitchens as well as the best canning of the year. Between now and the September 10th fair day, gardeners can encourage their favorite flowers to bloom, and gather  vegetables to enter, while other folks finish up their handiwork or arts and crafts, develop their photography, and dust the antiques to enter into the fair’s many display categories.
Entries for the fair should be delivered between 7:30 and 9 a.m., with judging starting at 9 a.m. There will be Best of Show prizes and all-around winners. People can pick up their entries Friday night between 3 and 4 p.m.
The Walterville Grange will also be hosting the “Walterville Waddle” - a 5K run/walk. Sign ins are scheduled between 7 and 7:45 a.m. and the  Waddle will begin at 8 a.m.  Participants can preregister at https://secure.getmeregistered.com through September 9th.

Blue Pool/TamolitchMCKENZIE BRIDGE: The portions of the McKenzie River Trail that lead to Tamolitch Falls, commonly known as Blue Pool will reopen to the public on Thursday, September 8th. However, due to continued fire-related safety concerns, portions east of Blue Pool and the fire area remain closed - including Forest Service Roads 740 and 743. Officials said road work was completed Sunday on Forest Service Road 655 at the trailhead near Trail Bridge Campground and Carmen Reservoir. Parking is only allowed on the right side of the trailhead parking area near the Trail Bridge Campground.
“Now that the Blue Top Fire is safely contained away from the McKenzie River Trail, we have determined it is safe to re-open that section of trail,” said Terry Baker, McKenzie River District Ranger. “I really appreciate everyone’s patience during the closure.”

MRT rerouteMCKENZIE BRIDGE: Under plans approved in May, the McKenzie River Ranger District will relocate portions of the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail near Smith Reservoir. Parts of the existing trail were originally constructed in areas that officials determined were too steep, didn’t incorporate effective drainage, or were un-sustainable. Problems included erosion that might accelerate over time causing a variety of adverse impacts to the trails and environment, including damage which makes trails unsafe to use and increased turbidity in adjacent water systems. In addition, two bridges will be replaced.
The work plan calls for the new sections to be constructed by hand (no heavy equipment), though motorized tools may be used at times. Crews will remove brush and construct a tread from 18 to 22 inches wide). Unsustainable portions of the trail would be decommissioned and naturalized following completion of the proposed reroutes. Another part of the works will use water bars  to remove running water off of the tread.
The entrance and exit points of the old trail would be hidden by debris to discourage use.
Comments on the proposed action were accepted from April 8th to May 6th of 2016. No comments, either in support or opposed, were received.

Lane County’s Waste Management Division is seeking public input on its update to the regional Solid Waste Management Plan, including potential strategies to increase waste diversion from the landfill.

The ultimate goal of the updated management plan is to develop a waste management system that is environmentally sound, technologically feasible, cost-effective, locally controlled and publicly acceptable, while providing for an overall reduction in waste generation. There are two ways for community members to provide feedback:

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.