Joseph Branch Trail supporters clean up area

JOSEPH — Oregon Outdoor Recreation Day was recognized by about 30 local trail enthusiasts who picked up debris along the railroad tracks between Joseph and Enterprise where the Joseph Branch Trail is proposed.

The event was sponsored by the Joseph Branch Trail Consortium that is working with the Wallowa Union Railroad on a proposal to construct a six-mile trail along the railroad.

“The cleanup day exemplified what rail and trail is all about,” said Kim Metlen, owner of the Rail Rider pedal cars. “About 32 neighbors from Wallowa and Union counties found a surprisingly small amount of litter.”

Starting from Joseph, the consortium arranged shuttles back to their cars so people could hike as much or as little as they liked.

Children came as well and helped pick weeds. Penny Arentsen and Emily Sheahan brought their four young children.

“It was a nice morning hiking and (we enjoyed) this public corridor with folks from ages 3 to 83, even though the Joseph Branch Trail has not been established yet,” Arentsen said.

Establishing a trail management plan and working with WURA to improve it is the most recent effort to move the project forward. The overall Joseph Branch Rail-with-Trail Concept Plan is available in town libraries.

“Taking this project forward from its current ‘diamond-in-the-rough’ status to a finished community trail will bring untold benefits to our citizens,” said Lostine resident Terry Polk, a nurse who has experienced other trails in the country.

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