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CZ Trail committee members disagree over how to balance recreation and safety

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - A trailhead of Crown Zellerbach Trail is accessible from Scappoose-Vernonia Highway, but some say vehicles routinely speed on the highway, making it unsafe for pedestrian access in some areas.Members of a recently convened Crown Zellerbach Trail advisory committee say the former logging road turned public trail has the potential to bolster Columbia County's tourism economy and be the crown jewel of recreation in Oregon. But some say more needs to be done first to increase pedestrian safety and limit clearcutting along the trail route.

Columbia County acquired the former logging road that stretches from Scappoose to Vernonia for use as a public access recreational trail. For over a decade, the county has slowly worked to plan and design trail improvements. In 2016, a dedication ceremony was held as an official unveiling of the popular hiking, cycling and horseback trail. Last summer, a CZ Trail advisory committee was convened to plan future improvements to the trail.

The seven-member committee meets every two months and has already mapped out a spot for an equestrian park in the Chapman area.

JJ Duehren co-chairs the committee. Duehren is an avid CZ Trail user who runs an equestrian rescue organization. She also manages a CZ Trail information page via Facebook.

Duehren says she was eager to help plan the future of the trail, but was dismayed during recent committee discussions about clearcutting trees all the way up to the trail, and not prioritizing pedestrian safety. She points to the death of James Spencer, who died of injuries he sustained in January after he was struck by a vehicle on Scappoose-Vernonia Highway near Wikstrom Road.

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Columbia County Spotlight.

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