The federal government has officially designated a 38.5-mile stretch of the Tualatin River as a National Recreational Water Trail.
The U.S. Department of the Interior made the designation on Oct. 22, after an almost decade-long advocacy by Tualatin Riverkeepers as well as support from local municipalities and other organizations.
The portion of trail to receive the designation includes a stretch of the lower Tualatin River that runs from Rood Bridge Park in Hillsboro to the confluence of the Tualatin and Willamette rivers in West Linn. The river runs through Tigard and Tualatin with popular launch sites for kayaks and canoes at Jurgens Park, Cook Park, Tualatin Community Park and Brown's Ferry Park.
"We are so excited to receive this designation after working for so long to recognize this stretch of the Tualatin River," Mark Fitzsimons, trips and tours coordinator for Tualatin Riverkeepers, said in a news release. "Not only for what this means for us as a group dedicated to protecting the health of the river and surrounding wildlife, but for what this means for the community and their access to this great river that runs right through their back yard."
Headquartered in Tualatin, Tualatin Riverkeepers is an environmental advocacy group that works to protect the Tualatin River watershed.
The National Park Service administers the National Water Trails System with a goal to protect natural areas and increase outdoor recreation. The Tualatin River is included on a list of 30 trails to receive the national designation, according to Tualatin Riverkeepers officials.
Jan Wilson, executive director of Tualatin Riverkeepers, said the organization was excited about the national designation and is still "sorting out what the designation involves and how to leverage the designation for additional funding of public access."
It is expected to include signage along that 38.5-mile water trail portion of the river.
Mark Jockers, government and public affairs director for Clean Water Services, the agency that provides stormwater and wastewater services for residents throughout Washington County, said the recognition was well-deserved.
"It's national recognition of how our community has invested, restored and embraced the Tualatin River," said Jockers. "In the last 30 years, this basin has been transformed with the development of new boat launches up and down the river;, the establishment of two national wildlife refuges and people flocking to the river. Clean Water Services is humbled to be part of this."
Beginning in the Tillamook State Forest in the Coast Range, the Tualatin River runs for a total length of 80 miles.
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