Bye-bye blackberries & poison oak – Bear Creek Greenway

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A one-mile section of Medford’s Bear Creek Greenway welcomed a new look over this past winter. Bye-bye to blackberries and poison oak that had overgrown and crowded the popular greenway located between Bear Creek and Interstate 5 on ODOT property.

The blackberry brambles and poison oak were replaced with hundreds of native plants and shrubs, including Oregon Grape and Incense Cedar.

“The planting took place during the winter season, so the roots of these native plants and shrubs will be well-established by the time the summer heat arrives,” said ODOT Assistant District Manager Jeremiah Griffin.

The effort behind the Bear Creek Greenway cleanup began more than a year ago when the city of Medford applied for Blue Sky funds from PacificCorp to restore a five-acre riparian area along Bear Creek, stretching from 10th Street to McAndrews Road near downtown Medford. The city received the funds and contacted the Rogue Valley Council of Governments to be the project manager. At about the same time, ODOT began blackberry bramble removal work along the agency’s right of way, adjacent to the Bear Creek Greenway.

“We all had multiple efforts going on at the same time, but we weren’t coordinated,” said Griffin. “Thanks to the city of Medford and RVCOG, we were able to work together with Craig Tuss and Greg Stabach to share resources and avoid duplication.”

The clean-up work also removed accumulated trash from transients who camped along the path.

“This area is for the community to use and is much more secure now than before,” said Medford Police Officer Greg Nichols, who frequently patrols the path with his motorcycle. “You can see the creek from the trail and down the trail itself, giving a feeling
of safety.”

Nichols said much of the project’s success is due to ODOT’s Central Point Maintenance Manager Gary Lollar and crew.

“Without them, we most likely would still be stuck in first gear on this project,” said Nichols. “The cooperation we’ve received from ODOT has been amazing.”

The teamwork includes the Oregon Stewardship, which has been working one-on-one with students for years to enhance the riparian area.

“It’s great to have everyone on the same page working together,” said Jim Hutchins of Oregon Stewardship.

According to Griffin, the partnership will continue to enhance conditions along Bear Creek and the Greenway for the benefit of the Medford community.

About the Bear Creek Greenway
For more than 30 years, Southern Oregon has worked to connect its communities with a greenway corridor.

The Bear Creek Greenway is a 20-mile paved multi-use trail linking the cities of Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford and Central Point. The Greenway is continuous from the Ashland

Dog Park to the Dean Creek Frontage Road, north of Central Point. Soon it will connect to the Rogue River Greenway and follow the Rogue River to Gold Hill. When completed, the combined Rogue River Greenway trail and Bear Creek Greenway will extend over 50 miles and connect eight cities in Jackson and Josephine Counties.

Bear Creek Greenway Resources
http://jacksoncountyor.org/parks/Greenway/Bear-Creek-Greenway-Map
http://rvcog.org/MN.asp?pg=NR_Riparian_Planting

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