In April The Army Corps of Engineers started a three year project to repair the North Spit Jetty near Coos Bay. In order to do construction and haul rock, the Corps is using the South Dike Rd which goes through BLM land. The South Dike Rd has been used for dozens of years by equestrians and non-motorized recreationalists to access the beach
and the 18 mile North Spit equestrian trail system. This Equestrian Trail system was formally developed 15 years ago by he partnership of the OET South Coast Chapter and BLM employees.
While the Jetty repair project had been reported in the local news, there was never any mention of trail access being cut off. There was no notice in any news outlet, social media or outreach to local horse clubs. There were no signs posted in the BLM boat launch parking lot where all equestrians have been welcomed to safely park for years. The only way the we riders found out that trail access had been closed from the South Dike Rd is by individual cases of riders going out (after April 1st) and being chased away by construction workers in 4-wheelers or by encountering newly erected fences, t-posts, gates, barriers and huge boulders. Some riders tried to find a way around (one such attempt almost resulted in a serious accident). Other riders just drove home many miles; discouraged after taking a day off to recreate on the trail system and beach.
Several individuals contacted the local BLM office and asked if BLM could assist civilian volunteers with creating another alternate safe access from the parking area. We also asked that signage be posted in the parking lot advising of alternate trail access and current closure. We were told that it was not in the BLM budget to do this and another trailer parking area was suggested by BLM at the end of the highway next to a popular target shooting area covered with profane graffiti and where several rigs have been broken into recently. The BLM did concede that we equestrians could use the South Dike Rd on the weekends when construction is not active. However, when riders tried to use the road on weekends, they were met with closed gates, barriers to the trail system and closed beach access.
So despite all the many individual efforts to communicate with the local BLM officials, we have been met with roadblocks and little response…and have even been told that the Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for putting up the barriers and that we should talk to them.
In frustration and fear of losing the trail system that we worked so hard to establish, we have reformed the South Coast Chapter of OET and are starting with a letter writing campaign to hopefully bring attention and a response to our valid concerns.
US Army Corps Public Relations representative sent a reply that says trails were closed due to hazardous construction activity. However, the construction activity does not impact all 14 miles of the trail system located on more than 1,000 acres. The OET South Coast Chapter is willing to work with BLM and US Army Corps to identify more appropriate trail management during the 2 to 3 year Jetty project.
Contact for letters:
John Morgan, Public Relations
US Army Corp
PO Box 2965
Portland, OR 97208
Article written by Bianca Chevelier, South Coast Chapter
We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose members are dedicated to building, promoting, preserving, and maintaining horse camps and trails in Oregon. For over 50 years, we’ve worked to ensure that horse trails and camps throughout our state remain accessible to riders now and in the future. OET members promote LNT ethics, outdoor ethics, campground etiquette, and trail etiquette.