JACKSONVILLE — Reservoir Road has been freshly graded and graveled without the city spending a penny.
The Motorcycle Riders Association used grants, its own money and volunteer labor to complete the work from the reservoir through city-owned Forest Park and up to the Lilly Prairie riding area for off-highway vehicles. Two-thirds of the stretch is within city land.
The association has more than 1,000 acres of riding area that includes 380 acres acquired earlier this year in a swap with the city.
"The project actually came about as part of the land swap with the city of Jacksonville," said Jack LeRoy of the association. "We have grant funds, but MRA also contributed its own funds and volunteer labor."
Volunteer Forest Park Ranger Tony Hess said the improvements will help more than riders as increasing numbers of users come to Forest Park, which is 1.75 miles west of town.
The entire project covered 3.5 miles of roadway with 250 truckloads of crushed rock. A rough estimate of roadwork expense is about $60,000.
"We haven't tallied it up yet. We know we put 2,800 tons of rock on the road from Knife River," said LeRoy.
MRA was awarded a $107,000 grant from the Oregon State Parks Department's OHV fund in July for projects and maintenance. Of that amount, $10,000 was designated for the road project. The total included $30,000 for parking lot development, $12,000 for culverts and fencing, $7,000 for Kane Creek Road work and $5,500 for equipment maintenance.
Labor or funding matches are required for some of the activities.
Money for the grants is generated from gas taxes paid when OHV riders purchase gasoline and from sale of $10 annual stickers required for riding on public land or developed trails, said Ron Price of Oregon Parks.
Jacksonville gained $684,000 and 40 acres with improved parking next to the reservoir in the swap with the MRA. As part of the road project, the MRA also graveled and graded that parking lot. Jackson County maintenance of Reservoir Road stops at the reservoir.
Families now find Lilly Prairie more accessible and usable, said LeRoy. Last year the group added a restroom at the site along with a campground. Group members also installed an emergency helipad for medevac use.
"We have seen an increase in the use of our area," said LeRoy. "The improvements have really allowed a lot of that. Folks didn't want to go up there for the day. Now we see a lot of families using the area."
The highest use of the area comes in the fall and early spring, while bad weather curtails a lot of riding in January and February, said LeRoy. Dry, dusty conditions and fire closures limit summer riding.
The upper portion at Lilly Prairie gets snowed in, but lower trails off Reservoir Road on MRA land can be accessed.
A restroom was put in and improvements made at the trailhead on Pair A Dice Ranch Road, which also offers access to Lilly Prairie.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.