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Trails can lead to health, recreation and jobs

Economic development can come in many packages. So can recreation and good health, and they often go hand in hand.

That's why it's good to see the growing enthusiasm for building trails in the Klamath Falls area. They represent connections in a number of good ways — connections from one place to another without motorized transportation, connections to better health, connections to fun and, possibly, connections that will lead to enough economic activity to give birth to some small businesses.

Last week the Subaru-International Mountain Bicycling Association, a mountain bike advocacy group from Boulder, Colo., gave presentations at the Running Y on trail building and the benefits and the processes involved.

Klamath Falls already has a pretty good start on a trail system, thanks to citizen volunteers, the city of Klamath Falls, the Oregon Parks Department and legislation that commits a portion of state road funds to building bike paths.

Perhaps the most important are the volunteers who spearhead the effort and often turn out to build and repair trails and bike paths, such as the OC&E Woods Line State Trail and those in Moore Park.

Many of the new trails in that area are being built by mountain bike enthusiasts who see a real future for the sport in Klamath Falls.

Well-known established trails include the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, which runs from its origin near Sixth Avenue and Washburn Way east through Klamath County, covering nearly a hundred miles. Others include the Link River Trail, the A Canal bike path (part of which is a popular route to school for students at Ponderosa Middle School), and the Wingwatchers Trail along Lake Ewauna. Those routes connect with each other.

There also are less well-known trails in the Moore Park area that were built primarily for and by mountain bikers, whose enthusiasm is leading to more opportunities to be involved in the sport.

Mountain biking can be a big sport for an area that offers good venues and good facilities. A town that comes to mind in this regard is Moab, Utah, population 5,130, that is swarming with mountain bikers and other outdoor recreationists at least eight months of the year.

Moab does have the advantage of incredible vistas of red rock mountains and trails and being near two national parks and the Colorado River. But Klamath Falls is near Crater Lake National Park along with thousands of acres of backcountry managed by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. A new mountain bike trail also is being built on Spence Mountain.

Through the Klamath Trails Alliance, some of the region's most scenic areas are planned for developments as segments of the 100-plus mile Great Klamath Circle trail that will eventually connect Klamath Falls to Crater Lake National Park. Now that's something to think about.

Meanwhile, we appreciate the enthusiasm and the effort being shown by those trying to build the local trail system.