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'Hideous' fence serves an important purpose

I like to hike in the Jacksonville Woodlands in part because it's so beautiful there. But for some reason someone is building a hideous-looking fence around the old swimming hole. It looks like the set of a really bad Western.

What gives?

— C.N., Yelled from the Woodlands' Petard Trail

Well, C.N., tell us what you really feel about that fence. We at Since You Asked Central will tell you what Larry Smith, the Jacksonville Woodlands Association's executive director, told us about it.

It turns out the fence is an Eagle Scout projects underway in Rich Gulch, a historic mining area amid the popular hiking and cycling trails behind The Britt Festival.

The historic 100 year-old earthen dam there was being destroyed by people climbing on it, causing erosion, Smith says in an email. Also the City of Jacksonville's insurance carrier asked that a barrier be put up, Smith says.

"We tried signs, but all they did was promote more dam climbing," Smith writes.

They chose the snake-fencing design for a reason as well. The split-rail fence zigzags around the area and actually rests on the land's surface, Smith says.

Had the scouts put in a post-hole, it would have had to go through a review by the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy because they own an easement to that property, and digging post-holes would require an expensive archaeological survey, according to Smith.

Scout Daniel Root's 250-foot-long fence will protect the historic mining dam from degradation by cyclists and hikers, Smith says.

And don't worry, C.N., the fence should look better once it weathers a bit, Smith says.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.