It’s time to name that trail!
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department wants to involve the community in the naming of a loop trail near the Necanicum Estuary in southwest Gearhart.
The department is organizing a contest to give citizens the opportunity to participate in choosing a title for the unnamed trail, which unofficially is referred to as the Necanicum Trail site, Gearhart City Administrator Chad Sweet said. The trail starts at a parking lot on H Street off of Wellington Avenue. It is near the access point for Little Beach and provides access to Ocean Beach, as well.
“They decided it might be a good idea to name it to get some citizen involvement with the trail,” Sweet said.
Vanessa Blackstone, a wildlife biologist with the department, is heading up the initiative, which was approved by Gearhart City Council at its September meeting.
Parts of the trail have been in place for many years, some parts officially to provide beach access for emergency service vehicles, others created unofficially by pedestrians using the area.
To help connect the different parts of the trail and make a path that would not be detrimental to wildlife in the area, the city and the state parks and recreation department worked together to create the loop, which was completed last spring with the help of a group from AmeriCorps. The trail will be open year-round.
The National Audubon Society has labeled the Necanicum Estuary, the site of the trail, as an important bird area.
“It’s a huge stop-over point for a lot of the birds that migrate up and down (the coast),” Blackstone said.
The trail loop project’s goals included improving the Necancium Estuary for shorebirds, providing “a pleasant access to the beach where the public can enjoy shorebirds without disturbing them,” increasing “public enjoyment of wildlife viewing” and fulfilling the habitat conservation plan requirement for the western snowy plover population, she said. A threatened western snowy plover was sighted north of Gearhart just this year.
“The trail itself benefits everyone that enjoys shorebirds and everyone that likes a stroll near the beach yet out of the wind,” Blackstone said.
Although a timeline for the contest hasn’t yet been established, the parks department hopes to have a name selected by the end of the year, so directional signs and an overview map can be installed at the trail.
“The goal is, in part, to provide the public with a convenient way to get to the beach that is simple and clearly marked,” Blackstone said.
Part of the contest will involve field trips in October for students, who then can submit name suggestions. Brian Fowler, the department’s coastal visitor experience coordinator, is working with Gearhart Elementary School to distribute information packets and pictures to the students.
The department is focused on the elementary school, but it is open to encouraging participation from other schools, if the Seaside School District allows it.
“It will depend on if they’re interested,” Blackstone said.
The department also would like to host a ranger-led trail walk for the community so people can learn more about conservation, particularly as it relates to the estuary.
The department will collect names through an online survey, emails and regular mail. Individuals of any age can submit as many ideas as they like. There are a few guidelines, however.
“Names are encouraged to reflect the geography of the area, history of Gearhart, natural or cultural resources,” Blackstone said. “Names with offensive or inappropriate content will not be accepted.”
Inappropriate names include those that are irrelevant to the area, such as the “New York City Trail,” she added.
The city and department will reach out the community and call for ideas through news releases, local events and social media. After the city chooses the top 10 or so names from among a pool of 25 to 50 selected by the department, the department will set up a final public vote through Survey Monkey.
“The top contenders will be listed in random order and the survey opened to the public for voting,” Blackstone said. “The vote will be advertised locally, but anyone could vote if they found out about it. The name that receives the most votes will be the new name of the trail.”