As hiking and, for horse lovers, trail-riding season begins, Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah (FBPMP) has improved trails at the Howard Buford Recreation Area for humans and habitat. FBPMP has finished work on the north trail network in the park, including parts of trails 3, 4, 7 and 17. The group added materials to the trails in order to withstand use from horses and hikers, and redirected some trails.
Previously, some trails cut through wetland prairie, which made for a muddy hike and fragmentation of the prairie, says Val Rogers, Friends of Buford Park development director. And during the summer, the hoof marks left by horses on the trail would dry and become dangerous potholes for hikers.
“The obvious benefit is that it’s easier and safer for hikers and horse riders,” Rogers says. “But also it is protecting native habitat by rerouting the trail segments. That’s getting them out of the sensitive habitat; it’s a nice double benefit.”
The trails are for both equestrian and hiker use and were a combined effort of Friends of Buford volunteers, REI Eugene and Lane County Parks, all of whom donated time and money to help design and build the trails. The trails are a part of FBPMP’s overall mission to help protect and enhance the Mount Pisgah area, says the organization’s website.
“It’s not every day that a nonprofit, a business and a government agency are successfully able to work together for something that benefits everybody, so it’s worth celebrating,” Rogers says. Next up is renovating parts of trail 4 of the north trail network so that hikers can make a complete descent of the summit.
The county-owned park is a popular hiking destination and has recently been at the center of a battle over large outdoor events held at the park’s Emerald Meadows area. The Lane County Commission voted to cancel Faerieworlds festival and the Dirty Dash fun run next year, expressing concern over large events — in particular last summer’s Kaleidoscope Music Festival — having negative impacts on the native plants and animals in the Mount Pisgah area. The events will take place this summer as scheduled per their contracts but not in 2015.
The Friends of Buford Park will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday morning, June 7, at Mount Pisgah and a tour to celebrate the new trails and the group’s 25th anniversary. Participants may choose the length and difficulty of the trails.
To register for the ribbon cutting, sign up at bufordpark.org/tours or call Val Rogers at 344-8350. To volunteer with the FBPMP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.