June 18, 2002
Serving Western Deschutes County
Sisters, Oregon

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Students complete trail study
By Jim Cornelius

Sisters students provided an important link in a proposed Sisters trails system through a study of routes from local subdivisions to Sisters High School.

The students in the IEE (Interactive Environmental Expedition) at the high school surveyed fellow students on trail usage, inventoried existing trails and analyzed possible improvements.

Their work will be shared with the Community Action Team of Sisters (CATS), which has been trying to develop a community-wide trail network.

The practical application of the study appeals to students.

"It's sort of nice to have something where you know it's not just busy work," said IEE team member Jordan Beck. "We're getting something out of it and so is the community."

According to the IEE study, 64 percent of students use local trails on a daily, weekly or weekend basis. The most popular activities are running and biking.

The IEE team used Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to inventory trails from the Tollgate and Crossroads subdivisions, which could connect to the high school campus and to each other.

"There's not really existing trails," Beck said, "but there are (forest) roads that are not used anymore that could easily be turned into trails."

The students mapped the trails and the maps will be given to CATS for use in developing the community trails system.

The students visited Black Butte Ranch and Camp Sherman to get a look at trail surfacing options. BBR has paved bike and walking paths, while Camp Sherman has some compact gravel trails.

The team determined that compact gravel is the most practical surface for a trail system connecting to the high school.

The material -- gravel mixed with clay -- is relatively low-cost and low maintenance and offers a smooth enough surface that even street bicycles could ride the trails.

The IEE trails team included Beck, Adam Goff, Garrett Campbell, Nicolas Yopp, Lucas Denzer and Josh Rodriguez. Jeff Sims of the Sisters Ranger District advised the students on the project.

IEE projects covered several topics, including: vegetation; wildlife; history and archaeology; a greenhouse project; leadership; urban forestry and fish and water habitat.

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