Popular main trail will close for construction

by: COURTESY PHOTO: CLEAN WATER SERVICES - This map will be posted at Fernhill Wetlands next week to show people what trails will be temporarily closing (in red) and what trails will still be available (in green) once construction starts. In the absence of the main trail, people can explore a lesser-used trail that turns north from the main pond.People preparing to celebrate the opening of a new trail at Fernhill Wetlands should also be aware of some upcoming trail closings.

Hosted by Clean Water Services, an open house at noon Thursday, May 1, will focus on the opening and dedication of a new entry corridor at Fernhill Wetlands. The path along the north side of the main pond winds through carefully placed boulders and plants. It was designed by Hoichi Kurisu, who also designed the wetland’s Water Garden, which will remain open to the public this summer.

But the popular main loop trail around the wetlands’ three main ponds will close for construction sometime in the next few months, said Sheri Wantland, public involvement coordinator for CWS. That could happen anytime from next week to July, depending on various factors, she said.

It’s unclear how long the project will take, but Wantland expects it to be finished — and the main trail to re-open — by winter at the latest.

The open house will double as a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction, which will reconfigure the main ponds, originally created as sewage lagoons but more recently used to hold stormwater, Wantland said. The makeover will turn them into natural-treatment wetlands by softening and reshaping their borders and adding more plants.

“It’s going to look very, very different (from) these straight lines and totally open water,” Wantland said. Although there will still be plenty of open water, “it’s not going to look like a lake now.”

She said CWS has solicited input from many stakeholders in order to balance the needs of wildlife and water quality.

The open house will feature refreshments, music, a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and “first shovel” and speeches from Washington County Commission Chair Andy Duyck, Clean Water Services General Manager Bill Gaffi, Trail Designer Hoichi Kurisu and Forest Grove City Councilor Victoria Lowe.

It will take place in the Fernhill Wetlands picnic shelter.

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