It is nice to see all the interest in trails in the Sisters area, especially the discussion generated by the proposed paved path from Sisters to Black Butte Ranch near Tollgate subdivision.

Sisters Trails Alliance (STA) has been working for 10 years to get folks in Sisters interested in trails.

Some of this work has resulted in the expansion of Peterson Ridge Trail, a gravel path from Tollgate to the High School, and new trail connectors linking Sisters to Forest Service trails such as the Metolius-Windigo Trail.

The Sisters-Black Butte Ranch path is a culmination of two community trail planning efforts that began in 2003 with the Sisters Community Action Team, STA, the National Park Service River and Trails Group, the U.S. Forest Service, SOAR (now Sisters Park & Recreation District) and many volunteers. That effort was updated again in 2011 with an emphasis on connecting communities with trails and paths.

Both community trail planning efforts included public meetings with over 200 people attending that were used to ask local trail users what type of trails and where they wanted trails. These meetings were supplemented with user surveys, with over 640 (400 students and 240 residents) responses in 2002 and 130 responses in 2010. The 2010 survey was to update the earlier survey and verify that the trail needs were still the same.

The Sisters-Black Butte Ranch paved path and the Crossroads paved path were priorities in the 2011 Sisters Community Trails plan. These two proposals connect over 1,800 homes to Sisters with an alternative mode of transportation - human-powered.

The 2011 Sisters Community Trails Plan Update can be viewed at: www.sisterstrails.com/

newsletters.html

The benefits of these paths are many. We are fortunate to live in a small enough community where on a busy summer day, when traffic is backed up in Sisters, you can bike to the grocery store quicker than drive.

By doing so, you don't contribute to the traffic jam, you don't have to buy expensive gas, and you get some exercise and help combat the growing problem of obesity and illness caused by a sedentary lifestyle.

These paths connect our community in a safe and healthy way.

These paths provide a safe route for families, children, the elderly and even disabled users, who aren't able to use dirt trails.

These paths also provide recreation by creating a safe off-highway route for bicycles, runners and walkers. You don't have to be an athlete to use these paths, just have the desire to travel under your own power.

Right now the proposal is still in the planning phase with the Forest Service, who manages the land the paths will be built on.

These paths don't displace any recreation users or take anyone's land.

Funding will be from grants and donations. The biggest source of grant funding is a 10 percent mandated set-aside in Federal highway funds to the state for pedestrian and bike infrastructure. These funds are available statewide. So if they aren't spent here, they'll be spent in Portland, Eugene, Bend or some other Oregon location.

We encourage those who are interested to get involved. Do your own research and search out the facts about the benefits of paved paths and alternative forms of transportation. Ride your bike or walk to town. Get out of your car more, enjoy where you live. Become aware of the benefits to your community and your neighbors.

Information on trails and the impacts to local subdivisions and residences can be found at these websites:

Property values: www.americantrails.org/resources/adjacent/sumadjacent.html

www.americantrails.org/resources/economics/

Health Benefits: www.americantrails.org/resources/health/

Trail Safety: www.

americantrails.org/resources/safety/

www.railstotrails.org/

ourwork/trailbuilding/toolbox/informationsummaries/firsthand.html

We live in the Tollgate community and are members of the Sisters Trails Alliance. We strongly support the creation of this trail system.