By RYAN PFEIL
A small land swap between Jackson County and area pear producer Naumes Inc. near Beebe and Gebhard roads gives the county the green light in paving the final 1.4 miles of the Bear Creek Greenway in Central Point.
Naumes will swap a .15-acre portion of right of way with a .12-acre section owned by the county nearby, ensuring the Greenway trail is not landlocked by privately owned land.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the swap at its weekly Wednesday meeting.
"What it does is realign the trail," County Administrator Danny Jordan said at the meeting.
There is no financial impact to the county, he added.
The Bear Creek Greenway is a trail that runs nearly 20 miles through the Rogue Valley, from Ashland to Central Point. It has been an ongoing project since the 1970s.
The land swap is near Bear Creek and Rogue Valley Family Fun Center land. It will add to the 17.9 miles of already-paved trail on the Greenway, which starts from a site just off Oak Street in Ashland and runs through Talent, Phoenix and Medford, ending at a parking lot just north of East Pine Street in Central Point.
"You're going to end up with (about) 20 miles of contiguous trail," said Bear Creek Greenway Foundation president Lee Mills.
The remaining section will follow Bear Creek before cutting down to Peninger Road and following it up to another Greenway section near Upton Road.
Other recent upgrades to the path have included signs from streets to trailheads and access points, markers every quarter-mile, map kiosks at six trailheads and signs directing traffic to main roads.
Jackson County first secured $1.7 million in federal funding to fund the paving project in 2010, along with an additional $190,000 in local dollars, Greenway officials said. The contract should go out to bid soon, with construction wrapping up sometime in the autumn.
"We're looking forward to a contiguous trail," Mills said.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.