The Bear Creek Greenway Guide was originally published in 1998 and updated last around 2002 before the Bear Creek Greenway was fully completed. In addition to the missing sections, conditions and technology have changed over the 20+ years since the last update allowing us to expand the Guide into an Application (app) that is free for everyone and accessible while you are out on the trail. The app is designed to be simple in the early version with a possibility of becoming more complex in the future. In addition, the app can be updated in real time. The app was underway when the Almeda and Central Point fires occurred in 2020, delaying the timeline of the project to allow for conditions to change following the fires and regional planning processes (e.g., Envision Bear Creek).
Bear Creek Greenway Guide (last known publication/revision) - Cover, Title Page, and Introduction
An Introduction to the Bear Creek Greenway (Introduction from the Published Version of the Guide - 1998, revised in 2000 and 2004. Updated for 2022-2023)
The Bear Creek Greenway is a narrow corridor of publicly-owned land following the Bear Creek streambed from Ashland to Central Point. The Greenway contains almost 1,000 acres of land that includes a 20 mile path from the Ashland Dog Park (Mile 8) to the Dean Creek Parking area (Mile 28). Unlike an urban park which is an island of green within a City, the Greenway is an open space connecting communities and their parks.
The paths are paved and suitable for joggers, walkers, bicyclists, and wheelchair users. Motorized vehicles, with the exception of maintenance and emergency vehicles are prohibited.
Why is the Greenway Important? (From the Published Version of the Guide - 1998, revised in 2000 and 2004. Updated for 2022-2023)
The Greenway preserves both the quality of Bear Creek's water and its unique stream-side habitat, upon which many organisms depend. The corridor provides a refuge for animals and will increase in importance as the population in the Bear Creek Valley grows all year round. The Greenway is a great place for exercise, nature study, or just a quick escape from the City. It is relatively cool in the summer, and in the fall, leaves turn many colors before dropping to the ground. The Greenway enhances the quality of life enjoyed by the Bear Creek Valley residents.
With a changing climate, recent fires, and drought, the importance of a healthy Greenway and riparian corridor is increasingly important. Managing the greenway and riparian corridor is extending beyond recreational, aesthetic, water quality, and habitat benefits to include public safety, fire resiliency, the unhoused population, and other concerns.
How to Use the Trail Guide and App? (From the Published Version of the Guide - 1998, revised in 2000 and 2004. Updated for 2022-2023)
The original trail guide was created to increase awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the unique history, habitats, and organisms found on the Greenway corridor. The app was created to update the guide to provide a free web-based application that could be downloaded and accessed while you are on the trail. It fills in information on the sections of the trail that were not built when the original guide was published and updated. The format is similar in that, the app has points identified throughout the Greenway that describes points of interest including flora and fauna, art, history, culture, restoration, viewpoints, and other information. There were markers on the trail for the original location points that have long been lost. The app allows you to see where points are based on your current location if location services are enabled. Markers along the greenway have been discussed and may be included in later phases of the project.
Cultural History Intriduction (Text from the Published Version of the Guide - 1998, revised in 2000 and 2004.)
Long before the first Euro-Americans entered the Rogue Valley, Native Americans lived in the natural corridor of Bear Creek, fished its waters, and lived along its banks. The area was shared by two tribes: the Shasta and the Takelma.
Both peoples lived on processed acorns, camas and other bulbs, and berries, as well as deer, fish and small game. They stored food for the winter spent in villages along Bear Creek and its tributaries. IN spring, the villages broke into family groups that camped in different resources zones, following game into the hills and mountains, and visiting collection sites for ripe plant foods.
Their first contact with Euro-Americans occurred in 1827 when Peter Skene Odgen led a group of trappers from the Hudson Bay Company into the valley in search of beaver. It wasn't until the 1850s that settlers and miners, spurred by the Donation Land Claims Act of 1850 and lured by tales of fertile land and gold-bearing streams, arrived in large numbers. They dispossessed the Native Americans of their lands and eliminated their food sources.
Gold mining operations polluted streams and killed fish. Settlers fenced and cultivated the bottomland, depriving the Tribes of important hunting and gathering areas. Small game was over-hunted, and tree cutting destroyed much wildlife habitat.
The Native Americans unsuccessfully resisted the loss of their lands, and retaliated against frequent incidents of mistreatment in the uprisings of 1851, 1853, and 1855-56. The treaties that followed each skirmish progressively restricted Native American presence and finally moved them entirely to a reservation on the Oregon Coast.
Settlers planted wheat, hay, and potatoes; raised cattle; and grew other crops to support their needs. In the 18880's, the arrival of the railroad caused major economic change and shifted local agriculture from grains and forage crops to fruit.
Farmers planted orchards throughout the valley achieving success with apples, peaches, and pears. Orchards required more water than the annual rainfall provided, so large irrigation systems were developed during the first half of the 20th century. Today, the Talent Irrigation District provided water through canals from Emigrant, Hyatt, and Howard Prairie reservoirs. The Medford Irrigation District delivers irrigation water from the Rogue River. Just as the production of pears overtook and exceeded apples and peaches in the later part of the 1900s, in the present time growing of wine grapes is a rapidly-developing agricultural trend and beginning to replace the pear orchards in southern Oregon.
Though the early miners found little gold in Bear Creek, it has supplied several generations with gravel to construct the highways that parallel Bear Creek. The ponds along the trail resulted from these gravel operations.
Bear Creek Greenway Guide App - Pilot Test (December 2022)
Funding for the revisions and development of the app include the Mace Watchable Wildlife Foundation, the Carpenter Foundation, the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, and local municipalities.
In addition, review and revision is being provided by a number of organizations.