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Couple's generosity enhances Oregon Coast Trail

Norman and Joanne Kittel donate a section of property for a hiking trail between Yachats and the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

by Terry Richard
of The Oregonian staff

Like others before them, Norman and Joanne Kittel moved to the Oregon Coast from Minnesota to spend their retirement years.

Rather than building a fence and putting up "No Trespassing" signs on their property, they hung out a welcome mat.

Future generations of Oregonians will have reason to rejoice in the Kittels' philosophy of land stewardship. Hikers who are looking for an outing to celebrate National Trails Day on Saturday can walk a half-mile across the Kittels' property on a new section of the Oregon Coast Trail between Yachats and the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area.

"Why were we willing to donate it?" said Norman Kittel, 66, a retired criminal justice professor from Minnesota's St. Cloud State University. "Part of the reason is our concept of stewardship for the land. We are very concerned about living on the land and taking care of it. That's our duty for the moment. When we pass on, it will be someone else's duty. We realize it's a concept a lot of other people don't share."

The Kittels bought 27.4 acres of a former commercial tree farm, a mile south of Yachats overlooking the Pacific Ocean. They built a home and have lived there since 1993.

Realizing the potential of their land for a scenic trail, the Kittels worked with the Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon State Parks and more than 50 volunteers from the Yachats area to complete the project this spring on the east side of U.S. 101.

The 1.5-mile trail begins on U.S. Forest Service land atop Cape Perpetua, where it connects with an extensive trail system. The new trail goes north from the cape for one mile on public land before crossing the Kittels' property. The Kittels have granted a perpetual easement to Oregon state parks that requires future owners to allow public access.

The trail is called the Kittel/Amanda's Trail in honor of a blind Coos Indian woman who was forced by the U.S. Army to walk barefoot over Cape Perpetua in 1864 to a reservation in Yachats.

Current trail access is difficult, but it will improve when the road to the top of Cape Perpetua is rebuilt and reopened in November. The north end of the trail is marked by a Coast Trail hiker sign along U.S. 101, where parking is not safe along the highway. Hikers must park in Yachats and walk a short distance along the highway to reach the trail.

Plans call for the trail to extend into town and connect with Yachats' paved beach front trail.

The Kittels received the Samuel N. Dicken Award from the Portland-based National Coast Trail Association for their efforts in contributing the new section of the Coast Trail. The award is named after the spiritual founder of Oregon's coastal trail.

"We walk the trail quite often," Norman Kittel said. "Some of the trail's use is quite fascinating.

"We've had 40 French tree farmers walk across our portion of the trail. They said they enjoyed it and gave us two bottles of French wine. Once the parking problem is resolved, we expect more use like that."

Terry Richard's column appears Wednesday. He can be reached at 221-8222, by FAX at 221-8168, or by mail at 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, 97201. published on June 3, 1998   

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