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Thurston Hills Natural Area opens in Springfield

Willamalane Parks and Recreation officially opened a trail-head and brand new trail system in East Springfield on Saturday. (SBG).

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Willamalane Parks and Recreation officially opened a trail-head and brand new trail system in East Springfield on Saturday.

Residents and dignitaries showed up for the ceremony for Thurston Hills Natural Area opening. It made some people grateful, and to others, it was a dream come true to see it as an international opportunity.

District Officials and residents were on hand to celebrate the phase-one completion at Thurston Hills Natural Area, a recreational area that's been in the works since Springfield residents helped approve a $20 million bond measure in 2012.

"Benefit for me being able to actually have this close enough is that I don't have to drive 20 miles to go out and hike in the woods," said James Thomas, a retiree. "This is wonderful and accessible. It's right here on Main Street, and there's plenty of parking for it there."

Willamalane District Managers say they purchased the land not only for recreational use, but for conservative value, wildlife and eco-systems.

One famous Springfield resident says it's all a dream come true.

"Thirty years ago, I think I first approached the Mayor of Springfield, Bill Morrisette," said Representative Peter DeFazio. "I said 'Is there anyway we can buy this land?' It would be an unbelievable legacy. The city was on tough times and couldn't do it. A big parcel passed into private hands, but now Willamalane brought it back and this is incredible."

Andy for many others in Springfield, it's a vision for connecting to every single community member.

Lane County Commissioner, Sid Leiken, said this is a legacy for the community, and he can't wait for the international community to see it during the 2021 World Games.

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