Outdoors

State considers motorized use on John Wayne Trail

Monte Morgan, of Tekoa, Wash., is advocating that the old Milwaukee Road railroad trestle next to his farm be used to continue the John Wayne Pioneer Trail into Idaho. “We’ve got it (the trail route) cleared and ready to go to the Idaho border,” he said. (Colin Mulvany)
Monte Morgan, of Tekoa, Wash., is advocating that the old Milwaukee Road railroad trestle next to his farm be used to continue the John Wayne Pioneer Trail into Idaho. “We’ve got it (the trail route) cleared and ready to go to the Idaho border,” he said. (Colin Mulvany)

TRAILS — Farmers and disabled visitors could be allowed to used motorized vehicles on portions of two major state rail-trails under a proposal being considered by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

A public meeting is set for Nov. 1 in Ellensburg to discuss the proposed regulation changes on Iron Horse State Park’s John Wayne Pioneer Trail (JWPT).  The trail is the former Milwaukee railroad corridor that runs from North Bend east to the Idaho border near Tekoa.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, in the Teanaway Room at the Hal Holmes Community Center, 209 N. Ruby St. in Ellensburg.

The Washington State Legislature directed that the JWPT be managed for non-motorized uses, and various grants over the years also have limited trail use to non-motorized recreation. A state law restricts motor vehicle use of the JWPT.

However, farmers with property adjacent to the trail and State Parks concessionaires have requested that the agency allow them motorized use.

The proposal would allow motorized use by special permit through the agency for farmers s well as a new class of motor vehicles  defined by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as “Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices.” 

The proposed changes are not intended to alter the primary non-motorized recreation focus of State Parks’ trail management, officials say.

Washington State Parks manages five long-distance rail trails for non-motorized recreation, including hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and winter activities such as cross-country skiing and dog-sledding. The trails include the JWPT, managed as part of Iron Horse State Park and comprising most of the old Milwaukee Railroad corridor between Cedar Falls/North Bend and the Idaho border; the Centennial Trail near Spokane; Columbia Hills Plateau Trail from East Pasco to Fish Lake/Spokane; the Willapa Hills Trail from Chehalis to Raymond; and the Klickitat Trail, with a trailhead in Lyle near the Columbia River.

Info:  Susan Koch at susan.koch@parks.wa.gov.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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