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John Wayne Trail closure discussion in Tekoa Wednesday

Fat bike riders approach the historic concrete arched railroad bridge crossing near U.S. Highway 395 just south of Rosalia that's a key  part of the old Milwaukee Road rail line that is owned by Washington state and designated for trail development. It is part of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. (Pat Sprute)
Fat bike riders approach the historic concrete arched railroad bridge crossing near U.S. Highway 395 just south of Rosalia that's a key part of the old Milwaukee Road rail line that is owned by Washington state and designated for trail development. It is part of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. (Pat Sprute)

TRAILS -- Washington legislators who have proposed closing the John Wayne rail trail across Eastern Washington have agreed to present their case at a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 30,  starting at 10 a.m. in Tekoa City Hall, according to the Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association (TTTA).

State Reps. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, and Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, will meet with those who oppose their plan to close a 135 mile stretch of the state wide John Wayne Trail State Park.

Several other supporters of trail closure also will attend, including Whitman County Commissioner Art Swannack, the group said.

The city of Tekoa -- which is at the east end of the trail -- recently passed a resolution condemning proposals to close the trail, which still has major potential for development. 

According to the TTTA:

In the 2015 WA legislative session, Representatives Schmick and Dye wrote a proviso to the Capitol Budget that closed a 135 mile stretch of the John Wayne Trail/State Park. The legislation never had a public hearing and was a complete surprise to the constitutes of her district.

This legislation was nullified by a typo so that it read the trail/park shall be closed from “from the Columbia River to the Columbia River”, rather than “from the Columbia River to Malden”. According to Rep. Schmick if not for this typo the trail would be closed now.

The Trail/State Park, along with a connecting bike way spans the entire State of Washington, East to West. It is a conversion of a rail to trail program, the land was given by the Railroad to State of Washington in 1976. It is one of the very few cross state trails in the United States and the only trail that travels through the Scab Land.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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