November 16, 2008 in Business

Groups remove cars at Beacon Hill

Bikers, climbers team to spruce up trail area
By The Spokesman-Review

Members of the Spokane Mountaineers and the Fat Tire Trail Riders Club help haul a wrecked hulk out of a ravine on Beacon Hill on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

With barely a cough from its diesel engine, Galen Chamberlain’s five-ton skidder pulled a rusty car away from its resting place of untold years Saturday and deposited the hulk on the summit of Beacon Hill.

Four other junked cars pulled earlier in the day already squatted beneath the towers and power lines crisscrossing the hill that dominates the skyline above northeast Spokane. By the end of the day, Chamberlain had yanked 17 old Pontiacs, Jeeps and other Detroit fauna from the hillside’s creases, with the possibility as many more might surface today after years concealed beneath pine needles and limbs.

Based on a preliminary survey, members of the Spokane Mountaineers and Fat Tire Trail Riders Club had expected to remove about a dozen.

“We’d get down into these gullies,” said incoming Fat Tire President Angie Feser, “and we’d turn around and find another car.”

The climbers and bikers, with Chamberlain’s help, were cleaning up Beacon Hill as a goodwill gesture to the landowners, public and private, whose lands they have used for years, Feser said.

The hulks attracted vandals, she said, who turned to other mischief when the cars no longer entertained them.

“It gives them a sense it’s kind of a dumping ground,” Feser said.

Current Fat Tire President Penny Schwyn said more than 20 miles of bike trails cross Beacon Hill, which attracts riders from all over the region. Two weeks ago, she said, recreationalists, landowners, and public and private officials met to discuss ways of encouraging more use by installing signs that identify trailheads and trails, adding parking, developing maps, providing cultural and geologic information, and assuring maintenance.

“We tried to think of everything,” such as access for emergency vehicles or helicopters if someone is seriously injured, said club member Dan Webber.

“We’re very much in the infancy of this thing,” Schwyn said, adding that the Hillyard area could benefit economically if improvements cemented Beacon Hill’s reputation as a bicycle Mecca. And park officials would like to get more low-income residents using the area for recreation, she said.

Landowners are enthusiastic because recreational use might discourage the destruction, dumping and fires that have scarred some areas, Schwyn said. Unauthorized use by ATVs and motorbikes – one roared by during an interview – also has been a problem.

Schwyn said trails on Beacon Hill could link John Shields Park, Minnehaha Park, Camp Sekani and the Centennial Trail.

The project has received some grant support, and Schwyn noted Chamberlain’s heavy skidder would not have been on the hill Saturday without a lift from Deer Park provided by Garco Construction.

Pick & Pull Auto Dismantlers and Inland Towing will remove the temporary boneyard this week, Feser said.

Schwyn said it may take another two years to formalize a plan for the area. In the meantime, she said, users should tread lightly.

“This is not abandoned property,” Schwyn said. “Our use of it is a privilege.”

Reach Bert Caldwell at 459-5495 or

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