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2009 spotlight


Kayaker descends Palouse Falls

Tyler Bradt, 22, of Stevensville, Mont., set a world record by riding his kayak over Palouse Falls on April 21. He quickly disappeared in the plummeting, billowing stream of white but emerged in his boat holding a broken paddle with injuries limited to a sore wrist.

Whitman College students returned later with surveying gear to verify the height of the falls at 175-180 feet.

Group acquires Rocks of Sharon

The Dishman Hills Natural Area acquired 80 acres in the Spokane Valley near Tower Mountain, including a popular climbing area known as Big Rock and a granite-studded ridgeline with lofty views toward Steptoe Butte.

The deal was sealed after more than three years of negotiations to secure the area known as the Rocks of Sharon. The acquisition adjoins Spokane County’s Iller Creek Conservation Area to create about 1,300 acres dedicated to natural-area protection and public, non-motorized recreation.

Purple mountain majesty abounds

Despite the best efforts of legions of campers this summer, a bounty of huckleberries was left unpicked along roads and hiking trails throughout the region.

Bazillions of them. Too many for the bears to eat.

Grizzlies sprawled out unconscious from overdosing on huckleberries.

“Purplized” tongues and fingers were more common that mosquito bites and poison ivy rashes.

Years from now, old-timers will talk about the ’09 huckleberry crop with reverence.

Federal funds build trails

Boosted by $778,317 in federal stimulus funds, Spokane City Parks upgraded bridges and paved 4.4 miles of the Fish Lake rail trail from near the intersection of Sunset Highway and Government Way all the way to the Marshall area.

Idaho Panhandle counties were awarded a total of $1.3 million for trail maintenance projects, much of it for motorized routes and a new shelter for the Route of the Hiawatha rail-trail.

Nationally, $274 million was allocated to address a backlog of trail maintenance on national forests.

•Missing out on this round of federal funding was the 30-mile Ferry County rail-trail from Republic north to the Canada border as the county commissioners debated whether to allow ATVs on the route. County residents widely favored keeping the route non-motorized in a Nov. 3 advisory vote.

Trail angels clear the way

The Washington Trails Association recruited 2,000 volunteers who logged more than 90,000 hours of work on trails across the state this year, the most since the group’s trail maintenance program started in 1993.

A strong contingent of volunteers emerged from the Spokane area. Jane Baker, a 54-year-old physical therapist, was a cut above the field of trail advocates, devoting many hours of organizing and 19 weekends to training or trail work from March through early October.

Far East Side trails maintained by WTA this year included Iller Creek and Big Rock trails in the Dishman Hills-Tower Mountain area, Edds Mountain in the Kettle Range and Shedroof Divide and Slate Creek in and near the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.

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