The Fat Tire Trail Riders Club, a local mountain biking organization, has just received the Washington Recreation and Park Association’s 2009 Citation of Merit Award for its work to clean up and restore trails and natural areas on Beacon Hill.
Spokane Parks and Recreation supervisor Mike Aho said that Fat Tire’s ongoing efforts will create one of the Northwest’s most important urban wilderness parks, fulfilling a more than 100-year-old vision of the Olmsted Brothers.
“We were completely in the dark,” said Penny Schwyn, secretary of the Fat Tire Trail Riders Club. “They invited us to the banquet under this ruse that we had to talk about the project – then they gave us the award.”
The Beacon Hill area is owned by a mix of public and private landowners. When the Olmsted Brothers submitted their 1908 report on Spokane parks, they also made plans for a large regional park in the Upriver area – a park that never came to fruition.
“I think one of the biggest things we have done is raise awareness about the area,” Schwyn said. “I believe many in the public thought it was just abandoned.”
Among a long list of projects spearheaded by Fat Tire Trail Riders is building the mountain bike skill camp at Camp Sekani, organizing an annual cleanup of the area – the last of which yielded more than 30 old cars – and contacting landowners about the use of Beacon Hill.
“Mapping the area is a big project of ours, too,” said Schwyn, who’s also one of the founders of Fat Tire Trail Riders. “We are doing a trail inventory with the help of Spokane Community College and Washington State University and also the National Parks Service.” Together with the parks department, the group has also been part of developing a Beacon Hill Trails System Draft Concept Plan which will be presented on June 3.
Fat Tire Trail Riders has about 70 members.
The group was created, Schwyn explained, to be an advocate for mountain bikers in the area and also to serve as a connector between mountain bikers and entities like the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department and Friends of the Falls.
“Trails and open space are important to the residents of Spokane, as reflected in the city’s current motto, near nature, near perfect,” Aho said. “The Fat Tire Trail Riders Club already has made a lasting impact on this area which will be utilized and recognized for decades to come.”