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Riverside State Park projects start

A $20,000 grant is giving new life to trail- building projects in Riverside State Park.

Frustrated with the deterioration in portions of the park’s 60-mile trail system, Suzanne Rivers, a north Spokane hiker and member of the Riverside State Park Foundation, sought financial help.

“I applied for a grant offered by Wal-Mart and got it,” she said. “It’s taken three years to get all the permits and approvals to put it to use, but now we’re ready.”

State parks staff and Mike Brixey, a trained trail designer and maintenance volunteer, have done the ground work to identify 12 priority projects to moderate trail grades, improve safety and curtail erosion, said Chris Guidotti, park manager.

To get the most bang for the $20,000, state workers will deal with major projects while volunteers will be assigned to smaller work sites, Guidotti said.

The first group, which meets on Saturday, will focus on trail issues near the Bowl and Pitcher.

“We’re hoping to line up projects throughout the season with clubs, scouts, churches and other groups,” Rivers said, noting that a focused group of 10 volunteers can accomplish a ton of work in a few hours.

At 10,000 acres, Riverside State Park is the second-largest park in Washington state – after Mt. Spokane.

Nearly 3 million visits a year are logged by hikers, cyclists, boaters, equestrians, fishermen, campers, picnickers and bird watchers and others.

The heavy use continues, but state budget issues have prevented the park’s vast trail system from getting much maintenance, Rivers said.