State maps out future for Mount Spokane
Mount Spokane State Park’s future is mapped after the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission adopted a master plan Thursday for the oldest and largest state park.
The 20-year plan includes trails, installing interpretive and cultural information and possible new facilities. But parks and recreation officials say moving forward will depend on volunteer partnerships, at least in the near future, since state funding is scarce to nil.
“It’s time for implementation. Let’s get this thing going. Let’s get the trails down,” said Deb Wallace, strategic and long-range planning manager for the Washington Parks and Recreation Commission. “Over the next two months, we will put a timeline together for the future. We are going to prioritize when to do what based on what the community wants.”
The plan does not include the ski and snowboard park, officials said. But plans for that area, including a possible expansion, are expected to be up for adoption in the next two years.
Nevertheless, Thursday was a big step for the nearly 14,000-acre park, officials said. “We now have a map of the future development,” Wallace said. “And we can move on to the next step – planning.”
Discussions about the master plan for Mount Spokane State Park began in 1993, Wallace said, although there wasn’t much momentum until recently.
The plan’s adoption “means that the state now has a template to do some much-needed maintenance and improvement to the park,” said George Momany, Nordic skiing representative of the Mount Spokane advisory committee, which “worked quite hard on helping develop the plan.”
“There will be trail improvements, and new trails,” Wallace said. “We will be working on a mountain bike element. There are plans for improving and adding new facilities.”
Additionally, “right now there are no interpretive pieces in the park, people have no idea what they are looking at, and a person’s visit will be enriched by understanding its story,” Wallace said of plans to add historic and cultural information.
However, “I cannot overstate that we need to set the expectation right now that the state does not have any money,” she said. “That’s where community partnerships are key.”
The Spokane Mountaineers outdoors club is ready to start on some of the trail work, said Holly Weiler, a board member and co-chairwoman of the hiking committee.
The Mountaineers, along with members of Sierra Club, will start working on a trail in less than two weeks. The goals include clearing the trail, making it less steep and redesigning portions so it’s resistant to spring washout.
“This is one we’ve been wanting to accomplish for a while now,” Weiler said. “We’ve just been waiting for the go-ahead.”