Centennial Trail users in Spokane, Spokane Valley and parts of unincorporated Spokane County will not pay any future parking or visitor fees under a new trail maintenance agreement finalized Tuesday.
However, Washington state parks will continue to require its Discover Pass for use of trailheads in Riverside State Park north of the T.J. Meenach Bridge. The pass is $30 annually or $10 daily.
Each of the three local governments has agreed to maintain trails in their jurisdictions outside the state park and to contribute $20,000 a year each to a trail maintenance fund. The state will maintain the trail in the state park and contribute $20,000 to the maintenance fund as well for an annual total of $80,000 starting in 2015.
As a result of the local government participation, the agreement calls for no trailhead use or parking fees to be imposed on portions of the trail maintained by the two cities and the county.
The no-fee policy extends to all parking areas commonly used to access the trail within the three local jurisdictions outside the state park.
In addition to the permanent maintenance fund, the new agreement calls for development of a trail maintenance plan, said Doug Chase, director of Spokane County parks.
He said that the no-fee provision “was a real important element” in the agreement.
Spokane County commissioners approved the agreement unanimously Tuesday. It had previously been adopted by city councils in Spokane and Spokane Valley and by state parks.
The Centennial Trail runs 37.5 miles along the Spokane River from Nine Mile Falls to the Idaho state line. The name of the trail commemorates the Washington State Centennial celebration in 1989 with major sections opening that year through 1991. The adjoining North Idaho Centennial Trail extends through North Idaho to Higgens Point on Lake Coeur d’Alene, a distance of 24 miles.
The state parks department in Washington has the largest amount of ownership of the trail land, but the other Spokane jurisdictions have some ownership, most notably Spokane’s Riverfront Park.
The new agreement is for 20 years with the option for 10-year extensions. It replaces an agreement that was 22 years old, and did not include Spokane Valley as a partner since that city was formed afterward.
Spokane Valley has voluntarily contributed to the care and management of the trail within its city limits since 2004, county officials said.
County Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn said that commissioners have asked the city of Liberty Lake to join the interagency agreement to maintain portions of the trail adjacent to Liberty Lake on the south side of the Spokane River.
Sweeping and pruning are two of the major maintenance needs, Chase said.
In the event of a large washout or other problem, the agreement calls on each agency to pay the first $25,000 in repairs when the problem occurs on their section of the trail. Beyond that amount, the cost would fall to the underlying owner or lease holder, but the agreement has a mechanism for pooling resources to make a large repair.