June 21, 2014 in Washington Voices

Commission to vote on Mica Peak trailhead deal

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane County parks officials have worked out a property deal to create an access point for people who want to use the new Mica Peak Conservation Area on the west flank of the mountain.

The 906-acre conservation area was purchased a year ago for $1.66 million, and the seller granted back $210,000 as part of the deal to create a public access point.

County parks officials spent the past year looking into ways to create that access from the south and west, but discovered that the only viable option was from a private parcel at the east end of Belmont Road.

There, a property owner has agreed to sell 5 acres of land to create a parking area and trailhead.

Under the plan, conservation area users still will have to travel about a mile on foot on an improved road easement before they are actually on the conservation property.

Improvements on the easement are expected to cost about $400,000, said Paul Knowles, park planner.

The owners of the property at the proposed trailhead are identified on county records as Donald and Elise Sheard.

Knowles said they have agreed to sell 5 acres for $65,000.

In turn, the county will provide 10,000 feet of fencing to isolate their property from the public access area. Also, the county will install a new gate 600 feet to the east of an existing gate for the new trailhead.

The county plans to place signs at the trailhead so that users will know the location of the boundaries of the conservation area and rules for its non-motorized uses.

County parks officials said the state Department of Natural Resources declined to provide a public access point from its 640-acre parcel adjacent to the conservation area.

Access from the south on Mica Peak Radar Site Road also was not possible since that road is blocked by a gate to prevent entry to forest land and radar and communications facilities at the mountain summit.

County commissioners will be asked to approve the Belmont Road deal on Tuesday. Commissioners did not express concerns during a briefing session this week.

“The deal we have here has proven to be the most feasible,” Knowles said. The project is expected to be completed next year.

The conservation area is bordered on the east by managed forest holdings of Inland Empire Paper Co., which is a branch of Cowles Co., publisher of The Spokesman-Review.

Commissioners last week approved a request for a state grant to provide money to plan for forest policies that might lead to creation of a wildlife and forest corridor connecting the Mica Peak conservation area with Liberty Lake Regional Park to the northeast.


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