TRAILS – Landowners, trail advocates and elected officials packed the Tekoa City Hall on Wednesday morning to debate the recently proposed closure of part of the cross-state John Wayne Trail.
The meeting prompted 9th District Rep. Joe Schmick and Ted Blaszak, a Tekoa City Council member, to agree to create a six-person committee consisting of three landowners and three trail advocates to determine the best action for the trail.
“I’m not going to plan on introducing legislation to close the trail until we hear from this committee,” Schmick said.
Schmick and Rep. Mary Dye had quietly introduced a provision to close the trail from the Columbia River to Malden that was intended to be linked to this year’s state Capital Budget. A wording error voided the action.
Schmick said the proposal derived from the trail’s lack of use, noxious weeds, illegal dumping and other criminal activity and lack of improvements.
Schmick and Dye were questioned Wednesday by trail supporters, while adjacent landowners explained their concerns.
Fred Wagoner, 58, who traveled the entire trail this summer, brought photos he said showed the trail was in good condition from the Columbia River to Tekoa. Grass clippings were the only dumping he said he saw on the trip.
Martha Mullen agreed, noting she hiked the trail six times last year.
Branden Spencer, who said he was representing 75 landowners and the Adams County Weed Control Board, said the trail cuts his property in half.
Spencer said that last year, and for the past five years, the State Parks Department didn’t spray any weeds along the trail because of lack of funding.
This year, he said, trucks were allowed to travel on the trail and spray weeds in problem areas, but they only sprayed the weeds on the road deck, which left Spencer to do the rest of the space on each side of the trail.
Other landowners added rattlesnakes, dogs killing chickens, shot cows and horses, and cut fences to the long list of problems they encounter.
Abijah Perkins, a landowner whose property does not abut the trail, said trespassing and dumping are issues that have to be dealt with by all property owners.
“If you own land, there are going to be some of these issues, but you don’t take away the people’s park,” Perkins said to boos from most other landowners in the room.
Falcon killer sentenced
BIRDS – A North Idaho woman who was found guilty in the death of a hunter’s gyrfalcon has been sentenced to community service.
Kootenai County District Court Judge James Stow on Monday ordered Patti MacDonald, 60, of Hauser, to complete 20 hours of community service before the end of the year and pay $500 in court fees. She was found guilty of pursuing a protected bird.
She attacked the gyrfalcon because it was attacking a duck.
The falcon’s owner, Scott Dinger, asked that MacDonald not receive jail time.
“I have a lot of emotions, but I’d rather keep my feelings to myself,” Dinger said. “It’s time for me to get on with my life.”