Latest from The Spokesman-Review
PUBLIC LANDS — Spokane County Parks Department has created an access and management plan for the 1,066-acre Antoine Peak Conservation Area in Spokane Valley. The plan will be presented in an open house meeting tonight, May 28, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., at Mountain Gear Headquarters, 6012 E. Mansfield.
- See map of proposed trails and access sites in attached document.
- Email comments to email@example.com.
Antoine Peak was purchased in three phases, 2007 - 2012, with half of the funding coming from the county Conservation Futures Program and half from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (Urban Wildlife Habitat Category).
So far, a small trailhead has been developed on the east side of the property off of Lincoln Road. Other access points are undeveloped.
Although unauthorized motor vehicles are not allowed on Antoine Peak, about 20 miles of road, trail, and ATV tracks have been built or formed over several decades before the land was secured by the county. This network has created erosion and encouraged illegal motorized access and disturbance to wildlife, said Paul Knowles, county parks planner.
The proposed access and trail plan strives to balance recreation and wildlife needs as much as possible, Knowles said, noting that it calls for:
- Creation or preserving several loop trails
- Creating larger areas of undisturbed habitat
- Developing adequate off-street parking on the west side of the park
- Preserving several routes necessary to maintain access for stewardship and emergency response
- Cosuring roads and trails that are little used by the public, fragment habitat unnecessarily, are steep and facilitate erosion, and/or serve little to no maintenance function.
Next Steps: After receiving public input and finalized, Knowles says Spokane County Parks will pursue grant funding to implement the trail plan. Once finished, Antoine Peak will become a destination for hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and many other passive recreation uses.
PUBLIC LANDS — A proposal to purchase a 9.5-acre addition to an access site for the 1,066-acre Antoine Peak Conservation Area is on the agenda for today's Spokane County Commission meeting.
Antoine Peak is the mountain north of East Valley High School and east of Forker Road in Spokane Valley.
The Spokane County Parks, Recreation, and Golf Department will ask permission to spend $300,000 in county Conservation Futures funds to purchase the site owned by the Johnson Family Trust. The family has been allowing the public to use some of the property since the county secured the land in three phases concluding in 2011.
Public use is growing in the area, which is part of the voter-approved conservation program to protect wildlife habitat and open spaces for passive public recreation.
The property the family is offering to the county — before listing it for sale to the public — includes the existing public parking area on the east side of the mountain along with a 2,800 square foot residence with detached garage. The site is critical to the county because it's the only place available near the trailhead for public parking.
The residence could be used as a park ranger or maintenance worker residence. Acquiring the subject property would also allow Spokane County Parks to expand the existing lot as needed to handle increasing use.
Another parking site is being researched on the west side of the peak.
CONSERVATION FUTURES — Getting a ticket.
That's the answer the hiker wanted to hear after he snapped this photo of an vehicle that had been illegally driven into the Spokane County Conservation Futures land that rises up behind East Valley High School.
The ruts these clowns created will remain as a reminder of their selfishness. They went beyond the locked gates and got stuck on roads that are closed to unauthorized vehicles to protect the area and its wildlife.
But there's some consolation, the hiker reports. They had to pick up the beer cans they littered in the area and the county issued the driver dude a $134 citation.
Hats off to the hiker who took the time to take the photo and make the case so the county could bring some justice to the vandals.
COUNTY PARKS — A hiker sent in this photo of a pickup stuck on Antoine Peak, the Conservation Futures area above East Valley High School.
The mountain is managed by Spokane County Parks. No unauthorized motorized vehicle access is allowed.
My question to the hiker:
I wonder if this is another example of the sad way maintenenace workers leave ruts in the access road as they maintain the radio towers on top of the peak, or whether it's another case of vandals disregarding the "No Motor Vehicles" signs and locked gates.
Not unless Busch Light cans tossed about are part of "maintenance." Already sent the ranger an email with this shot & a couple others.
SR outdoors writer Rich Landers has a blog post today railing against the "land carnage" being caused by ATV's on Antoine Peak, which is behind East Valley High School. Much of the land is Spokane County Conservation Futures land, bought to preserve wildlife habitat and protect the land from development. ATV's are not allowed there. Rich has also posted some pictures of the damage.
PUBLIC LANDS – They’re vandals on wheels, stealing the common from the wildlife and the public.
Off-road vehicle drivers have the capacity to do serious long-term and even permanent damage in minutes with the thoughtless use of their machines.
The land carnage by four-wheel drive and ATV enthusiasts is not uncommon on public lands.
I was reminded of this last night while hiking around Antoine Peak, the mountain that forms the backdrop for East Valley High School. More than 1,100 acres of the mountain have been secured over the last few years through the Spokane County Conservation Futures Program.
It’s a spectacular wildlife refuge. I saw turkey vultures, hawks and ravens soaring over Antoine’s 3,373-foot summit and wild turkeys and quail on the ground – all within minutes. I saw deer, elk and moose tracks while looking over the Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake.
But I also saw the rampant recent damage by off-road vehicles, which are prohibited in the Antoine Conservation area. These are probably the same people who disregarded the no trespassing signs on the land when it was still privately owned.
Buying one of these vehicles does not come with a license to destroy public land and wildlife habitat. The law should require visible license plates so the public has a way of reporting the vandals when we spot them in action.
There destructiveness is undefendable. It's selfishness on wheels.
HIKING — Several groups of hikers celebrated the summer solstice by trekking to the top of Antoine Peak after work and hiking down into the sunset.
Antoine is a Spokane County Conservation Futures acquisition that forms the green mountain backdrop north of East Valley High School.
An 8.5-mile round trip from the new Lincoln Road parking lot-trailhead put us on the top of the peak for great views of Mount Spokane to the north and the Spokane Valley and Mica Peak to the south.
PUBLIC LANDS — A prized Spokane Valley wild area north of I-90 and near Forker Road is back in the running for state funding assistance in the last of three purchase phases started under the Spokane County Conservation Futures program.
The House of Representatives announced Tuesday at its hearing for the state capital construction budget that the Spokane County area is pegged to receive over $2.1 million in funding for Antione Peak and Betz Park Baseball/Softball Fields.
The projects are a part of a proposed $50 million appropriation to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP), which funds high priority wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation projects across the state.
Spokane County Parks would use the $1.63 million Antione Peakgrant to protect elk and mule deer habitat and create hiking and mountain biking trails immediately outside the city.
Cheney Parks will use the $500,000 Betz Park Baseball/Softball Fieldsgrant to create two ball fields for the community to use.
Projects funded by the WWRP — a highly respected grant program with bipartisan support that had been slated for near elimination in Gov. Gregoire's proposed budget — are determined using scientifically based, objective criteria. However, these grants could be put at risk if the Senate cuts funding for the program or alters the selection criteria for which projects receive funding.
“We are thrilled to see that the House of Representatives understands the critical role that preservation projects like [this one] play in local communities across the state,” said Joanna Grist, WWRP executive director.