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Spokane County looks to overhaul park rules

If you or your pet does their business on Spokane County park property in unauthorized areas, and if you haven't brought cleaning supplies for the occasion, expect to run afoul of new rules.

At a meeting Tuesday night, Spokane County Commissioners will take testimony on a new set of proposed park regulations, the first major overhaul of those rules since the 1970s. Among them:

It is unlawful for any person to … blow, spread, or place any nasal or other bodily discharge, or spit, urinate, or defecate on the floors, walls, or any portion of any park or facility, except directly into the particular fixtures provided for that purpose;

Read the proposed ordinances, up for public comment at a hearing to be held Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Spokane County Commissioners Hearing Room, 1026 W. Broadway Ave., here: New Spokane County Parks codes.

The new rules codify all park regulations under a single section of county codes, and in addition to explicitly forbidding visitors from leaving pet droppings and relieving themselves outside public toilets, the rules protect plant life, establish rules for alcohol sale and consumption and specifically state when a visitor needs to attain a permit for a specific activity.

"This is something that we've been working on for the better part of eight years," said Doug Chase, director of Spokane County parks. 

The current codes regulating use of the parks were written in the 1970s, and addressed animals grazing on parkland and instituted a $1 fee to obtain a metal detection permit. Chase said the new code authorizes the Parks Department to change user fees for different activities at the discretion of park staff and the Spokane County Commission, as well as leaves the flexibility for future rules to govern activities that may become popular in years to come.

"It tries to take into account activities that may not have been popular back in the 1970s, like frisbee golf, for example," Chase said.

The new laws specifically ban fireworks from county property, without a permit, and allows park officials to set different hours for a specific park, rather than a hard deadline of 10 p.m.

"We’ve tried to really look at the needs of our park users and learn from the experience that we have," Chase said. 

Commissioners will take testimony on the proposed ordinances and then may vote as early as Tuesday evening on establishing the new rules.

Private hunting proposal prompts review of rec management on state lands

State officials are debating if they should allow groups to lease public land in a way that could prevent public access. A half-dozen times over the years, the Idaho Department of Lands has received applications for permission to lease state endowment land for an exclusive private hunting operation. Every time, the department has said no.

Now another application is on its way, from a group wanting to set up an exclusive pheasant hunting operation in eastern Idaho. State officials aren’t inclined to go along, but the continuing proposals have prompted review of just how Idaho handles recreation on state lands that Idahoans cherish; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

“It probably goes without saying: Idahoans love the outdoors, they love their access,” said Emily Callihan, department spokeswoman. Seventy percent of Idaho’s endowment lands have public access for hunting, fishing, hiking, berry-picking and the like; even lands leased for grazing still are required to be open to the public.

But the Idaho Constitution requires the state Land Board, which consists of the state’s five top elected officials, to manage state endowment lands for “maximum long-term financial return,” with the money going to the endowment’s beneficiaries, the largest of which is the state’s public school system. The state currently doesn’t charge a fee for folks to go berry-picking, hiking or sightseeing on state lands. And several neighboring states make up to $1 million a year from recreation on their endowment lands, either from user fees or leases with other state agencies, including parks and fish and game.

Idaho has never issued exclusive leases for recreational operations on state endowment lands. Even its 20 active permits and leases to outfitters, while they are exclusive with regard to other outfitters, still let the public use the same areas.

State Land Board members are leery of the private pheasant-hunting plan. Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said he doesn’t want the state going there. “We haven’t in the past,” he said. “But I think it’s something that we definitely need to look at, because our fiduciary responsibility is to get the highest return. There may be some ways we can get revenue for the state and still have it be totally open.”

East slope Cascades wildlife area management plan released

CONSERVATION — The Naneum Ridge to Columbia River Recreation and Access Plan — a guidebook for managing 230,000 acres of state lands — has been released by the Washington state departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The recreation plan covers lands from the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range to the Columbia River.

The plan addresses recreation in the Naneum Ridge State Forest, managed by DNR, the Colockum Wildlife Area, and the Quilomene and Whiskey Dick units of the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, managed by WDFW.

Following is a summary from a release posted by the two agencies:

The recreation plan culminates a 3-year planning process and collaborative effort between the agencies, local user and community groups, and a volunteer advisory committee, which included members from a wide range of interests. Committee members donated more than 1,200 hours of volunteer time in 20 public meetings.

“The public played an integral role,” said Brock Milliern, statewide recreation manager for the agencies. “By planning proactively we can ensure that recreation develops here in a way respects the local desire to maintain rural and agricultural activities, meets the agencies’ needs, and expands sustainable recreation and economic opportunities for the public and surrounding communities.”

The plan will guide DNR and WDFW in sustainable management of the recreation planning area for the next 10 to 15 years.

“This was a huge effort by the committee members, the public and the agencies to find balance among competing interests for fish, wildlife, land management and compatible recreation,” said Mike Livingston, regional director for WDFW. “This plan sets us up to achieve that balance.” 

Recreation Opportunities
As the plan is implemented, DNR and WDFW will continue to consult with local groups to expand safe and sustainable recreation opportunities for the public and surrounding communities.

Opportunities include:

  •  Providing and maintaining the Green Dot road network, which offers a system for public vehicle and off-road vehicle use and access to recreation opportunities throughout the planning area. WDFW will offer more Green Dot roads on its lands in Kittitas County.
  •  Providing trail opportunities for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking in the forested portions of the Naneum Ridge State Forest and the Colockum Wildlife Area, including a north-south trail in the northern and western sections of the planning area that will offer greater access to recreation.
  •  Providing off-road trail opportunities for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and 4X4s, through discussion with user groups and the public.
  • Developing a non-motorized winter trail system and a new non-motorized parking area in the Stemilt Basin area.
  • Continuing to provide snowmobile access in the planning area.
  •  Improving road and trail linkages to public land west of the planning area, including the Wenatchee National Forest.
  • WDFW plans to pursue partnership opportunities with local governments and non-profit organizations to design, develop, manage and maintain a shooting range facility.

Beautiful time-lapse video of Yosemite

Get ready for some nature ogling. I'll let Shawn Reeder, who made this insanely gorgeous video, take it away:

"Yosemite, the High Sierra, and the Eastern Sierra are some of the most beautiful places on earth. Ever since I serendipitously won a trip to Yosemite when I was 18, the beautiful Range of Light has captured my heart and become my home. Nothing brings me more joy than to share this life changing beauty with other."

It's a definite reminder of how beautiful our world can be and what we work to protect.

Video after the jump.

National Parks Subway Map

As visiting season approaches, check The Sierra Club's fun 'subway-style' map of U.S. national parks. It serves as a great reminder of how many national parks there are in this country. What is your favorite? Check this full list of all our national parks and get to plotting your next adventure! Click here for a bigger picture.

WDFW seeks comments on proposal to acquire public access for Chapman Lake

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is inviting public comment through March 21 on a proposal to acquire and develop public access to Chapman Lake in Spokane County.

Once a popular fishing spot, the 128-acre lake near Cheney has been inaccessible to the public since 2011, when a private resort that provided access to the lake was closed. Since then, WDFW has provided limited management of kokanee, trout and other fish species in the lake.

John Whalen, WDFW Eastern Regional Fish Program Manager, said the property owner recently contacted the department and signed a letter of intent to sell 80 acres to the department so that public access and fishery management could be restored.

The property is surrounded on three sides by Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) land. Besides providing boat access to the lake, the proposed acquisition would connect these public lands, helping to conserve Ponderosa pine forest and riparian habitat for wildlife and provide public access to hunting and wildlife viewing.

2014 Northwest Bicycling Events

Outdoors Editor Rich Landers has compiled a Bicycling Calendar for 2014, featuring an expanded list of events that now include everything within a 300-mile range of Spokane. Check it out, geek out, and get ready for a number of fantastic events that highlight the best way to see the Inland Northwest.

As Rich says, "some of these tours are club events while many are fundraisers that feature great food, with cyclists happily donating to charitable causes in return for the pampering of a well-oiled event."

If your event is missing, send an email to Rich.

Enjoy and I hope to see you out there! List after the jump.

Washington Trails Association hiring for Eastern Washington Coordinator


Good news for you job hunters out there: The Washington Trails Association is hiring its first ever staff position in Spokane. According to WTA, "the coordinator will create regional content for WTA publications, develop partnerships, lead outreach and engagement efforts within communities and on the trails and oversee a high quality trail maintenance program in the region."

Go HERE for the full description. Applications are due by March 24th.

Comment requested on proposed wildlife land acquisitions

PUBLIC LANDS — More than 700 acres along the Kettle River in Ferry County is among 13 proposed land acquisition areas for fish, wildlife and related recreation the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is considering in the next three years. 

The agency has posted details of the properties on its website and is asking the public to comment on the proposals.

The proposed acquisitions — general and specific — include a 150-acre addition to the Reardan Audubon Lake for migratory birds and bird watching and 3,750 acres for the fourth phase of the the 4-0 ranch acquisitions along the Grande Ronde River to boost everything from steelhead to elk as well as public access. 

The parcels also include 2,200 acres in Okanogan County geared to habitat for sharptailed grouse and hunting for other species.

Most of the individual projects are described within their "geographic envelope" – the general area that includes the parcels being considered for acquisition.  An envelope is used for planning purposes only.  Should the department desire to acquire a particular parcel. WDFW will contact the landowner to determine his or her interest before initiating any acquisition proposal.  The department develops acquisition agreements only with willing property owners.

WDFW will not use operating budget funds for these land acquisitions. Instead, the department will seek state and federal grants for most of the proposed acquisitions. Potential grant sources include the State of Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and federal grants through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (also known as "Section 6" funds) and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

Fish and Wildlife officials plan to refer to public comments as they present the proposals at the state’s annual Land Acquisition Coordinating Forum in March. The statewide forum brings together state agencies, local governments, non-governmental organizations, tribes, landowners and other citizens to share ideas about state land actions for habitat and recreation purposes. 

Teanaway purchase becomes Washington’s first state forest

PUBLIC LANDS — The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and Forterra today announced the purchase of 50,272 acres in the headwaters of the Yakima Basin watershed.

The area, with benefits ranging from the watershed's importance to irrigators to the outdoor recreation opportunities, is being designated the Teanaway Community Forest.

The $97 million Teanaway acquisition is the largest single land transaction in Washington State in 45 years and reflects more than a decade of collaboration involving many organizations and individuals, state officials said in a media release. 

The property will become Washington's first Community Forest, a model designed to empower communities to partner with DNR to purchase forests that support local economies and public recreation, said Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands. 

The forest will be managed through a partnership between DNR and WDFW, with input from the local community and interested stakeholders.

Acquisition of the property is a key step in implementing the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, an initiative developed by a coalition of public and private organizations to safeguard the basin's water supply, restore fisheries, conserve habitat, preserve working lands, and enhance recreational opportunities. 

Read on for details on how this came to be.

Idaho Conservation League celebrates 40 years at Sandpoint

CONSERVATION — A group that formed over a spaghetti dinner is celebrating four decades of creating a voice for conservation in the Idaho State Legislature and beyond.

The Idaho Conservation League is inviting the public to its 40th Anniversary Celebration, at 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14, on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille at Trinity by the Beach Restaurant in Sandpoint.

Since 1973, ICL has grown beyond being a legislative lobbying group to taking on issues ranging from air pollution to protecting state and federal wild lands in Idaho.

“There is much to celebrate after 40 years of dedicated work,” says Susan Drumheller, ICL’s Community Conservation associate in Sandpoint. “A few of our accomplishments over the years include protecting the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness Area, passage of new national rules to reduce mercury pollution, and recently, protecting Idaho’s rivers and streams from suction dredge mining.”

ICL has also enjoyed major accomplishments locally. The group helped protect Long Canyon, the last unroaded drainage in the Selkirk Mountains, and has spearheaded a campaign to permanently protect open space along the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, with the creation of the Pend d’Oreille Bay Trail.

The group has 18 staff members working across the state, more than 25,000 supporters and working relationships with organizations, businesses and community leaders.

“Our work is always about personal connection, credibility and trust. We work to build bridges and get things done. That can be hard in Idaho, but it’s always worth the effort,” said Rick Johnson, ICL’s Executive Director for over 18 years. “Mary Lou Reed, an ICL founder, gave our first director a sign that says ‘Remember North Idaho.’  Forty years later we are proud of our three-person Sandpoint office and our work in the Panhandle."

The festivities will include a full hearty dinner, no-host bar, live music by the Monarch Mountain Band, and fun raffle items including ski and stay packages, fishing trips, original artwork and a one-of-a-kind quilt made from vintage ICL t-shirts. The evening also includes a pictorial time-line of ICL over the last 40 years, a showing of ICL’s 40th anniversary movie, and a short presentation by ICL Executive Director, Rick Johnson.

Tickets for the event are $30 each and can be purchase on-line, www.idahoconservation.org, by calling (208) 345-6933 or at the door as supplies last.

Open house set for Spokane’s Integrated Clean Water Plan

The City Of Spokane released an update on all of the work happening this summer to develop an Integrated Clean Water Plan. In short: There's a lot of work happening!

And they need to hear from you. If you want to learn more and engage with the City, there will be an open house opportunity on Monday, Aug. 19, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Chase Gallery in the lower level of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. The Open House is designed to provide information about a number of projects and proposals that will change the landscape surrounding the Spokane River as it flows through the core of the City.

Here are the projects and proposals that will be discussed at the Open House:

Huntington Park & City Plaza improvements. Avista Utilities is working to upgrade the 3.8-acre Huntington Park area on the south side of the Spokane River between Post and Monroe streets and adjacent to the River’s lower falls. This work also will include a new public plaza in what has been a small parking to the north of City Hall. Read my post about the project HERE.

Mapping bike and pedestrian improvements in Spokane Valley

Check this map showing bike and pedestrian improvements accomplished since the City Of Spokane Valley adopted a Bike and Pedestrian Master Program (BPMP). Mike Basinger, their Senior planner, said "in many instances, the adopted BPMP has strengthened the City's ability to leverage grant dollars to develop bike and pedestrian facilities."

The program will continue to guide the planning, development and management of existing and future bike and pedestrian facilities.

Take a look for yourself to see the work they've done over the last two years.

Huntington Park gets a facelift

Have you noticed all the construction below the southern side of the Monroe St bridge and up to City Hall? Avista and the City of Spokane are working on a new public plaza that will replace the parking lot immediately north of City Hall.  That means no more hopping the gate. The new plaza will connect Riverfront Park with the area known as Huntington Park, which Avista began renovating earlier this month and will serve as a new community gathering place.

It's a project that could only happen once every 125 years.

Under the partnership, the City made the land available, and Avista is building the plaza as a gift to the City from the shareholders of Avista Corp in appreciation of the 125-year partnership between WWP/Avista and the people of Spokane. The plaza project will not be included as a cost to customers in developing retail rates.

Just wondering

Around here, how many people play golf AND tennis?

I tend to think of golfers and tennis players as being in two very distinct camps. But surely there is some crossover.

Maybe it's like that Gay Communist Gun Club skit on SNL years ago.


Washington funds $86 million for outdoor recreation, conservation

For release:July 10, 2013
Contact: Susan Zemek, 360-902-3081

CONSERVATION — The Washington Legislature funded a venerable state program, that, in turn, is awarding $86 million in state and federal grants that will build parks and boating facilities, maintain backcountry trails and off-road vehicle access, improve the safety of archery and firearm ranges, conserve farmland and protect wildlife habitat.

The grants, which are awarded through the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, will be given to cities, counties, state and federal agencies, tribes and non-profit organizations for work in 34 of the state’s 39 counties.

Grant recipients match the funding with resources of their own. In total, grant recipients will contribute nearly $57 million in matching resources, making the state and federal dollars stretch further.

“Washington’s outdoors are one of the things that make this state great,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Outdoor recreation in Washington contributes more than $11.7 billion annually to our economy, supports 115,000 jobs across the state, draws people from around the world to our mountain tops and shorelines, and is one of the reasons people and businesses move here and stay here. Investing in Washington’s outdoor economy just makes good sense.”

The grants are funded through eight different grant programs that receive money from state and federal sources, including the sale of state bonds, gas taxes, and user fees. The Legislature authorizes funding for all the grants.

Before they are selected for funding, grant proposals go through an extensive review that includes evaluation by advisory committees made up of citizens with experience in recreation, farming, and wildlife habitat.

“Our rigorous process ensures, that we fund only the best of the best projects,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which supports the board and administers the grants. Generally, only about half of the grant requests are funded. This year, 414 projects requested more than $163 million in funding.

These grants will fund a tremendous range of projects, from maintaining trails in the Olympic Mountains to conserving elk habitat in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.

Click below for descriptions of each grant awarded in the following counties:

Adams County…………………………… $410,500

Asotin County…………………………. $4,630,000

Benton County……………………….. $2,405,146

Chelan County………………………… $8,080,559

Clallam County…………………………. $679,037

Clark County………………………….. $3,691,908

Cowlitz County………………………….. $146,850

Douglas County…………………………. $950,000

Grant County………………………….. $2,109,631

Grays Harbor County…………………. $345,318

Island County…………………………. $2,524,721

Jefferson County…………………….. $5,044,634

King County……………………………. $6,160,836

Kitsap County…………………………. $5,866,822

Kittitas County………………………… $4,076,722

Klickitat County…………………………. $980,750

Lewis County…………………………….. $397,800

Mason County………………………… $4,840,191

Okanogan County…………………… $4,902,750

Pacific County………………………… $1,724,800

Pierce County…………………………. $6,210,948

San Juan County………………………… $867,500

Skagit County…………………………. $1,723,271

Skamania County……………………. $1,302,800

Snohomish County………………….. $2,972,718

Spokane County………………………… $246,001

Stevens County………………………….. $790,750

Thurston County……………………… $4,106,234

Whatcom County………………………. $500,066

Whitman County……………………….. $100,000

Yakima County……………………….. $4,250,439

Multiple Counties (including Columbia, Garfield, Wahkiakum)      $1,970,819

Statewide………………………………. $1,437,967

Your input needed on Spokane County Regional Trails plan

In Spokane, we live by the motto "near nature, near perfect." A key component is the power of our recreational trails. Trails can facilitate active lifestyles that eventually lead to a healthier community as well as attracting visitors.

But there's work to be done. We have gaps, missing links and more trails to build.

This is where you can help.

The Regional Trails Plan (Plan) was first adopted by the Board of County Commissioners in 2008 after a collaborative effort that included the Inland NW Trails Coalition, Spokane County, the National Park Service, and other local jurisdictions. The Plan lays out five strategies to connect Spokane County with a network of significants trails:

  • Centennial Trail Improvements
  • Fish Lake Trail Connections
  • Urban Connections
  • Rails to Trails
  • Connecting Parks and Neighborhoods

Please, take the time to fill out this survey for the Spokane County Regional Trails Plan Update

After the jump, check the history on the trails plan from Inland NW Trails Coalition board president, Lunell Haught.

Evaluators needed for state recreation grant applications

CONSERVATION — Six volunteers are needed to work with the Recreation and Conservation Office in evaluating grant applications for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.

For more than 20 years, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) has been the state’s primary source of funding for parks, trails, and wildlife habitat and is the only source of state funding for working farms.  

Antoine Peak and many of the Spokane County Conservation Futures areas have been secured with help from these funds.

In a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition founded the WWRP in 1989 to address the need for preserving more land for outdoor recreation and wildlife habitat.

The Coalition continues to be the primary advocate and watch dog for the WWRP. In 24 years, the Coalition has leveraged more than $1 billion for projects in every county across the state.

The state Recreation and Conservation Office has released the following requirements for WWRP evaluators:

  • One volunteer should be from a recreational organization or parks board and three should be from local government. These volunteers will evaluate grant applications from state agencies and will serve on the State Lands Development and Renovation Advisory Committee.
  • Two volunteers should work for local government and have experience managing parks for a diverse range of recreational activities. These volunteers will evaluate grant applications to buy land, build or improve local parks and will serve on the Local Parks Advisory Committee.
  • One volunteer is also needed to evaluate trail requests.

Applications are available on the RCO’s website. The deadline is June 14, 2013. 

Contact: Frances Dinger, 509.590.8111 | frances@wildliferecreation.org

Meet the Spokane Water Trail

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Have you heard of the Spokane River Water Trail? This new interactive web site was developed by the Spokane River Forum and it's an amazing resource to find the access locations, attractions, amenities and river information along the entire 111 mile length of the Spokane River.

I've spent some time geeking out on the site. It's easy to use and it really helps push the concept of the Spokane River as one "water trail," rather than a sum of moving parts and sections or - sections where you can't get access, you don't know where to park, or where flows could be unsafe. It's all there for you. 

On the creaton of the site, Andy Dunau, the Spokane River Forum Executive Director, commented: “Not to mix metaphors, but we shot two really difficult rapids. On the content side, interns, staff and volunteers pulled together information located here, there and everywhere. On the programming side, we invested heavily to make it attractive, easy to navigate and easy to update.”

Check it out at spokanewatertrail.com.

Vote for Spokane in Outside Magazine’s Best Town Ever

I hope everybody had a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend. You might've stayed in Spokane because, like me, you believe we're an amazing outdoor town. Don't feel guilty for staying. We're not alone. Outside Magazine has named Spokane as one of the top 10 finalists for Best Town Ever 2013. This is no small feat as the monthly outdoor and recreation publication has a total circulation of more than half a million people. Rounding out Outside Magazine’s top 10 towns this year were San Diego, CA, Boston, MA, Park City, UT, Greenville, SC, Bozeman, MT, Honolulu, HI, Carbondale, CO, Oklahoma City, OK, and Waitsfield, VT. 

If you need a refresher on why our region rocks the outdoors, check our "7 Wonders Of Spokane" list. Plus, the more you get outdoors, I know you will walk away with a greater appreciation for protecting the environment. Fact.

Here's what they have to say about us: Spokane may have deep roots in timber and mining, but eastern Washington’s biggest city has recently embraced the Northwest’s microbrew culture (e.g. NoLi and Twelve String breweries) and makes the most of being on the dry side of the Cascades. You can canoe or fly-fish downtown on the Spokane River, ride hundreds of miles of singletrack in city parks, or ski just 20 minutes outside of town. And that’s to say nothing of the 1.1 million acres of nearby Colville National Forest or the city’s quick access to the Selkirk Range.

To vote, go to Outside Magazines website or by liking Outside Magazine on Facebook and voting there.

New Appleway Trail Proposed for Spokane Valley

A proposed shared use trail through the heart of the City Of Spokane Valley is the topic of a community workshop coming up on Monday, March 11 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm at City Hall (11707 E. Sprague, Suite 101).

The proposed trail would run down the old Milwaukee Right-of-Way, between University Road and Evergreen Road and between Sprague and 4th Avenue. Public Works staff members and design planning consultants will be on hand to introduce the project, review maps, and help gather input from the community.

They will be looking for feedback on the following elements:

•The alignment and location of the 12 ft. wide pathway.
•The types of landscaping desired in the surrounding Right-of-Way area.
•The location of convenient access points.
•Amenities to include such as benches, lighting, bike racks or others.
•Safe access for all.

Editorial points to success of Wildlife & Recreation Program

CONSERVATION — If you use parks, trails or public open spaces in Spokane County, you have been a beneficiary of the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program. (Click on this link and check out the more than impressive projects list under "campaigns.")

It's a state program worth funding, as today's S-R editorial points out.

Centennial Trail surely must have more than 350 “friends”

 TRAILS — Numbers stood out to me in several cases as I researched today's Outdoors column on the Spokane River Centennial Trail, a 37-mile ribbon of park that's the envy of cities across the country.

Four years ago, Riverside State Park had two full-time Centennial Trail rangers and a seasonal maintenance crew.  State budgets cuts have slashed the staffing to one seasonal ranger.  Period.

The trail is used about 2 million times a year, yet only 350 people are signed up as members of the Friends of the Centennial Trail, a group that's critical to the sustainability and development of the trail.

Even if you never set foot, bike or skate on the trail, it's worth supporting just to have it there for our citizens and our visitors and to keep the river shores open to the public going into a future that will see even more pressure for riverside development.

Check out the Friends of the Spokane River Centennial Trail website and consider becoming a member or making an additional contribution to the Trail Builders Fund.

How would you cut $1 million from Spokane Parks?

I wonder if somewhere Ron Swanson is smiling. According to the Spokane Parks Board, in 2013 the City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department will be facing an estimated 5.5% budget reduction of approximately one million dollars

They need you to participate in the process. They are asking you to please attend one of the following meetings to voice your opinion:


• Thursday, June 21, 6-8 p.m. West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt, in the Newton Room

• Tuesday, June 26, 6-8 p.m. at Southside Community Center, 3151 E. 27th, in the Spokane Parks Foundation Ballroom

• Thursday, June 28, 6-8 p.m. at Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook, in the Hillyard Senior Center, Conference Room.

Meetings address Spokane Parks Department budget cuts

PARKS — Every division of the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department will be facing a 5.5% budget reduction in 2013 as the city seeks to trim the department's budget by $1 million.

Park departments include Riverfront Park, Park Operations, Planning, Administration, Budget/Finance, Marketing, Youth Centers, Youth Camps, Outdoor Programs, Corbin Art Center, General Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, Aquatics, Sports and Sports Facilities.

Officials have scheduled three meetings to gather public input on how to maintain services while budget shortfalls are addressed.

The public meetings are 6 p.m.-8 p.m. as follows:

  • Thursday (June 21), West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt.
  • June 26, Southside Community Center, 3151 E. 27th.
  • June 28, Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook.

Comments also can be emailed to Parks@spokanecity.org.

Industrial Revolutions

Here's a fun little afternoon video of a very agile cyclist without a public street from the film "Industrial Revolutions." It's of street riding trails dynamo Danny Macaskill as he takes his undeniable bike skills into an industrial train yard and some derelict buildings in the gorgeous Scottish countryside. Enjoy.


Guv takes on feds over Lake Lowell recreation

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, on behalf of the State of Idaho, has submitted comments to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with the state's "strong opposition" to the proposed new management plan for the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, which would restrict some longtime recreational uses, from powerboating to kitesailing. "Although it is now a wildlife refuge, wildlife and recreation have co-existed with irrigation throughout the life of the Deer Flat project," Otter wrote. "In fact, irrigation was the original purpose of Lake Lowell. As a Bureau of Reclamation project, preservation of wildlife habitat is secondary to the water rights owned by irrigators."

There's more. Otter asserts that state law supersedes wildlife habitat at the refuge, though the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says the purpose of a national wildlife refuge is "to serve as a refuge and breeding grounds for migratory birds and other wildlife." As is his wont, Otter directly takes on the federal government. "Make no mistake: The responsibility and jurisdiction to manage fish and resident wildlife belong to the State of Idaho," he writes. You can read his full letter here, which includes this comment, "If the current use of the manmade reservoir, which includes a multitude of recreation activities, has produced such a high-quality wildlife refuge, then it makes sense for those activities to continue."

Attached to Otter's letter, at the same link, is a five-page detailed comment from the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, which isn't as confrontational, says Fish & Game "anticipate(s) a cooperative working relationship with Refuge staff in managing fish and wildlife," and calls for much more restricted no-wake zones, developing additional fishing access at Gott's Point and other areas, and addresses hunting and other issues. Also attached is a two-page formal comment from Idaho State Parks & Rec, backing continuing current management strategies and calling for much more limited no-wake zones. "Restricting boating access would severely impact Canyon County boaters," the state parks department wrote.

Idaho congressional delegation wants more time for Lake Lowell comments

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — All four members of Idaho's congressional delegation are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to extend the public comment period for a conservation plan that could put new restrictions on Lake Lowell. The public comment period is scheduled to expire July 29, but The Idaho Statesman reports the delegation sent a letter this week asking for a 120-day extension. Canyon County officials, boaters and others are worried about the planning process, which they expect will put new restrictions on activities around the man-made lake and surrounding Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. But refuge managers say the changes would help safeguard wildlife while still allowing public access. The proposed plan would limit motorized water sports and bicycles, impose access and boat-launch fees and bar dogs and horses from the refuge.

Whitewater Park doesn’t get extension on $500,000 grant

Bad news for Whitewater Park enthusiasts: The Spokesman reports the project lost its $500,000 grant. From the Spokesman:

In a 6-1 vote, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board agreed with a staff decision in April not to extend the expiring grant. Board members rejected the suggestion that doing so would kill the momentum for the project; instead they said the project should complete an environmental impact statement and obtain needed permits, then return to the board to ask for the grant to be awarded a second time.

Spokane City Parks Director Leroy Eadie said the next step will be to “go back and regroup” and try to find the $75,000 to $80,000 needed for the EIS. It might be possible to pay for that study with another grant obtained by Friends of the Falls.

“This is a little bump in the road. This project’s had a lot of bumps in the road,” Eadie said.

As I've stated before, I've always been exited about the whitewater park and I believed there shoul've been an extension of the grant. It has been a complex process and the slow pace is a result of thoughtful consideration to the environment, wildlife and community. Why kill it now?

Spokane River Forum: “Barker Road access now a dandy”

Our friends at the Spokane River Forum report The Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club partnered with the City of Spokane Valley to greatly improve the aesthetics and functionality of river access at Barker Road. As you may know, this has been a saga of epic proportions to get to this point.

The south side of the river at Barker Road was identified by Ecology as one of nine areas along the river  for improvement as a result of contaminants from historic mining practices in Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Basin. The contaminants are heavy metals, include lead, arsenic, zinc, and cadmium. They washed downstream and settled in soil and sediments along certain beaches and the bed of the Spokane River. (Check the Spokane Riverkeeper's detailed account of Barker Road. He took the above photo in December 2010.)