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Saturday, May 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Ferry County rail trail upgraded; online auction boosts effort

An autumn hiker approaches a tunnel on the Ferry County Rail Trail along the Kettle River north of Curlew, Washington.  (Bobby Whittaker)
An autumn hiker approaches a tunnel on the Ferry County Rail Trail along the Kettle River north of Curlew, Washington. (Bobby Whittaker)

TRAILS -- An online auction is underway for a longboard signed by guitarist Eddie Vedder and other rockers to raise funds for the continuing effort to develop the Ferry County Rail Trail.

The trail is a scenic 28.5-mile non-motorized route on an abandoned railway along the Kettle River from Republic north to Canada.

The eBay auction runs to about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The custom-made longboard is a collector's item signed by Pearl Jam's Vedder plus Tony Hawk Flea, Michael Stipe and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Trail advocate Bobby Whittaker says 100 percent of the auction proceeds will go directly to the current trail surfacing improvement project and will be matched dollar for dollar with funding from the Washington State Recreation & Conservation Office.

"The improvements will happen in the spring," said Whittaker, of the Ferry County Rail Trail Partners. "We are thrilled the surfacing will make the trail smooth and very user friendly from the Curlew School north along the Kettle River to the tunnel and from the Curlew Lake trestle south the full length of the lake, about 6 miles, to the Herron Creek Road trailhead. That's a lot of waterfront for everyone to enjoy."

Volunteers have been active this year, securing grant funding and rolling up their sleeves for projects ranging from redecking the trestle over the Kettle River north of Curlew Lake to the current effort for trail resurfacing.

A four year $8,000 grant was secured this fall from The Great Northern Railway Historical Society to provide for four interpretive historical signs.

"Using grants from the Washington state Recreation and Conservation Office, development continues on the rail trail to create a world-class community asset and a proven tourist attraction," Whittaker said.

A grant has enabled the group to surface 3.2 miles along Curlew Lake and the group recently has been awarded another $192,000 from RCO for Phase 3 improvements to surface the rest of the stretch along the scenic fishing lake and state park.

A paved connection to the rail trail called the Golden Tiger Trail runs 2.5 miles from Republic.  The trailhead, which is across Highway 20 from the Fairgrounds, has a vault toilet and parking funded by a state Department of Transportation grant.

"There is still one very sandy, raw segment of the Golden Tiger from the end of the paving north to Herron Creek," Whittaker said. 

A TIMELINE of Ferry County Rail Trail milestones follows:

  • 2006 - Bob Whittaker arranges for nationally recognized rail banking attorney Charles Montange to assist the Ferry County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in negotiating a rail banking agreement with Kettle Falls International Railway (KFR) on a pro bono basis.
  • 2008 - Ferry County Rail Trail Partners (FCRTP) receives 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Their mission is to preserve the rail corridor for the long term economic benefit of Ferry County and create a non-motorized trail.
  • Dec. 15, 2008 - BOCC signs rail banking agreement with KFR.
  • 2009 - FCRTP surveys adjacent landowners with a simple “motorized/non-motorized” mail-in questionnaire. Of 100 respondents 86 favor a non-motorized trail and 14 favor motorized.
  • Feb. 17, 2009 - BOCC passes Resolution 2009-06 “Rail Corridor Interim Management Plan” which provides for rules of the non-motorized rail corridor.
  • April 17, 2009 - BOCC passes Resolution 2009-26 amending Resolution 2009-06 which creates the Ferry County Recreational Trails Committee and appoints 5 motorized advocates and 4 non-motorized advocates as members.
  • Summer 2009 - BOCC agrees to include an advisory ballot measure on the November 2009 general election.
  • Nov. 3, 2009 - General Election results on advisory ballot measure are over 60% favor non-motorized trail.
  • March 1, 2010 - BOCC passes Resolution 2010-03 Amending Resolution 2009-26 Rail Corridor Committee Bylaws. The committee name is changed to Ferry County Rail Corridor Committee (RCC) and designates the rail-trail right-of-way from Herron Creek Road north to the Danville Bridge as being “multi-use non-motorized only.”
  • Aug. 23, 2010 - BOCC passes Ordinance 2010-04 “Rail Corridor Interim Management Plan” provides for changes related to the results of the 2009 ballot measure.
  • Oct. 23, 2010 - RCC awarded one year assistance grant by the National Park Service’s River, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. This grant will provide personnel who will help the RCC with developing Ferry County’s Concept Plan for the rail-trail. This RCC is subsequently awarded a one year extension of this grant.
  • Nov. 11, 2010 - RCC presents Ferry County’s grant application to the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the Northeast Washington Regional Transportation Planning Organization (NEWRTPO.) This grant will provide for decking of the trestle over the north end of Curlew Lake.
  • Dec. 15, 2010 - Ferry County is awarded a $100,000 grant through NEWRTPO. The grant is provided by the Federal Highway Administration Transportation Enhancement Program (TA.) This application is under the categories that provide funding for bicycle and pedestrian facilities and the preservation of abandoned railways.
  • Nov. 21, 2011 - BOCC passes Resolution 2011-06: ADA rules for non-motorized trails.
  • April 16, 2012 - BOCC passes Resolution 2012-07: Rail Corridor Noxious Weed Control Agreement.
  • April 23, 2012 - BOCC passes Resolution 2012-09 endorsing the Ferry County Rail-Trail Concept Plan.
  • April 23, 2012 - BOCC passes Resolution 2012-10 Authorizing Resolution for Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant application 12-1654.
  • June 2012 - RCC applies for RCO grant on behalf of Ferry County. Phase 2 Grant #12-1654D will provide for application of crusher fines to 2.85 miles of the trail from the trestle south along the west side of Curlew Lake to provide a trail surface that meets ADA guidelines. This will include $30,000 in cash donations from Kinross and FCRTP and $5,000 in donated labor and equipment for a total budget of $70,000.
  • June 2013 - RCC, on behalf of Ferry County, applies for and is awarded an additional $100,000 for the trestle decking and gravel surfacing project through NEWRTPO.
  • Aug. 2013 - Goldline Construction is awarded contract for trestle decking project with a bid of $163,919.
  • April 26, 2014 - Ribbon cutting ceremony for Curlew Lake trestle decking project completion
  • April 28, 2014 - BOCC passes Resolution 2014-08 Authorizing Resolution for RCO grant application #14-1677D.
  • May 2014 - RCO notifies county that they have been awarded funding of $70,000 for grant #12-1654D. Work is scheduled to be completed by September 2015. BOCC signs agreement with the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board.
  • Aug. 2014 - RCC presents RCO Phase 3 grant application #14-1677D. The total budget for this grant is $197,000 which will include completing surfacing along Curlew Lake south to Herron Creek Rd., installation of a vault toilet at Black’s Beach and surfacing from the tunnel north of Curlew south to at least Lundimo Meadow Road. Ranking results and anticipated state budget indicate an excellent chance of being awarded this grant.
  • June 2015 – Ferry County is approved for Phase 3 funding of RCO grant #14-1677D.
  • May 2015 – Phase 2 surfacing project completed along Curlew Lake including the section from the east side of the trestle to Kiwanis Rd. parking area for a total of 3.2 miles. Phase 2 access control and signage was installed during the summer of 2015. This project was completed with over $35,000 in donated labor, equipment and materials which met Ferry County’s entire match commitment.
  • Sept. 2015 – Ferry County Rail Trail Partners receives four year $8,000 grant from The Great Northern Railway Historical Society. This grant will provide for four interpretive historical signs.
  • Oct. 2015 – Phase 3 grant agreement for RCO project #14-1677D signed.


Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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