Blamed for scarring up the place, four-wheel-drive trucks are no longer welcome at Liberty Lake’s Off-Road Vehicle Park.
Spokane County Commissioners decided Tuesday night to immediately ban 4x4s from the 350-acre park at the south end of the lake.
Motorcycles and ATVs may continue to use the park, commissioners decided.
Riders have until next March to develop a park-management plan that addresses environmental concerns and trespassing problems on neighboring private land.
It will also be up to off-road driving enthusiasts to come up with money needed to implement the plan.
The county has just enough money to address the park’s immediate drainage and erosion problems, said Wyn Birkenthal, parks and recreation manager.
Commissioners said they will check on the progress of the riders’ plan this summer.
If there isn’t evidence of substantial progress, the county could close the park permanently, said Commissioner Kate McCaslin.
“It’s a good decision,” Birkenthal said, “because it says the problems will be addressed by the users and the onus is on them to solve the problems.”
Many of the park’s trails have been closed due to wide, deep and dangerous ruts carved by waves of off-road vehicles.
Nearby landowners say the vehicles have been illegally rumbling across their property since the park opened in 1966.
A wooden fence marking the park’s boundaries was installed in 1994 with a $195,000 grant. Since then, many sections of the fence have been either pulled out or knocked down. Signs noting closed trails and park rules have been riddled with shotgun pellets.
Several riders who attended Tuesday’s hearing met afterward with Birkenthal. They pledged to meet again next week to begin formulating a plan.
“We’re going to need policing right away because four-wheel drivers will tear it up as soon as they find out their vehicles have been banned,” said Jeff Hildesheim, a member of the Brush Bunch Motorcycle Club.
Hildesheim was one of a dozen riders who told Birkenthal they want to keep the park open to dirt bikes and ATVs.
“The commissioners, and I think rightly, have said the users have to show how dedicated they are to keeping the park open,” said Birkenthal.
“I say, ‘Show me the money.”’
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