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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Volunteers clean up, maintain steep area next to High Drive

The High Drive bluff is the rugged area slanting off High Drive down toward Highway 195. It’s crisscrossed by trails trampled by dog walkers and hikers over the years, but largely left ungroomed.

“It’s actually a city park,” said Diana Roberts of the Washington State University extension office in Spokane. “There’s a little bit of private land in there, too.”

A condo development was approved for one area off 57th Avenue and Hatch Road, but a March 8 planning session is about the maintenance of the area’s trails and vegetation.

“It’s following on work we did last summer,” said Roberts.

She led a noxious weed workshop for a group of volunteers on High Drive bluff last year. Among the problem weeds identified last year were rush skeleton weed, leafy spurge and knapweeds. Roberts said there were work parties last year where volunteers cut or pulled weeds to get rid of them.

Some test plots were planted with grass especially suited for the dry, sunny slope to see if it the right grass could crowd out the weeds.

“We also planted some shrubs on erodible slopes to discourage people from walking up and down them,” said Roberts.

Tuesday’s agenda is to develop a vision and an action plan for the area.

Roberts said fire risk is another issue.

“Last year we realized there is a huge fire risk on the bluff, especially south toward Hatch Road,” said Roberts. She said fires decades ago cleared the way for smaller trees growing there now.

“Those small trees create a fire risk, and we will talk about how to manage them with thinning and pruning,” Roberts said.

This meeting is also about finding out what people want to do with the High Drive bluff.

“We want to make sure people want to work on reducing fire risk,” said Roberts. “Some people may have other ideas that we haven’t heard about yet.”

Whatever happens in cleanup, weed and erosion control, and trail maintenance must be done by volunteers – there’s no city staff to take on those jobs.

About 30 people are already involved in High Drive bluff maintenance, but no prior knowledge is needed to attend this meeting.

“The project needs to be community driven because it’s a volunteer project,” said Roberts.

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