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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ferry County Rail Trail improvements continue

The Ferry County Rail Trail north of Republic is being improved with smooth surface sections.

An 8-foot wide surface of crusher fines was spread and compacted on 2.3 miles of the abandoned railway along the west side of Curlew Lake in May.

The new surfacing from Pete’s Retreat South to Herron Creek Road connects to the improvements made last summer for a total of 5.5 miles.

The Ferry County Rail Trail runs 28.5 miles on an abandoned railway from the U.S.-Canada border to an existing trail at Republic, the county seat. Some portions of the trail are in good condition for mountain biking while some stretches are still rough.

The stretch north from Curlew is especially nice as it follows the Kettle River.

The new surfacing was funded by a $198,000 Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office nonmotorized trail grant, said Bobby Whittaker, president of Ferry County Rail Trail Partners. The group has raised thousands of dollars and donations for matching money to fund improvements.

In April 2014, the Curlew Lake Trestle across the north end of the fine fishing lake was redecked and opened for public use.

The phase 3 plan being carried out this year also includes surface improvements to about 2 miles of rail-trail from Lundimo Meadow Road to the Curlew School then North along the Kettle River and ending at a tunnel, Whittaker said.

“These other improvements, including a new vault toilet at the Black’s Beach Trailhead, are scheduled for later this summer,” he said.

Materials for the surfacing were donated by Kinross Gold Corp., transportation of materials by ACI Northwest Inc., equipment use from Stott’s Construction and volunteer hours from Curlew Job Corps, students and many other local stakeholders and trail advocates, he said.

“Now that the full 6-mile length of trail next to Curlew Lake is improved you can see the greater potential to connect the Lake to the town of Republic,” Whittaker said.

When school starts at the end of summer, Curlew students “will have a new, safe, off-highway route to the center of town and beyond,” he said.

Trail improvements have been made through funding for nonmotorized trail and recreation programs, which Whittaker says are threatened by recent Ferry County Commission actions to plan an adjacent route for four-wheelers.

County residents voted 61 percent in favor of nonmotorized use of the trail in a 2009 advisory vote.

“Proceeding with a plan to motorize a section or sections of the Ferry County Rail Trail … could result in the need to repay grant funds and jeopardize future funding opportunities, Whittaker said.