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Thursday, November 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Chris Vogel:

Chris Vogel

70 million years ago, the Dishman Hills granite cooled upon this earth. Last Monday, a bulldozer, front loader and excavator erased timeless sections of that immortal granite to create a road deep into what most assumed to be the Dishman Hills. The road creates access for a 10-acre development a mere quarter-mile from the upper ponds.

The West Entrance to the Dishman Hills is tucked into the Edgecliff Neighborhood. There is no dedicated parking, though the neighborhood has patiently housed the extended lines of cars stretching back to Edgecliff Park which also functions as the overflow parking for the west entrance. The local residents saunter in on foot moved by original creation of the earth. This is the hidden jewel of the Spokane metro area.

Unknown to most, the West Entrance is a fragile finger of access that has been hemmed in by private land that had been assumed to be “unbuildable” due to the spectacular granite formations that forbade access. Assumed to be the Dishman Hills, this collection of granite cathedrals was ignored by both the Dishman Hills Conservancy and the Conservation Futures program. While busy purchasing vast sections of backyard stretching out toward Freeman, few paid any attention to the front door of the house.

This “front door” to the Dishman Hills was kicked in, full throttle, this past Monday. The road quickly snaked through the granite and now the dozers are heading uphill toward “The Ponds.”

Why was this not built earlier? Since 1970, our family home has plugged up the bottom of the only draw accessing this 10-acre section. Despite a constant barrage of offers to sell, my father, Maurice Vogel, refused to sell out. My father was a career U.S. Forest Service man. He knew that once the road went in, the granite cathedrals would become lawn decorations. My father died in 1999, but for decades his wisdom protected the pricelessness of the granite we grew up knowing as “King’s Castle.” Now, by putting a price on King’s Castle, we sell out, to our collective loss.

The Dishman Hills Conservancy grew complacent. They ignored the West Entrance. Future generations will suffer their lack of foresight.

The owners have spoken openly of building a “Retreat Center” in the heart of the Dishman Hills. Wouldn’t that be magical? In the end … what difference will it make if it is a retreat center, a mansion, a collection of houses or even just a fence cutting off access to the cathedrals? The result will be the same. Only special people will be ushered in to experience what used to be the crown jewel of the Spokane Valley.

This development, being only hours in the public eye, has no available information. It straddles both Spokane County and the city of Spokane Valley. No public comment has been allowed by Spokane County nor the city of Spokane Valley. No pre-development signage, nor any opportunity for our community to defend what is considered irreplaceable to our community, was provided by any entity.

Native Americans carry a sacredness for this world that we have never understood. We hold a self-centered desire to singularly and personally own and experience this sacredness of the land. This sacredness cannot be owned. Our natural home keeps us… “We” do not keep “it.” How can we allow Earth’s beauty to be separated from those Earth keeps only to be hoarded by a very few? “Kings Castle,” of the Dishman Hills, a priceless place of healing, and history, will no longer heal, nor remember.

Chris Vogel lives in Mead.

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