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A boat launch on the Spokane River has been loved back to life, thanks to a renovation that features a paved ramp, a gravel drive and parking spots.
The event is a fundraiser for the Spokane River Forum, which promotes “regional dialogues for sustaining a healthy river system while meeting the needs of a growing population,” according to its website at spokaneriver.net.
The community spotlight is on the river that runs through the city in September, with events inside and out centered around the Spokane River Cleanup on Sept. 19. “We’ve turned a corner as a community toward recognizing the river for what it is and what it can be,” said Andy Dunau of the Spokane River Forum. The forum brings stakeholders together and promotes projects including river access.
A three-day conference on the Spokane River and Lake Coeur d’Alene later this month tackles how the region can protect its cherished water bodies while planning for population growth and economic development. “What type of future do we want for our community, which is in love with its natural resources? And how do we get to that future without sacrificing growth in our communities?” said Andy Dunau, executive director for the Spokane River Forum.
Dozens of volunteers turned out over two days last week with shovels and pickaxes to plant 800 trees, shrubs and plants along the shore of the Spokane River. The restoration effort took place just east of the Appleway Bridge, across the river from Stateline and near a nonmotorized boat launch. The Centennial Trail was recently realigned to pass under the bridge instead of forcing trail users to cross a busy street. The land was deeply rutted and eroded in several places where people drove down to the water’s edge to launch boats even though an established boat launch was only a couple of hundred feet away.
Volunteers have turned eyesores into entries along the Spokane River to help make the region’s signature waterway easier to use. In one popular area, a half-ton of weeds were pulled. In another, volunteers are trying to slow erosion by planting native trees and grasses.
The Spokane River is a standout in the vast experience of Peter Grubb, who founded ROW Adventures 33 years ago. That’s a story in itself, considering Grubb’s been guiding rafters for 35 years on many of the world’s most popular streams. His holiday cards often feature his family in Idaho’s River of No Return Wilderness, the Amazon Basin or riding camels. “I always tell people I’ve never heard of a higher quality urban whitewater experience with such a range of amenities,” he said, noting the river has expert-rated stretches of rapids, play waves for kayakers, easy water for families, a paved trail along its shores – and good fishing for native rainbow trout.
Spokane’s Meet Me at the River summer trip program is gearing up for the fifth year, offering the public a convenient opportunity to connect with the entire length of the Spokane River, one segment at a time. Trips, which start next week and run into September, are organized by the Spokane River Forum and supported by local river guides and other groups and agenices.