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Support builds for saving and improving John Wayne Pioneer Trail

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About 100 people last week argued the pros and cons of closing about 130 miles of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail east of the Columbia River.

That first public meeting in Rosalia will be followed up by two others:

UntitledLind — Noon, Monday, Nov. 16th
Union Elevator Conference Room (201 S street)

Ellensburg — 6 p.m., Monday, November 23rd
Hal Holmes Center (209 N Ruby St.)

If you can’t make those meetings, consider sending your ideas about keeping the trail open through the awesome eastern Washington countryisde to JWTcomments@gmail.com.

By now, you probably know the story about how a state legislator’s scheme to close a portion of the 253-mile rail-trail and give the land to adjacent landowners was derailed by a simple typo (“Wording error saves John Wayne Pioneer Trail…).

Ted Blaszak and the Tekoa Trail & Trestle Association are pushing to save the trail. They’re finding a lot of support in eastern and western Washington to not only keep the trail open, but improve it so more people can use it for recreation and transportation.

A series of five videos from the first meeting can be found at Dave N’s page on YouTube.

Under the headline “John Wayne Trail irreplaceable asset for Eastern Washington, advocates say,” the Spokesman Review reported some comments from the meeeting:

“I’m here to represent the future for my kids,” said Doug King of Farmington, who pedaled his two young towheads on the trail in a trailer behind his bike before the meeting. … King said the John Wayne Trail is a park feature that will continue to increase in value.

“I want a place where the kids can’t get cellphone service and where they can go 25 miles without seeing someone,” he said.




Garry Kehr of the Spokane Bicycle Club joined others in saying the key to compromise was seeking more money to develop the trail in Eastern Washington. More traffic by legitimate users increases self-policing.

In recent years, millions of dollars of federal funding have become available for alternative transportation projects, he said: “There’s money out there. It’s up to us to ask for it.”

If you’re still wondering what the big deal is about the largely undeveloped eastern half of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, then pay a visit to the Tekoa Trail & Trestle Association website and see the photos and read the testimonials of folks who ride bikes on those sections.

Then write a letter to JWTcomments@gmail.com and tell how improving the trail could boost the economies of many small towns along the abandoned railroad route. Here are some studies done on the economic impact of bicycling in Oregon.

Here’s how Russ Naber, a resident of Spokane Valley, expressed his support for the trail by drawing attention to the economic benefits:

Hello

Representative Joe Schmick
Public Comments on November 2015 Public Meetings on John Wayne Trail

I am a experienced rail to trail bicycle rider, and I want to point out that on my past rides in South Dakota and Missouri, I have spent on average from $500.00 to $ 1000.00 on my trips to these trails on sponsored rides, this is for transportation, gas taxes, food & lodging plus ride fees (applied to state agency’s)

The KATY trail (225 miles) in Missouri currently is the longest improved trail in the united states behind unimproved trails in Nebraska (325 miles) and Washington state (John Wayne trail & Columbia Plateau trail to Ice Harbor Dam). Missouri DNR puts on a yearly ride over this trail of which I have been approximately 8 times again spending 800 to 2000 each time for transportation (air,car) and food and lodging on this ride in the state of Missouri

The Mickelson trail is a 108 mile trail in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This trail has a yearly ride put on by the South Dakota Parks Department called the Mickelson Trail Trek over 3 days, I have attended off and on for over 14 years. This amounts to $ 7000 to $ 14,000 dollars in expenditures that I have spent on this ride over 14 years most directly spent in South Dakota, for Food & Lodging and Transportation.

Can you imaging the amount tourist and business income improvements to the John Wayne trail and the Columbia Plateau trail could generate if these trails were even moderately improved and either state or private business’s did sponsored week long rides on these trails. Can you imagine the amount of tourism and business income could be generated all year long on just solo tourist traffic on these trails?

Can you imagine the amount of dollars spent by local state residents on this trail?

Please let’s try to solve the issues with these trails and come up with improvements and other solutions to landowner complaints and move forward on getting these trails improved for recreational use.

Russ Naber
Spokane Valley, WA

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2015/11/14/support-builds-for-saving-and-improving-john-wayne-pioneer-trail/

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