Do you support upgrading the John Wayne Pioneer Trail in eastern Washington so it can live up to its potential as a cross-state off-road route for bicycle travel?
A fight to fund improvements and improve access to the rail-trail east of the Columbia River has been waged by eastern Washington trail advocates for months.
Those of us in western Washington who support those efforts can have some face-time with the decision makers at a Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission public meeting in Preston on May 10. As far as I recall, it’s the only one of a series of meetings regarding the trail’s future that has been held west of Snoqualmie Pass.
Interest in the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, which stretches for 285 miles from North Bend to Tekoa on the Idaho border, was sparked by an attempted land grab by a couple of eastern Washington legislators.
If not for a typo which ruined their efforts, we would have lost a 130-mile section of the public trail to adjacent landowners.
[An excellent Seattle Times op-ed piece – “Premier trail needs support, money” – written by Tekoa city councilman and Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association president Ted Blaszak tells more about that “miraculous typo” and efforts to save the trail. ]
Instead, the future of about 175 miles of the rail-trail east of the Columbia River has become the subject of debate.
Some of the issues:
— Limits on access as large sections of trail are gated and a user must get a state permit to pass. (Where else in the state are publically funded trails gated?)
— Funding to improve the trail surface so it’s as least as passable as the 110 miles west of the Columbia River.
— Maintenance program to clear brush and noxious weeds that grow along the trail right-of-way and invade adjacent land.
— Funding to upgrade bridges, such as the Beverly Bridge over the Columbia River, and tunnels to allow passage for pedestrians and bike travelers.
The completion of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail as a cross-state trail has a huge potential as a bicycle tourism draw. Blaszak says money spent to improve the trail would have “excellent return on investment … for several small towns along the trail that are suffering.”
Let’s show our support from western Washington. The meeting schedule is:
6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, at the Preston Community Center, 8625 310th Ave., Preston (located just off the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail in Preston)
6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, at the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, 109 E. First, Ritzville
Stay up-to-date with issues regarding John Wayne Pioneer Trail as Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association.