Whether you support the John Wayne Pioneer Trail for its recreation opportunities, economic impact to neighboring communities, or because it is the longest rail trail in the nation, now’s the time to begin to weigh in on its future.
In September trail advocates in Tekoa learned of a legislative effort to close down a roughly 120-mile portion of Washington state’s largest rail trail, the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Following the initial news, many surrounding residents and jurisdictions — including Tekoa, Spokane and others — voiced concern over the potential for permanent closure of this long-distance trail. The stated reasons for closure have included concerns over a lack of use of the trail, worries about trespassing, and liability.
Now, future discussions – and opportunities for trail supporters to provide meaningful input — about the future of the trail are beginning to take shape.
The most immediate opportunity to lend your voice to the discussion is via a set of three listening sessions occurring in Eastern Washington in November. One of the architects of the trail closure, Representative Schmick (R-Colfax), is partnering with the Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association to host three public meetings to hear from you about the Trail.
The three public listening sessions to provide input directly to Representative Schmick and others begin next week:
- Tuesday November 10th at 12pm: Rosalia, Community Center (7th St. and Whitman Ave.)
- Monday November 16th at 12pm: Lind, Union Elevator Conference room (201 S Street)
- Monday November 23rd at 6pm: Ellensburg, Hal Holmes Center (209 N Ruby St.)
Representative Schmick has indicated he may consider introducing legislation based on the input he receives from these three events.
In addition to the public sessions hosted by Representative Schmick, Washington State Parks has proposed a plan to convene a planning process slated to begin before the end of 2015. It will allow the public to actively participate in crafting plans for the Iron Horse and Columbia Plateau State Park Trails.
As soon as plans are formally released by State Parks, Washington Bikes will provide an additional update.
Shawn Pederson recently completed a trip across the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. His blog posts (4 so far) and excellent photos are here: http://fernwehnw.com/tag/john-wayne-pioneer-trail/
Also, the Tekoa Trail and Trestle Association’s Facebook Page provides a number of articles and community discussion as the process moves forward.