John Wayne Trail Threatened Despite Local Support

John Wayne Trail Threatened Despite Local Support

The John Wayne Trail in Eastern Washington has a 280 mile long ribbon of beauty extending through rich full forests, dramatic scab lands and the vibrant pastures of the Palouse. Each step of this route offers peace, tranquility and gracious vistas.

It is a cross state hiking option, like the Pacific Northwest Trail. Though it has a different terrain, passing through the middle of the state rather than the mountainous northern area of Washington.

Last year Republican Senate President Mark Schoesler and State Representative Joe Schmick used a budget proviso easement to close this park land and give it to 200 adjacent landowners without any public notice or hearings reported at  http://savethejohnwaynetrail.com

A 135 mile 6,000 acre stretch of land, which the state purchased from the railroad for $3,000,000 in 1985, was taken away from frequent users such as bicyclists, hikers, horse riders, Boy Scouts, geologists, tourists, and historical advocates, without a single conversation ever held with any of them publicly.

Fortunately, the legislators did not read their own proviso too carefully and a miraculous typo has prevented the implementation of the land-grab. In the past few months there has been a public outcry and 18 Washington cities have passed resolutions asking the legislature to fund trail repairs.

Olympia will consider the fate of the trail in the spring of 2017 when the State Parks Department is expected to make a capitol budget request. Keep an eye on http://savethejohnwaynetrail.com for a proactive visit in February to Olympia in support of the trail!

At first Rep Schmick wrote “I didn’t think this issue warranted the attention of 147 legislators”. Other reasons given for the midnight grab included liability, litter, weeds, and rattle snakes.  For every trestle repair, trail head, or water pump the argument will be “It’s a waste of money and your underpricing it”. Quotes taken from here.

But the price tag is very low compared to other infrastructure work done in Washington and has an excellent return on the investment not only for our state tax base but particularly for several small towns along the trail that are suffering. Tekoa’s population has declined 40% over the last 40 years. Last year it had three restaurants and is now down to two.

Further by repairing the trail with work projects phased in over the years we can avoid a great impact on our state budget and allow the trail to begin generating income immediately. 

A petition for the John Wayne Trail is at http://savethejohnwaynetrail.com

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