John Wayne Pioneer Trail – Public Comment Opportunity

Washington State Parks is hosting the final series of public meetings to get feedback about the future of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail east of the Columbia River to the Idaho state line.

Looking west on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail at Marengo, WA

Looking west on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail at Marengo, WA (photo courtesy of the Friends of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail)

The first meeting will be Tuesday, May 10th, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Preston Community Center- 8625 310th Ave. SE, Preston, WA  98027.  This is the first and only public meeting to be held west of the Cascades during this planning process.

The second meeting will be Wednesday, May 11 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, 109 E. First, Ritzville, WA 99169.

State Parks staff will present preliminary recommendations based on comments and feedback received so far.  They are looking for comments on their recommendations.  If you can’t make the meetings, you may provide comments on the State Parks website or by sending email to Randy Kline at randy.kline@parks.wa.gov.

We encourage everyone with an interest in the trail to make their opinions known to Washington State Parks.

Cascade Rail Foundation has been actively involved with this planning process.  Vice President Mark Borleske is a member of the Advisory Committee for the planning process and Cascade Rail Foundation has submitted formal comments as well.

Our key points:

  • The trail should be a publicly accessible, contiguous route between Cedar Falls and the Idaho state line, using as much of the former Milwaukee Road rail bed as possible
  • Public access to the eastern portion of the trail should be managed in the same manner as the segment west of the Columbia River. Steps should be taken to remove the requirement for a use permit east of the Columbia River.
  • Detours from the rail bed should be systematically removed or reduced in length
  • To increase use of the trail, Washington State Parks should also develop and implement projects to create connections with other trails
  • If there is any change to the name of the trail, the new name should make it more obvious that the trail was once a railroad.
  • Cascade Rail Foundation stands ready to assist Washington State Parks with the historic interpretation of the trail
  • Cascade Rail Foundation is willing to support private fundraising efforts that can leverage limited state funds for the work needed to allow the trail to reach its full potential

You can read the Cascade Rail Foundation comment letter here (PDF).

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