EDITORIAL: The long, long trail nearly here
It still is the longest five miles in the world, but at last, if you can’t see the finish you can at least close your eyes and imagine it. The Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail, to use the formal title, will be extended north to Lincoln Rock State Park.
For nearly 20 years we have thought this to be a very good idea, and at last it appears possible thanks to a timely $3.75 million appropriation in the state capital budget. The funding came as somewhat of a surprise, since the trail had only recently emerged from its long legal struggles and community support was still not unanimous. Rep. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, a member of the House Capital Budget Committee, was able to insert the trail funding and, happily, it sailed through the Senate unscathed and was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Sunday.
Hawkins said afterward, “This is something that’s going to benefit our community for many years to come,” and in that he is absolutely right. The first phase of the trail, from Lincoln Rock State Park south to a Rocky Reach overlook, will be funded by the Chelan County PUD, State Parks, Department of Transportation and donations. A shorter stretch on the south end will be funded by the long efforts of the tireless Complete the Loop Coalition, which is still raising funds. The $3.75 million state appropriation pays for the long middle, with work commencing this spring or fall. With the 11-mile Loop Trail long established as a great community asset, the extension to the north will surely be a success as well, which we hope brings benefits to the adjacent property owners on the route.
The capital budget, which funds construction and infrastructure, includes appropriations for numerous important projects in North Central Washington. There is $6 million for farmworker housing, $3.5 million for the Port of Chelan County’s Cashmere mill project, $1.05 million for the Icicle Creek Center for the Arts and $500,000 for the Beebe Springs Natural Area. There are more projects funded through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which rightly received strong support — $1.25 million to purchase private land in the upper Stemilt Basin, for agriculture, wildlife and recreation; $1.86 million for Camas Meadows protection; $497,000 for Winthrop’s ice rink and $365,000 for its Susie Stephens Trail, and $950,000 for sage grouse habitat in Douglas County.
These projects will build on our collective community assets, improve our quality of life and help preserve it for future generations. As a major bonus, we look forward to the first ride to Lincoln Rock.