Funds for foothills: $172,000 grant for Wenatchee trails part of $100 million for statewide recreation projects —

Funds for foothills: $172,000 grant for Wenatchee trails part of $100 million for statewide recreation projects

By K.C. Mehaffey; May 1, 2007, © Wenatchee World

By K.C. Mehaffey
Wenatchee World
May 1, 2007

WENATCHEE The Wenatchee Foothills Trail got a shot in the arm from the state Legislature this session as one of many wildlife conservation and recreation projects funded in the 2007-09 budget.
The city of Wenatchee will get $172,000 to build trailheads at Horse Lake Road and Day Road and a 4.1-mile trail to connect the two. The project is estimated at $342,000, with the rest of the money and in-kind donations to come from the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust.

This is the first major grant we have received for the Wenatchee Foothills Trail, so this is very exciting for us, said Gordon Congdon, outgoing executive director of the Land Trust. Congdon announced late last year that he was stepping down as Land Trust leader. Monday was his last day.

We think overall this effort to maintain access to open space is very important to the expanding population of Wenatchee, he said.

State funding is through the Wildlife and Recreation Program, which protects habitat and creates parks and trails. The Legislature doubled its appropriation to the program this session, approving $100 million for the next two years. The program is administered by the Interagency Committee on Outdoor Recreation.

Joanne Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, said until this year, the $50 million biennial appropriation hadnt gone up since the program was set up in 1989. The funding has been limited by inflation and real estate prices, and the decreased buying power, she said.
Hundreds of municipalities, state agencies and groups submit project proposals, which are ranked in separate categories.

The Wenatchee Foothills Trail ranked third among 24 trail proposals, with seven to be funded in the next two years.

Funds will help construct trailheads and parking for five vehicles. It will also buy signs, a kiosk identifying the trail system, toilets, benches and waste cans, Congdon said.

Randy Riggs, who chairs the Land Trusts trails committee, said the group expects to break ground next spring and open the new trail and trailheads next summer.

He said this is the first of four major pieces of the Foothills Trails. The others include a loop in the Horse Lake area with a trail to Forest Service property and Twin Peaks; a trailhead at the upper end of Castlerock Avenue and new trail to the ridge and on to Twin Peaks; and improvements to trails around Saddle Rock.

Congdon said the Foothills Trails project started in 2002 when citizens and groups in Wenatchee including the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, the city and Chelan County PUD began meeting to develop a community trail in Wenatchees western foothills that would remain open to the public and managed to protect wildlife habitat. Chelan County has also become involved in the project, he said.

K.C. Mehaffey:
422-3850; 997-2512
Other NCW projects funded for 2007-2009
Methow watershed: Secure critical habitat along five miles of stream, Okanogan County; $4.7 million

Steamboat Rock Campground expansion: Expand camping at the state park, including 8 new cabins, Grant County; $1.8 million

Pearrygin Lake shoreline: Buy 118 acres on the lake for the state park, Okanogan County; $1.6 million

Pearrygin Lake acquisition: Buy 304 acres, including a golf course, for the state park, Okanogan County; $1.5 million

Methow Rapids: Buy 195 acres of shrub-steppe habitat on the Columbia River, Okanogan County; $1.26 million

Farm protection project: Buy a conservation easement on 203 acres of farmland, Okanogan County; $745,452

Sharp-tailed grouse: Buy 560 acres inside a wildlife area for grouse, Okanogan County; $526,260

Mid-Columbia shrub-steppe: Buy property near four wildlife areas for habitat conservation, Douglas County; $322,632

Methow shrub-steppe: Restore 600 acres of shrub-steppe habitat on state land, Okanogan County; $304,521

Beebe Springs restoration: Create fish habitat in Beebe Creek, Chelan County; $249,410

Beebe Springs Trail: Build an interpretive trail along Beebe Creek, Chelan County; $243,478

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