State Parks weighs allowing minimal vehicle use on John Wayne trail

Staff reportOctober 27, 2013 

The John Wayne Pioneer Tail — including this stretch above Olallie State Park, east of North Bend — is part of Iron Horse State Park and runs along the bed of the former Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.

PETER HALEY/STAFF FILE, 2008

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is considering reducing restrictions on motor vehicle use on Iron Horse State Park’s John Wayne Pioneer Trail.

As part of the decision-making process, the commission is holding a meeting Friday in Ellensburg to allow the public to offer comments.

The state Legislature directed that the trail be managed for nonmotorized uses, and a state law restricts motor vehicle use on the trail. Various grants obtained over the years also have limited trail use to nonmotorized recreation.

Farmers with property adjacent to the trail and State Parks concessionaires have requested that the agency allow them greater motorized use.

In response, State Parks is considering requested legislation that would allow some motor vehicle use for temporary agricultural or concessionaire purposes. Any uses would require a special permit acquired through the agency. At the same time, the proposed legislation would allow trail use by a new class of motor vehicles recently defined by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act as “Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices.”

The proposed changes are not intended to alter the primarily nonmotorized recreation focus of the trail’s management, State Parks officials said. Rather, the intention is to make State Parks’ management of the John Wayne trail consistent with other rail trails under the agency’s control.

The agency manages five long-distance rail trails for nonmotorized recreation, including hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and winter activities such as cross-country skiing and dog-sledding.

The trails include the John Wayne trail, managed as part of Iron Horse State Park and comprising most of the old Milwaukee Railroad corridor between Cedar Falls/North Bend and the Idaho border; the Centennial Trail near Spokane; Columbia Hills Plateau Trail from East Pasco to Fish Lake/Spokane; the Willapa Hills Trail from Chehalis to Raymond; and the Klickitat Trail, with a trailhead in Lyle near the Columbia River.

IF YOU GO

The meeting: It is scheduled for 5:30-7 p.m. Friday, in the Teanaway Room at the Hal Holmes Community Center, 209 N. Ruby St., Ellensburg.

To comment: Those who cannot attend the meeting but wish to receive information about the issue, can contact Susan Koch at susan.koch@parks.wa.gov.

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