DNR holds open houses as it develops trails policy

The public is being asked to provide its ideas as the state Department of Natural Resources begins development of an agency recreational trail policy.

As part of the process, the department is holding open houses around the state. The final two, and the closest to South Sound residents, take place this week.

This process was dictated by the Legislature in March, when it required the agency to develop a recreational trail policy for agency-managed lands. The legislation calls for the policy to be adopted by Oct. 31, 2015.

The department manages about 1,100 miles of trails statewide.

Such a trail policy will help the department continue managing natural resources while providing a range of sustainable recreation opportunities, according to an agency news release. That would include non-motorized and motorized activities such as hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, motorcycle and ATV riding, and 4x4 use.

The two upcoming open houses will be held:

Tuesday: 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the King County Library System Service Center conference room, 960 Newport Way NW, Issaquah.

Thursday: 6-8 p.m. at Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. Seventh St., Port Angeles.

Other meetings took place in Ellensburg, Sedro-Woolley, Battle Ground and Spokane Valley.

Later this fall, the department will set up a committee of about 15 stakeholders to work with the agency in reviewing public comments, identifying issues, gauging options and developing the policy.

The final draft of the policy should be completed by next summer, after which there will be an additional public comment period.