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Ferry County officials angle toward ATV use on rail trail despite public vote

Click here to read the story in Sunday's Spokesman-Review.
NOTE: the next public hearing will be Tuesday, October at 17th at 1 p.m. at the commissioners’ office.
The commissioners expect to have a final draft available for public review before the hearing. Please plan to attend. We will provide updates as they become available.


The Article below was published this week by the Ferry County View.


Board hears rail trail comments
By Brenda Starkey 
REPUBLIC – It was standing room only Monday afternoon as county commissioners ...took comments on a draft Ferry County Rail Corridor Management Plan ordinance. 
Many of the comments concerned a statement in the draft ordinance that would allow ATVs with a maximum 65-inch width to be used by individuals with accessibility issues who display a handicap placard on the vehicle. 

Out of 21 comments, eight involved the 65-inch-wide ATVs that would be permitted for those with disabilities. Most of those comments involved the width of the trail surface, which is 96 inches, and how other trail users could pass a wide side-by-side vehicle that takes up 65 of those 96 inches. Comments mentioned horses, strollers and people using conventional wheelchairs. 
Stan Christie said that because of knee problems, some people cannot get on a standard ATV and if the rail bed handled trains, it should handle side-by-side ATVs without problems. 

Four comments involved a definition of terms. The current draft ordinance has a heading for definitions, but no definitions. Citizens wanted to know more about possible definitions. One of the definitions mentioned by at least two individuals was “land use permit.” 
Commissioners said that mostly these involved adjacent land owners who wanted to harvest grass that grew along the corridor, or other non-commercial uses along the side of the trail. But in one case a fire district requested permission to put a fire station along the corridor, and that was approved. 
Four comments involved a provision that all advertising for the rail trail needed to go through the commissioners. 

Janine Koffel said she could see the board dealing with multiple requests from the Tri-County Economic Development District, chambers of commerce and even the Republic Brewery who wanted to publicize events they were to host on the trail. “The trail is already drawing tourists and various events. I applaud you for that, but did you actually mean to do that?” she asked. 

Commissioners said their concern was liability and one advertisement showed people in the tunnel when it was not supposed to be open to the public. 
The commissioners said there would be further draft management plan ordinances, and the public would again be allowed to comment after changes were made, but no dates were set.


The print edition of this article contained an attribution error which has been corrected above.

HEADS UP Rail Trail supporters:
The fourth version of the working draft Ferry County Rail Corridor Management Plan Ordinance is now online and it is incomplete. A new “Definitions” section has been added without any details and we find the blank section and the content of the current working draft is unacceptable. 

In Tuesday's Rail Trail Working Session (the 11th such session) the Rail Corridor Committee (RCC) provided detailed input to the Commissioners. None of these critical points have been incorporated into the most recent working draft.  Although the RCC provided the basis for the current document on September 19, 2016, the Commissioners have excluded them from participating in the most recent working sessions. The Commissioners did remove the word “bed”and are using the term “Rail-Trail” instead of “Rail Corridor.” This is the language used in Ferry County Resolution No. 2010-01, the source of this paragraph. The term “Rail Corridor” was a direct result of the 2009 advisory ballot measure where 61% voted for a non-motorized rail corridor. The ballot measure language was, “Shall Ferry County designate the usage of the entire length of railroad right-of-way for ‘multiple-use non-motorized only’ or for ‘multiple-use with limited motorized access’?” All subsequent ordinances, resolutions, our adopted Rail Trail plan, grants and development success can all be traced back to the vote.

It is clear that the Commissioners intend to restrict the non-motorized portion of the rail corridor to the 12’ foot wide trail and allow parallel motorized access anywhere on the remaining corridor.

The Commissioners need to incorporate the recommendations of the RCC and either reschedule Monday’s Public Hearing or extend the Hearing until they can complete their final draft for the public’s review. The Commissioners’ staff have indicated that they intend to have one more working session, after the Public Hearing.  If the Commissioners are sincere about wanting public input they need to provide a completed final draft before, not after, the hearing.

In the event the Commissioners do not reschedule please join us at the Public Hearing at 1:00 p.m. Monday, September 25 at the Commissioners’ office. Help us keep rail-trail funding and development on track for the coming years.

PROPOSED CHANGES TO RAIL CORRIDOR PLAN:
Please be aware of proposed changes, made by the commissioners, to the ordinance for the Ferry County Rail Corridor Management Plan. The latest version is available at http://www.ferry-county.com/ Click on the "working draft" link.

Ferry County Rail Trail Partners is concerned about two aspects of the latest version of the ordinance. One is the change from the original language of Resolution 2010-01 which resulted from the 2009 vote. It refers to the non-motorized designation of the “Rail Corridor.” That language has been changed to "Rail Trail Bed." The significance is that the commissioners are moving ahead with construction of an ATV route on the rail corridor without public input. The location of the route is not certain although it is believed to run from Lundimo Meadows Road north to Boulder Creek Road through the west side of the Curlew School Parking lot. The commissioners have been provided a map of possible alternate ATV routes without any response. This plan would also set a precedent for future ATV routes on the rail corridor. The language of the 2009 vote is unambiguous. It says, “Shall Ferry County designate the usage of the entire length of railroad right-of-way for ‘multiple-use non-motorized only’ or for ‘multiple-use with limited motorized access’.” 61% of Ferry County voters approved a non-motorized railroad right-of-way.

The other concern is a safety and liability issue created by allowing 65" wide, 1500 lb. OPMDs (Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices, such as ATVs, used by people with mobility disabilities) traveling 15 mph on a 96" wide trail. Wheelchairs require a minimum width of 36". Most jurisdictions limit the width of OPMDs to 45% of the trail width, which allows for a 10% buffer zone for passing.

Please check back for updates on the draft ordinance and the Rail Corridor ATV route in Curlew.


TRESTLE AND TUNNEL CLOSED:
Ferry County was advised to close the trestle and the tunnel per Ordinance 2010-04, while doing an insurance risk assessment. Ordinance 2010-04 is currently being revised. The Ordinance process legally requires a two week public notice and the hearing before the Ordinance can be passed by the Ferry County Board of Commissioners. The hearing is scheduled for the 25th of September at 1:00 pm in the Ferry County Commissioners office. A working draft is available at the Ferry County Commissioners office located at 290 E. Tessie Ave Republic, WA 99166


NEW MAPS JUST RELEASED:
A detailed map of the Curlew Lake section of the Rail Trail. Click here.

Updated map of entire Rail Trail. Cick here.

For up-to-date info and trail conditions please check our Face Book site: www.facebook.com/ferrycorailtrail




NEW PROMO VIDEO
Today we launched our first ever promo video! The 53 second film short was made possible by a donation and will be a usful tool to promote your trial and bring recreational tourism to Ferry County.

Watch the video here:
https://vimeo.com/224547192

Please help spread the word by posting in social media and or forwarding this email to friends and use the hashtags:  #ferrycountyrailtrail #ferrycount
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GRANT UPDATES:
FCRTP Vice President Keith Bell has managed our phase 3 development grant so well we can afford to install an extra vault toilet! Originally we had only planned for one at Blacks Beach. The additional facility will be put in at the Kiwanis road trailhead located the north end of Curlew Lake just east of the trestle. This is very good news since our biggest non-development expense is paying for the sani-cans we have been renting. Maintenance of these vault toilets will reduce our overhead and allow more funds to be dedicated to the trail surface. 

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT - PLEASE DONATE: 
We have had a very busy year in terms of grant writing, construction (fixing washouts and rock slides) and general advocacy to protect and promote this wonderful community asset. Generally, most of the tax-deductible donations we receive are used as a match for grants to develop the trail that effectively doubles the value of money you donate. However, some of our costs are operational items such as office supplies, maintaining the trail, and our biggest expense servicing the temporary sani-cans installed at trailheads. As a result, we need your help paying some bills. 

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today by Paypal: Click here
Or please send a check to:: PO Box 3 Malo, WA 99150 

Now get out there and enjoy your trail! 
Bobby Whittaker, PresidentFerry County Rail Trail Partners

Ferry County Rail Trail in the news


Beauty of Rail Trail Open to all
By Al Camp The Chronicle

CURLEW – People in the tiny town of Curlew near the Canadian border continue working on sections of the Ferry County Rail Trail while racking up national recognition for the project. Work most recently included Ferry County Rail Trail Partners Vice President Keith Bell and Stotts Construction trail manager Johnny Metcalf spreading and compacting surface materials on the trail north of the tunnel along the Kettle River.

“This freshly surfaced four-mile segment brings the Curlew/Kettle River total to seven miles,” Ferry County Rail Trail Partners President Bob Whittaker. “Earlier this year surfacing was completed for the entire 5.5-mile length of the Curlew Lake section, bringing the grand total of miles surfacing improvements to 12.5 miles.”

So far a smidge more than half of the 25-mile trail has received a non-motorized surface between Curlew and Republic.

“These improvements were made possible with non-motorized trail grants from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program,” Whittaker said.

Read the rest of the story: CLICK HERE



Pearl Jam charity donates $25K to Ferry County Rail Trail
by Rich Landers

TRAILS -- Eddie Vedder, front man for the rock group Pearl Jam, says the band plans to contribute $25,000 to the Ferry County Rail Trail Partners' next surfacing project on the trail that runs from near Republic to the Canada border.

The donation comes from the Vitalogy Foundation,which supports the efforts of nonprofit organizations doing commendable work in the fields of community health, the environment, arts and education and social change.

The Ferry County Rail Trail is a 25-mile multi-use, nonmotorized route along an abandoned railway that connects four towns, two school complexes and has miles of waterfront on Curlew Lake and the Kettle River.

“I’m totally amazed,” said Bob Whittaker, president of FCRTP. “I had heard it announced on the news that Pearl Jam are inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then a few hours later I got a text from Vedder with the news. What a lovely guy, band and a wonderful organization.”

Vedder, a friend of Whittaker's from their youth in Seattle, has supported the rail trail in the past with signed skateboards. Vedder also autographed a ukulele used in recording his album "Ukulele Songs" and donated it to the Ferry County group for an auction that raised $17,000 for the trail.

Keith Bell, vice president of FCRTP, said the $25K will be, “a real boon for our nonmotorized trail project. Specifically the funds will likely be used as a match for a Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grant.”

Vedder asked that the donation be made in the name of Chris McCandless, a modern adventurer who was the subject of the award-winning book and movie "Into the Wild". He said the donation also is in recognition of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and their ancestors who have walked this valley for thousands of years.


Ferry County Rail Trail on governor’s recreation radarTrail Group
Another segment of the Ferry County Rail Trail was smooth-surfaced last month bringing the improved sections along Curlew Lake and the Kettle River north of Curlew to 12.5 miles. The latest project completes surfacing on more than half of the 25-mile non-motorized rail trail that runs from north of Republic to the U.S.-Canada border, said Bob Whittaker, president of Ferry Count Rail Trail Partners. Most of the work is being done by volunteers and area businesses with the aid of non-motorized trail grants from the the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, he said. The years of grass-roots effort to transform the abandoned railway into a local and regional asset has caught attention in Olympia.

Read the rest of the story by Rich Landers on the Spokesman-Review Outdoor Blog: Click HERE


Trout Creek Bridge Resurfaced

Community volunteers, members of the Ferry County Rail Trail Partners, County Rail Corridor Committee and Curlew Lake Association joined forces to resurface the Trout Creek Bridge located just north of the Blacks Beach Trailhead. The improvements included adding decking over the existing creosote railroad ties that also had dangerous open voids between them. Brush was cleared and the same crushed rock surface used on the trail was added to the approaches and compacted to make it ADA compliant. Funds for the improvement came from a non-motorized trail grant from the Washington Wildlife Recreation Program (WWRP) that is part of the State Recreation and Conservation office. This is the same organization that has funded surfacing 5.5 miles of the trail next to Curlew Lake and 3.14 miles from the Curlew School (Lundimo Meadows Rd.) north through the town of Curlew and along the Kettle River to the tunnel. Midway Building Supply and Halls Sales and Service also provided some materials.
Ferry County Rail Trail improvements continue
by Rich Landers, Spokesman Review
Curlew Job Corps students have helped with paving sections of the Ferry County Rail Trail in May 2016. Pictured here is Tim Sauer along with the paver they call “The Smooth Move.” (Photo: Bobby Whittaker)

The Ferry County Rail Trail north of Republic is being improved with smooth surface sections.

A 8-foot wide surface of crusher fines was spread and compacted on 2.3 miles of the abandoned railway along the west side of Curlew Lake in May.

The new surfacing from Pete’s Retreat South to Herron Creek Road connects to the improvements made last summer for a total of 5.5 miles.

The Ferry County Rail Trail runs 28.5 miles on an abandoned railway from the U.S.-Canada border to an existing trail at Republic, the county seat. Some portions of the trail are in good condition for mountain biking while some stretches are still rough.

The stretch north from Curlew is especially nice as it follows the Kettle River.

The new surfacing was funded by a $198,000 Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office non-motorized trail grant, said Bobby Whittaker, president of Ferry County Rail Trail Partners. The group has raised thousands of dollars and donations for matching money to fund improvements.

In April 2014, the Curlew Lake Trestle across the north end of the fine fishing lake was re-decked and opened for public use.

The phase 3 plan being carried out this year also includes surface improvements to about 2 miles of rail-trail from Lundimo Meadow Road to the Curlew School then North along the Kettle River and ending at a tunnel, Whittaker said.

“These other improvements, including a new vault toilet at the Black’s Beach Trailhead, are scheduled for later this summer,” he said.

Materials for the surfacing were donated by Kinross Gold Corp., transportation of materials by ACI Northwest Inc., equipment use from Stott’s Construction and volunteer hours from Curlew Job Corps, students and many other local stakeholders and trail advocates, he said.

“Now that the full 6-mile length of trail next to Curlew Lake is improved you can see the greater potential to connect the Lake to the town of Republic,” Whittaker said.

When school starts at the end of summer, Curlew students “will have a new, safe, off-highway route to the center of town and beyond,” he said.

Trail improvements have been made through funding for non-motorized trail and recreation programs, which Whittaker says are threatened by recent Ferry County Commission actions to plan an adjacent route for four-wheelers.

County residents voted 61 percent in favor of non-motorized use of the trail in a 2009 advisory vote.

“Proceeding with a plan to motorize a section or sections of the Ferry County Rail Trail… could result in the need to repay grant funds and jeopardize future funding opportunities, Whittaker said.


Donation Opportunity

Please Consider a TAX DEDUCTIBLE Donation to Ferry County Rail Trail Partners

We can double your dollars! - Donations will go directly to the trail surfacing and other improvement projects and will be matched $1 for $1 by trail grants from the Washington State Recreation & Conservation Office.

As an all volunteer federally recognized 501c3 non-profit, FCRTP prides itself on getting things done on-time, on-target and on-budget, Your donations help our volunteers build and maintain the Ferry County Rail Trail, design and print maps and apply for grants. Memberships are crucial to what FCRTP can accomplish and make a great holiday gift. Joining FCRTP helps confirm the large number of people who care about trails.

To make a year end donation of any amount please click here Donate
We will provide you with a receipt for your tax deductible donation. 

Thank you for your support!




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