The Beverly Bridge, the trestle that crosses the Columbia River, bisects the Palouse to Cascades trail into east and west, and is currently closed for safety concerns. This represents a significant trail gap. Washington Depart. of Natural Resources (DNR) owns this bridge. We would like to hear from trail supporters regarding their thoughts on renovating this bridge and DNR's responsibility for maintaining the section of the trail still owned by DNR (known by DNR as the "Milwaukee Corridor" - between Beverly and Lind).
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This historic bridge should be made accessible as part of the trail, being as it's one of the main highlights of such a scenic route. Surely if it supported the weight of trains it should be able to support some bikes, hikers, and equestrians! The use of this bridge and adjoining rail trail would mean more money for nearby communities. Everyone wins!
(Message received July 21, 2016 in response to FJWPTO requests for position statements, reprinted with permission from Hilary Franz)
Thank you for reaching out to me regarding the JWPT issues. I wanted to begin my response by offering you my position on access to public lands generally. It is my firm belief that if we do not engage people, and especially youth, in our natural resource lands and waterways, we will fail to have people care about them not just for today but for the future. We need to find more ways to engage people in our forests, farmlands, and waterways. Public access for all is critical.
Here are a few of my priorities with regard to supporting access and recreation:
a. Facilitate community-led natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation projects in communities, connecting DNR with non-profits, community groups, and schools; b. Work to promote the engagement of young people as active stewards and students of the environment, providing educational opportunities for K-12 students; c. Increase outdoor recreation partnerships with cities and counties to create new, opportunities for outdoor play for all; d. Develop a Conservation Service Corps to leverage public investment and private philanthropy that will build job skills, improve public lands, and create connections to our natural resources, while building experience.
With specific response to the issues you have brought forward with the JWPT, I am in full support of finding solutions to issues of access, improvement, infrastructure and maintenance.
I am pleased to see that the State Parks Director formed an advisory committee in December 2015 to begin looking at issues impacting the JWPT, including proposed solutions to the Beverly Bridge and other DNR-managed lands within the trail system. As the Commissioner of Public Lands, I will be committed to working with communities to address the trail gap. And having worked four years with the Legislature and Governor to secure the largest transportation package in Washington State history, which included $1.2 billion for bike and pedestrian infrastructure, I would continue my commitment to work with you, your organization and others to secure funding to renovate the bridge and give better and full access to trail users. I would also want to continue collaborating with State Parks to follow through on final recommendations of their report and ensure that DNR is responsible for any portions which are under its jurisdiction.
I will bring my experience working in almost three-quarters of Washington at the local and state level, protecting hundreds of thousands of acres of working farmlands and forestlands, fish and wildlife habitat, and thousands of miles of shorelines and critical areas; increasing recreation opportunities and public access to parks and open space; developing a nationally recognized energy program, reducing carbon pollution and increasing clean energy jobs; and working with local, regional, and state officials across Washington to develop and implement innovative solutions to complex environmental, economic, and social justice issues. I understand well the issues that divide different communities and interest groups around environment and economic issues, and I have the policy and science background, experience, skills, and a proven track record for working through the divisions to reach solutions that are a win for the environment, communities, and local economies.
I look forward to meeting you and working with Friends of John Wayne Pioneer Trail to implement the best solutions to this issue. Please let me know if I can answer any further questions.
Hilary Franz Candidate for Commissioner of Public Lands c: 206-734-9729 www.hilaryfranz.com
The Beverly bridge deck repair was offered to the public by the Grant County PUD in 2006. This was one of the several recreational projects that was part of the FERC relicensing process for Priest Rapids Dam. The Grant County PUD completed many of the proposed projects but this project is still waiting for funds. A temporary alternative would be to open the Wanapum Dam for non-motorized crossing, as it was prior to 9-11-2001.
Bridge access for cyclists, equestrians and hikers is key to recreational use of the longest, cross state trail in the country.