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Proponents of Ferry County Rail Trail Worried About Commissioners' Plans

Jesse Harding
Rail to trail corridor in Ferry County

Proponents of a rail to trail corridor in Ferry County are worried that their county commissioners have plans to introduce motorized vehicles adjacent to the path.

In 2009, Ferry County residents voted by 61 percent to allow only non-motorized use of the old railway.

Now, trail organizers say it appears the county is ignoring that public vote, and looking to allow motorized vehicle use, like all terrain vehicles alongside the trail on the county’s right-of- way.

Keith Bell, Vice President of Ferry County Rail Trail Partners says the idea doesn’t sit well with trail users or neighbors.

Bell says,

“Adjacent land owners, 87 percent of whom were in favor of a non-motorized trail, weren’t crazy about having the noise and racket of motorized traffic in front of their house. And it also detracts from the serene experience for the people hiking. Even if it isn’t on the same trail, if you’ve got motorized traffic running up and down a parallel trail a few feet away, it detracts from that more serene experience you can have without more motorized traffic.”

But Ferry County Commissioner Mike Blankenship says the trail organizers are greatly exaggerating the commissioner’s plans. While he would not go on tape with Spokane Public Radio, he says there is a proposal at this point to allow ATV’s to cross the right-of-way at one junction with a highway and county road. But he says there are no plans to allow motorized vehicles to travel alongside the 25 mile trail in the right of way.

Keith Bell says that ATV connector route plan is being put together without any public input, and he believes the commission is trying to set a precedent, that essentially ignores the public vote that prohibited motorized traffic.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.