$748,000 will help build Reiter trails and hire warden

  • By Alejandro Dominguez Herald Writer
  • Monday, June 6, 2011 12:01am
  • Local NewsIndex

INDEX — About $748,000 was awarded last week to help develop trails at Reiter Foothills, with at least some of the money slated to hire a warden for the area.

That’s in addition to $325,000 already provided by the Legislature to develop non-motorized trails in the area.

The Department of Natural Resources is seeking to develop 35 miles of trails on the 2,000 acres between Index and Gold Bar. Half of the property will be developed for use by four-wheelers and dirt bikes. The rest would be for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders. The total cost to develop the trails is pegged at $3.6 million.

In late April, an environmental review study had stated the project would not harm the nearby forest.

A state committee gave notice last week that the DNR would receive the money. The committee advises the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office on which projects to fund.

One of these grants is for $115,000, which DNR plans to use to create a warden position for two years.

The main duty of this position is to provide information to trail users and write citations if necessary, department’s spokeswoman Toni Droscher said.

“The main role would be to provide education,” Droscher said.

DNR also is getting $532,862 to develop the motorized trails, and $100,000 to help developed the non-motorized trails.

The department could get more funding with revenue from the newly created Discover Pass, which charges people for the use of recreational areas. DNR would get 8 percent of a projected revenue of $5.1 million* in two years, but it is still not clear how much would go to Reiter, Droscher said.

Meanwhile, several conservation groups have decided against challenging the results of the environmental study.

“We still have concerns but overall, the positive aspects outweigh the negatives,” Seattle-based lawyer Karl Forsgaard said.

Forsgaard was representing groups including Sierra Club, the Pilchuck Audubon Society and Friends of Wild Sky that had some issues with how motorized trail users would affect wildlife and streams.

Instead of challenging the decision, the groups plan to work with DNR in meetings and with field tours, Forsgaard said.

The next step for the project is to get permits from Snohomish County to continue with development and design the non-motorized trails.

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

* Correction, June 9, 2011: An earlier version of this story misstated the amount of projected revenue.

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