Rafters enjoy a sunny day riding the spring melt through Boulder Drop on the Skykomish river near Index. A countywide effort is underway to promote and enhance water trails to the Skykomish, Snohomish and Snoqualamie rivers. (Michael O’Leary / Herald file)

Towns work to blaze a water trail along Skykomish River

SULTAN — Planners are seeking ideas to liven up downtown Sultan and Monroe and better connect them to the Skykomish River.

As part of a countywide effort to promote tourism in rural communities, relying on the natural assets of Snohomish County, officials have been working to enhance and promote water trails. One of the major projects, the Sky to Sound Water Trail, spans parts of the Skykomish, Snoqualmie and Snohomish rivers.

A grant through the National Park Service is helping with the work. The park service and the American Society of Landscape Architects have provided free design workshops for a number of areas. There have been 14 such projects in Washington over the past 18 years, and 70 nationwide.

An open house is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Mountainview Christian Fellowship, 211 Sixth St. in Sultan.

During the open house, landscape architects and planners want to learn about the kinds of connections that exist, and what is still needed, between Monroe, Sultan and the river, Snohomish County parks director Tom Teigen said.

Groups such as Forterra, American Whitewater and the Washington Trails Association have been involved, along with city staff and volunteers. People are invited to weigh in on what they value about their rivers and towns, and what they would like to see done so more can enjoy the water without sacrificing the environment or the culture and history of the area. Local Indian tribes have shared in the discussion of the historic and cultural significance of local waterways, Teigen said.

The open house includes a chance to review recommendations from a team of volunteers, city officials, landscape architects and habitat experts. The ideas came together during previous workshops. There also have been meetings between riverfront property owners and law enforcement agencies to talk about concerns with public use and safety.

Among the open house topics are: environmental impacts of tourism on the river; the need for pedestrian routes and signs to guide people from downtown to the water; and what work needs to be done to improve access along the Skykomish.

“It’s a long process. Nothing’s being decided over the weekend,” Teigen said. “What we’re talking about is getting all of the information we need to get, and talking to all of our groups.”

Those interested in attending the open house should RSVP to Trudy.Soriano@snoco.org.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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