Is Lord Hill Park plan leaving out equestrians?

I have been riding horses on the trails at Lord Hill Regional Park since before it became a county park and was Department of Natural Resources land, and I have serious concerns about the future for equestrians in this park.

First, the final version of the “preferred” plan for Lord Hill had many surprises, since it was vastly different from the previous versions we’ve seen over the past six years! Equestrians were assured of involvement in developing the final preferred plan but that did not happen — although mountain bike representatives did have input between the previous and final versions — and there were major changes.

The most distressing is the proposed loss of the beautiful equestrian parking lot that was created for us. It has room for at least 12 trucks and trailers, easy access and a large area that novice haulers are able to negotiate. Current plans are to move equestrians to the upper lot, create only half of the parking area on a side hill (which is unsafe for horses) and will require great skills to back rigs into limited spaces, which don’t appear to allow any area between rigs for tying horses while saddling.

When I learned of this planned move at a meeting, I asked if we would have the same number of trailer parking available and if it would be flat. Both answers by the parks director at the time were a resounding “yes.” I also heard assurance that the high speed bike trails and features would be removed or revised to reestablish the slow nature of the park. The final plan does not address this issue. In addition, several previously approved plans for trails that were included in the November 2021 plan were omitted from the current preferred plan, including Sunrise, Bald Pond and Cedar Grove.

Second, why is volunteer trail work still on hold when we were assured a plan would be in place by May 1, 2022, then, when that didn’t happen, were told it would for sure be ready by the end of June. There is still no volunteer plan in place so trails are becoming overgrown and some will soon become impassable! Although it was observed that a bike volunteer was working with a park ranger during this most recent supposed moratorium on volunteer trail work parties. Historically, since the park was created, 90 percent of the trail maintenance at Lord Hill has been provided by volunteers! It is very sad that county parks is now not trusting volunteers to provide this vital service.

Third, why are Lord Hill Advocates still not approved to provide their equipment, time and money for maintenance at Lord Hill? They are licensed, insured and eager to help, yet they have been working for years for the county to approve their involvement in this wonderful park. They could be an incredible asset!

I’ve been a part of many meetings with various (and ever-changing) park officials and been assured repeatedly that Lord Hill would always be an equestrian park. We’ve been given so many assurances over many years that it would be a safe, slow, natural park, but I am disappointed in the direction the parks department is taking and wonder what and whom I can believe!

Pat Pehling

Snohomish

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