Public hearing and regular meeting set for Spokane next week
OLYMPIA – Nov. 12, 2014 – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will consider action on park land classifications and proposed ski area expansion at Mount Spokane State Park at its regular meeting next week.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, in the Spokane City Hall Council Chambers, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., Spokane. A full Commission meeting agenda is available online at www.parks.wa.gov/agency/commissionmeetings/.
The Mount Spokane item on the Commission agenda includes two separate considerations. The first is the Commission’s land use classification of a portion of Mount Spokane State Park known as the Potential Alpine Ski Expansion Area (PASEA). Depending on the outcome of the classification decision, a second requested action asks the Commission to consider a proposal from the park concessionaire, Mount Spokane 2000, to expand alpine skiing and associated improvements into the PASEA.
The Commission previously scheduled and announced a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at the Center Place Recreation Center, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane, specifically to hear public comment on the item prior to making a decision at the regular meeting Nov. 20. The Commission will take no further public comment on Mount Spokane at the regular meeting Thursday; however, there will be opportunity for public comment on other State Parks issues.
Mount Spokane State Park comprises more than 13,000 acres and is the largest park in the state system. Mount Spokane has a long history as a ski destination with the first ski amenities in place beginning in the 1930s. For years, the Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park has operated under a concession agreement with a Spokane-area non-profit organization known as Mount Spokane 2000 (MS 2000). The area under agreement with MS 2000 encompasses 1,425 acres.
In 1999, the Commission adopted land classifications for the park, but left unclassified at the time was the 800-acre portion of the park known as the PASEA. The decision currently before the Commission is to determine the balance between competing values of recreation use and resource conservation in the PASEA—a balance that reflects the mission of Washington State Parks.
As part of the Environmental Impact Statement for the area, State Parks staff developed four land classification alternatives for consideration, including an EIS-required “no action” alternative that would leave the land unclassified and therefore under continued management as a de-facto Natural Forest Area. The other alternatives include different mixes of protection and recreation. At one end of the spectrum is a heavy focus on protection with only historic recreation uses allowed in some areas. At the other end of the spectrum, the PASEA would be divided into three land classifications to allow expansion of the developed ski area, runs and chairlift facilities, while providing heightened protection to significant natural features and systems within the PASEA.
In other business, the Commission will consider authorizing the transfer of approximately 20 acres of the State Parks-owned Helen McCabe property to Kittitas County for development of an interpretive center on the site. The requested action to transfer is in keeping with a long-term plan to develop an interpretive opportunity for tourists and travelers as they enter the adjacent Yakima Canyon Scenic Highway, a corridor established by the 1964 legislature. Non-profit organizations, along with the Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN), have secured grant funding for Kittitas County to oversee development of the center that KEEN would operate once the project is completed.
The Commission will hear several reports. These include the Winter Recreation Program, Capital Construction Program, and a report on a final ranked list of projects in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.
Work session: A Commission work session is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, in the Spokane City Hall Council Chambers. Work sessions are educational in nature and are open to the public, however, no time is scheduled for public testimony, and the Commission takes no formal action at work sessions.
Work session topics include a financial update; legislative update; backlog repairs and enhanced amenities; real estate management policy; update on Saint Edward seminary; and an agency cultural heritage initiative.
Commission tour: Commission members and staff will gather at 7:45 a.m. Friday, Nov. 21, to tour Selkirk Lodge and the Mount Spokane back country. The tour for Commissioners is arranged and hosted by the Spokane Winter Knights Snowmobile Club and Spokane Nordic Ski Club.
About Washington State ParksThe Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.
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Media contacts: Virginia Painter: (360) 902-8562Toni Droscher (360) 902-8604Wash. Telecommunications Relay Service: (800) 833-6388