Inlander.com - Full Article
Why the John Wayne Pioneer Trail is worth saving
October 29 2015
By Scott A. Leadingham
John Wayne isn't just a movie star. He's a pioneer. In Washington state, he lends his name to an incredible amenity that makes the Evergreen State envied in the rest of the country. The John Wayne Pioneer Trail is, as far as anyone can tell, the nation's longest rail trail.
Now two state representatives — Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, and Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy — prompted by concerns of adjacent landowners, want to ditch the trail through Eastern Washington.
Not to be hyperbolic, but that would be a tragedy.
Spokane and North Idaho residents will recognize the former rail line, called the Milwaukee Road, as the Route of the Hiawatha, the popular bike path that straddles the Montana-Idaho border. If you drive from Spokane to Seattle along I-90, you'll begin seeing signs for John Wayne Trail Access and Iron Horse State Park west of Ellensburg.
While the western section from Ellensburg to North Bend is well maintained, with good access points and restrooms, the eastern portion from the Columbia River to the Idaho border is largely unimproved, with numerous missing trestles. It's used mostly by horse riders and hearty mountain bikers. Many areas are unmarked and largely forgotten by the Washington State Parks and Department of Natural Resources, which jointly oversee the John Wayne Trail...
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