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Trails from 'A to Z': A Gateway to Recreation in the Colville National Forest

13 | Mar | '19
Rick Brown

There is a new opportunity for increasing and improving mountain biking in Washington State, and your help is needed to make it happen.

The Evergreen East Chapter has been working with the city of Chewelah and other partners to establish the gateway to recreation in the Colville National Forest. The Chewelah “A to Z” project encompasses nearly 80,000 acres in the forest, and the project leaders are looking for your input to shape the final scope.

Chewelah, a small town in Stevens County, Washington– about an hour north of Spokane– is home to the popular 49 Degrees North Ski area and is surrounded by nearly unlimited recreation potential. Chewelah is perfectly positioned to be this gateway.

“A to Z describes the forward thinking approach to forest management that has been developed within the Colville National Forest,” says Rick Brown, an Evergreen East chapter member and active participant in the process.

Brown believes this new way of looking at land management has the potential to change the way forest management is handled on a national scale.

 

“It is a holistic approach to managing forest health that creates partnerships with communities, forestry contractors, and the US Forest Service, where the needs to protect the forest and providing for recreation are considered.”

–Rick Brown

 

The first project of this type took place on approximately 54,000 acres in the northern region of the Colville Forest, known as Mill Creek. While recreation was just a small portion of that project, there was extra care taken with existing trails and recreation. It was key that the forestry project work in harmony with the preservation of existing recreation opportunities in the area.

In the summer of 2018, planning for Eastern Washington’s second A to Z Project began, launching a broad scale recreation outreach effort in the area surrounding Chewelah.

“This has created a spark within the community,” Rick says. “It quickly became apparent that there was an opportunity to bring a lot of passionate people to the table.”

This new project offers an opportunity to develop a framework that would not only bring more recreation to the area, but could create a template for the way diverse groups can work together to make it happen.

The Chewelah Area Recreation Planning Effort (C.A.R.P.E.) coalesced as an early result of the “A to Z” project, sparking conversations between multiple groups. Contracted A to Z planning staff, the Tri County Economic Development District, Northeast Washington Sustainable Tourism & Recreation Team, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, local businesses and residents are all being given the opportunity to weigh in.

Here’s where you come into play.

The next step in C.A.R.P.E.’s plan is to gather information, from the local community and area youth, as well as from individuals who may visit the area. The goal is to determine where recreation interests lie in the area.

A survey has been created (see below), and is currently available to anyone interested in contributing their thoughts or desires for the area.

 

TAKE SURVEY

 

The formation of C.A.R.P.E. has brought together an incredibly diverse group of user groups.

Around the table at a typical meeting you’ll likely find spokespeople from the USFS and BLM, Tribal representatives, the Mayor, Chamber of Commerce members, horsemen and women, motorized vehicle (UTV, motorcycle, and 4x4) group members, hikers, historians, disc golfers, local business owners, skiers and snowboarders, and, of course, mountain bikers.

The State of Washington, and the nation, are watching as well. There have been visits from senators and members of congress, along with their staffs, and they’ve presented what’s been happening here to their counterparts in D.C.

The information gathered from this public survey could have a huge impact on where recreation efforts are focused and what types of recreation projects get the highest priority in this project.

Please make sure your voice is part of this important conversation. The survey will be open until April 1, 2019.

Speak up for mountain biking and help make Washington the best place to ride!

Click HERE to take the C.A.R.P.E. survey.

 

-Rick

Rick Brown

Evergreen East Member