Trail Coalition meeting draws record crowd

Mt. Baker District Scout Executive Gary Larson and Snohomish County Parks Ranger Kathryn Watanabe recruit adult volunteers to help supervise Boy Scouts working on the Centennial Trail May 2. - Sarah Arney
Mt. Baker District Scout Executive Gary Larson and Snohomish County Parks Ranger Kathryn Watanabe recruit adult volunteers to help supervise Boy Scouts working on the Centennial Trail May 2.
— image credit: Sarah Arney

ARLINGTON — A bigger than average crowd arrived at the community room at the Boys & Girls Club March 16 for the quarterly meeting of the Trail Coalition of Snohomish County.

“We were called the Arlington-Snohomish Trail Coalition but in case you haven’t noticed we are now expanding beyond Arlington,” said the chairperson of the coalition, Bea Randall.

The extraordinary turnout was largely attributed to the county’s recent brushing of the Whitehorse Trail from Arlington to Darrington, but there were also people who live along Centennial Trail Phase Two from Arlington to the Skagit County line.

“As soon as we deck Haller Bridge for the Centennial Trail, then the first section of the Whitehorse will be open,” said the director of Snohomish County Parks, Tom Teigen.

Teigen was on a mission to get support from the neighbors who live along the former railroad routes.

“I am thinking the new faces out there are from the Whitehorse Trail?” Teigen asked the group.

A representative on behalf of the Whitehorse Trail on the Trail Coalition Board of Directors, Julie Kirschenbaum reported that she walked the trail from Trafton to Cicero and talked with some of the neighbors.

“Some people were not so happy, but others were glad about the brushing,” Kirschenbaum told the officials.

“The brushing is a matter of routine trail maintenance,” said senior planner Marc Krandel.

“The trail is not officially open to the public,” he explained, adding that they were also examining the condition of the trail and its ballast.

“We need to know what it looks like so we can start planning,” Teigen said. He said that there is no funding for decking the 13 bridges between Arlington and Darrington.

“That trail is a ways out,” he said. “We really don’t want people on those bridges. It’s a beautiful corridor that will be a major component of our park system in 30 years,” Teigen said.

The “Tin Bridge” below Trafton is decked, however, making it possible to open the first section of the trail as soon as the Centennial Trail north is completed.

Phase two, from Arlington to the Skagit County line, received some assistance from elected officials U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen and County Councilman John Koster recently, Teigen said.

“Thanks to your phone calls, the elected officials called the Corps of Engineers and it looks like things are moving again,” Teigen said. The parks department was waiting for permits from the Corps in order to move forward and finish construction of phase two. Phase two is funded, but there was some concern that if the money wasn’t spent soon, it might be lost. Krandel said that phase two is ready to go out to bid as soon as the permits are in place.

“It’s a good time for construction,” Teigen said. “Prices are down and competition is high.”

One of the challenges in phase two is the crossing on SR 9, north of Bryant, and their solution is to make a trailhead and parking area on the west side of SR 9, north of the Bryant Store. Another trailhead is planned at the historical Weeda farm just south of the Skagit County line, where equestrians will be encouraged to park their horse trailers.

Teigen also mentioned “The Gap” between the 152nd Street trail head and 172nd Street, acknowledging that coalition members and trail users have made it clear that it is a high priority, but they have not found a solution for crossing the wetlands there.

Call for volunteers for May 2 work party

Following the parks’ top officials, Park Ranger Kathryn Watanabe and a representative from the Boy Scouts, Gary Larson presented information about a Boy Scout work party set for May 2, with a need for adult volunteers to help. The Scouts have volunteered to spend a day doing maintenance projects like cutting back blackberries on the finished portion of the Centennial Trail from Snohomish to Arlington.

“We have detailed instructions on what needs to be done in each section that will guide the adult volunteers,” Watanabe said.

Randall reported later that she has seven volunteers lined up but she still needs more.

“We’ve got Scouts coming from all over,” Randall said.

Anyone who wants to help should call Randall at 360-435-3892.

“Volunteers need to sign a release of liability for Snohomish County and submit it several days ahead of time because they are doing background checks,” Randall said, adding that volunteers are welcome to pick the portion of their trail in their own neighborhood.

“This is your trail, and with our tight budget we really appreciate any help we can get,” Watanabe said, noting that trail users documented 21,830 hours of volunteer time last year.

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