Klickitat County Trails Plan Seeks Input from Local Residents
Local trails plan to connect the Lyle Cherry Orchard Trail to the town of Lyle is seeking input from Klickitat County residents.
There is an exciting effort underway to improve hiking opportunities near the city of Lyle in Klickitat County. Associated with the Gorge Towns to Trails project spearheaded by Friends of the Columbia River Gorge. Known as GT2T, the project aims to develop a comprehensive trails plan that would better link trails to Gorge communities to meet the growing popularity of trails in the Gorge, generate tourism revenue, and improve access to trails for local residents.
A plan to link town to trail
The idea to link the Cherry Orchard Trail to the town of Lyle initially garnered support from the School Board and the Lyle Community Action Council who have since reversed their decision. Yet a recent public meeting in the town elicited some unexpectedly fervent concerns. Those opposed to new trail developments worry about property owners' rights, maintenance costs, unlawful activities, and the potential loss of tax revenue. Many also felt that the Friends were imposing a plan on local communities without considering their input.
Residents encouraged to provide feedback
In fact, the trails planning effort in Lyle is being facilitated by the National Parks Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program and has involved many local organizations from the beginning. The Lyle Community Trail System Planning Team created a survey specifically to gather input from local residents.
The benefits of a nearby trail
Trail proponents know that hiking trails can offer communities a wide range of benefits, from tourism dollars to easy-access health opportunities for community members.
The Klickitat Trail Conservancy recently issued a statement describing the economic benefits that trails bring to the community including tourism dollars, funds raised by the annual Klickitat Half Marathon, the many hours that volunteers contribute to the maintenance of the Klickitat Trail and the thousands of dollars in taxes paid annually by Friends of the Gorge on the property their land trust owns.
Similarly, there were some local trail proponents who spoke up at the open house for the health and wellness benefits that a trail link to the town could bring.
Washington Trails Association supports the GT2T project and hopes that the stakeholders are able to build trust through the process and ultimately create better hiking trails for all.