Washington seeks plan for 1,000 miles of recreation trails

Perhaps you’ve heard of the war between cars and bicycles in Seattle, WA. Another battle is being waged on recreation trails across the state.

If you’ve ever been startled by a speeding mountain bike while hiking or angered about a trail rutted by horse hooves or off-roaders, you have a chance to do something about it. The state is developing a trail policy that could reduce what’s known as “trail conflict.”

An easy fix would be simply separating users or restricting trail use to one group or another. “The downside to separating uses is that each specific use then gets less trail built for them, but when we can put them all together, we end up with more trails for a larger group of users, but possibly more conflict. We’re just trying to figure out what the balance is for the public,” said Brock Milliern, recreation program director for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

User conflict is just one issue. The trail policy process is about a lot more than that. The policy will also establish rules for a coordinated approach to planning, building, and maintaining trails, based on trail standards used by the U.S. Forest Service, with emphasis on environmental protection.

“As DNR-managed areas get closer and closer to urban areas, as population grows, we get more pressure for the land. People love coming out on DNR-managed lands. There can never be enough trails, so we’re trying to figure out how to work best with folks who do that,” Milliern explained.

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