Heres some good news for the folks in Washington state
Published: Thursday, January 19, 2006
Off-roaders cheer council rules
Snohomish County would allow some new trails to be laid out on private forestland.
By Jeff Switzer
EVERETT - Dirt bikers and off-roaders cheered Wednesday after the Snohomish County Council approved new rules allowing private riding trails to be built on some forestlands.
Dads, accountants, attorneys, motorcycle shop owners and several off-road club presidents from here and Pierce and King counties lobbied for the rules during a hearing Wednesday.
They argued that the sport was being squeezed off public lands, and families faced unsafe crowding on the few trails that remain.
"Having a legal riding area is very important to families," said Brian Orton, a Woodinville off-road enthusiast.
The legislation passed 4-0. County Councilman Dave Gossett was absent.
County Council Chairman Kirke Sievers said the proposal was a good one.
"It's setting the groundwork for future parks," he said.
The proposed rules would allow developers to apply to build trails on private forest properties 20 acres or larger that are at least 250 feet from homes, schools, hospitals, sanitariums, churches and bed and breakfast inns.
The county considered a 2,000-foot buffer, but County Councilman John Koster won support to slice it to 250 feet.
The move is a long time coming, and shows a new level of the county's political commitment to riders, said Mike Liebold, co-owner of Everett Powersports, a motorcycle and off-road-vehicle dealer.
"We're seeing leadership in government," Liebold said.
Snohomish County has the second-highest number of registered ATV and off-road motorcycle owners in the state, according to the Department of Licensing. Of 99,236 registered statewide in 2004, King County has the most with 18,675, followed by Snohomish County with 10,718.
Until a developer comes forward, the county's only semi-sanctioned riding area is Reiter Trails on state Department of Natural Resources land near Gold Bar. The nearest official riding area is Walker Valley in Skagit County, also on DNR land.
Reiter Trails can be developed for motorized riding trails as a public park under county rules, a point clarified in the adopted legislation.
Discussions with the state over financing and managing such a facility are under way, County Executive Aaron Reardon said.
In the meantime, the county's rules "help the private sector move forward to create facilities families can enjoy," Reardon said. Reporter Jeff Switzer: 425-339-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org