Winthrop-Twisp connector is popular idea
A recreational trail connecting Winthrop and Twisp emerged as the top “future priority” in a community outreach survey conducted by Methow Trails.
The survey was launched in October 2018 and was available for participants for six months. Nearly 1,500 people responded, about 48 percent of them from the Methow Valley and eastern Washington.
“The primary aim of the survey was to gauge community interest in a variety of potential future trail connections and gain insight into how Methow Trails’ projects are prioritized by trail users,” according to a Methow Trails press release.
Ongoing project priorities expressed in the survey were, No. 1, high-quality maintenance of existing winter trails; No. 2, expanded trail system with better community connections; and No. 3, high-quality maintenance of existing summer trails.
Asked to identify three desired future trail projects, more than 95 percent of the respondents chose a Winthrop-to-Twisp connection as their highest priority, in conjunction with local stakeholders. No. 2 was a year-round connection between Winthrop and Mazama; and No. 3 was a trail connection to the Methow Valley School District campus. According to Methow Trails, the second and third choices were virtually tied.
In informal community discussions, a connection with the schools has been cited as potentially being part of a Winthrop-Twisp recreational trail.
“The community support to see a trail connecting Winthrop and Twisp aligns with many of the priorities of Methow Trails,” according to the press release.
Methow Trails is in the early stages of looking at how feasible such a connection might be, given that it, like the existing trails system, would likely require easements over many private properties.
A Methow Trails board of directors committee, led by former U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Mike Liu, has been formed to focus on the project, according to the press release.
“The committee is currently considering potential trail alignments, surfacing options, funding sources, and partnerships,” the release said. “There are many potential routes for the trail, although Methow Trails is most interested in pursuing an alignment that would be of a grade and route accessible to most users, usable as a fairly direct corridor between the two towns, and one that would include access to the Methow Valley Elementary and Junior-Senior High Schools.”
The Methow Valley Trails Collaborative has endorsed the project, the release noted. Methow Trails said it will also seek endorsement for the project from the Winthrop and Twisp chambers of commerce this month.
For information or to get involved, contact Erika Halm, Methow Trails’ outreach and access manager, at email@example.com.
In June, Methow Trails announced it is pursuing the purchase of an 18.22-acre parcel in Winthrop that would eventually be used as the organization’s headquarters, consolidating its scattered locations around the valley.
The organization asked the Winthrop Town Council to annex the property. Currently, the land on Horizon Flats Road is entirely surrounded by the town.
Methow Trails Executive Director James DeSalvo said the organization would seek to have the parcel zoned B3, which allows office buildings, shops, parking lots, parks, exercise facilities and single-family dwellings, if the sale and annexation go through. Methow Trails would seek connections to the town’s water and sewer systems, DeSalvo said.
Methow Trails’ intent would be to move its headquarters to the site from the current leased location on Riverside Avenue, and to consolidate several other maintenance and storage facilities, DeSalvo said.
DeSalvo told the council that the decision to pursue the property was initiated by the Methow Trails board of directors in anticipation of future growth and facility needs. The property is well-situated for possible connections with the Susie Stephens Trail and Community Trail, DeSalvo said, and might also serve as “a potential puzzle piece” toward creating a long-envisioned trail connecting Twisp, Winthrop and the Methow Valley School District campus.
The organization has reserve funds on hand, generated over years of careful budgeting and frugal operations, to cover the cost of the purchase, he said.
Methow Trails, a 43-year-old nonprofit, maintains 120-plus miles of trail and is the largest cross-country ski trail system in North America.