Do you love trails, lakes and parks? Do you have ideas about how to enhance recreation in Okanogan County?
Okanogan County is working on the first revision of its outdoor recreation plan since 2004. The plan contains an inventory and description of existing public recreation facilities and opportunities, goals and objectives, and an analysis of recreation needs and ways to meet those needs.
Okanogan County residents and visitors place a very high value on outdoor recreation and want new and/or improved recreational facilities that support that lifestyle and the county’s economy, according to the executive summary of the plan.
Demand for recreation has been growing, in particular for trails. Methow Trails has seen an annual 10% increase in user days over the past 10 years. People have expressed interest in more trails in the Okanogan Valley and desire improvements to existing trails, such as the conversion of the old rail bed along the Similkameen River near Oroville.
People also want improvements to the county’s snowmobile-grooming program.
The intent of the rec plan is to provide a foundation for working with local organizations, cities, towns, and the state and federal governments on long-range recreation planning, maintenance of existing facilities and development of new facilities.
The plan doesn’t specifically address all outdoor recreation needs on public lands, but focuses on projects that connect to existing and proposed projects. The plan also looks at cultural and historic sites and community events.
A high priority is to maintain and enhance existing projects and those already underway, including grooming winter trails and continued cooperation on developing motorized and non-motorized year-round trails in the Methow Valley and north county.
The plan recommends a detailed inventory of trails, outdoor and indoor recreational facilities, highway right-of-way opportunities (for improved recreational safety), and potential river and lake access points.
As part of the update process, the county conducted a survey of recreation needs in 2012. That may need to be updated because of changes to the landscape from large wildfires. The survey results are included in an appendix to the plan.
The plan recommends ongoing citizen participation through an advisory body.
The recreation plan will be incorporated in the county’s comprehensive plan, which is also undergoing a revision.
Okanogan County Planning Director Stephanie “Pete” Palmer has determined that the revised rec plan won’t have a significant impact on the environment.
The county planning commission is holding a public hearing on the plan on Monday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. The hearing will be held remotely using Webex (the link will be on the Planning Department website). People can testify at the hearing or submit written comments by the hearing date to Palmer at email@example.com.
A copy of the plan and the environmental review are available on the Planning Department website at http://www.okanogancounty.org/planning from Palmer at (509) 422-7218 or the email above.