New boundaries could include entire lake
Pearrygin Lake State Park could someday completely surround the lake, now that the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission approved an update to the long-term park boundaries.
The board unanimously backed the change, which would allow Washington State Parks to purchase land or a trail easement that’s currently in private hands, if the property owners are interested in selling. The commission held its Oct. 19 meeting at Sun Mountain Lodge.
There are three parcels on the north end of the lake that are not part of the park. Two are private parcels, and the third is owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), which has a boat launch that’s already used by the public.
The change aligns with the strategic goals for the 1,186-acre park, State Parks Planning & Real Estate Program Manager Nikki Fields told the commission. Before the long-term boundaries were changed, State Parks couldn’t take action or apply for grants to acquire the land, she said.
Acquiring land or an easement could allow the park to create a complete loop trail around the lake. Some people already do a loop, connecting existing trails by walking on Bear Creek Road, Fields said.
One of the private property owners has approached State Parks with interest in selling their land, about 24 acres that could otherwise be developed as homesites, Fields said.
The other private landowner is the Silverline Lakeside Resort. The former owners of Silverline had asked State Parks if they’d be interested in acquiring the land, but Parks wasn’t able to act on the offer because it wasn’t included in the boundaries, Fields said. Those owners sold Silverline to new private owners in November 2022.
Public supports expansion, horse trails
Several people provided written input before the meeting, most in favor of the new boundaries. A few were surprised to learn that their property was already included in the park’s potential footprint, Fields said.
Four Methow Valley residents provided comment at the meeting. Betty Wagoner spoke on behalf of the Methow Valley Back Country Horsemen (MVBCH). When the park revised its management plan about 15 years ago, it included trails for horseback riders, but there are still no equestrian trails in the park, she said. In addition to horse trails, MVBCH urged State Parks to provide parking areas large enough to accommodate horse trailers.
MVBCH member Mary McHugh also urged State Parks to fulfill the commitment to create horse trails, particularly since WDFW is considering closing much of the Methow Wildlife Area during the winter. Many U.S. Forest Service trails are inaccessible because the parking lots aren’t big enough for horse trailers, McHugh said.
Rick Lewis, who retired three years ago as park manager at Pearrygin, voiced his support for the expansion, which he said is consistent with current park plans. Acquiring more land would provide an immediate benefit by providing a safe trail around the lake. It would also protect water quality, Lewis said.
Responding to a question from a commissioner, Lewis confirmed that horse trails were included as a desired recreational activity in the management plan adopted during his time at the park, although horses are not currently allowed on any trails.
Leslie Mittendorf spoke on behalf of human-powered watercraft users, who often start at the WDFW boat launch for excursions on the lake. Kayakers and paddlers would someday like to have boat storage on one of the parcels, she said.
With the new boundaries, State Parks can apply for funding, most likely for a grant from the state Recreation and Conservation Office. Parks could potentially partner with a land-conservation organization to temporarily hold the property until they have the money to purchase it, Fields said.
The owners of the undeveloped land are apparently eager to sell, Fields said. The property hasn’t been appraised yet, but Fields estimated it at $1.5 to $1.8 million.
The commission is also awaiting a response from the Colville Tribes about Parks’ interest in acquiring the land, according to the commission.
Creating equestrian trails would require an environmental analysis and public input, agency Director Diana Dupuis said. She said she would talk with planning staff about the process for developing equestrian trails.