5. TRANSFER OF BIG ROCK CLIMBING AREA TO THE DISHMAN HILLS NATURAL ASSOCIATION. In a year that a had several significant conservation wins this transaction stands out because it was completely private—no public money involved—and because the biggest benefit from the acquisition goes to local rock climbers, who have accessed Big Rock/Rocks of Sharon for years but now can do it legally. A great climbing spot is preserved for the ages.

4. THE YMCA/CONSERVATION FUTURES PROPERTY CONTROVERSY. The Spokane County Conservation Futures program is extremely popular, winning a big majority in its last reauthorization vote in 2007. It raises about 1.5 million dollars a year from property taxes to fund the purchase of land for recreation, wildlife habitat, and ecosystem preservation. The question here is whether three year’s worth of funds should be diverted to buy just 40,000 square feet of land in Riverfront Park where a mid-century modern building will need to be demolished in order to meet the funds open space requirements. Is this space really worth $200 a square foot when the Great Gorge Park conservation area plan sits languishing without funding just a 1000 yards downstream?

3. SPOKANE: CROSS COUNTRY MECCA. In late 2008 The North Central Boys Cross Country running team stunned everyone by winning the Nike Nationals in Oregon. This year Ferris High School came in 2nd NC was 7th. In addition Bloomsday had a great year despite the down economy. Active4Youth brought cross country running back to Spokane area grade schools with terrific results.

2. BIKE BELONG. Spokane adopted a Master Bike Plan. Coeur d’Alene opened a new urban trail. Stimulus funds help push forward the Iron Bridge bike/pedestrian connection, the Fish Lake Trail, the 5-Mile bike lane, and downtown Spokane bike improvements. Spokane showed an 11% reduction in single occupancy vehicle trips (while STA ridership was flat) and Spokane Bike to Work and Spokefest had great years for participation.

1. SENIORS ON EVEREST. For a brief moment Spokane had the distinction of being the hometown for oldest American man and woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. Congratulation Dawes Eddy and Kay LeClaire.

Top story runners-up go to the record snowfall and the great spring run-off and resulting whitewater—and the successful hosting of the National Veteran Wheelchair Games—which cemented Spokane’s reputation as a top-notch venue for national sporting events. National Trail Running Championships are up next.