Expansion of Alpine Skiing at Mount Spokane

… is being considered by the State Parks Commission.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will consider a proposal to expand alpine skiing at Mount Spokane State Park at its regular meeting next week in Spokane.

The regular meeting will begin with public comment on various options at Mount Spokane, from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at Spokane Falls Community College, 3410 W. Fort George Wright Drive, Spokane. The regular meeting will be reconvened at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 19, at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, and the Mount Spokane agenda item will be taken up beginning with additional public comment beginning at 9:15 a.m. At 10:15 a.m., the Commission will end the public comment time and consider the item for action.
Public comment for new and ongoing issues not on the regular meeting agenda will be offered after the Mount Spokane item later in the meeting. A full Commission meeting agenda is available online at parks.wa.gov/agency/commissionmeetings.

Mount Spokane State Park is the largest park in the state system, with approximately 14,000 acres. Within the park the Commission has authorized an existing alpine ski area known as the Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park to be operated under a concession agreement with a Spokane-area non-profit organization known as Mount Spokane 2000. The area under agreement to Mount Spokane 2000 for the ski and snowboard park comprises 1,425 acres, about 10 percent of the park.
As part of its October 1999 land classification action for Mount Spokane State Park, the Commission had left unclassified an 850-acre portion of the park known as the Potential Alpine Ski Expansion Area (PASEA), covered by the current ski area concession agreement. In 2006, Mount Spokane 2000 proposed to the Commission to expand alpine skiing into approximately 400 acres of the PASEA.
In response to this proposal, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission requested additional information on potential impacts of expanding alpine skiing into the PASEA, which is primarily undeveloped forest land. Additionally, the Commission considered and adopted Mount Spokane State Park Facilities Master Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for the remainder of the park. Mount Spokane 2000 submitted its conceptual plan and environmental information to the Commission in December, 2010.
In response, State Parks staff has developed four options, ranging from closing the PASEA to alpine skiing, developing the PASEA for alpine skiing and a status quo option that allows alpine skiing to continue without any new development. The Commission will hear public testimony on the options Wednesday evening and in the morning May 19, prior to considering a decision.
In other business, the Commission will consider authorizing disposal of the former State Parks Puget Sound Region Office property in Auburn by direct sale to the City of Auburn for $795,000, less a 35 percent discount to reflect the public benefit of keeping the property in a public recreational use. If the sale is not completed by Sept. 1, the Commission may authorize the property to be sold at public auction for not less than $795,000. The agency closed the Puget Sound Region Office in 2009 as the result of budget reductions and since has determined that the property cannot be advantageously used for park purposes.
Other agenda items include the Commission’s consideration of additional property and perpetual easement issues:

· A property exchange that would result in the transfer of 2.3-acre Skating Lake property on Long Beach Peninsula to State Parks in return for rent relief associated with a concession, to benefit both parties.
· A perpetual easement to the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe for restoration of an eroded sandbar within the Seashore Conservation Area near the town of Tokeland in Pacific County.
· A perpetual easement at Saint Edward State Park to the City of Kenmore so the city can install and maintain a new traffic signal.

The Commission also will hear reports on the 2010 Volunteer Program; 2012 regular meeting schedule for the Commission; WAC revisions and the possibility of changing residency requirements for pass programs; 2012 agency request legislation; and 2009-11 capital program updates.
Commission work session: A Commission work session is scheduled from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at CenterPlace, 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, Work sessions are open to the public, however no public testimony is heard and no formal action taken. Work session topics include Columbia Plateau Trail update; forest health; budget update; transformation and revenue task force; Discover Pass; meeting logistics and commissioner items.

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