Lord Hill Park plan escrows user groups
A space for hikers. A space for riders. A space for mountain bikers.
Snohomish County Parks’ solution to reducing potential conflicts in Lord Hill Regional Park is to allocate areas based on certain users.
In the county’s preferred draft plan, released last week, a few trails would be marked only for cyclists in the northwest, only for horse riders and hikers in the eastern part of the park, and only for hikers in the south and the west. Most of the trails would be open to all users, and the central Pipeline trail system would act as a north-south route.
Using zones is not the only idea suggested by park planners to reduce potential collisions. One idea adds tight barriers before trail intersections at the base of mountain bike trails to force approaching cyclists and runners to slow down, park planner Emily Griffith said. A gate like this is currently on the Springboard Trail before it intersects with the Westview Trail.
Another slowing down tactic is diverting people through small, tight loops in the trail that require careful driving before arriving at uncontrolled trail intersections.
A fourth idea builds two separate entrances at the northern entrance to the park: one for riders and an ADA accessible entrance for hikers and cyclists.
People’s reactions were overwhelmingly positive at last week’s meeting where he was presented. Over 150 people attended and over 50 park users spoke.
A shortcut to view the zoning map online is www.tinyurl.com/LordHillPlan
It designates 11.4 miles of trails for all users, 8 miles for hikers only, 2.6 miles for cyclists only, and 6.3 miles for hikers and riders.
âThe preferred plan is a really good mix to keep access viable,â said Mike Niland, multi-user of the park.
The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance supports the zoning idea, said Kelly Armstrong, member of the alliance’s board of directors. Its president, Yvonne Kraus, called the
card “as balanced as possible”.
A few commentators longed for simpler times just five to ten years ago, before Lord Hill became a regional attraction for mountain bikes.
Bicycles have changed the atmosphere of the park, these commentators complain. Bicycles shouldn’t even be allowed to take Lord Hill back to “a walk in the woods,” said Daniel Sloan, an experienced mountain biker.
But Lord Hill offers one of the few outdoor trail systems suitable for beginners and intermediate riders to develop their skills, speakers such as the Snohomish Student Mountain Bike Team coach have said.
Many who spoke at the meeting said incidents are rare and they have never experienced any negative interaction on the trails. The few who did, however, said people needed to be better informed on how to use the trails with multiple types of users. Equestrian riders are particularly sensitive to fear of their horses.
âI think horses and bikes can coexist if there is training and education,â said Marika Saarinen. “We really need people to understand that horses are prey and can be a little squirrel.”
The county parks department is asking people to complete a survey responding to the suggestions. A link to the survey is also www.tinyurl.com/LordHillPlan
The Parks Department is working with a Seattle-based consulting firm to develop this plan.
Another round of stakeholder meetings is scheduled for February or March, and the county wants to finalize the preferred plan by June 2022.
In addition, there are preliminary discussions on expanding the north parking lot to accommodate more cars. When parking spaces fill up, people park on grass and areas of drainage ditches, said consulting landscape architect Tanja Wilcox.
The parks department uses the preferred plan method, which does not require county council participation or approval, as a less bureaucratic standard procedure, Griffith said. He doesn’t have to use the Master Plan method, which involves elected officials in the final decisions, Griffith said.
Trail improvement efforts can be coordinated with Tony Trofimczuk, County Parks Recreation Supervisor, at [email protected] or 425-388-6604.
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