Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Reporter 

Whitman County Parks 2020 preview


January 9, 2020

The new year is set for Whitman County Parks, with a few new projects to start in 2020 and others carrying over from last year.

First, early in 2019, the Parks Department hired Northwest Management of Moscow to create a forest management plan for the three county parks with timber – Elberton, Klemgard and Wawawai.

The consultants did walk-throughs, along with park board members, and drafted a plan, in which Dave Mahan, Parks superintendent, gave input (the board, too), on the report of differing species, stand density, soil conditions, disease, insect damage and more.

The consultants were hired for recommendations mainly on forest health and vulnerability to fire.

Their work was completed and approved by the parks board last fall.

Also, to help cover the $6,700 cost, Whitman County Parks was approved last January for a $2,700 check from the state Department of Natural Resources which arrived Jan. 2.

In turn, the DNR also reviewed and approved the plan, with minor corrections.

In 2020, County Parks will put in some of the recommendations, including work already done thinning brush and chipping at Klemgard Park. The consultants recommended more of it.

For Elberton, Mahan said Parks will now look into finding a contractor to thin brush in parts of the 30 forested acres of the 80-acre park.

“If there’s a contractor interested in the work,” said Mahan.

It could not be done by County Parks?

“The type of work is better-suited to machinery,” Mahan said.

Mahan indicated he will check around this spring for interest from contractors, with plans to go to bid later in the year.

The Parks board had decided to focus on Elberton first, a less-populated park, before doing small-scale work at Klemgard and possibly some at Kamiak Butte, focused on fire safety.

“The biggest concern from the board is protection from fire,” said Mahan.

With 2019 complete, projects done in those 12 months included replacement of a trestle on the Colfax Trail and improving the crossing, hiring Palouse River Rock to re-gravel the entry road as well as creating a parking area. Trees were also trimmed and a culvert unplugged on the trail.

For Wawawai Park, the parks board last year approved $10,000 for a small play set with swings and one more element, from donated funds.

The proposal is now being reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers, which leases the park ground to Whitman County. Last summer, the Army Corps sent two archaeologists to dig three-foot test holes at Wawawai Park, near the picnic shelter, to check for culturally sensitive materials.

If approved, the play set would go in this spring. If not, the money would be used for another project.

Also for 2020, at Kamiak Butte roofs will be replaced on a bathroom building and a picnic shelter.

Laura Bloomfield, Kamiak Ranger and operations and trails coordinator for Kamiak and the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail, will also continue with a native plant garden she began last spring.

The parks department will again hire three full-time summer workers.

In other developments from 2019, the University of Idaho bowed out as one of the five partners which fund maintenance, operations and part of salaries for the Bill Chipman Palouse Trail. UI contributed $10,000 each year.

“They have thrown in the towel,” said Mahan.

The trail fund is healthy overall.

“It’s gonna be tough losing 20 percent, though,” Mahan said.

The other funding entities for the Chipman Trail are the City of Moscow, WSU, Whitman County and City of Pullman.


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