OLYMPIA – The Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) today announced the award of a $75,000 grant to help rebuild part of a trail wiped out by the Oso mud slide.
The 27-mile Whitehorse Trail is a key east-west trail that connects with the 42-mile Centennial Trail, which runs from the Skagit County line in the north all the way to the King County line in the south. Combined, these trails represent 69 miles of unbroken, regional trails that connect into hundreds of miles of additional trails.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done to help the Oso community recover from the devastating slide,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “This is just another step the state is taking to help rebuild and restart the community. Restoring recreational opportunities and community connections will help us all heal.”
Snohomish County will use the grant to resurface 3 miles of the Whitehorse Trail, a 27-mile trail built on the former Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad corridor that stretches from Arlington to Darrington. The grant will pay to resurface the area from Arlington to Trafton. The work is part of a larger, $200,000 effort to resurface 3.5 miles of the trail.
“The Whitehorse Trail is a great recreational resource for people from Snohomish County and beyond,” said Kaleen Cottingham, RCO’s director. “We are glad that we can be a part of rebuilding a community that has lost so much.”
The County has been clearing the trail this summer using a portion of a $2.8 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to WorkSource to hire long-term, unemployed people in the Stillaguamish Valley. The County is pulling together funding from multiple sources to rebuild and improve this popular trail. The County received a Disaster Declaration from President Barack Obama and is working with FEMA on a $589,000 appropriation. The County also has applied to the Washington State Department of Transportation for a $1.8 million bicycle and pedestrian grant. A private donation of $301,000 is funding the decking, railings and upgrades to 14 bridge crossings on the trail.
“It’s a big project with folks coming together to open this key trail,” said Tom Teigen, director of the Snohomish County Parks and Recreation Department. “There are multiple state, county and federal agencies contributing as well as private and corporate donors. By working together we share the cost of building these significant public assets.”
Funding for the RCO grant comes from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.
“It’s great that RCO is one of our key funding partners,” Teigen said. “RCO has committed more than $13 million in funding during the past 25 years for the acquisition and development of open space, parks and regional trails in Snohomish County.”
In March, a hillside 4 miles east of the community of Oso collapsed, sending mud and debris across the North Fork Stillaguamish River, burying a neighborhood and killing 43 people. The slide also buried 1 mile of the Whitehorse Trail.To see more details and photographs of the project, visit RCO’s Project Search.