56-acre Tri-Cities park nearly ready for hikers, with just one piece missingChris Lindhartsen
One of the most scenic views of the Tri-Cities will have more public access if the final pieces of a trail project fall into place.
The Friends of Badger Mountain are working to buy a parcel to connect the popular hiking trails across the four local ridges of Little Badger, Badger, Candy and Red mountains.
The group, which began as a grassroots effort 18 years ago, needs just 20 acres to create Little Badger Mountain Preserve — the third park that the group has helped establish.
“It will have the nicest views of all of the city of Richland,“ the group’s president Marc Spinner told the Herald.
“Cities and regions realize the more hiking trails there are, the more it adds to economy and community growth and health. It is a big drawing point,” he said.
Spinner said the Friends of Badger Mountain has an agreement with the land owner to buy the property by the end of the year for $1.5 million.
The group has raised all but $600,000 — and is launching a public fundraising campaign to get the rest by the end of the year.
“If we don’t do anything, and we don’t put anything in there — it will be overrun with houses,” Spinner said.
The group first created the Badger Mountain preserve in 2005. It was followed by Candy Mountain in 2016.
And now there is a network of 10 miles of trails over 900 acres. More than 300,000 people used those trails in 2019.
The trails will follow the ridges up to the summit of Little Badger, which will also have a parking lot and playground.
The new Little Badger trails will be multi-use — allowing hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. It will span from the eastern boundary of Badger Mountain to Queensgate Drive.
The group’s goal is to have a continuous system that also includes a stretch over Red Mountain.
MAKING IT HAPPEN
Project manager David Comstock, who has been instrumental in moving the project forward, said the first section of the trail will be done this spring.
While Comstock has been working behind the scenes since 2017 to make the park a reality, the group was able to take action starting in 2019 with the first land acquisition.
The same year, the Washington Legislature allotted $450,000 from the 2019-21 capital budget to put toward the project.
Spinner said that the goal is to complete the entire system, including a trail to Red Mountain, by 2023.
“One of these days lets, face it, the entire area will be houses — maybe not in our lifetime but it will happen,” he said.
For more information or to make a tax deductible donation, go to friendsofbadger.org.