Author - Chris Lindhartsen

Candy Mountain fire burns 250 acres, dozens of homes evacuated

Fire scorched about 250 acres at Candy Mountain early Friday, prompting the evacuation of dozens of nearby homes. One firefighter suffered an eye injury while battling the blaze, but no one else was hurt and no houses or other buildings were damaged. By the time fire crews had the wildfire contained at 6:30 a.m., 90 percent of Candy Mountain was blackened. The nearly 1,400-foot hill is a familiar and beloved part of the Tri-Cities landscape — and a popular recreation spot. Despite the damage, the new and long-awaited trail from Dallas Road to the summit is still passable, said Adam Fyall, sustainable development manager for Benton County. The Candy Mountain Preserve and Trail is joint venture between the county and Friends of Badger Mountain. Fyall said the lower part of the preserve and trail escaped significant damage, while the upper part was burned. “This was a fast-moving cheatgrass fire that doesn’t appear to have settled-in for a slow, hot burn. We’ll hope that means it looks worse than it was, and that many of the perennial shrubs and bunchgrasses will be able to rebound,” the county parks department wrote on Facebook. “We are not closing the trail. We always ask that users stay on the trail, but especially now because the landscape is so particularly vulnerable,” the post said. “There are a couple of bench and monument installations scheduled to happen in the coming weeks and those will go on as planned” and the county may look to do restoration work in the fall and winter in coordination with Friends of Badger Mountain and Columbia Basin Native Plant Society. Dozens of firefighters and police from around the Tri-Cities quickly responded Friday when the flames were reported about 12:20 a.m. Firefighters began working to contain the fast-moving blaze, which started along Interstate 82 near where Interstate 182 merges east of Benton City. The wind-driven fire ripped up the south side of Candy Mountain, also burning the west and east sides. Meanwhile, police officers began evacuating people living north and south of Kennedy Road around the intersection with Candy Mountain Avenue. An estimated 25 to 50 homes were evacuated, starting about 12:30 a.m., said West Richland Police Chief Ben Majetich. Officers from the Richland Police Department and Benton County Sheriff’s Office helped his department notify residents. “Officers went door-to-door, knocking. They did it very fast,” Majetich told the Herald. “Some people stayed in place, but a lot of people did leave.” The Bombing Range Sports Complex became a temporary shelter for evacuees. Residents were able to start returning to their homes between 4:30 and 5 a.m. Firefighters had much of the blaze under control by 3 a.m., with total containment at 6:30 a.m., said Capt. Ed Dunbar of Benton County Fire District 4. The fire appears to have been sparked accidentally, perhaps by car debris — like from a tire blowout — on the interstate, Dunbar said. He praised the quick reaction and hard work of emergency crews. “They did an excellent job getting this taken care of,” he said. Along with Benton Fire District 4, firefighters from Benton Fire Districts 1 and 2, Franklin Fire District 3, Walla Walla Fire District 5, West Benton Fire & Rescue and the Richland and Hanford fire departments also battled the blaze. Dunbar estimated between 75 and 80 firefighters were on scene all told. Original article from the Tri-City Herald

Candy Mountain: A sweeter walk than its popular neighbor

The new Candy Mountain Trail parking lot is 99 percent done, the trail work is finished and the Tri-Cities has a new year-round, outdoor recreation destination. The wildflowers, wildlife, scenery and views are every bit as good as its highly popular neighbor, Badger Mountain, and getting to the top is easier – it’s not as steep or quite as long. The Candy Mountain Trail fulfills a significant part of a visionary plan created by Friends of Badger Mountain, supported by local city, county, state and federal agencies, and numerous businesses in the community. The idea was to create a 20-mile network of ridge-top trails that start at Amon Basin on the Kennewick-Richland border and extend to the Yakima River by way of the summits of Little Badger Mountain, Badger Mountain, Candy Mountain and Red Mountain. Last fall, over 150 volunteers led by trailmaster Jim Langdon devoted 54 days and about 1,500 hours to build the easy-to-walk, packed gravel path. Benton County managed the contract for the parking lot. The official ribbon-cutting is June 2. The trail is 1.6 miles to the top — a 3.2-mile roundtrip — and takes 60 to 90 minutes, if you take it easy. It should be popular with hikers, mountain bikers and runners in the summer. And, next winter, people who like to snowshoe or cross country ski will enjoy it too. The trail leaves the north side of the parking lot and is pretty much flat for the first three-quarters of a mile. Then it begins to rise and makes a few gentle switchbacks, never going over a 10 percent grade.

Ice Age geology lesson

Along the trail, you’ll see hundreds of rocks and boulders, including quite a number of rather large Ice-Age-flood erratics, dug out of the trail by the volunteers before the gravel was placed to make the walking easier. Geologist Bruce Bjornstad says the granite boulders you see were deposited during the last Ice Age, which ended 15,000 years ago. Most boulders rafted to the Tri-Cities on icebergs from the breakup of the ice dam for Glacial Lake Missoula. A rock monument has been placed on the trail at elevation 1,250 feet to show you where the highest shoreline was for ancient Lake Lewis. At the maximum flood level, the top 380 feet of Badger Mountain and the top 190 feet of Candy Mountain and parts of Red Mountain poked out above Lake Lewis forming a line of islands. The fine, sandy soils that now support the grape industry in the area are the result of the numerous floods that repeatedly washed over the Tri-Cities. Each time, Lake Lewis lasted just three weeks or less — the time it took the floodwater to back up and then break through a chokepoint at Wallula Gap. Geologists calculate this happened dozens of times with several dozens of years in between mega-floods. The core of Candy Mountain is an upfolded ridge of basalt — a dark volcanic rock which flowed from the ground in large parallel cracks during the Miocene Epoch 17 to 6.5 million years ago south and east of the Tri-Cities. A suspected ancient fault line trace runs northeast to southeast parallel to the line formed from Badger Mountain to Candy Mountain on the north side, which are now covered by glacial deposits and wind-blown soils.

What to see — views to blooms and critters

The views from Candy are awesome. To the south and east you see Badger Mountain. To the east, you get a grand sprawling view of the Columbia River Valley and the Pasco basin from Burbank through the Tri-Cities and north to the White Bluffs and beyond. To the north, you see West Richland and the Hanford Reach National Monument, along with several of the nuclear facilities including the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant. To the west, you see Benton City and the Lower Yakima Valley, filled row after row with grape vineyards. To the south, is the spine of the Horse Heaven Hills with Chandler Butte and Goose Hill. From the very top, on a really clear day, there are spectacular views of Mount Adams, the Goat Rocks, Rattlesnake Mountain and Mount Stuart and the Enchantments. The habitat changes as you go up the mountain. Elevation and sun exposure and the variation in soils and rock produce a variety of ecosystems some wetter and some drier. Plant ecologist Gretchen Graber, with the Columbia Basin Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society, says you’ll encounter slopes full of native bunch grass, Indian rice grass, blue grass, fescue and sage. The plant list she and others have compiled on spring field trips is lengthy and ranges from balsamroot and buckwheat to buttercups and lupine. Some of the common names of the plants on the list are quite fascinating: Bugloss fiddleneck, Devil’s lettuce, Dusty maidens, Bastard toadflax, Slim-leaf goosefoot, Wingnut cryptantha, Oregon sunshine, Columbia puccoon, Filaree, Jagged chickweed and Hoary aster. Plant lists, including the moss and lichen in dozens of colors, can be found on the plant society’s website www.cbwnps.org and at the Friends of Badger Mountain website www.friendsofbadger.org. Like Badger and Rattlesnake mountains, Candy Mountain is home to a variety of migratory birds and animals, from meadowlarks, hawks, and raptors to coyotes and rabbits. The mountain is also home to Townsend’s ground squirrel, a threatened species native to the area. There also are garter snakes, bull snakes and rattlesnakes, so keep your eyes open, stay on the trail, and don’t be reaching underneath brush with your bare hands. To get there from Richland, get on Keene Road heading west and go to the new roundabout. Then head south on Bombing Range Road which shortly becomes Dallas Road. Just before you go under Interstate 182, make a right turn west at the trail sign onto East 669 PR N.E. Road. Drive about a hundred yards and the parking lot is on the right. There’s room for 45 cars and four horse trailers.
Paul Krupin is an avid local hiking enthusiast, retired environmental specialist and a member of the InterMountain Alpine Club (IMAC). He has been hiking the trails of the Pacific Northwest since 1976. Find out more at the IMAC Facebook or Meetup pages. He can be reached at pjkrupin@gmail.com. Original article from Tri-City Herald

Badger Mountain Challenge: Spokane runner posts top time in 100-miler

Spokane’s Brandon Benefield posted the top overall time in the signature 100-mile race at last weekend’s Badger Mountain Challenge. The 35-year-old crossed the finish line just after midnight Saturday, clocking in at 17 hours, 32 minutes, 46 seconds to post the third-fastest winning time in the seven years of the race. Evgeny Sotnikov of Victoria, British Columbia, was second in 18:15:53, with another Victoria runner, Jerry Hughes, finishing third in 18:37:42. Jess Mullen of Seattle won the women’s race in 22:32:29, the eighth best time overall. Van Phan of Maple Valley was 24 minutes behind; it was another 5 1/2 hours before third-place finisher crossed the line. Full results are available at http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=28196. In the 50-mile event, Mark Hammond of Salt Lake City took home top prize with a time of 7:34:50, 31 seconds ahead of Nathan Stroh of Klamath Falls, Ore. Bothell’s Genia Kacey-McKnight topped the women’s field in 8:55:56, good for eighth overall. Stephanie Gundel of Seattle was 7 minute back in second place. Pasco’s Taylor Farnsworth won the 50-kilometer race — the longest of Saturday’s events — in 4:37:33. Seattle’s Stuart Baker finished second, but more than 1 hour, 22 minutes behind. Anja Goetzinger of Spokane finished fifth overall but won the women’s race in 5:08:19, more than an hour ahead of Valerie Nussbaumer of Hood River, Ore. Dana Cadwell of Pasco was third in 7:09:00. Matt Rock of Billings, Mont., won the 15K in 56:51, while Kennewick’s Kyle Paulson just missed a sub-hour mark by seven seconds. Clinton Purdy-Cordova of Richland was third (1:04:40). Richland’s Briana Butler won the women’s 15K in 1:09:47, eighth overall. Connie Morgan of Ellensburg was second in 1:10:26. The “stick to it” award goes to 55-year-old Daro Ferrar of Richland, who was on the 100-mile course for more than 31 1/2 hours — an entire day plus nearly all of an eight-hour shift at work. The “age is just a number” award is destined for Gunhild Swanson, a 72-year-old woman from Spokane who finished the 50-mile race in 11:20:47, seventh overall among the 17 women runners and 31st among all 50-mile competitors.
Top finishers
100 MILE
MEN’S OVERALL: Brandon Benefield, Spokane, 17:32:46; Evgeny Sotnikov, Victoria, 18:15:53; Jerry Hughes, Victoria, 18:37:42. 20-29: Sotnikov; Brendan Thompson, Moses Lake, 19:28:51; Andrew Heath, Gig Harbor, 22:40:59. 30-39: Benefield; Hughes; Gabe Wishnie, Redmond, 18:58:56. 40-49: George Orozco, Seattle, 21:18:58; Wes Ritner, Colorado Springs, 21:49:34; Christphe Fiessinger, Bellevue, 23:22:54. 50-59: Bruce Kellogg, Shoreline, 25:18:45; Ray Siegrist, Poulsbo, 29:24:58; Joel Hopkins, Kennewick, 30:00:01. 60-69: Greg Spike, Echo, 29:39:41. WOMEN’S OVERALL: Jess Mullen, Seattle, 22:32:29; Van Phan, Maple Valley, 22:56:11; Anne Crispino-Taylor, Portland, 28:21:59. 30-39: Jennifer Schwegler, Snohomish, 29:03:22. 40-49: Mullen; Phan; Hideko Opperman, Redmond, 28:36:44. 50-59: Crispino-Taylor; Deby Kumasaka, Edmonds, 29:31:38; Trena Chellino, Marietta, Ga., 30:23:59.
50 MILE
MEN’S OVERALL: Mark Hammond, Salt Lake City, 7:34:50; Nathan Stroh, Klamath Falls, Ore., 7:35:21; Michael McNeil, Omak, 7:50:11.
U-20: Barrak Blakeley, Terrebonne, Ore., 9:48:25. 20-29: Justin Mejia, Reno, Nev., 8:30:06; Tyson Stuart, Battle Ground, 9:37:21; Brandon Roberts, Aloha, Ore., 12:14:39. 30-39: Hammond; McNeill; Christpher Mahoney, Seattle, 7:57:06. 40-49: Stroh; Kevin Gustafson, Prosser, 8:17:54; Stephen Mazurkiewicz, West Richland, 9:03:45. 50-59: Daniel Hansen, Richland, 10:19:15; Berton Keith, Austin, Texas, 11:31:12; Rob Smith, Victoria, B.C., 14:27:08. 60-69: Mark Chamley, Hood River, Ore., 11:55:20; Lee Plourde, Wenatchee, 12:26:20; Karl Jansen, North Vancouver, B.C., 13:10:40.
WOMEN’S OVERALL: Genia Kacey-McKnight, Bothell, 8:55:56; Stephanie Gundel, Seattle, 9:02:52; Suzanne Johnson, North Vancouver, B.C., 9:16:13. 20-29: Siloam Chong, Vancouver, Wash., 11:16:17; Rebekah Lee, Marysville, 12:07:25. 30-39: Gundel; Johnson; Jennifer Worth, Portland, 9:24:25. 40-49: Kacey-McKnight; Christine Strom, Cary, N.C., 11:31:11; Lisa Wood, Bellevue, 12:52:07. 50-59: Susan Glesne, Mt. Vernon, 14:22.08; Kuniko Minehara-Votaw, Psaco, 15:01.46. 70-plus: Gunhild Swanson, Spokane Valley, 11:20.47.
50K
MEN’S OVERALL: Taylor Farnsworth, Pasco, 4:37:33; Phil Rock, Enumclaw, 4:46:49; Andrew O’Connor, Seattle, 4:52:41.
20-29: Farnsworth; Stuart Baker, Seattle, 5:59:38; Sebastian Dirringer, Portland, 6:05.58. 30-39: O’Connor; Peter Hawkins, Richland, 5:17:36; Roger Sandberg, Pullman, 5:21:24. 40-49: Dave VanMiller, Tacoma, 4:59.47; Malachi Schram, West Richland, 5:16.27; Dallen Ashby, Clarkston, 5:21:15. 50-59: Rober tWilson, Port Orchard, 6:04.47; James Guerrero, Lakewood, 6:35:11; Paul Cornish, Seattle, 7:06:27. 60-69: David Painter, Richland, 6:30:10; David Elsbernd, Salem, ore., 7:13:12.
WOMEN’S OVERALL: Anja Goetzinger, Spokane, 5:08:19; Valerie Nussbaumer, Hood River, Ore., 6:10:35; Dana Cadwell, Pasco, 7:09:00. 20-29: Goetzinger; Cadwell; Tanya Gallagher, Vancouver, B.C., 7:39:37. 30-39: Nussbaumer; Colleen Rice, Bellingham, 7:27:33; Nichole Burmester, Marysville, 7:51:29. 40-49: Dawn Winters, Mercer Island, 7:19:08; Tracey Robinson, Port Orchard, 7:22:59. 50-59: Christina Gomez, Pasco, 9:18:04. 60-69: Judy Loy, Vancouver, Wash., 8:55:28.
15K
MEN’S OVERALL: Matt Rock, Billings, 56:51; Kyle Paulson, Kennewick, 1:00:07; Clinton Purdy-Cordova, Richland, 1:04:40.
U-20: Everett Welling, West Richland, 1:50:44; Daniel Welling, West Richland, 1:51:42; Micah Borders, Spokane, 2:42:27. 20-29: Paulson; Purdy-Cordova; Michael Tupper, Richland, 1:07:35. 30-39: Rock; Samuel Morris, Richland, 1:10:50; Spencer Shelman, Spokane, 1:11:39. 40-49: Eric Smith, West Richland, 1:07:04; Nathan Hansen, Richland, 1:08:25; Greg Romaniuk, West Richland, 1:10:56. 50-59: Scott Lea, Richland, 1:11:09; Ken Walters, Spokane, 1:26:51; Tony Sako, West Richland, 1:29:34. 60-69: Dale Fuller, Pasco, 1:38:12; Chris Newbill, Richland, 1:40:03; Al Abramson, Richland, 1:41:40. 70-plus: Gary Vanarsdale, West Richland, 1:37:06; Dick Dowd, Pasco, 1:59:15; Ray Warner, Benton City, 2:05:19.
WOMEN’S OVERALL: Briana Butler, Richland, 1:09:47; Connie Morgan, Ellensburg, 1:10:26; Sara Schiriac, Bend, Ore., 1:14:52. U-20: Bethan Tufford, Burbank, 1:20:44; Riley Hake, Moses Lake, 1:51:46; Isabella Cohen, Richland, 1:56:03. 20-29: Morgan; Schiriac; Rachel Fowers, Kennewick, 1:16:33. 30-39: Butler; Rosa Holt, Stanfield, 1:16:03; Nicole Lee, Vancouver, Wash., 1:16:70. 40-49: Laura James, Walla Walla, 1:17:57; Lori Porter, West Richland, 1:19:02; Samantha Reed, West Richland, 1:22:17. 50-59: Sonia Tonnemaker, Royal City, 1:19:04; Nancy Hess, Richland, 1:20:31; Robin Walters, Spokane, 1:27:38. 60-69: Natalie Sandberg, Moses Lake, 1:41:31; Joan Anderson, Kennewick, 1:44:37; Dorothy Hammons, Kennewick, 1:59:32. 70-plus: Linda McGlothern, Kennewick, 2:53:48; Evelyn Painter, Richland, 2:57:18; Carol Gurwell, Richland, 3:00:54. View the original article on the Tri-City Herald.

Bryant Scott conquers 50-mile race, 8 months after nearly losing his life to heat stroke

Marine Cpl. Bryant Scott was dying when he arrived at a San Diego hospital in late July. Suffering from heat stroke, the 27-year-old’s liver was shutting down and his heart stopped several times. Doctors told the Kennewick native’s family there was a 10 percent chance for his recovery. But eight months after waking up from a 14-day coma, Scott finished the 50-mile Badger Mountain Challenge on Saturday. The run that cost Scott a career as a Marine, his liver and nearly his life started at 7 a.m. on a hot July day at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County. He had donned 45 to 55 pounds of gear for 13-mile navigation exercise across mountains and rivers. As he was running, the desert temperature spiked to 109 degrees. Scott, already on the course, continued running. He was out ahead of his companions when his body shut down about 100 meters from the final checkpoint. “They found me in a dried river bed. I was completely out,” Scott said. “I had a deep gash in my head. I had been bleeding for a while.” He was flown from the scene, and was already in a coma when he arrived at the hospital. “My heart kept stopping,” he said. “I was having massive cell death. I only had a small amount of time to live.” Doctors removed his liver, and while that stopped his deterioration, he would need a liver transplant. When Scott eventually woke up, he had lost 65 pounds of muscle. He couldn’t lift his arms, couldn’t sit up and had dozens of staples across his mid-section. But Scott was determined to get better. By late September, he was released from the hospital to a rehabilitation center and returned to his mom Lanette Adams’ home in Kennewick in late December. “I wasn’t in good shape,” he said. “I was emotionally and physiologically broken down. I had a lot of remorse because I wasn’t overseas with my (Marine) brothers. I just kept praying and working.” Then in mid- to late January, Scott saw the sign for the Badger Mountain Challenge, and he decided he would tackle the 50-mile trail run with its steep climbs and descents. His 3 1/2 -year career as a Marine ended with his collapse, and he’s now on terminal convalescent leave. When he finishes the leave, Scott will be honorably discharged. “The thing they kept saying was that your mission is to recover,” he said. “I have received nothing but love from them. ... I felt blessed to be part of the Marine Corps.” Scott joined a gym and began intense strength and conditioning training called CrossFit. The now 192-pound Scott was determined to finish the Badger challenge. He wanted to run the course for his fellow company of Marines, who are deployed in Syria. When he was in peak condition, Scott could run three miles in 18 minutes. Last weekend, he trudged through the rain, tripping over his feet. He met others along the trail as morning slipped into afternoon and then into night. As it reached 11:30 p.m. and the race was supposed to wrap up, organizers allowed him to go on. He simply kept running through the rain and dark. “I wasn’t in a hurry to finish. I was just going to finish,” he said. “I was happy because I was actually there rather than lying in a bed.” Then, at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, tired, bruised, and cramped, Scott crossed the finish line. He was 69th out of 71 finishers — arriving 18  1/2 hours after he started. His family met him at the finish with a sign showing the date of his liver transplant and the date of the race. On Monday, he was still sore, but thinking about his next challenge. “Doing something one time sets the bar for future events,” he said. “I know I’ll do a lot more 50 milers and marathons.” View the original article on the Tri-City Herald.

Badger Mountain Challenge Participants set to take over Badger Mountain

Local hikers who frequent Badger Mountain might want to give popular trail system a day off on Saturday. The seventh annual Badger Mountain Challenge is set to take over the hill this weekend, with the 50- and 100-mile races beginning Friday, and the 50-kilometer and much more popular 15-K slated for Saturday morning. The 50- and 100-mile races start at 7 a.m. Friday, and runners will spend just a fraction of the race on Badger Mountain. The course then heads to Candy Mountain before running south along Interstate 82. Runners head west at Jacobs Road, climbing McBee Ridge and heading out to Chandler Butte before looping around to retrace the course. The 100-milers do this twice. Last year’s 100-mile winner, Gabe Wishnie of Redmond, finished in 19 hours, 16 minutes, 59 seconds, crossing the line at 2 a.m. More than 70 racers are entered for the big race, 75 for the 50-miler. The 50-K (31 miles) traverses mostly the same course as the longer races but cuts out a loop in the McBee area. Nearly 65 are slated to take part in this race. The popular 15-K race (9.3 miles) has nearly 500 entries and, aside from the start, sticks to Badger Mountain. All races begin on Shockley Road in front of the Bethel Church. The 50-K race starts at 7 a.m. Saturday, with the 15-K hitting the trail at 8 a.m. Proceeds from the event benefit Friends of Badger Mountain, Washington Trails Association, Girls on the Run and Team in Training. Read the original story at the Tri-City Herald.

Friends of Badger Mountain hits a snag in its efforts on behalf of a Red Mountain ridge trail

Dreams of a 20-mile ridge-to-ridge trail stretching from Richland’s Amon Basin to the Yakima River have run into a hitch. (View on Tri-City Herald) The Seattle-based limited liability corporation that owns 138 acres along the ridgeline will not grant a 20-foot pedestrian-only easement for the trail. Benton County property records indicate Red Mountain Ridgeline LLC paid $600,000 for the property in 2008. It is the only one, out of five Red Mountain property owners, to refuse to allow public access across its land, according to Friends of Badger Mountain, the group behind the ridge-to-ridge effort. Without an easement, Friends of Badger Mountain is hard-pressed to fulfill its dream. The proposed trail on Red Mountain begins at Antinori Road and ascends the hill on its southwestern flank, reaching a tower at the ridge. It then would follow the ridge and descend to the Yakima River. In a nod to sensitive agricultural concerns on Red Mountain, Friends of Badger proposed an easement to allow hikers, but not bicyclists or equestrians, on the trail. Without the easement, the trail would end at the tower. “It would stop the trail,” said Sharon Grant, a board member who has worked for almost six years to get access for a Red Mountain trail. Friends of Badger Mountain previously led the efforts to create nature preserves and trails on neighboring Badger Mountain and Candy Mountain. Thanks to the group’s work, Benton County completed an acquisition of property on Candy Mountain in 2016 after collecting donations and a major grant from the state Recreation and Conservation Office. Trail construction began last fall. On Candy Mountain, Friends pursued private and public money to buy the property. On Red Mountain, a lucrative wine grape growing region, the group took a different approach. In consultation with Benton County, it hoped to secure recreation easements from private property owners, as well as the state Department of Natural Lands. “There is no way that we could ever raise the money to acquire land on Red Mountain,” Grant said. Red Mountain’s prominence has been rising for more than two decades. Its unique growing climate led to its 2001 designation as an American Viticultural Area, Washington’s smallest. In 2015, the Kennewick Irrigation District completed a $20 million project to bring Yakima River water to the 1,400-foot mountain’s slopes, further sparking vineyard development. Grant and the group’s attorney said the other owners, including the state Department of Natural Resources, have indicated their support for the trail plan in part because it complements wine-related tourism at Red Mountain. Sarah Goedhart, who has worked with Grant to establish the Red Mountain link, said the winery community endorses the idea, viewing it as highly compatible with wine-related tourism. “This would be good for tourism and wineries and the region in general,” she said. “The top of the mountain is now off limits.” An out-and-back trail wouldn’t bring hikers past the other vineyards and wineries at Red Mountain and it would disappoint users as well, according to Grant. “Once you get people to the top, of course they want to walk along the ridge,” she said. According to corporate registration documents filed with the Washington Secretary of State, Red Mountain Ridgeline is led by Cameron Myhrvold. Myhrvold is a former Microsoft executive who formed, then sold, a software firm to Microsoft. He also co-founded Ignition Partners LLC, a Bellevue firm that invests in early state business-to-business software companies and serves on numerous boards connected to tech firms, according to his public profile on Ignition’s website. His office said he was in Hawaii with family this week. He did not respond to messages emailed in care of his attorney, Taro Kusunose, or Ignition about the access issue. And Friends of Badger Mountain isn’t the only group the Red Mountin Ridgeline owner turned down. Jason Reathaford, who organizes the annual Badger Mountain Challenge, said the property owner also turned down a request from his group. It means the seventh running of the Badger Mountain Challenge will be parallel to the Red Mountain ridgeline instead of running along it. In the first six years, the grueling 50-mile route began at Badger Mountain, went over Candy Mountain, then Red Mountain, and then into the Horse Heaven Hills. Reathaford said it appeared liability is a concern. He’s scrambling to reroute that section of the race through the area between Candy and Red mountains. The alternate route will not be as attractive to serious trail runners, he said. Reathaford expects 700 people to participate in one of the four versions of this year’s race, which is March 24-25. “It’s getting harder and harder to find trails as property turns into (vineyards),” he said. “That’s part of the story of Red Mountain. We need to enjoy the trails and open space as we have them. That’s the point of the trail race.”

Volunteers begin new hiking trail on Candy Mountain

Jim Langdon, trailmaster for the Friends of Badger organization, shares details about a new 1.75 mile hiking trail being scratched out of the ground on Candy Mountain. The organization is seeking volunteers for the anticipated one month project. -Bob Brawdy, Tri-City Herald  

Candy Mountain dream about to come true

Benton County is ready to close a $1.25 million deal this week with Candy Mountain property owners that will preserve the local peak as a natural area and park. Friends of Badger Mountain and the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office are funding the deal, which will turn Candy Mountain into a twin of sorts to the popular Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve. In a procedural step, Benton County commissioners are expected to approve a resolution giving their chairman authority to sign purchase documents for eight parcels totaling nearly 200 acres when it holds its regularly scheduled meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Prosser. Read the whole article at the Tri-City Herald.  

Tri City Herald “Thumbs Up”

Leaders with vision

For more than a decade the Friends of Badger Mountain have been working to provide public access to the summit of Candy Mountain. That access is a critical piece in group’s vision of a 20-mile network of ridge-top trails that starts at Amon Basin on the Kennewick-Richland border and extends to the Yakima River by way of the summits of Little Badger Mountain, Badger Mountain, Candy Mountain and Red Mountain. Tuesday, Benton County commissioners approved an agreement to buy eight Candy Mountain parcels for $1.4 million, securing that access. The land purchases are being paid for by $695,000 from Friends of Badger and matched by a grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. Friends of Badger raised more than $850,000 with lead gifts of $300,000 from CH2M Hill Plateau and $100,000 from Bechtel National. Thumbs up to the Friends of Badger Mountain and the Benton County commissioners for their vision.