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.
Badger group is $600K away from key land dealChris Lindhartsen
The all-volunteer group that developed the popular hiking trails on Badger and Candy mountains is $600,000 away from repeating its magic on Little Badger Mountain.
Friends of Badger Mountain is turning to Tri-City businesses and other supporters to help it close a $1.5 million agreement to buy nearly 20 acres below the summit of Little Badger Mountain.
It has raised about $900,000 to date to purchase the property, which is the lynchpin to completing the future Little Badger Mountain Preserve and Trail.
The Little Badger link
The trail will rise from the future extension of Queensgate Drive toward a pair of water tanks at the top of Little Badger, where residential development is happening fast.
In time, Little Badger will serve as a link in a series of ridgeline trails that will connect Amon Basin at the Richland-Kennewick border with the Yakima River near Benton City by way of Little Badger, Badger, Candy and Red mountains.
Marc Spinner, president of Friends of Badger Mountain, predicts the newest link will be the most popular. It offers the shortest and easiest climb and the best views.
“This is the highest point and the nicest view in all of the city of Richland,” he said. “I think you will see more use at this one than any of our others.”
The site is owned by a Richland couple through a limited liability company who have agreed to sell the parcel to Friends of Badger Mountain. The nonprofit has until fall to close the deal.
Friends of Badger Mountain has secured 70% of the land it needs for the Little Badger undertaking through a series of donations and outright purchases. It regularly turns the land over to the city of Richland, which oversees the parks.
Volunteers begin trail development
Volunteers have begun developing the newest trail on sections of land it already owns on the west side, Spinner said.
One stretch crosses a sensitive area and will require the expertise of a professional engineering firm. That should occur this summer, Spinner said. Construction of the eastern section, dubbed the Saddle Trail, begins this fall.
Time is of the essence to raise money and secure the property. If the deal does not close, the site could be sold for private development.
“The area is going to go through a lot of development. That’s why we’re jumping now,” Spinner said.
Spinner praised Pahlisch Homes and the Bauder family, which are both involved with ridgetop development, for their support and continuing cooperation.
The trail snakes across the site, which also will offer a public parking lot. Spinner said local developers wanted a parking lot to deter visitors from using neighboring streets.
Friends of Badger Mountain has built an impressive record since it launched in 2005 with a mission to preserve open space and promote outdoor recreation and economic activity.
With support from the community as well as lead donations from CH2M, Bechtel and Recreational Equipment Inc., it has procured 900 acres and developed 19 miles of trail.
Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve debuted in 2008 and tallied 44,000 visitors in its first year. Candy Mountain Preserve opened in 2017. By 2019, an estimated 310,000 visitors had trekked the two trails.
Summitpost.org, a website devoted to climbing, reported that Badger Mountain records up to 2,500 people at its summit each week, making it one of the “most summited peaks” in Washington state. Its main trail rises nearly 1,580 feet and is open year-round.
Candy Mountain offers a gentler climb to the top and includes an even gentler, 1.2-mile interpretive loop on the lower, flatter section that features metal interpretative signs welded by Columbia Basin College students.
The Little Badger Preserve will connect to the Badger Centennial Preserve to the west, which in turn links to Candy Mountain via Dallas Road.
Spinner said the Friends group is ready to complete the east or “back side” of Little Badger, which will descend to the Amon Creek Basin between Leslie and Steptoe.
How to help
Go to friendsofbadger.org for more information about the trail system plans and to contribute to the Little Badger Mountain Preserve campaign. Donations can be made online or by sending checks to Friends of Badger Mountain, P.O. Box 24, Richland, WA 99352.
Article Source: Tri-City Area Journal of Business