An Open Letter to Key Washington State Legislators

I wrote this letter to key State representation because the current permitting process a) does nothing improve or promote public safety and b) represents an unnecessary hurdle to accessing public lands. Many tiny communities along this amazing expanse of trail are currently hurting. They are dying under many pressures, but most suffer because there simply aren’t long-term job prospects for the people who live there. They need ways to attract people to these places and all 253 miles of the John Wayne Trail are just the sort of thing to make that, at least in part, happen.


I urge you to reconsider RCW 79.73.020 and repeal permitting requirement for this section of this Rails to Trails national treasure. While the adoption of a fee and permitting system could prove helpful to the state to raise revenues necessary to better support and maintain this section of trail, the requirement appears to be in place to do no more than limit or discourage public access to public lands.

The public’s safety is not improved through the permitting process. No additional requirements or rules are passed on to the public who use this section of trail as those prohibitions called out in the WAC are prohibited broadly under current state law. Consequently, the public is required by law to enter into an archaic, bureaucratic agreement with a rural State agency unprepared to manage the system. The State gains nothing and the public, at best, must wait to be provided access.

If the State is interested in obtaining trail usage information along the Milwaukee Road Corridor it would be much better served if it installed trailhead sign-in ledgers at key locations. This would provide the state valuable usage information which could be used to better justify and potentially promote the trail as a recreation resource to the citizens of the State of Washington and the Nation at large.

If the State is interested in promoting public safety along the corridor improved signage and designated facilities at these key locations would meet that need.

Bike tourism broadly and bike packing more specifically are already very popular endeavors within the State. Anything the State of Washington can do to improve people’s access to the resources we already have should be encouraged. Both RCW 79.73.020 and DNR adopted WAC 332-52-500 do little as policy measures to this end.


Matthew Alan Thyer

Vashon, WA

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