Jeff Humphrey

Spokane River Flourishes in 2019

Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308

Friday, December 13, 2019 at 10:20 a.m.

2019 was a great year for the Spokane River and the people anxious to enjoy this truly unique natural resource.

“One of the best parts about going down this river, unlike a lot of spots, is you’re putting in a half mile outside a metropolitan city and not a lot of people have access to a spot like that,” said Josh Flanagan of Wiley Waters Rafting.

The public’s access to the river is a lot easier, thanks to a new launch in Peaceful Valley. The ramp gives rafters and anglers a year-round shot at the shoreline during changing water levels.

“So not only is it easier to put in during the spring, it gives us more room here in a park to be able to stage our equipment. But also, during the lower times of the year, we’re not having to walk over all those ankle-breaking rocks at the other side,” explained Flanagan.

Farther downstream, the City of Spokane and some of its community partners, like the Spokane River Forum, added asphalt and concrete to improve a launch and take-out just below the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“The anglers need to get out before they get to the Bowl and Pitcher year round, so it supports them. And then, the folks who want to take a shortcut to the Bowl and Pitcher can put in here as well,” said Andy Dunau of the Spokane River Forum.

So far, the City with help from other groups like the Spokane River Forum, Spokane Riverkeeper, Avista, and the Spokane Indians baseball team, have built or restored 13 new access points along the Spokane River Water Trail.

“And it was really based on the idea of, that if you build it, they will come. And that’s turned out to be true,” Dunau said of the improved access.

Not only are more people paddling the Spokane, they are also having fun in a much cleaner river.

About two dozen new underground holding tanks prevent untreated combined stormwater and sewage from reaching the river.

The City also has collaborated with the Department of Ecology to look for the sources of PCB contamination.

And that’s good news for fish and wildlife, including our native Redband Trout.

River advocates recently dedicated a sculpture of a Redband in Redband Park. The Peaceful Valley location is just a stone’s throw from where Redband spawn in the sand and gravel of the Spokane River Gorge.

“What we see behind us today is really that symbol that brings back our native trout and the ecology and the biology, but also culturally, the significance of this place to everyone in Spokane,” said Garrett Jones, the interim director of the Spokane Parks and Rec Department.

Beginning in 2020, you’ll see improvements to river access near People’s Park.

Spokane is opening the door to aquatic adventures and all you need is the right safety gear to enjoy it.

“So there’s no ticket sales, there’s nothing. We just put the infrastructure in and say ‘have a good time’ which is just really great for both residents and visitors to the town,” Dunau said with a smile.

Dunau hopes this coming year, you’ll find a way to get closer to our river. He feels the more people know about the river, the more the public will support efforts to preserve and protect it.

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