by Landon Eaton Crecelius
Changes may be coming to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Waikiki Springs property below the Fairwood neighborhood, often referred to as the “switchbacks.” This 115-plus acre property has long been popular with the north Spokane community for walking, jogging, bicycling, wildlife viewing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and other activity along the old switchback road down to the Little Spokane River.
In the last few years WDFW staff have met with neighbors, county officials, and Washington State Parks managers about future management of the property. State Parks has been reviewing properties near Riverside State Park with an eye to increasing land stewardship and public recreational opportunities, including connecting the “switchbacks” property to the park.
This July the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission adopted a long-
term boundary for Riverside State Park that includes the Waikiki Springs property. The intent of parks including this property is in recognition of the impacts and opportunities the management of these types of neighboring properties have on current State Parks properties. In some cases, Parks may seek to own or manage these lands in conjunction with their recreational objectives in mind. In other cases, management and or ownership may not be the route pursued by Parks, but rather a partnership or shared management strategy with the property owner or manager is the best outcome in preserving, enhancing, and managng recreational opportunities for the long term.
When funding is available and a master plan is developed, State Parks would consider additional property acquisitions from willing sellers within the long-term boundary. Such acquisitions might be made through the Spokane County Conservation Futures program, land exchanges, conservation easements, or other purchase agreements.
More information about the Parks planning process is at
Last year FLSRV and the Fairwood I Home Owners Association (HOA) and Fairwood II HOA teamed up with the Fairwood Farmer’s Market to hire Nicoterra Trails to con- duct a scoping study about the potential for preserving and enhancing the property and the wildlife that live there. Through this study the name “Middle of the Little” was born to describe the area along the Little Spokane River.
The scoping study recommended, and Friends of the Little Spokane River Valley (FLSRV) spokesperson Harla Jean Beaver encouraged, development of a parks master plan.
Meanwhile, WDFW is applying for Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant funds to help control switchback trail erosion and protect wildlife habitat and the aquifer springs.
With State Parks long-term boundary plan including the Waikiki Springs property, local interested parties are working to find funding for other improvements and to help achieve the local long term planning efforts of Parks and DFW.
Saturday volunteer parties have cleaned up trash, worked on trail erosion problems, and planted native vegetation along the trail. The next trail cleanup day is scheduled for Saturday, October 20, starting at 9 a.m. at the top of the switchbacks.
For more information about the HOA/FLSRV team action, contact littlespokaneconservation@ gmail.com.
For more information about WDFW Waikiki Springs property management, contact:
WDFW Eastern Region Lands agent, Jan Lawson at: Jan.firstname.lastname@example.org.