Rimrock to Riverside: Making Connections

May 31, 2019

A Red-tailed Hawk lifts off from his perch in a ponderosa pine in Kendall Yards on the edge of downtown Spokane. He soars and glides for a full 11 miles, all the way through Indian Canyon, Palisades Park, and Riverside State Park. After pausing on a bluff in Palisades Park to peer down at the city of Spokane, he continues on, to land on a granite cliff at the end of Riverside State Park. Sharing the air space with Hairy Woodpeckers, Canada Geese, and crossbills, he particularly notices the numerous mice, voles, chipmunks, and squirrels.

While flying north, he spots a moose and her calf ambling through dense foliage. They are drawn to the rich vegetation, including colorful wildflowers such as arrowleaf balsamroot, shooting stars, camas, iris, and phlox. They walk around the numerous “mima mounds,” unique geological features varying here from 15 to 30 feet in diameter. Because it is spring, the moose stop at vernal pools in the rocky soil that so easily holds water, and also wallow in several wetland areas, favorites for ducks and geese, that are full of cattails and tule. Both the hawk and the moose travel easily through the land, which is not blocked by development or scarred by pavement. They don’t notice the “private property” signs, and are able to avoid the fallen barbed wire fencing.

Red-tailed hawk by Jeanne Dammarell

With the Rimrock to Riverside project, in the future people will have the same access as the hawk and the moose in this near-urban wildlife and recreation oasis, and be able to hike all the way through Indian Canyon, Palisades Park, and Riverside State Park without once having to leave the public trail.

Previously the two parks had been separated by several privately owned parcels. Now, thanks to the combined efforts of INLC, “conservation angels,” and Palisades NW (see separate articles in this newsletter), with on-going support from the Johnston-Fix Foundation, almost all of these properties are protected, and are scheduled to become part of Palisades Park. On July 12, 2018, the Spokane City Parks Board unanimously passed a resolution to own and manage these lands as part of an enhanced and expanded Palisades Park. The aspirational date for the merger is 2022. This is a major part of INLC’s “Olmsted 2.0” project (see the side bar), which will identify additional projects to expand and connect conservation areas in Spokane County.

The completion date for Rimrock to Riverside cannot come soon enough. After that, “all” that remains is construction of a bridge over the Northern Pacific Railroad line at the base of Riverside State Park. Given that connecting the lands was until recently seemingly impossible, INLC is confident that with the generous help of so many environmentally conscious supporters this challenging goal is also within reach. Your ongoing financial support of INLC allows us to achieve these ambitious conservation projects here in our back yard. Additionally, capital contributions can be made towards the direct purchase of the remaining land in the project area. Please contact INLC’s Executive Director Dave Schaub at 509.328.2939 or dschaub@inlandnwland.org.