City explains tree removals along bluff on South Hill

SPOKANE, Wash. - UPDATE: According to Council Members Beggs and Kinnear, the Parks Department and Avista confirmed that they never gave authorization to a logging company for the destruction of the landscape and the cutting of dozens of trees.

The investigation as to who is legally responsible for damages is ongoing.

In the meantime, the City will provide erosion control and begin planning for restoration.

Both the City and Avista confirmed that the new roadway will not be used as a road in the future.

Previous Story: The City of Spokane claims they did not receive or authorize a permit for the construction of a road within the South Hill Bluff on Parks property, Avista's utility corridor, and private property on Monday and Tuesday.

The city gave the following information surrounding the situation:

-Parks did not have a bid or contract with the contractor to construct this road, or tree removals at this site. There was no plan, designs or contracts presented to approve.

-Parks issued a tree removal permit to The First Tee of the Inland Northwest for the 6-acre 3-hole youth golf course only.

-The proposed agreement between the City and The First Tee to build a youth course does not contemplate a building of a road along the bluff or tree removal on the road.

-The road work done was outside the scope of the potential agreement and any issued tree permit.

- A Parks arborist was called onsite, to provide guidance to the contractor around which trees were of highest priority to maintain and identify any hazard trees. This was the arborists’ only role.

- The Parks arborist understood the project to be on the Avista easement. A few Parks staff understood that The First Tee would work with Avista to use a tree-free utility corridor to access the 3-hole golf course if built, and that any additional work to build access would be on the Avista easement done in partnership with Avista through permitting.

- Arborists from Parks are frequently called to sites by contractors for guidance, and it is the contractor and project manager’s responsibility to ensure all permits are obtained.

The city is working to restore Parks conservation land.