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Washout claims 120 feet of Snoqualmie Valley Trail near Fall City

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FALL CITY - The Snoqualmie Valley Trail was closed last week at its mid-point just north of Fall City after a major washout destroyed a 120-foot section of the trail on March 29.

"Our first concern is for public safety, so we immediately closed the trail and posted warning signs," said King County Parks Director Suzanne Little in a news release. "There is a vertical drop of about 80 feet where the trail is washed out and the area remains very unstable."

Officials believe that a beaver dam broke under the pressure of the heavy rain, causing a heavy flow of water to run downstream and take out part of the trail.

Little said it will likely be at least several months before the trail is back in commission. She said King County will have a better idea of how long it will take to make repairs after an engineering assessment has been completed.

"The stream is too small to cause this type of damage, so we suspect a beaver dam broke loose upstream after yesterday's [March 29] heavy rainstorm, released logs and water and carried it downstream where it overwhelmed the culvert that runs under the trail," Little said.

The trail section is very popular with equestrians and signs are being posted at a nearby horse trailer parking area to let riders know the trail is impassable to the north. Equestrians using the parking area still have access to the southern half of the trail.

A fiberoptic cable was also washed out. The cable went out between 10:30-11 p.m. on the evening of March 29, helping crews pinpoint the time of the slide.

King County Parks and Recreation Division Spokesman Dean Logan said the county is still trying to figure out how much it will cost to repair the trail. Early estimates are more than $1 million. In order to fund those repairs, the county will be accepting donations through the Northwest Parks Fund. Information about the fund can be found at www.nwparks.org.

* For more information about the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, visit www.metrokc.gov/parks/trails/trails/snoqv.htm.

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