Potential changes coming to Badger Mountain Trail stairs - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Potential changes coming to Badger Mountain Trail stairs

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RICHLAND, WA - It's just about prime hiking season and Badger Mountain is one of the local go-to spots. In fact, it's estimated there are quarter of a million users of the trail system every year. One man has taken it upon himself to try and make one part of it a little bit safer.

Many people believe the basalt stairs (at the start of the trail from Trailhead Park in Richland) are rather treacherous. There are 60 of them and by nature they are sharp, irregular and unevenly spaced along the steep terrain.

"A number of people slip and fall, a few with pretty serious injuries. So this was a way to try and demonstrate a potentially safer design," said retiree and avid volunteer on the mountain, Russ Treat. He spends 500 hours a year maintaining and improving the trail. So, he knows firsthand who uses the trails.

"We have a very high population of older people, people with mobility issues, very, very young children being carried in packs and those are the ones I'm most concerned about," said Treat.

American Rock Products paid for three prototype stairs which Russ and a few volunteers installed last July.

"They're easier to navigate. I think they're just really nice," said hiker Lori Bowers.
"Yeah, it feels a little more stable coming down after we're done and we're tired, said hiker Mara Krouse.

The City of Richland did take comments over the last year on the prototype stairs. The number one complaint is that the concrete slabs are not as natural as the basalt steps. The City also wanted to see how the stairs fared through the winter.

"I wasn't able to discern even a fraction of an inch of movement," said Treat.

The next step will be to secure funding for the project. Treat estimates it will be around $60,000 to install 120 concrete slab steps - although the city hopes it's less. Either way, city council would first have to approve getting the funding. The earliest the new stairs could be installed is next year.

We'll keep you updated as the process moves along.