- Donate Now
- Who we support
- How we work
- Do your share
- EarthShare @ Work
- Engagement tools
- News & Media
With a positively balmy January on the books, Washington's trails have seen more traffic than normal for midwinter. You can help WTA provide repairs and improvements to those trails, as hikers tromp the tread.
The Olympic Peninsula in particular has plenty of opportunities for you. Take a look at our upcoming work parties in February and see when you can step up and pitch in for trails.Feb 5 & 22 - Tunnel Creek
Work in the quiet, remote Buckhorn Wilderness, clearing the trail of downed trees from winter storms and improving some spots that are suffering from erosion. Note that the work party on Feb. 22 will access Tunnel Creek from the south side, which makes for a considerably more strenuous hike. The work will include clearing downed trees, tread work and brushing.Feb 7 - Wynoochee Lakeshore Help us clear this long trail that loops around Wynoochee Lake, which is in need of much maintenance, including a short reroute on the Lakeshore Trail and cutting some logs off the trail. Feb 10 & 25 - Peabody Creek Work on this easy trail that ventures from the Olympic Park Visitors Center into the foothills nearby. We'll start work on small bridge, as well as maintain other wood structure and trail issues. Feb 21 - Notch Pass This is a very old, but lovely historic trail that we relocated several years ago and re-opened from the Quilcene side through the notch in the Quilcene Range. We'll be refurbishing a turnpike and working on improving tread on the east end of the trail. >> Join one of these or another work party on the Olympic Peninsula this month.
This month we're working in several locations that need some special attention and we'd love to have your help! Join us for a day full of safety, fun, and work, and make your mark on the trails you love.
No experience is needed to join a work party, and anyone is welcome. We'll teach you what you need to know and find the right job for you. For more information on what to expect when you join us on trail, check out our FAQ page.Olympics - Tunnel Creek
February 5, 22
This trail traverses the Buckhorn Wilderness, climbing to the aptly named Fifty-Fifty Pass at 5,050 feet, which is at the head of the South Fork of Tunnel Creek. The trail has received some significant damage this winter and we will be working on removing a few trees and getting a start on fixing some significant erosion on the trail. While you work, you'll enjoy shade from giant old-growth trees and possibly views of imposing Mount Constance.
Note that the work party on Feb. 22 will access Tunnel Creek from the south side, which makes for a considerably more strenuous hike. The work will include clearing downed trees, tread work and brushing.
February 10, 25
Join us as we work on this lovely nature loop trail, which takes hikers from the Olympic Park Visitors Center winds a gentle half-mile through foothills. WTA is providing annual maintenance, including beginning construction of a small bridge on this trail that provides some forest solitude just outside of Port Angeles.
Take advantage of a unique opportunity with WTA and enjoy a late morning start to a work party! We'll start at 10:00 a.m., rather than at our usual 8:30 a.m. Plus, Sehome Arboretum is near downtown Bellingham and the trailhead is accessible by bus, so you may not even need to start your car to get there!
We're constructing a trail that will connect preexisting user-built trails in a more sustainable way, so that hikers for years to come can enjoy this sanctuary in the Bellingham city limits
February 28 - March 1
This trip offers the opportunity to spend an early-season overnight in the scenic Columbia Gorge area. After working on the trails, you'll enjoy a potluck barbeque on Saturday night. WTA will provide burgers (with a veggie option) and pop; you and your fellow crew members provide side dishes. After refueling and resting, hit the trail on Sunday to finish the project before heading out.
Unlike other weekenders, we'd like volunteers to commit to the whole weekend for this project. Our access point is via a route that crosses private property, and we'd like to minimize the disturbance to the landowner whose driveway we have to cross in order to access the worksite.
Archana Bhat is a mom of twins, lover of food, ardent world traveler and obsessed with taking photos both with her dSLR and iPhone. Follow her on facebook for photos and essays from Seattle and beyond. Read Archana's account of her first volunteer vacation experience along the Wonderland Trail last season:
Seven days in the wilderness, maintaining trails and hiking in the shadow of my beloved Mount Rainier. That's what I signed up for when I registered in early spring last year for a volunteer vacation with Washington Trails Association. Considering I had done only one local work party and had never camped for more than five days in my life, I didn’t realize the full extent of the adventure that awaited me.Signing up for a week in the woods
I had the summer off from my consulting job and already had plans to do multiple hiking trips. What better way to train for those trips than a week in the woods? My husband agreed to watch our 8-year old twins, and with his support, I signed up! After the initial registration in February, life got busy, so it wasn't until two weeks before the trip that I got butterflies about the expedition. Who else was going? What if I can’t dig like the rest? What if it rained the entire time?
It was too late to back out; my mom and hubby were lined up to help with the kids, and friends and co-workers were already envying my time off in the woods.
A week before the trip, Kathy, our crew leader, emailed the crew with details for the trip. I had several questions to ask her so we spoke over the phone. Kathy was reassuring and easygoing; she told me that since we were having rangers tote our gear to the campsite, I could bring extra items to make camp cozy, like camp chairs and more clothing. For a first timer, this was a huge relief. I only had to carry a day pack for the five-mile walk in and rest of my gear for seven days would be brought in.
The week before the trip, I double checked the trip agenda. Meet at noon at Mount Rainier on Saturday, bring a sack lunch. We’d be working from Sunday to Saturday, with Wednesday off for a midweek break. The forecast called for good weather for most of the week. Buoyed by the positive forecast and excitement for “me” time, I embarked on a week-long vacation.Home for the week
We met at the Ipsut Creek Campground trailhead, where Kathy instructed us to drop our gear with the rangers and we headed down the trail. During the flat five-mile walk, I walked along quietly, listening to two other volunteers tell stories and pausing to take photos of wildflowers. In no time, we reached camp to find our gear had beat us there. The kitchen and group lounging tent were already set up, so we each got busy setting up our homes for the week.
Because I like the sound of rushing water, I set up my tent near the river. It turned out the spot I chose was also closest to the kitchen area, great for fast access to food!
After we were settled, Kathy went over camp rules, including the chore list and schedule of meals. We couldn’t find the menu with the meal plan, so we enjoyed trying to figure out the week’s meals based on the provisions provided. Everyone chipped in preparing food and by 6 p.m. dinner was served. After resting in camp, we went over plans for the upcoming work day and then headed to our tents for our first night in camp.Dreaming of showers and baths
The next morning, I discovered that my co-volunteers were early risers. Most were up by five, had coffee started at five-thirty and breakfast going by six! Since I hadn't slept well in my fancy pants sleeping quarters, I was the last to roll into breakfast. The ranger in charge met us at camp and gave Kathy instructions on the work site and what needed to be done while we packed our lunches for the work day ahead.
By eight or so, we were hiking to work. During the week the hike to the worksite ranged from 1.5 to 2.5 miles. The work was hard but we got plenty of breaks for snacks, water and lunch. I had not done such physical manual labor ever and I felt muscles ache that had never before been sore. It made me appreciate every snack like it was fine sushi. Coming back to camp at three and taking a sunny nap felt like a luxurious bath. But no real bath was to be had for the entire week. I knew this going in, but the reality was harsh.
By mid-week I was fantasizing about the bath I would take once I got home. By day seven, I knew it would be a shower and bath combo. One camper was brave enough to take dips in the glacier-fed creek, but I wanted no part of that."An outdoor girls dream!"
By Tuesday night, I was ready for break day. Although trail work was gratifying, I was happy to sleep in till the late hour of 7 a.m. on Wednesday, then go on a long hike and spend the day exploring and taking photos. Fortunately, the sun was out, so I decided to head up the Carbon Glacier trail to see the glacier itself. I made the right choice. The four-mile hike to Dick Creek along the Carbon River is stunning. I saw harmless garter snakes, a spotted owl, tons of wildflowers, streams, waterfalls and incredible views of majestic Mount Rainier. With no internet or commitments, I had the entire day to frolic in the woods. An outdoor girl’s dream!
By Thursday, I had the work and rhythm of camp life down. My fitful night sleeps were balanced by afternoon naps, and cooking dinners with volunteers was a great way to tell stories and recite the names of work tools; grubhoe, corona, Pulaski. Then the rain showed up! We were lucky to have had such a sunny and amazing week, but when the rain came down on Thursday, I was not so positive. I scurried from my own tent to the “lounge” tent, trying not to get too wet, huddling with the rest of the group. My rain fly didn't cover my tent very well and in the middle of the night I woke to find wet spots around my head.
I got up on Friday ready to go home. I was a rookie and a fair weather camper, but the expert campers took no heed to my whining. “Push on!” “It’s only one more day!” One asked, “What do you have to go home for?” I had many ideas in my head but refrained from sharing all of them, as it seemed disrespectful. Some of us came back early to camp on Friday and prepped for the Saturday departure. Packing and cleaning up improved my dark mood, so after dinner that night, I decided to stroll into the woods for one final photo walk. The rains had actually created lovely opportunities for macro (or close-up) scenes. I felt one with the earth. I enjoyed the fresh smell of the newly-washed world around me as I watched the clouds clear. Life was good again.
I returned to camp rejuvenated and enjoyed my final night’s sleep. The next morning we made the quick jaunt back to the parking lot and said goodbyes to new friends."...one of the most rewarding and fulfilling vacations I've ever had."
The volunteer vacation was hard, but fantastic. It combined my love of the outdoors with service work. It taught me perseverance through struggle and respect for the rangers and the work that they undertake. The work on the trails showed me that nature is mightier than man. The Carbon River’s flooding, its power to demolish everything we build and the views of Mount Rainier are a constant reminder of how minuscule we humans really are.
If you enjoy the outdoors, have some camping experience and want a meaningful service project consider volunteering with Washington Trails Association. It was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling vacations I’ve ever been on, and I’m looking forward to my next one.
Inspired to join WTA on a multi-night trip?
Signups for trips in the 2015 season start February 7 at 10:00 a.m. If the trip you want is marked "Full", be sure to contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org to be placed on the waitlist. Odds are good that you'll get on the trip you want.
Today’s post is a guest blog by Shane Morgan, Management Plan Coordinator White Clay Wild & Scenic River ProgramWhite Clay Creek | J A Thomas
There are only 208 Wild and Scenic Rivers, select rivers of the U.S., which possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, and or cultural values. To put this into perspective, less than half of one percent of all American rivers are awarded this title. White Clay Creek is one of them.
The White Clay Creek is unique in that it was the first Wild and Scenic River to be protected on a watershed basis rather than just focusing on a section of the river. This approach takes into consideration the variety of influences outside the river corridor that affect river habitat and water quality. White Clay Creek is a 107square-mile watershed, containing approximately 200 stream miles, primarily made up of small order streams on private lands. In order to adequately safeguard river habitat and water quality for future generations, it made sense to ensure the protection of these smaller headwater streams and tributaries, which are highly influenced by local land uses.
People don’t always make this connection between land and water. On a typical rainy day, most people probably aren’t thinking about where the water that hits their property (roof, driveway, backyard) is going or what pollutants may be carried with it into local streams. Local land use, including stormwater management and agricultural practices, can have a huge impact on water quality and quantity. The White Clay Creek Wild & Scenic Watershed Management Plan encompasses the entire watershed, both land and waterways, allowing the White Clay Wild and Scenic Steering Committee and its many partners to implement projects and promote actions outside the river corridor that benefit our river habitat and water quality.
Partnership rivers?White Clay Creek, DE | Colin Williford
Rivers such as the White Clay Creek that run through private lands rely on the “Partnership” Wild and Scenic River model of river management. Only 12 rivers (less than 6% of all Wild and Scenic Rivers) are managed as Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers including Farmington River in Connecticut, the Musconetcong and Great Egg Harbor Rivers in New Jersey, the Lower Delaware River in Pennsylvania and the Wekiva River in Florida. Yet this model has proven to be very successful.
Partnership Rivers rely on strong public and private partnerships that work cooperatively for the long-term management and protection of the waterway. The role of the Federal government is not to own or manage lands along the river corridor. It is primarily to support local jurisdictions in long-term river management and protection by assisting with the development of a river management plan, administering an annual appropriation of federal funding to implement that plan, and conducting reviews of any proposed federally assisted water resources projects.
Partnership Rivers have a proven track record of being a cost effective and efficient way to protect private lands rivers. In fact, Partnership Rivers received the highest grades for compliance with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and river protection from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Task Force. In 2007 Harvard University’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation honored the Partnership program as a top innovation exemplifying public and private partnerships.
Successes?White Clay Creek State Park | likeaduck (flickr)
To highlight some of our successes, since 2005, the White Clay Wild and Scenic Steering Committee has on average, matched our federal funds 1:1. In other words, every dollar of federal funds received has been matched 100% over the past decade. In fact, just in the past two years we have seen an even greater match of 1:2.
Simply put, the federal funds we receive get put to good use. They are put towards landowner-supported conservation easements, best management practices such as stormwater basin retrofits and manure management practices, dam removal, reforestation, and education and outreach efforts that are supported by our local partners. Our partners include municipalities, water utilities, state and county agencies, other non-profits, private donors, and of course local citizens and Steering Committee members who volunteer their time.
Perhaps the biggest success is our Open Space program. Since our designation in late 2000, we have preserved just under 2000 additional acres of land valued at $26 million at a cost of just $127,500 in federal funds. Our reforestation program, initiated in 2010, has planted 7,500 trees, or 24 riparian acres, at a cost of $12,442 in federal funds. This past year White Clay Wild & Scenic Steering Committee supported the University of Delaware’s Water Resources Agency with the first documented dam removal in the State of Delaware. The dam was also the first to be removed for shad restoration along the White Clay Creek.
Finally, in December of 2014, nine additional stream miles were added to the White Clay Creek’s Wild and Scenic designation, bringing the total designated stream miles to 199. These two additional stream segments will now receive the same protection as the original 190 miles in terms of federal assistance for any water resource projects that may pose a potential adverse impact to the creek or its resources.
Our Wild & Scenic partnership first gained the support of the two local municipalities containing the stream segments no longer deemed necessary for future water supply. Then, we found champions in the Senate and House to sponsor the legislation to include these new stream segments. This support enabled us to expand protection for our river with no federal land acquisition and at no cost to taxpayers. How is that not a win-win?
To find out more about the White Clay Creek National Wild & Scenic River and for a sampling of projects, please visit our website at www.whiteclay.org.
We can’t let this Internet meme pass us by. When Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett […]
Registration is open for the Washington Bike Summit. This two day summit brings together advocates for […]
WTA’s Volunteer Vacations and Backcountry Response Teams (BCRTs) are a great way to give back to the trails that take you into the heart of Washington’s gorgeous wilderness. When you join one, you’ll be part of a multi-day adventure with fun and friendly people, repairing trails and enjoying Washington’s natural beauty.
There are trails all over Washington that need your help. The catalog below lists some of the upcoming season’s most exciting trips, whether you’re looking for an easy ramble to base camp or breathtaking views.Trips for teens: begin your application for a summer trip today
Signups start Saturday, Feb. 7 at 10:00 am.
Browse a catalog of featured trips below. Download a PDF version.
wta.org/bcrt. For more information on Volunteer Vacations, visit wta.org/vacations.
This blog is part of our series featuring the rivers protected by Congress in December 2014, including those designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers.Sun River, MT | Mike Fiebig
Western Montanans are lucky enough to live amongst truly wild places: valleys created by free-flowing rivers, seas of peaks reaching for the sky, and largely intact habitats that are filled with all of species that were present at the time of European contact. The Rocky Mountain Front – that dramatic geography where the mountains and rivers of the Northern Rockies meet the Great Plains – is one of those places. But until recently, it was a largely unprotected landscape.
The Front harkens back to a different era. Working ranches still dominate the landscape. Wildlife and culture regularly mix in and around the few communities spread along Highway 89/287 as it threads its way north through the prairie. Looking west, jagged, limestone “reefs” rise up from the plains. These walls of rock are incised in regular intervals by canyons containing gin clear water from last winter’s snows. Numerous trails follow these canyons west into the interior worlds of the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex, worlds inhabited by grizzly bears, huckleberries, and elk living in mountain meadows and verdant thickets, along the sides of rushing rivers that are framed by imposing, snowcapped peaks. Those fortunate to experience the Rocky Mountain Front from either the plains or the mountains cannot help but be moved by it.
When I first moved to Montana 8 years ago and began exploring the Front I thought of it mostly as a backpacker’s paradise. Some years later however, I bought a packraft, a single-person, 5-pound, packable whitewater raft that begs to be used for exploration. All of a sudden the streams of the Rocky Mountain Front morphed into premier paddling destinations as well. And what glorious streams they are! Birch Creek, Deep Creek, the Dearborn River, the Forks of the Sun River, the Teton River…. gorgeous, wild, headwaters streams running through a patchwork of federal lands, many with outstanding wilderness characteristics.Paddling on Sun River, MT | Mike Fiebig
For nearly a decade, a coalition of landowners and conservation groups has been working to protect this landscape, hammering out a collaborative solution called the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which just so happened to carry with it a number of natural resources bills that had been waiting for their day in the sun, one of those being the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. While the NDAA sparked considerable controversy in both form and substance – some disagreed with the compromises made and questioned the appropriateness of adding natural resource bills to a must-pass defense bill – the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act (along with the North Fork Watershed Protection Act) is a clear win.
The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act protected 275,272 acres along the Front, adding 67,160 acres of Wilderness to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and designating another 208,112 acres as a “Conservation Management Area” that aims to protect the front as it is while allowing existing uses. The last time Congress designated a wilderness area in Montana was over 30 years ago in 1983, when it designated the Lee Metcalf Wilderness.
Please join me in celebrating the passage of the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act. Cheers to the people who worked together to make it happen! In this era of hyper-partisan politics it is inspiring to see concerned citizens from multiple political persuasions working together to protect a place that they love.