Die-hard DNR Volunteers earn complimentary Discover Passes

The Discover Pass had barely been in effect in July, when two of DNR’s rock solid volunteers racked up enough hours to be among the first to earn complimentary passes. Congratulations to Mary Van Amburg of Yakima and Bob Langley of Everett for putting in the requisite 24 hours…and then some!

Mary Van Amburg, volunteer
Mary Van Amburg on a trail cleanup project in Ahtanum State Forest . Photo: DNR

If you visit the Ahtanum State Forest often, chances are you’ll meet Mary Van Amburg and her trusty Border collie, Bryce. As a volunteer with the Ahtanum forest watch group, Mary greets visitors and educates them about safety, fire season regulations, and all manner of recreation-related information. People appreciate that Mary provides a presence, and they feel safer leaving their vehicles parked at a trailhead knowing that she is there, keeping an eye on things.

“Mary has probably volunteered more hours of her time than I have spent on the job,” says Greg Mackey, a volunteer coordinator with DNR’s Southeast Region. “She is a joy to be around and always greets people with a hug and a smile.”

Mary admits that one of her favorite things about volunteering is meeting and talking to people. She also spends a lot of time doing cleanup work at facilities and on trails in Ahtanum.

As much as she loves the outdoors, Mary spends a good deal of time volunteering behind the scenes as well. During the development of the Ahtanum State Forest Recreation Plan, Mary served on the citizen planning committee. The plan was adopted in the fall of 2009. And now Mary is excited to see the fruits of the committee’s work happening on the ground at Ahtanum. The new Whites Ridge trailhead, which is nearing completion, is one example.

Mary, now retired, volunteers her time and energy beyond DNR. She also volunteers with the U.S. Forest Service and serves on the Washington State Parks’ Snowmobile Advisory Committee.

Bob Langley, volunteer.
Bob Langley takes a break during a trail work party at Walker Valley ORV trail system. Photo: DNR.

For the past 30 years, Bob Langley has been riding the trails at Walker Valley Off-road Vehicle (ORV) trail system east of Mount Vernon. Three years ago, he started volunteering at Walker Valley, and last year he logged in 500 volunteer hours! He drives 40 miles from Everett to Walker Valley about two days a week.

“Bob is a positive, upbeat, and hard-working guy,” says Elyse Fleenor, who has coordinated volunteer activities at Walker Valley. “He’s very committed and motivated.”

Elyse says Bob has hauled tons of rock and brushed countless miles of trails. “You don’t have to keep an eye on him,” she says. “He’s very self-directed.”

As a volunteer at Walker Valley, Bob says he helps wherever he’s needed, including pulling out, installing, and cleaning culverts; installing water bars and drain dips; and building new trails.

Bob prefers to ride a dirt bike for recreation. But he bought a quad—or all-terrain vehicle (ATV)—just to help with trail work.

Now retired from working 27 years at Boeing, Bob confesses he would have preferred a career in the woods. As a volunteer, Bob says, “Now I can work in the woods all I want.”

And, after riding dirt bikes for 50 years, Bob says it’s time to give back and help make recreation possible at Walker Valley.

Since Bob and Mary earned their complimentary Discover Passes, many more volunteers have also earned a pass.

Are you interested in volunteering?

Volunteers can earn vouchers toward a complimentary Discover Pass by putting in 24 hours of time working on eligible projects on recreation lands managed by DNR, Washington State Parks, or Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

To find out about volunteer projects with DNR, visit: www.dnr.wa.gov/volunteer and follow the link to the volunteer calendar.

Learn more about how you can earn a complimentary Discover Pass through volunteering at www.discoverpass.wa.gov/faq/#volunteers

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