2016: A great year for volunteer partnerships

Partner organizations are extremely important to DNR’s ability to provide recreation access to the lands we manage on behalf of trust beneficiaries. The work of our volunteers is expected to exceed a value of $1.3 million last year alone¹. Here are just a few examples of how fortunate we are to be working with incredible groups, and people, across the state of Washington to enhance quality of life for everyone.

Snowmobiling in DNR's Ahtanum State Forest. DNR photo.
Snowmobiling in DNR’s Ahtanum State Forest. DNR photo.

Yakima Ski-Benders
Formed in 1965, the Yakima Ski-Benders snowmobile club enjoys snowmobiling and other recreation opportunities in the Ahtanum State Forest. Each year the 125-member club works to maintain these opportunities with their annual summer clean-up and camping weekend, when they pick up litter along roads and trails and maintain green dot roads and campgrounds. The club, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015, also often hosts winter events in Ahtanum State Forest to educate younger riders on snow safety and rider etiquette.

View of High Hut and Mount Rainier. DNR photo.
View of High Hut and Mount Rainier. DNR photo.

Mount Tahoma Trails Association
Based in Ashford near Mount Rainier, the Mount Tahoma Trails Association was founded in 1991. Since their start, they’ve helped more than 150,000 visitors use the three huts, yurt, and 50-mile trail system they care for in DNR’s Tahoma State Forest. MTTA has three to four work parties each summer to upkeep the huts and trails, but their volunteers are working hard year-round. Volunteers groom trails during their winter months and also staff their Ashford location on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer questions.  Learn more.

Strait Teq
A Toyota enthusiast club located near Port Angeles, Strait Teq donates hundreds of  hours caring for 4×4 trails on the Olympic Peninsula. As a nonprofit started in 2012, Strait Teq’s mission is to encourage off-road vehicle riding opportunities on state lands everyone can enjoy. With frequent work parties, Strait Teq has helped DNR rebuild a trail bridge, clear trails, and manage trail drainage on the Olympic Peninsula.

SWITMO members volunteering in DNR's Blanchard State Forest.
SWITMO members volunteering in DNR’s Blanchard State Forest.

Skagit Whatcom Island Trail Maintaining Organization 
Founded in 1999, the Skagit-Whatcom-Island Trail Maintaining Organization (SWITMO) works to care for the Pacific Northwest Trail, a 1,200-mile national scenic trail, as it passes through DNR’s Blanchard Mountain and Anderson forests. The 120-member nonprofit drastically improved the formally rock and root laden trail between Chuckanut Drive and Samish Overlook, which also provides access to popular Oyster Dome. They also built Max’s Shortcut, a 1.4-mile connection trail in DNR’s Blanchard Forest.

Eastern Washington Adventures 
Eastern Washington Adventures, founded in 2004, helps DNR care for recreation opportunities in Ahtanum State Forest, near Yakima, and Beverly Dunes, near Mattawa. Prior to DNR’s inception of our Forest Watch volunteer program, Eastern Washington Adventures volunteered to patrol for safety in  Ahtanum State Forest, where they continue to give back. Volunteers also repair signage along green dot roads in Ahtanum State Forest and organize work parties to pick up litter along the road system, popular for off-road-vehicle riding, hunting, picnicking and dispersed recreation activities, such as wildlife viewing.

Jones Creek Trails Riders Association during a work party. DNR photo.
Jones Creek Trails Riders Association during a work party. DNR photo.

Jones Creek Trail Riders Association
The Jones Creek Trail Riders Association has been hard at work last summer building ATV and dirt bike trails in the Yacolt Burn State Forest. They completed .75 miles of ATV and dirt bike trail that quickly ascends a series of ridgeline switchbacks to reach nearly 4,000 feet elevation at the summit of Larch Mountain. The trail provides sweeping views of Portland, Vancouver and the surrounding area.  When they’re not building new trails, the club maintains the 15-mile Jones Creek Trail System in partnership with DNR.

Pacific Northwest Trail Association
Our partners at the Pacific Northwest Trail Association, based in Sedro-Woolley, manage a 1,200-mile national scenic trail that crosses DNR’s Blanchard State Forest, Harry Osborne State Forest, Loomis State Forest and forests on the Olympic Peninsula. The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail starts in the jagged Rockies of Glacier National Park and traverses six mountain ranges before ending in the Wilderness coast of Olympic National Park. PNTA volunteers help with trail maintenance on the more than 60 miles that pass through DNR-managed lands.

Launching from DNR's Samish Overlook. Photo courtesy North Cascades Soaring Club.
Launching from DNR’s Samish Overlook. Photo courtesy North Cascades Soaring Club.

North Cascades Soaring Club
Based in the Bellingham area, the North Cascades Soaring Club was formed around 2011 and its volunteers serve as site stewards for DNR’s Blanchard Overlook, in our Blanchard State Forest near Bellingham. The club often works with DNR staff to fix erosion issues, mow and trim weeds, install signs and keep the site clean. In summer 2016, club volunteers joined DNR staff to create a safer, smoother west launch site at the overlook, which also provides access to hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking trails. Learn more in a previous blog.

Rainier Ridge Rams
Based in Skagit and Whatcom counties, volunteers with the Rainier Ridge Rams give valuable time and effort every year helping to care for DNR’s 35-mile Walker Valley ORV Area, located near Mount Vernon. The club, founded in the 1960s, often joins DNR staff for monthly work parties and provides other educational opportunities for Walker Valley recreationists. Partnering with the Timber Tamers and Around the Sound Jeep Club, the Rainier Ridge Rams organized a GPS event in fall 2016 to help forest visitors become more familiar with  DNR’s Walker Valley Trail map, available for your mobile device.

We love sharing the amazing work of our partners. If you know of a group we should feature, please let us know.

To learn more about volunteering on DNR-managed lands visit our website. To find an event near you, visit our calendar.

     1. Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data and DNR’s volunteer hours from January 2016 through September 2016.

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