In 2019, the Recreation Program at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was hard at work completing numerous projects to improve your recreation experience.
In all, more than 65,000 volunteer hours were spent last year on updates and new construction on DNR recreation sites. Volunteers help enhance the DNR recreational experience and keep people safe, informed and protect habitat from erosion and overuse.
With our amazing recreation staff, volunteers and Washington Conservation Corp (WCC) crews, DNR is able to continue to provide free camping, well-manicured trails and habitat restoration for the price of a Discover Pass.
Every year, the Recreation Program at DNR puts together a list of all the incredible work that has been done. Below is a highlight of a few of the projects completed in 2019. It is important to remember that routine updates and maintenance to the existing infrastructure is ongoing all year long and are extremely important parts of keeping up DNR’s recreation sites.
Volunteering on public lands and trails is part of ensuring they are in working order and accessible for all residents. If you would like to volunteer to protect our trust lands go to www.dnr.wa.gov/volunteer to learn more!
The following projects are organized by region and by county so if you would like to learn more about the DNR regions go here. Learn more about the Habitat Conservation Plan here.
In 2019 the Northwest Region logged 10,971.5 hours of volunteer work.
San Juan County
At the Point Doughty Natural Area Preserve two sets of pre-fabricated stairs were acquired for installation as part of grant-funded renovation work at the accessible by water only campground in the Natural Area Preserve on Orcas Island. One set of stairs was installed in 2019 and the second set will be installed in 2020. A new kiosk was also set up and new wayfinding signs along the trails to keep you going in the right direction.
In Walker Valley a variety of projects were completed that contribute to a more environmentally sustainable trail system. Most of the trail maintenance protects resources from erosion and from sediment runoff into streams. Two bridge replacement projects were complete on Tooler Trail. At the Peter Burns Trailhead crews cleaned up the trailhead, resulting in nine dump runs, totaling over 1000 pounds of trash.
DNR was also able to utilize 175 Puget SoundCorp crew days and sponsored 12 volunteer events, with activities ranging from picking up trash, installing and repairing signage, planting trees, trail maintenance and restoring areas damaged by off-road vehicles (ORVs). These events logged over 2000 volunteer hours.
At the Reiter Foothills Forest one-half mile of new all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trail was completed along with the excavation and hardening of 1.2 miles of 4X4 wheeled trails. Trail signage was installed along all 25 miles of ORV trails and three miles of non- motorized trail.
In the Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area, trail improvement work was conducted on the first two miles of the Boulder-Greider mainline trail to improve user experience and protect water quality. A sustainable backcountry toilet was installed at Gothic Basin. This is the first toilet to be installed in this landscape, which has become very popular in recent years. The toilet installation coincides with design work underway to designate trails and camping areas.
The design was completed and three bridges were acquired for installation on the Cutthroat Lakes trail system. These bridges will provide for public safety on trails, improve user experience, and protect water quality. At Boulder Creek permitting for installation of a new bridge across the creek was completed the bridge acquired. The Installation of this bridge will facilitate the re-opening of a trail that had been closed for several years due to the old bridge being condemned. Also, trail tread on 300 feet of challenging trail on the Walt Bailey/Cutthroat Lakes trail system was improved and defined.
DNR worked with the Town of Darrington and the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance to complete construction of 10.5 miles of trail within the upper elevation of the North Mountain Bike System area of the planned non-motorized trail system. These biking trails officially opened in October 2019. Learn more about the opening event here.
In the Walker Valley Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Area two bridges were replaced and one fish passage culvert was installed. Fish passage culverts help to restore salmon and other fish’s natural habitat while maintaining trails in the recreation areas. An additional 70 feet of new ditch was constructed to help keep water off of trails and roadways.
In 2019 the Olympic Region logged just over 4,000 hours of volunteer work.
Clallam and Jefferson Counties
Along the Colville Trails, volunteers built two miles of mountain bike trails, and a pump track, intended to progress mountain bike skills for younger and less advanced riders. Altogether, 620 volunteer hours were spent on this project alone. At the Lyre River Campground, new water lines were installed for four potable water spigots and metered electrical service to the camp host site. A one-mile trail to connect the campground to the adjacent North Olympic Land Trust property was also created.
Five interpretive signs and a new retaining wall were installed near the picnic area of Reade Hill Trail. The interpretative signs help to tell the DNR story and how public trust lands are important to our health, our environment, and our economy. At Striped Peak work has started on building a new ridge trail with the Washington Trail Association volunteers and WCC crews.
At Sadie Creek volunteers installed spall rock, silt fence and sterile straw to reduce sediment distribution to the stream adjacent to a bog. In the Foothills ORV and Sadie Multi-Use Trails area, there was work done with WCC crews, adapt-a trail volunteer groups and the DNR‘s maintenance and operations crew to complete a variety of maintenance projects that provide a safer experience for the user while promoting environmental stewardship such as, 585 feet of hardened trail, mounted signs, new barriers and the installation of a new culvert.
PACIFIC CASCADE REGION
The “Pick Up the Burn” event was hosted in the Yacolt Burn State Forest and volunteers removed 30 tires and 20 cubic yards of garbage from the forest. Other volunteer work parties in the forest were attended by the Washington Trails Association, Back Country Horsemen of Washington, Washington Trail Riders Association, Evergreen Mountain Bike Association SW and Chinook Trails Association, Pistons Wild and Jones Creek Trail Riders Association, Boy Scouts of America 475 Brush Prairie and the Washington and Chinook Trails Association.
Crews completed construction on approximately five miles of new non-motorized, multi-user trail along the Tarbell Trail system (the Silver Shadow Trail and the Sixth Sense Trail) and another volunteer work party by Trash No Lands installed two new fiberglass bridges over Coyote Creek (one 55 feet and the other 80 feet). Two new horse trailer campsites and new non-horse campsites were also created along with the installation of a high line for hitching horses, new fire pits and picnic tables.
In the Yacolt Burn State Forest numerous campsites were upgraded with new picnic tables and fire pits. There were also two new tent sites added and the trails were improved for ADA access.
At the Winston Creek Campground, new signs were installed and campsites were upgraded with new picnic tables and fire rings. Mitchell Peak added new trailheads at North Fork Siouxon Trail and Sugar Loaf areas. At Merill Lake a new entrance sign was installed, a mile of trail was improved and numerous campsites were upgraded with new gravel. Volunteer work parties were held by the Clark Skamania Flyfishers.
In Pacific County, DNR reopened the Butte Creek Day Use area after a 12-year closure and installed a new gate for power line access, installed five new picnic tables, reopened approximately 0.85 miles of non-motorized hiker only trail. Installed two new bridges (20 and 25 feet), a new entrance sign and kiosk.
Two car-camping areas were added and improved the parking area through grading at Radar Ridge Block. The Salmon Creek Block upgraded a road with new gravel, repaired the damage of campsites and had volunteer work parties by Friends of Tunnerville and Backcountry Horsemen Willapa Hills.
SOUTH PUGET SOUND REGION
In 2019 the South Puget Sound Region logged over 30,311 hours of volunteer work.
Thurston and Grays Harbor Counties
Capitol Forest has over 20,000 volunteer hours each year. In the 14th Annual Great Gravel Pack-In event was held. Over 70 volunteers from equestrian, mountain bike, off-road vehicle and trail running organizations spread over 15 tons of rock via horseback and ATVs used to harden both motorized and non-motorized trails. Well placed rock on trails greatly reduces the chances of fine sediment delivery to streams and generally it makes the trails more enjoyable.
The following are projects within the Capitol Forest:
- At the McLane Creek Nature Trail 120 feet of decomposing treated boardwalk was replaced with long-lasting fiberglass stringers and decks. Another 120 feet of structurally insufficient pressure treated wood bridges was replaced with fiberglass structures and water sealed fir planking. Two miles of trail were reconstructed by out sloping and improving drainage structures.
- Along the Wedekind Trail volunteers installed 100 feet of geo synthetics and rock to eliminate a muddy section and to encourage riders to stay in the center of trail. DNR supplied rock and an ATV. DNR and volunteers performed drainage maintenance and brushing on approximately 40 miles of trail. Volunteers provided people, equipment and tools to perform this task.
- Volunteers built two miles of new trail near Fall Creek Campground along Level Up Trail. This trail will increase safety by providing a trail, instead of users needing to ride up on the C-6000 road to get to the top of Little Larch Trail.
- At the Fall Creek Trailhead work began on the approximately one and a half acre expansion of trailhead. The expansion will better accommodate equestrian enthusiasts. Other improvements include a day use shelter (sponsored by the Friends of Capitol Forest) and an unloading ramp for disabled equestrians.
Garbage removal in the Elbe Hills State Forest by recreation staff and volunteers removed 7,500 pounds, or 3.75 tons, of garbage. DNR received a total of 4,947.5 hours of donated volunteer labor. At the Sahara Creek Campground and Nicholson Horse Trails recreation staff conducted routine maintenance on seven bridges and 40 miles of non-motorized trail. This included brushing, tread and drainage maintenance, and signage. Approximately 50 feet of a puncheon that runs over wet forest floor was replaced.
In the Tiger Mountain State Forest construction began on one-half-mile length trail connection between Iverson Railroad Grade Trail and the Tiger Mountain Trail, primarily for hikers. In addition, one mile of the South Tiger Traverse Trail was relocated to a more sustainable location for equestrian use, while trail crews began one-half-mile length directional travel optional route on the NW Timber Trail, to reduce trail congestion.
Recreation and Natural Areas programs, in partnership with the Washington Trails Association, completed a half a mile of re-route of the popular Tiger Mountain Trail. A segment of the trail was relocated to a more sustainable location, improving the user experience for hikers.
At the Mount Si Natural Resource Conservation Area DNR’s Recreation and Natural Areas programs, in partnership with the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, coordinated to complete construction on a new 1.7-mile of Oxbow Loop hiking trail, including completion of an 80-foot trail bridge, installation of a self-contained outhouse, and a trailhead parking area. The Oxbow Loop Trail officially opened May 2019.
In the Raging River State Forest the Recreation Program began construction on six and a half (out of ten) additional trail system miles, with funding secured for Phase 2 trail system development to open in the summer of 2020.
In 2019 the Southeast Region logged over 5,096 hours of volunteer work.
At the Ahtanum State Forest Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant funds were utilized to update infrastructure, including picnic tables, fire rings and kiosks. Whites Ridge Trail maintenance was done by individual volunteers throughout the year. Volunteers picked up litter along the Green Dot Road System, maintained carsonite posts, and picked up litter in dispersed campsites for a total of 777 volunteer hours. Also, a new bridge at Ahtanum Camp was installed to improve fish passage and water flow.
145 volunteer hours were spent by volunteers who picked up litter along the Green Dot Road System and at dispersed campsites at the Wenas Valley-Cascade Camp. Two new toilets at the dispersed Cascade Camp camping area were all installed.
Several pickup truck loads of garbage from dispersed campsites was collected and disposed of from the Bird Creek and Island Camp. A new toilet was also installed to replace an old one at Buck Creek Trailhead #1.
The Westberg Trail is part of the Manastash Ridge Trail System was maintained by the Washington Trails Association (WTA). The WTA also re-routed about 1,100 feet of trail for sustainability in May and June and logged 723 hours of volunteer work. The residents at Sky Meadows, near Elk Heights, held spring and fall work parties, where they picked up litter along the Green Dot Roads and cleaned up dispersed campsites, logging 841 hours.
Motorized groups held two work parties in the Naneum Ridge State Forest – one in June and one in July – to clean up the Green Dot Road System and dispersed campsites, logging 185 hours. Master Hunters came out and cleaned up old hunting camps, logging approximately 80 hours of volunteer time.
Approximately seven miles of new trail in the Cookie Cutter Trail System was constructed this year. Most of the trail work was accomplished by local volunteers, contract fire crews and WCC crews. Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance held weekly work parties in the fall on the Cookie Cutter Trail System. They logged 380 hours on the trail this year.
During the Spring Clean Up approximately 60 volunteers cleaned the three campgrounds, stained picnic tables and put up cattle exclusion fencing in the Teanaway Community Forest Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Lands. During the Fall Clean Up seventeen volunteers came to lay down cattle exclusion fencing, which also helps snowmobilers get around more easily.
In 2019 the Northeast Region logged over 5,277 hours of volunteer work.
In the Northwest Region, the campgrounds hosted 4,000 hours of volunteer time at campgrounds. Those campgrounds include the Stevens County (Douglas Falls Grange Park, Starvation Lake Campground, Sherry Creek Campground) and the Spokane County (Dragoon Creek Campground). During the Trust Land Cleanup (Stone Lodge & Boggs Pit) volunteers spend 283 hours cleaning 2 sites on DNR trust land near Spokane and Deer Park
At the Douglas Falls Grange Campground the pump house was removed and water system was created to provide water for campground host and recreationalists. There were also 14 picnic tables were replaced as well as fire pits. Gravel was applied around fire pits to bring up to fire regulation standards.
In the Sheep Creek Campground fire rings were replaced and gravel was applied around fire pits to bring up to fire regulation standards. Also, the old hand water pumps were replaced with a new simple pump. At the Starvation Lake Campground fire pits were brought up to fire regulation standards by applying more gravel around the pits.
Upgrades to the Flodelle Creek Campground included adding rock to the campground road and campsite parking pads as well as, more gravel around the fire pits and a fence around the front and sides of the campground to keep livestock out. Also, old water pumps were replaced with newer one. New pumps and gravel was also added to the Rocky Lake Campground.
Pend Oreille County
In Pend Oreille County, the Skookum Creek Campground received new fire rings that replaced the old one, applied gravel around fire rings and to the parking pads and road.
Washington Ecology Conservation Crews from Wenatchee successfully relocated a 2800 feet section of trail in the Loomis Natural Resource Conservation Area in 2019. A portion of trail through large meadow area was relocated for riparian protection and all season use by recreationist
West Zone fire staff from Omak area working to set footings for the picnic shelter in September. The old Rock Creek shelter was destroyed by fire during the Okanogan Complex Fires of 2015. The Shelter installation is planned for 2020.
The Recreation Program is looking forward to all the great projects that will be developed in 2020. Volunteer for a work party and we’ll see you on the trail!