Regional trail projects in need of volunteers

An unprecedented surge of volunteers is putting muscle into trail projects and cleanups throughout the Inland Northwest this season.

And there’s plenty of room for others to join the party.

•Hikers are organizing a trail reconstruction project in the Iller Creek Conservation Futures area near the Dishman Hills.

•Mountain bikers are laying out an ambitious trail system at Beacon Hill and Camp Sekani.

•Nordic skiers are clearing Mount Spokane cross-country trails in preparation for the first snowfall.

•Horsemen, hikers and conservationists are improving neglected trails in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness northeast of Sullivan Lake.

•Sportsmen’s groups and conservationists joined with the Colville National Forest last weekend to clear out an old logging road that will be opened to disabled hunters.

•River rafters started an annual event that’s engaged the entire community in the annual Spokane River cleanup, set this year for Oct. 4.

Following are more details on the projects and contacts for information and volunteering.

Iller Creek trail reconstruction:

Two major efforts set for Sept. 27-28 and Oct. 11-12 with more work planned into 2009 to redirect a badly eroded route and form a loop trail.

The trail leads up from the Ponderosa neighborhood area off Dishman-Mica Road and into the Big Rock and Tower Mountain areas.

“It gets a lot of use,” said organizer Ken Mondal, a Spokane radiologist and board member for the Washington Trails Association. “It’s close to the city; people don’t have to drive hours to get to a nice place to hike. We’re hoping for a nice turnout to make this something we can enjoy and be proud of.”

Sign up for one day or a weekend, online at www.wta.org (click “volunteer”), or call 599-1280.

Beacon Hill mountain bike routes:

Next effort is Oct. 25 clean-up from Minnehaha Rocks to Camp Sekani.

The Fat Tire Trail Riders, Spokane Mountaineers and other groups are focusing on a popular helter-skelter network of trails, some of which trespass on private property, with the goal of making them safe, fun, sustainable and legal. The bikers already have been awarded grants and invested muscle into a bicycle skills park, with bridge building, banked-turn construction and other projects completed just last week.

Contact for the clean-up, Steve Reynolds, (509) 869-1122, e-mail sreynoldsmead@comcast.net . Info on other Beacon Hill activities: www.fttrc.org  .

Mount Spokane nordic trails:

Spokane Nordic Ski Education Foundation members once again are helping the state park staff clear the brush and blowdowns on the 30 miles of cross-country ski trails. It’s a big chore, and signs of all their work usually is covered by snow when most people show up to enjoy the trails that couldn’t be groomed if it weren’t for their labor.

The club already has been out, but much work remains to be done. For example, “Silver Trail is a jungle!” said Tom Frost, club member.

Here’s the schedule for remaining fall work parties, followed by contact phone numbers for sign-up, access and details.

•Sept. 20 and Sept. 27 and Oct. 18. Leader: Sam Schlieder, 926-7783.

•Oct. 12 and Oct. 25. Leader: Art Bookstrom, 624-9667

Salmo-Priest Wilderness trails:

The Spokane Mountaineers, Backcountry Horsemen and Conservation Northwest already have put major effort in to reworking trails in this choice wilderness nugget in the northeastern corner of Washington. The last project of the season was last weekend, when members completed the last four miles of trail-clearing that had yet to be completed this season.

“This is a pretty cool story because so many of the trails have been neglected and were hammered with downed trees, and with all the various volunteer group efforts and help from some Hotshots, they will all be cleared for the first time in years,” said Derrick Knowles of Conservation Northwest.

Other wilderness projects are planned.

Info: (509) 435-1270.

Disabled hunter  routes:

Using a grant obtained by the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, sportsmen from groups such as the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council and the Mule Deer Foundation worked last week to clear alder and brush from a Colville National Forest gated road that eventually will be unlocked for use by disabled hunters.

Info: (509) 435-1270.

Spokane River  clean-up:

Set for Oct. 4 this year, the annual celebration features a morning of volunteer work to spruce up targeted areas along the river corridor followed by food, music and prizes at High Bridge Park.

Register online, www.friendsofthefalls.org  .

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