Trails get TLC from local helpers

Volunteers plan, build and clean routes

Laurie Fleming was wearing her new personalized hard hat with pride last Saturday on the Iller Creek Trail.

“This is what you get on your fifth work party,” she said, wielding a heavy tool with a pick and adz.

Volunteers were out in force last weekend, partly in celebration of National Trails Day and partly because they get enjoyment from spending many days a year improving trails for everyone to use.

Local projects last weekend ranged from Mount Spokane to Fish Lake Trail.

Fleming was among 14 volunteers creating a new 0.7-mile trail section in the Conservation Futures area west of Dishman Mica Road. The group was organized by Ken Mondal and Jane Baker of Spokane, who’ve taken the lead in bringing the muscle of West Side–based Washington Trails Association to the East Side.

“We have a lot more to do here at Iller Creek, but we also have summer projects in the Kettle Range and the Salmo-Priest Wilderness,” she said, wearing her hard hat and taking a break from building a trail that was carefully designed for grade and drainage with help from WTA experts.

The new trail segment is open to hikers and bikers following five weekend work sessions that started last fall, Baker said.

The annual work party on the Fish Lake rail-trail between Spokane and Cheney, supported with a grant from REI, attracted 52 volunteers this year.

“We got a little taste of reality this year,” said organizer Dan Schaffer. “We installed a ‘No Motorized Vehicles’ sign at the Lindeke Court trailhead. It lasted only two days before somebody tore it down.”

Nevertheless, the volunteers hauled a truck-load of garbage out of an illegal dump, spread 5 yards of gravel to improve the Scribner Road parking area, installed a kiosk, removed noxious weeds and trimmed tree branches.

Contractors will begin work on paving more than 4 miles of the trail this summer.

At Mount Spokane, four volunteers were helping park rangers flag new trails for approval by park engineers. The group used tools ranging from GPS to a clinometer to mark location and set grades.

They also took measurements and picked a site for a year-round yurt that will be enjoyed by overnighters off the park road near the first dog-leg turn parking area. If permits are obtained, the yurt could be ready for use next year.

Backcountry Horsemen were working on trails at the Antoine Peak Conservation Futures area.

Learn about WTA trail project volunteer opportunities 7 p.m., June 25 at REI.

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