Olympia Conservation & Stewardship - Maintaining Our Trails for National Trails Day

Participate in one of our four stewardship activities on June 1 for National Trails Day, and read about the Olympia Conservation and Stewardship Committee's dedication to preserving our public lands.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
May 22, 2019

Our Olympia Conservation and Stewardship Committee has been championing stewardship for several years through an annual Stewardship Challenge and frequent work parties. We invite you to join us for National Trails day on Saturday, June 1, 2019 to give back to your local recreation areas, and to join us in recognizing the incredible work of the Olympia branch  at Wynoochee Lake on the south side of the Olympics.

Get Involved for National Trails Day

Conservation is a founding principle of our organization, and stewardship is a way to directly support that part of our mission. As our Mountaineers community continues to grow, it is extremely important that each one of us considers giving back to the lands on which we recreate through direct service. Each year, the Olympia Conservation and Stewardship committee issues the Stewardship Challenge to their branch. Those wishing to accept the challenge are asked to participate in one stewardship activity that year. That’s all. It’s a simple thing to do, and our Olympia members show us that it can be very fun and rewarding.

Click on any of the links below to learn more about the National Trails Day activities and sign up, or learn more about the Stewardship Challenge here.

Eightmile Creek Trail

Church Creek

Cheasty Greenspace

Bentley Conservation  Easement

Olympia Conservation and Stewardship Committee - Building A Tradition of Giving Back

Wynoochee Lake in the Olympic National Forest is an underutilized gem. Although it hasn’t received as much widespread acclaim as its neighbor, Lake Quinault, Wynoochee Lake beholds valuable multi-use trails that provide excellent opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The lake is surrounded by a 16-mile loop trail, and includes a smaller ‘spur’ loop trail to Maidenhair Falls. The trails wind through old-growth forests speckled with iconic northwest flora and fauna.

For the last three springs, the Olympia Branch Conservation and Stewardship Committee has spent a weekend of service amongst the ancient conifers of Wynoochee Lake. The idea was spurred a few years ago by Ginger Sarver, a Super Volunteer and Leader for the Olympia Conservation and Stewardship Committee, among others. Ginger has been involved with the WTA since 2007 as a ‘green hat’ and has more than 100 work parties under her belt.

She wondered if the The Mountaineers and the WTA could partner on projects, since the missions of the two organizations have a fair amount of overlap. She realized it could be mutually beneficial: our members would gain more trail work experience, and  we could provide the WTA with willing, enthusiastic volunteers.

She reached out to WTA office and was connected with their Field Programs Manager. The WTA staff member thought about a location and came up with Wynoochee Lake, an area that is a great resource for recreationists but needs a lot of care in order to maintain its accessibility.

Ginger went to work recruiting volunteers and the WTA lined up crew leaders. The WTA required a minimum of fifteen participants from The Mountaineers to avoid opening it up to the general public. To entice more volunteers, Ginger organized a potluck dinner on Saturday night so the campers could share a meal and socialize. Sure enough, the fifteen necessary participants registered!

The first Wynoochee Weekend fell on Earth Day weekend, April 22-23, 2016. Rain poured down both days. Trails were wet and the tents were soggy. And yet, all the participants had a great time. They loved the combination of service and socializing so much so, that there was a resounding desire to do the same event the following spring.

The next spring, Ginger organized another resounding success. They moved the event to the first weekend in May, with hopes of having slightly better weather. The weather was beautiful, contributing to a positive collective attitude. Participants in the group had a variety of skill levels, and everyone was able to contribute to improving the trail with guidance from WTA crew leaders.

Just a few weekends ago, Olympia hosted the third iteration of the event. Jack Sisco, an experienced sawyer, member of the committee, and three year Wynoochee participant, helped with  ‘brushing’, ‘lopping’, and ‘realigning’ one section of trail. He likes the combination of doing hard work and spending time getting to know the other group members. Between hiking to the work site, working on the trail, and breaking for meals, there is plenty of time to learn about each other and share stories. He finds it satisfying to see the massive trail improvements volunteers are able to make in just two days. Hikers and bikers can now travel the section of trail unencumbered by fallen logs, overhanging branches, and brush.

Theresa Young was a new participant this year  with no previous trail work experience. As a first-timer, she felt incredibly welcomed by the kindness from the other participants and leaders. She had the opportunity to work  with small saws used for brushing and the larger crosscut saw. During both tasks, crew members gently reminded her of safety protocols with tools and encouraged her throughout the day.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but it was life-changing,” she said. As a single person living with her cat, she appreciated the community that formed over the weekend and was very excited to continue participating with the committee at other stewardship events.

The Olympia Stewardship Challenge

The Olympia Conservation and Stewardship Committee would like to extend the Stewardship Challenge to all Mountaineers regardless of branch.

If you’d like to participate, register for a Mountaineers Stewardship Activity or participate in an activity with another local conservation-based organization. If you participate with another organization, fill out The Mountaineers Stewardship Form to help the Olympia Branch track our organization's stewardship hours and the impact of the Stewardship Challenge. 

Thanks to our Olympia Branch leaders and participants for their continued dedication to keeping our public lands accessible!