Get outside and help others enjoy nature responsibly

  • Wed Jun 18th, 2014 4:40pm
  • Life

By Sharon Wootton

Many recreational-oriented volunteer opportunities are available during the summer. One of the most intriguing is in the Mountain Steward program.

Volunteers are needed to teach day hikers, backpackers and climbers to care for and protect the delicate alpine ecosystem in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Park.

Volunteers will be trained in low-impact recreational skills, natural history and backcountry management by Forest Service staff.

Training dates are July 12 and July 19. Volunteers must commit to work three weekend days during July 13-Sept. 14 on four of the busiest Mount Baker trail systems: Skyline Divide, Heliotrope Ridge, Park Butte/Railroad Grade and Heather Meadows/Artist Point.

An optional training is offered Aug. 2 for those who want to volunteer at Heather Meadows.

Apply by June 27. Go to and follow the links to the application. Call 360-854-2615 for more information. Volunteers must be 18 years or older with hiking and outdoor recreation skills.

Olympic National Park opens roads: The first three miles of the 8-mile long Obstruction Point Road is now clear of snow and open to vehicles. It has been graded as far as Waterhole.

There is limited parking at Waterhole. Do not block the gate.

Beyond the gate, crews are still working on clearing and preparing the rest of the road. Crews are using a front-end loader to scoop and remove snow — more than 10 feet deep in places — from the road.

Deer Park Road is open. Use caution while driving the winding gravel road. Deer Park Campground is open for primitive camping, with pit toilets and no drinking water.

Hurricane Hill Road is open. The 1.5-mile road leads past the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to the Hurricane Ridge picnic area and Hurricane Hill Trail.

More information on visiting Olympic National Park and current conditions of park roads, campgrounds and other facilities is available at the Olympic National Park website at

Over-snow rules: Comments can be made on a proposal to standardize where and when over-snow vehicles, such as snowmobiles, can be used on national forests and grasslands.

The U.S. Forest Service already has guidelines for motorized vehicle use on roads, trails and other areas but does not have a parallel set of rules for over-snow vehicles.

A federal court ruled in 2013 that managers must regulate the use rather than having it done at the discretion of managers.

The last day to comment is Aug. 4. For more information, see

The judge ordered the rule to be set by Sept. 9.

Partners: Sometimes it takes a village to get the work done. Three trail-restoration work projects in the Pacific Ranger District of Olympic National Forest have been completed.

Guests at Lake Quinault Lodge contributed money to the National Forest Foundation to help fund the restorations. Fourteen urban high-school students volunteered through the Student Conservation Association to brush trails, repair a trail turnpike and replace a deteriorated bridge with a puncheon bridge.

A puncheon bridge usually has a deck made of sawn treated timber or native logs placed on stringers to elevate the trail across wet areas.

Volunteer crews from the Washington Trail Association, including adults and high school students, did maintenance and restoration work on the Colonel Bob Trail, the West Fork Humptulips Trail, the Quinault Lakeshore Trail and Gatton Creek Falls Trail.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or