By Noah Haglund Herald Writer
Bob Langley gets paid nothing for patching up dirt-bike trails, mending culverts or trimming brush in state forests.
And there’s certainly no overtime money in it for this Boeing Co. retiree.
You wouldn’t know it by his grueling schedule.
Langley makes regular 40-mile trips from his Everett home to the Walker Valley off-road-vehicle area in Skagit County, where he typically donates 10 hours or more of labor at a stretch.
“I’m just trying to give back to the community and to the sport that I’ve been involved in,” he said.
It’s all part of an impressive volunteer resume the 62-year-old off-road motorsports enthusiast has compiled since leaving the workforce seven years ago.
The state Department of Natural Resources took notice, recognizing Langley as one of its top two volunteers statewide in 2012. The other recipient was Tom Faubion of Eatonville.
In December, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark presented both men with a Volunteer Hero award during a ceremony in Seattle. It was the first time the DNR had given out the annual commendation. Nominations came from the public.
A typical day of volunteer work for Langley involves picking up gravel left by the DNR at a trailhead. He uses his own four-wheel, all-terrain vehicle to haul it down a narrow track into the woods where it’s used to fill in ruts and improve drainage. His winch comes in handy when he gets stuck.
A recent feat for Langley and his regular volunteer partner involved filling a 20-foot-long sinkhole at Walker Valley that plunged to 5 feet deep in places.
“We fixed the whole thing by cutting logs and stacking them up in the hole,” he said.
On top of that, they dumped in 12 yards of gravel.
The DNR had closed the trail, but two days of sweat from Langley and his accomplice allowed it to reopen.
Walker Valley isn’t the only DNR property where Langley performs his good deeds. He’s also gone farther afield, to the Capitol State Forest near Olympia and Tahuya State Forest in Mason County.
Closer to home, he picks up litter along about five miles of roadway for Everett’s Adopt-a-Street program and volunteers at city parks.
Langley estimates it all added up to 800 volunteer hours in 2012.
“I try to make 1,000 hours a year,” he said. “Some years I make it and some years I don’t.”
Jim Cahill, a DNR regional recreation manager based in Sedro-Woolley, called Langley exceptional for his dedication, energy and positive attitude. Some of Langley’s valuable traits are his ability to use heavy equipment and his knowledge of off-road motorsports.
“He’s got a really good grasp of the maintenance needs out there for us,” Cahill said. “That’s a real advantage.”
Langley lives in the Glenwood area of southwest Everett, near where he grew up riding motorcycles in dirt lots. A Herald paper route helped him buy his first ride at age 15.
Langley managed to keep up his sport, in part by raising 10 children.
“At one time, I had six kids riding dirt bikes all at once,” he said.
He now has 10 grandchildren as well.
In addition to riding off-road, Langley’s a member of a club for owners of Honda Valkyrie street bikes.
Langley said he’s enjoyed volunteering and plans to keep at it for some time to come: “I see myself giving back to the state another 20 years.”
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, email@example.com.
You can help maintain trails
The state Department of Natural Resources always is looking for volunteers to help maintain its trail system.
If you know where you’d like to contribute, check out the agency’s volunteer page for times and contact information. Go to www.dnr.wa.gov, scroll to the lower part of the left-hand column, and click on “volunteer” where it says
“Recreation: Rules | Locations | Trail Maps | Volunteer.”
For more information on different ways to volunteer with the agency, contact the DNR’s Kirk Thomas at 360-902-1645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.