Seattle Teens Work, Learn on Forest
Story and photo by Kathy Vue
The atmosphere was filled with energy after eight vigorous hours of digging mineral soil under an overturned tree stump on the historical Iron Goat Trail. The 10 high school youth from Seattle, Wash., spent a week in mid-July on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest restoring recreational areas in the Skykomish Ranger District, learning about natural resource management and the rich history of the once-booming railroad.
Many of the inner city youths had never been to a national forest, might as well build trail, restore a fire lookout or pull invasive weeds. The Seattle Parks and Recreation Outdoor Opportunities program and the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest hosted the event to expose and connect teens to the outdoors and natural resources management.
They worked hard all week. Washington Trail Association, Volunteers of Outdoor Washington and Friends of the Iron Goat Trail staff showed youth how to build, dig and hoe. They lined rocks from the bottom of a steep, tree-congested hill. With teamwork and determination, they built 40-feet of new trail tread, installed a 15-foot culvert, stripped and prepared 65 feet of string logs and cleared more than 60 feet of trail. US Forest Service specialists taught them how to identify and pull garbage bags full of Herb Robert and Yellow Arc Angel noxious weeds.
At Heybrook Lookout, the Forest Fire Lookout Association helped youth move a 600-pound concrete slab to build stairs and paint the shutters. Although some of the teens were disappointed that there wasn’t indoor plumbing or internet access, all said they wanted to come back. “I learned how to put a trail together and how to respect the environment,” said Ali Weliyo, 18.
For more information on how to get involved, contact Stella Torres at 425.783.6096.