Youth crews to work on Moran trails this summer

The trails of Moran State Park will receive some much-needed attention this summer, as a result of a collaborative effort between the three youth conservation corps of the San Juan Islands. The groups received a grant through the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office for a Recreational Trails Program grant, specifically to address maintenance problems on some of the 38 miles of trail in Moran. In addition to the RCO grant, the group also received funding from San Juan County’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. The combined funds will go towards hiring San Juan County youth crews to work on park trails during the summers of 2016 and 2017.

The program directors of the three YCC groups have been working since summer 2014 to plan and budget for the two summer work seasons. Collaboration, coordination and cooperation are definitely the motto of this endeavor, bringing together the YCC’s with the Moran staff, with added support from organizations including Washington Trails Association and YMCA Camp Orkila, as well as community volunteers.

Lopez, San Juan and Orcas each support an independent youth crew, which work on service and conservation projects throughout the county during the summer months. Each of these crews will devote time to Moran trails this summer. New this summer will be the formation of an inter-island high school trail crew made of six members, two each from San Juan, Lopez and Orcas Islands. This crew will work for four weeks, camping at the YMCA Camp Orkila property near Twin Lakes. Led by two crew leaders with extensive trail experience, the crew members will learn timber skills necessary to repair and replace the decaying wooden bridges in the Twin Lakes area. Work will also include brushing, tread maintenance and repair of drainage on trails heavily used by hikers and mountain bikers. Crew members working the full season will receive a stipend for their work.

Many of the trails in Moran were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Rock retaining walls can still be found supporting the steep switchbacks up Mount Constitution. The trails are now a main attraction for the over 600,000 residents and visitors alike that visit the park annually. Rangers at Moran say that with budget shortages, Moran trails haven’t received adequate maintenance for decades.

Applications for the inter-island high school crew positions will be available starting March 25, and are due no later than April 19. The forms can be picked up at the Lopez, Orcas, San Juan Island High School offices, and Spring Street School. We’ll also be using adult volunteers. If you are interested, contact: sarah@madrona.org or mary@madrona.org.