Climbing rangers will be added in Methow Valley Ranger District

By Ann McCreary

Trail and campground maintenance projects in the Methow Valley Ranger District have received funding through the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) following passage of the state capital budget by the legislature in January.

The Methow Valley Ranger District has received a $77,604 grant to fund two climbing rangers and two volunteer climbing rangers to provide contacts with thousands of climbers on popular climbing routes in the ranger district.

The goal of the project is to educate climbers on environmentally and socially responsible climbing practices, collect data on use and resources, identify environmental impacts, continue building relationships with the climbing community, and enforce regulations.

Funding for the climbing rangers is provided through the Nonhighway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities (NOVA) program of the RCO. That program also provided $171,102 to fund three seasonal rangers and several volunteers to provide education and enforcement in high use non-motorized recreation areas for two seasons. The primary goal will be to contact visitors and promote leave-no-trace techniques and enforce regulations.

Patrols will be done on foot and with use of stock. The project area focuses on popular high-use recreation areas along the North Cascades Scenic Corridor, the Hart’s Pass Area and the Pasayten and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth wilderness areas. The Pacific Crest Trail and the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail are also included.

The NOVA program also provided $150,000 to the Methow Valley Ranger District to remove fallen trees along approximately 325 miles of trail, and conduct tread, drainage and brushing maintenance. The project is located around the Pasayten and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth wilderness areas.

The grant will fund a full-time trail crew of four people to work for two seasons to restore and maintain access to trails used by hikers, backpackers, horseback riders and mountain bikers.

The Methow Valley Ranger District has also received a grant of $150,000 for maintenance of 24 campgrounds. The RCO has been helping to fund campground maintenance through NOVA grants since 2008.

The Washington Trails Association (WTA) has received three grants through the RCO’s Recreational Trails Programs for trail maintenance projects throughout Washington, including backcountry and hiking trails the Methow Valley Ranger District.

A backcountry trail maintenance project has received $101,610 to conduct 100 trail projects contributing 30,000 volunteer hours to maintain 350 miles of backcountry trails. Another grant of $101,610 will support 600 volunteer projects contributing 60,000 volunteer hours on 375 miles of hiking trails. WTA also received a $66,385 grant to engage youth volunteers in 21,000 hours of trail maintenance on 84 miles of hiking trails.

The Evergreen Mountain Bike alliance received $101,610 to provide 23,020 hours of volunteer labor to maintain over 200 miles of non-motorized trails statewide, including the Methow Valley Ranger District. Evergreen will work with local land managers to identify areas in need of maintenance and will mobilize volunteers for early season trail openings, and respond to emergency repairs from seasonal or storm damage.