The Coulee Riders, a group of local dirt bikers who get together a couple of times a year to work on motorcycle trails in the Okanogan National Forest, recently gathered for a trail work party on Foggy Dew.
Group member Joe Kitzman said 27 volunteers helped out over four days.
“We logged out all the trails to the snow line and replaced a 200-foot section of trail that had completely washed out,” Kitzman said in an email. “This year we were sponsored by the Northwest Motorcycle Association and Yamaha outdoors.”
Kitzman said the Coulee Riders have been maintaining trails for over 40 years in the Okanogan National Forest, in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service. “We have helped with blasting and bridge building as well,” Kitzman said.
“The name came from a group of guys that worked at the Grand Coulee dam and organized the work parties,” Kitzman said. “Recently we have become affiliated with the Northwest Motorcycle Association (NMA) … which is able to help us with supplies and some funds to cover the out-of-pocket expenses the volunteers have traditionally shouldered on their own.
The NMA also has some funds available to work on trail projects in partnership with the Forest Service and other user groups on motorized trails, Kitzman said.
“We are currently scouting some potential projects,” he said. “With the wildfires and lack of funding for trails, the volunteer groups are playing a significant role in keeping trails open. We will be looking to work closely with the other volunteer groups in the future.”
The U.S. Forest Service last week was awarded $79,111 for the Methow Valley Ranger District to fund three employees and volunteers from the NMA and other groups to maintain trails in the Sawtooth Backcountry and the Lightning-Beaver Creek drainages. The crews will repair trail surfaces, remove fallen trees and repair bridges.
“We are scoping projects now to spend the money on,” Kitzman said. “I think the Loup Loup area will get the most attention this round. We have the Sawtooth in pretty good shape for now.”