We are getting very close to starting to build 4x4 trails in the Yacolt Burn and I wanted to take a minute to provide some updates.
The SEPA process is complete, public and agency comments have been responded to and we have received our final determination notice. The last piece of red tape we are waiting for is permits from Clark County. Originally, we were not going to need to go through the county, but since the Reiter area project raised such an uproar with the public, we were forced to pursue yet another layer of approval prior to moving forward with our project in the Yacolt Burn. Hence - additional delays...
To date, Pistons Wild Motorsports has raised over $25,000 for the Yacolt Burn Trails Fund. That money has been safely tucked away awaiting the approval to dig in and start building trails and will ONLY be used for the building of 4x4 trails - nothing else. Any attempts to build and sustain a trail system without funding in place and continuing to be generated can sometimes spell demise for a system before it even gets opened. Grant writing and fund raising events for 2012-2013 are already in full swing to ensure that we will have the financial backing to continue to build and maintain these 4x4 trails.
In addition, in cooperation with Hannah Jeep Dealership and the Don't Fear the Jeeper show - $7,200 has been placed in a "rock fund" with a local rock pit to be used as needed. NOVA has graciously awarded DNR a grant for the Yacolt Burn in the amount of $172,800 for (2) bridges and (30) culverts for water crossings in Phase I for the motorized trails. Phase I is approximately 12 miles of 4x4 trails for the total 35 miles planned for this area. That is just over $200,000 of hard earned fund raising and grants to help to build these trails and to maintain and sustain them down the road for many years to come...
ALL of the user groups (motorized AND non-motorized) in SW Washington have been deeply involved since the beginning of this planning process and we have their full support in moving forward with 4x4 trails. They recognize and support the need for 4x4 trails in the Yacolt Burn and have actually provided letters of support for NOVA grants for 4x4 trails.
Last weekend, June 23rd, Pistons Wild members and applicants performed Forest Watch Patrol in cooperation with DNR Law Enforcement and on Sunday, June 24th, we were up in the Yacolt Burn clearing brush and laying out areas in preparation of expected upcoming 4x4 trail work parties. We cannot "turn dirt" until the permits from Clark County have been issued.
We originally had another 4x4 trails preparation (clearing brush and trail layout) work party scheduled for Saturday, June 30th - but late Friday afternoon we had to change gears to respond to some illegal 4x4 trails being created in the Yacolt Burn.
These trails are being cut in by those who just don't seem to care about the forest and certainly don't care about the effort to open legal 4x4 trails in the Yacolt Burn. Every time somone builds a new illegal trail - they are directly responsible for delaying the opening of legal trails for everyone. All illegal trails have to be blocked off and decommissioned before we can open new trails. This continued illegal activity takes us away from prepping for and building new trails and is a huge waste of time, money and resources. If you know of someone STILL out there wheeling illegally in SW Washington - please ask them to stop!
We started off very early Saturday morning (headed up to the Burn at 6:30am) with a small crew to address an illegal access off the paved road leading up to 4 corners. We only took a skeleton crew for this effort (Douglas Seal, Ryan Wells, Darel Crowder and myself) to minimize the number of vehicles parked on pavement while we worked on this project.
The guys were super quick getting the excavator off-loaded and working away - I almost missed my chance for a "before" picture. Special thanks to Sunbelt rentals for making us a great deal on the excavator even though we were asking at the last minute (Friday afternoon). Thanks to Ryan Wells for making the arrangements.
Smoothing out the 4x4 tracks and filling in the mud hole.
Relocating some scrub foliage from nearby to close off the access.
Doing our very best to give these shrubs a chance at life in their new home.
A little bit more foliage and some cover on the ground to finish the project. NOW it's up to the off-road community to respect the forest and let this area heal.
The early bird crew made lightening quick time of the first project so we headed down to the main task for the day almost 1 hour ahead of schedule. Nice job guys!
Somebody is a morning person.
No burning daylight with this crew - had to hollar at Darel to stop so I could get the "before" pictures.
Getting materials lined out and making plans for the fence. We found Daryl Keenan at 4 Corners on our way by - one full hour early (had a late night - so drove to 4 Corners and slept in his Jeep to make sure he didn't miss the work party). I have some of the best volunteers you can ever imagine!
Getting busy digging post holes.
Trail Operations Manager, Darel Crowder, coming in for the final inspection.
9:00am reinforcements arrive in time to start bolting on the fence rails and get going on replanting the area.
Club applicants Annell Morgan and Katie Carpenter make quick work of cleaning up the spur road across from the project area - lots of garbage and construction debris left there and two big illegal fire pits. Meanwhile Keith Watson starts to locate some good candidates for replanting across the road and Daryl Keenan finds some abandoned tires.
The fence is in and looking good! The guys tackling the replanting efforts both in front of and behild the fence. Ideally, the plan would be to protect the area and then allow the area to heal itself. Final step (in a year or two) would be to go back in and remove the fence. There is no need to leave anything unnatural in the forest that doesn't serve a purpose...
Bill Hutchens rocking the replanting effort behind the fence while Darel Crowder brings in the blocking debris. I never captured a picture of him - but Joey Verpoorten was out in the forest digging plants and shrubs for Bill to plant in this area.
More debris for behind the fence.
These guys mean business - KEEP OUT!
We had a great turnout for today - a quick water break for some. Annell Morgan bringing donor ferns for the replanting in front of the fence.
No rest for the wicked here. Oh - and don't be fooled by Keith standing there with the shovel. See that red face - I know he replanted more ferns than anyone else - we'll call him the "Fern Whisperer" - it's almost like they were cooperating with him.
Applicants Annell Morgan and Katie Carpenter finding more donor plants for the guys to plant. One of the few "non-blurry" pics of these two gals I captured because they were constantly on the move - all day long
The humidity was ridiculous today and the bugs were overly active - but everyone just kept after it. Excellent team work all around...
Quick lunch break to keep the energy levels going.
DNR LEO, Scott, stopping by to check on us...
Loading up the excavator - no more dirt work for today.
Found another little area that needed some love on our way out. Looks more like an illegal ATV trail - but since we're here - we'll go ahead and close it down...
Applicant Keith "Fern Whisperer" Watson sharing his fern wisdom with Dustin Braaten. My favorite line from the day was from Dustin right after he patted the dirt around a fern he just planted;
"I've done all I can do - It's on you now, fern."
Dustin is now Fern Whisperer apprentice...
Joey Verpoorten getting in on the fern planting and more blurry pictures of Katie and Annell.
Not perfect - but we laid down alot of debris behind the ferns so hopefully that will deter any access and let the plants grow in.
Tommy and Amanda had to work Saturday morning, but that didn't stop them from coming out to join us for the afternoon. A great group of people doing great things in the Yacolt Burn...
Missing from the picture above: Douglas Seal, Daryl Keenan and me (Crystal Crowder)
Darel and I had the pre-work party getting everything prepped and loaded for Saturday, then we have the actual work party and this is the post-work party. Whenever we get equipment from Sunbelt it has to be cleaned up and re-fueled to ensure they will continue to help us out in the future.
All of the Pistons Wild trail gear layed out for cleaning and will need to be wiped down and stored for the next event.
Darel will return the excavator early Monday morning and then get started on his regularly scheduled work week.
Thanks again to everyone that came out today - your efforts are greatly appreciated by Darel and I and these projects only help to secure our future access to the Yacolt Burn State Forest and cement our reputation as good stewards of the land on which we recreate...
We logged 145 volunteer hours for this project and everyone will be receiving vouchers towards their free discover passes. I'm not certain which grant these hours will go to yet - but I will post up when I find out.
Thank you to everyone in the PNW4WDA who have virogously supported our efforts in the Yacolt Burn. We hope to be able to invite you all into the forest soon to join us in building these much anticipated 4x4 trails and then in celebrating returning public land access to the 4x4 community in SW Washington. It has been over 20 years since 4x4's have had access to legal recreation in this corner of the state and we are so honored to have had the opportunity to bring these lands back to to the 4x4 community...