SEQUIM — After three years of waiting for the go-ahead, Powell Jones, executive director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center, recently finished one of his passion projects.
He and a group of teens and other volunteers opened a new section of trail Thursday at Miller Peninsula State Park’s Manzanita Trail just north of Burling Road off East Sequim Bay Road.
The trail, Jones said, minimizes user conflicts among bicyclists, horse riders and hikers with a new section aimed at those looking for a new path to the parking lot on the mostly downhill slope.
Jones said he had looked for a project for Sequim youths to encounter the wilderness in and around Sequim, but he’s discovered that many of the U.S. Forest Service’s trails in Sequim are difficult to access with school buses to bring students.
As a solution, Jones worked with Washington’s State Parks to clear a new trail on its lands while using an $8,000 grant through the Forest Service.
The 1.25 miles of trail became a multi-agency partnership project through State Parks, Forest Service, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe — which owns and operates the river center — and the Back Country Horsemen Peninsula Chapter, which donated the tools for the project and provided a demonstration for students on how to share trails with stock.
“This trail is a good example of how different groups can partner,” Jones said.
To construct the trail, which works in conjunction with the state’s Miller Peninsula Trails Plan, Jones used personal time to run an excavator on the new trail from April 24-29 and other trails owned by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.
Last week, students in Scott Chichester’s Sequim High School agriculture classes visited the site to learn about stewardship, trail building and forest ecology.
On site, more than 40 Sequim students (mostly freshmen), Chichester and river center staff cleared new trail and discussed career opportunities in forestry management.
Chichester said none of his students told him they had done trailwork like this before.
“It gives the kids some kind of picture of the work out there,” he said. “In the classroom, it doesn’t give an exact idea of how it works.”
Jones said the students were split into two groups per day for two different sections of trail. He had them alternate tools and he broke up trailwork with discussions to keep the sessions positive rather than just labor-focused.
“By the third day, the kids really wanted to be out there because there was something to show,” he said.
The original plan had the trail opening Friday, Jones said, but the students worked so quickly that it opened the day before.
Doing more projects like this depends on funding, Jones said.
“It’s practical to do if we can find the funding,” he said. “I think Miller Peninsula specifically has a lot of potential.”
The $8,000 grant provided food for volunteers and paid for busing, the cost of Chichester’s substitute teacher for three days of classes and supplies.
Jones said no existing trail was removed or damaged while building the new trail. No name has been given to the new trail, he said, and that will be determined by state parks’ staff.
For more information on the project, call Jones at 360-681-4076.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].