Homer Alaska - Outdoors

Story last updated at 4:19 PM on Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trails Day offers volunteers chance to enjoy state park



Photo by Shannon Reid

Trails Day volunteers pose for a picture at the Seafarers Memorial on the Homer Spit before each project group disperses in water taxis for a day of cleaning and maintaining various trails in Kachemak Bay State Park.

The forecasted wind and rain didn't dampen the enthusiasm of more than 50 volunteers who participated in the annual Trails Day on June 9 in Kachemak Bay State Park. State park officials, trail crew and volunteers worked on clearing and maintaining several different trails during the mostly sunny Saturday.

Projects included a Glacier Spit Beach litter cleanup and the start of construction on a new crosscountry ski trail. Both first-time and veteran Trails Day volunteers appreciated the opportunity to help create and maintain the trails of what was Alaska's first state park.

Four members of the state park trail crew, equipped with chainsaws and weed whackers, cleared the ski trail while eight volunteers removed the cut brush. The group initiated what organizers expect to be an extensive project.

Two veteran Trails Day volunteers, Kris Holderied and Amy Holman, plan to use the newly cut ski trail this winter even though it likely will not be fully completed.

Alex Koplin also worked on the ski trail and said he was glad to partake in a project associated with Trails Day.

"I've been waiting for 15 years to do this and finally I was able to get up this morning and do it," he said.

Carol Harding, who participated in the Glacier Spit cleanup, said she enjoyed her volunteer experience.

"It is great for families," she said. "You can do it at your own pace."

Harding said she used the day as an excuse to go beach combing. Her party, which included several young boys, was able to bring back a bucket full of beach treasures.

Chief Ranger Roger MacCampbell said the number of volunteers was significantly more than last year's event and attributed the growth to the extra organizational help provided by Melisse Reichman.

"I had such a positive experience last year so when I found out they were looking for someone to help organize I jumped on the opportunity. I believed in the project and wanted help promote it," said Reichman.

This year volunteers also helped build a bridge on Grace Ridge Trail, and worked to clear and maintain the Saddleback Trail and Grewingk Glacier Trail.

MacCampbell thinks the program has potential for continued growth and predicts Trails Day will expand to Seldovia within the next few years. Past Kachemak State Park Trails Days have attracted as many as 70 volunteers and MacCampell said once volunteers are found, finding transportation is the easy part.

"We will find the boats for people," he said.

Six different water taxi companies were key to the success of this year's Trails Day, including Mako's Water Taxi, which has been involved since the first Trails Day in Kachemak Bay State Park. Other water taxi companies that volunteered the use of their boats were Ashore Water Taxi, Bay Roamers, Bay Excursions, Homer Ocean Charters and True North.

Rachel McDaid and her husband, Arnaud, participated in the naturalist-led family hike from Glacier Spit to Grewingk to celebrate their son Zane's first birthday. She said they were excited to have an alternative to the traditional American birthday celebration.

MacCampbell says that while Kachemak Bay State Park depends on Trails Day, it is not enough to adequately maintain the park.

"We can't do it with just volunteers," he said.

MacCampbell strongly encouraged the public to write letters supporting increased spending on state parks development to legislators and government officials. This will help provide the park with such benefits as an increase in paid workers who possess skills that volunteers lack, he said.