Talkeetna, AK – One of the ongoing projects that the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation helped fund is spearheaded by the Upper Susitna Soil and Water Conservation District and utilizes a crew of local youth to do the work. The crew has been working on the ski and running trails at the Susitna Valley High School.
According to District Manager, Laura Hoffman, “This summer’s crew was made up of a total of 7 crew members, 6 boys and 1 girl, all between the ages of 14-16. All the youth are from the Talkeetna, Willow, and the Sunshine areas. The youth had to complete a formal interview to be hired and the crew began work on June 5th,2017. So far this summer the crew has been accomplished a lot on these trails. They have increased the trail width to the originally intended width of 15 feet in many areas but not throughout the entire trail system yet. Hazardous trees were removed after July 15, as suggested by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Brushing occurred on the entire 3 miles of trail and was performed in such a way as to greatly improve visibility on bends and turns in the trail. Three narrow turns that were making it impossible to groom the trail were widened to make grooming easier. The crew smoothed the trail tread, established appropriate grades as needed, and native grass seed with fertilizer was spread on the entire trail system. Crew members also repaired and cleaned existing drains, and where applicable built new ones. The youth’s favorite part of the trail work this summer was falling some of the trees we had to remove. They got to learn how to rig a block and tackle so they could pull the tree over with man power alone.”
Projects like these are great examples of ways in which the Upper Susitna Soil and Water Conservation District engage youth to improve our trails. Here at the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation we are thrilled when we can help support the next generation of trail stewards.
In addition to the MSTPF grant, other funders for this project include the Tesoro Foundation, Conoco Phillips, Fairview Inn, Talkeetna Eastside Cabins, Talkeetna Air Taxi, Moore’s Hardware, Denali Brewing Company, Jessica Stevens Community Foundation, and the State of Alaska Recreational Trails Program.