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Young Trail Crews Lead the Way at Urban Glendale Forest

Posted by Linnea Johnson at Apr 28, 2023 10:43 AM |
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WTA youth volunteers and Emerging Leaders Program cohort members join forces to build a community trail. By Allie Tripp

In unincorporated North Highline, a brook babbles through a lush green ravine dotted with blooming daffodils mere blocks away from apartment communities, and schools, and numerous houses of worship. This is Glendale Forest, soon-to-be home of a quintessential Trail Next Door — one that connects people living in an urban environment with the mental, physical, and emotional benefits of time spent in nature. 

A group of youth volunteer use their combined strength and tools to move a large rock.
Volunteers can move mountains! Participants in a youth work party at Glendale Forest move large rocks to build a new culvert. Photo by Kaci Darsow.

Since 2020, WTA has been working with King County Parks and partners to build a trail through the Glendale Forest that local residents can enjoy for years to come. Projects like this one are especially important in neighborhoods like Glendale, which currently lack walkable access to green space.

In 2022, WTA volunteers spent more than 1,780 hours building new trail in Glendale Forest. More than two dozen of those work parties were comprised of youth and families, local scout troops and school groups. Through a collaboration between WTA, King County and University of Washington graduate student Anna Caudill, students at nearby Rainier Prep Middle School spent a day on the trails learning about the revitalized forest just two blocks from their school. 

Emerging Leaders Program cohort members stand side by side with tools and trail debris in hand.
WTA Emerging Leaders Program cohort members Michelle Mouw and L Kravit-Smith led a BIPOC youth work party at Glendale Forest in April 2023. Photo by Tiffany Chou.

Throughout the late winter and early spring of 2023, WTA volunteers have continued the work in Glendale Forest, moving more than four tons(!) of rock into the newly constructed trail to create a culvert, a tunnel that carries stream water under the trail. This major culvert project was tackled entirely by all youth or youth and family work parties. Additionally, volunteers finished the trailhead opening all the way to the sidewalk.

Five youth volunteers take a break from trail work on the side of a trail One of them is laying down.
Youth volunteers take a break during a work party at Glendale. Photo by Kaci Darsow.

Just this month, L Kravit-Smith and Michelle Mouw, two cohort members of WTA’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), facilitated a trail work party for BIPOC youth. This work party was the culmination of Michelle and L’s independent projects — professional development opportunities in which ELP participants take the lead on a project during their time with WTA. The work party leaders had the chance to practice their facilitation, trail maintenance and safety skills while leading attendees in projects such as removing invasive plants and building new trail — all while sharing their love of trail maintenance with youth.

Youth volunteers work together to bundle a pile of trail debris.
Participants in the April 2023 BIPOC Youth Work Party, led by ELP cohort members, clear vegetation in the Glendale Forest. Photo by Tiffany Chou.

Joe Olbrych, Puget Sound field manager, shares “We're excited about the next steps in trail construction at Glendale Forest. This project represents a great opportunity to deepen our collaboration with King County on some innovative trail solutions at this great neighborhood park." 

There’s still a lot to come at Glendale Forest this year, including several more trail work parties this spring for youth. Keep an eye on our volunteer page for opportunities to get involved!