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Mount SI Trail to receive a facelift

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SNOQUALMIE VALLEY - The popular Mount Si Trail will receive a 75-day makeover beginning this week.

The State Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the trail and the adjoining 8,700-acre Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation area, has enlisted the help of the Washington Trails Association and its volunteers to harden and repair the first two miles of the path.

Greg Ball, director of operations for the Washington Trails Association, said the group's charge will be to harden the stretch of path, from the trailhead to "snag flats," that has become wider due to heavy use. Because the area is a designated natural resources area, it is important to keep hikers on the trail and ensure the path does not stray into the habitat, he added.

For volunteers, that hardening of the path will include a "lot of digging" to help lower the grade of the trail and install rock walls where needed, said Ball.

Washington Trails Association, a nonprofit membership organization, schedules more than 250 work parties each year. Last year the group logged more than 60,000 hours. Of the 1,800 people who volunteered for projects, Ball said, the average volunteer comes out to work 5.3 times.

Ball said volunteers don't need any experience and kids are welcome, although those under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

There are three basic rules the group follows when it comes to volunteers, said Ball: Safety first, fun second and work third.

Volunteers usually start work about 8:30 a.m., break for a long lunch and finish by 3 p.m., Ball said. If the weather gets rough, work is usually cut short, he added.

It can be tough, but the effort is recognized by trail users passing by the workers, Ball said.

"It's gratifying because 95 percent of people on the trail are thanking you for doing this," said Ball.

For information, visit www.wta.org or call (206) 625-1367.

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