Volunteers have played a profound role in shaping the future of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley. From cleaning up junk and repairing damaged trails to advocating for public ownership after logging operations ceased, people have stepped up as stewards. Now we’re excited to launch a brand-new series of events designed to connect both new and returning volunteers to important projects across the Valley.
At the western edge of a vast Cascades wilderness, the Middle Fork Valley is a wildly beautiful landscape that attracts visitors with safe and easy access adjacent to the 15th largest city in the nation. This is where a growing number of Washingtonians find adventure, respite, and nurture their connection to the outdoors. With trail systems leading to alpine lakes, old-growth forests, mountain peaks, and historical sites, the Middle Fork Valley is one of the jewels of our region.
But it wasn’t always this way. Just two decades ago, the Middle Fork Valley was difficult to access and had become a hideout for criminal activity. Visitors often stumbled upon meth labs, stolen vehicle “chop shops,” and illegal dumping sites for abandoned cars and large appliances.
The Valley needed to be restored. So, in stepped a committed bunch of local volunteers.
In the early ‘90s, nearby residents and visitors recognized the scenic beauty, ecological importance, and recreational opportunities that existed in this special landscape and began the hard work of reclaiming it for the broader community. With the support of Middle Fork land managers and local nonprofits, a community-driven effort ensued as literal tons of garbage, junked cars, and hazardous waste were removed from the Middle Fork—all told, they cleared out more than 150 junked cars and 1,500 tons of garbage.
Volunteers worked hard to make the Middle Fork Valley a safe place for the wider community, rather than a place of misbehavior for a few. They teamed with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to design and build a now-iconic arched bridge at the Middle Fork Trailhead. They partnered with land trusts, USFS, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and King County to acquire key parcels, so these public agencies could better manage the Valley’s landscape. They lobbied successfully for much-needed law enforcement. They teamed up with elected officials to find funding for the first new USFS campground in the region in 30 years as well as the paving of the road to reduce damage to nearby fragile wetlands. And they worked with land agencies to develop long-term plans to care for trails, roads, and forests.
Today, as the Valley becomes easily accessible for the first time in decades, the next generation of volunteers is needed. With a fully paved Middle Fork Road and new recreation infrastructure, the time is right to cultivate a culture of stewards to care for and maintain the treasures of the valley. And as public maintenance budgets drop while recreational use increases, volunteers are more important than ever.
Join the legacy and lend your support by getting involved in our bi-monthly Middle Fork volunteer events.
When you come out and volunteer at a Middle Fork event, you will play a key role in ensuring the Valley is a healthy place for people and nature. Projects include trail maintenance, trailside and habitat restoration, invasive species removal, trash clean-up, and trailhead revitalization. Additionally, we will have a variety of educational opportunities centered on natural history and human stories in the Middle Fork. Plus, it’s a great way to meet other people who like to spend time outdoors and want to take care of this special place.
March 10 | Restoration at Middle Fork Natural Area
March 24 | Restoration at Middle Fork Natural Area
April 7 | Trail Maintenance on CCC Trail
For our March events, the Greenway Trust and King County Parks are hosting an event to remove invasive weeds and plant native conifers at the Middle Fork Natural Area, adjacent to the new Granite Creek Trailhead. Thanks to the focus of dedicated and committed volunteers and agency partners, the Middle Fork Valley doesn’t have the rampant weed issues that our more urban natural areas experience, so if we respond rapidly when we see infestations taking root, we can thwart their proliferation throughout the Valley. Joining the event will be Mark Boyar, one of the committed volunteers who has devoted much of his time to restoring the Valley, who will share his stories about the Middle Fork and the decades-long campaign to stop the encroachment of invasive weeds.
Stay tuned for more information on future events—details will be posted in our volunteer section a few months in advance.
To learn more about supporting the ongoing maintenance of the Middle Fork Valley, contact Joe Olbrych, Middle Fork Maintenance and Operations Specialist: ‘joe.olbrych (at) mtsgreenway.org’