Morris Creek Trail lands improvements

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Friends of Scotchman Peaks associates Dan Simmons and John Dale lead local high school students down Morris Creek Trail. (Photo courtesy FRIENDS OF SCOTCHMAN PEAKS)

SANDPOINT — Sunny weather and attitudes made National Public Lands Day a good one for the Friends of Scotchman Peaks.

The group teamed up with the Forest Service and local high schools to repair Morris Creek Trail in the Scotchman Peaks region near Clark Fork on Saturday. Seven students from Sandpoint and Lake Pend Oreille high schools joined the team to learn about maintaining trails and protecting the wilderness for future generations.

The efforts on the trail were much-needed, according to Friends of Scotchman Peaks summer project coordinator Bonnie Jakubos. As the crew progressed along the trail, they found sections that were almost impassable. Wind, rain and other natural elements left the trail in disarray, with debris ranging in size from small sticks to giant logs blocking the way.

“What had happened was there was a lot of blow-down in the area,” Jakubos said. “It took some strength to get some sections of the trail clear.”

In other sections of the trail, the pathway had degraded to only a few feet wide. Participants used pulaski tools to widen the trail when necessary, while others focused on keeping the path clear and easily visible. They also removed low-hanging tree branches that had the potential to knock riders off their horses.

According to Jakubos, one of the best parts of the day was the opportunity to bring young people along for the trip. As students under the supervision of Sandpoint High School science teacher John Hastings, they assisted the volunteers and Forest Service members with their positive attitudes and willingness to help out, Jakubos said.

“There’s nothing quite like people of different generations getting out and taking care of the trails,” Jakubos added. “Everyone got to help and everyone worked. We were all really pleased. The kids had a great attitude.”

The busy summer season for the Friends of Scotchman Peaks is in the process of winding down, according to Jakubos. The last big event she’s planned for this year is coming up Sunday with the fifth annual Plein Air Paint Out. The paint out will bring more than 20 local artists to the trails from 12-4 p.m. to craft several distinct creations. The public is invited to come along for the fun — call 264-5696 to learn more.   

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