HARRISBURG, Pa. – This Saturday and Sunday, a volunteer group will be embarking on its 19th season of trail stewardship in a wilderness part of the Allegheny National Forest.
Friends of Allegheny Wilderness (FAW) is looking for more folks to help – by hand – clearing and maintaining the 13-mile Hickory Creek Wilderness Trail in a roadless section of the Allegheny.
Randy Welsh, executive director of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, says the FAW is one of a couple hundred groups that is enthusiastically maintaining these special wild places.
“They are putting their own blood sweat and tears into protecting them, maintaining them, doing what they can to preserve and protect that experience for future generations,” he states. “And they definitely enjoy it because they keep coming back over and over,” he states.
More information can be found by going to the website, pawild.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welsh says the Forest Service has been so underfunded for years that it’s forced to rely on nonprofit groups such as FAW to do the work the federal government can’t keep up with.
“They really don’t have the resources, so they recruit and rely heavily on local volunteers to help fill the gap,” he states.
Welsh says that since FAW first adopted the single-file, foot traffic-only Hickory Creek trail in 2001, the group has put thousands of hours into clearing tons of wood and brush off of it – with no help from machines, to protect the primitive nature of that part of the forest.
“All the work that’s done is done by hand tools – using crosscut saws to cut out trails, using shovels, picks, axes, mattocks,” he points out. “It’s a primitive experience and we don’t spoil the experience for others that are using the area.”