Patrick Robinson
Jacobo Jimenez was joined by Dede Chinlund, Jacob Mandell, Whitney and Scott Standrige working on trail maintenance, leveling out the trail 'bench' (the flat area for walkers), and trimming back some vegetation.

Taking care of trails keeps the natural world accessible

Schmitz Park Preserve gets some love on National Trails Day

Volunteers spread out across Seattle Parks on Saturday June 3 with a specific mission: fix the trails.

Seattle's reputation as a place that celebrates and looks after nature is driven in part by our relationship with it in our own parks. To honor National Trails Day and to get trails ready for the summer season the Seattle Parks Department sent teams out to restore trails and keep them walkable. Natural processes like erosion and decay can make trails in parks not only uncomfortable but dangerous so it's important work.

Schmitz Preserve Park in North Admiral/Alki is probably West Seattle's most naturalized park with 12 trails comprising around 4 miles of trail length. Jacobo Jimenez, Senior Forest Maintenance Lead for Seattle Parks said, "This is truly an old growth forest. People usually think of just 'big trees' but that only means that the forest has reached its maturity and it has everything from the oldest to the youngest in every stage."

The volunteers were there through Washington Trails Association, who partner with Seattle Parks to maintain the 100 or so miles within the city. "We rely on youth groups, volunteer groups, and others like the WTA to help us keep up with the maintenance," said Jimenez. He noted that Schmitz Park Preserve has a number of drainage issues that need attention and it's a challenge to keep up with it all. "This park is a destination for birders, native plant enthusiasts, and it's a greenway from Admiral down to Alki so it sees tens of thousands of people a year using these trails."

Volunteer Scott Standridge said he has been volunteering a few times and found where to go online. He's a hiker and he was "looking for ways to find new trails and I stumbled across the WTA and saw they had new trails. So this is a good way to go and see them, it's great to go out and see areas you wouldn't otherwise get to experience."

Seattle Parks has a Trails App, created last year that is a great mobile guide for your iPhone to all the trails in the city.

The app lets you:
+ Find trails in Seattle City with text search and map view.
+ See accessibility information including steepness and surface types for trails.
+ Get driving directions to trails.
+ See where you are on the trail using the map view.
+ Document and officially report issues that you find while walking on trails to help the city improve its parks.
+ Share your trail experiences on Twitter and Facebook.
+ Volunteer with Parks & Recreation.

The Seattle Parks website contains this bit of history about the park:

Schmitz Preserve was donated to the city in pieces between 1908 and 1912. The most generous chunk came from a German immigrant/pioneer/banker/realtor named Ferdinand Schmitz, who served on the park commission during those years. It was Schmitz's idea, as he saw how rapidly the great forest was disappearing, to preserve part of it in its natural state.

Even Schmitz's land had not been completely untouched by logging, though. Some huge stumps in the park still show deep notches hacked high above the ground for the "spring-boards" on which axe men would stand to avoid having to chop through the lower root crown, the thickest and hardest part of the tree. After 1908, however, the new park rapidly gained popularity as a quiet complement to the West Seattle park complex. Except for the paved entrance and a parking lot at the northwest corner, the park has remained essentially unchanged ever since.

About National Trails Day
June 3 was the 25th Annual celebration of the nation's trails. Well over 150,000 people took part in the event nationally. Around Western Washington, a number of hikes, bike rides and other events were set for National Trails Day by local trail groups including hikes around Lake Boren Park, Seattle’s West Duwamish Greenbelt, the Union Bay Natural Area, Big Four Ice Caves and others.

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