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Repairs at Rainbow Falls making for smoother hike


Photo submitted by USFS

WCA worker Liz Romane rakes out a new layer of gravel for the Rainbow Falls trailhead, undertaken in May as an intergovernmental partnership between the Tribe and Forest Service.

Summer hikers have gotten a leg up on the Rainbow Falls trail, after resurfacing work was completed there in early May.

Earlier this spring the United States Forest Service reached a cost-sharing agreement with the Transportation Office of Wrangell Cooperative Association, to resurface and brush along trails for maintenance over the summer. Under the agreement, the USFS is to provide materials and tools while WCAT provides the labor.

This summer will be the fourth the two governmental organizations have collaborated on road and trail maintenance. The trade-off is in providing local employment while saving maintenance costs for the USFS. Work on Rainbow Falls began in late April and wrapped up on May 9, with the trailhead resurfaced with fresh gravel and the popular trail brushed along its sides.

The agreement calls for 22 weeks of work, of which slightly more than half will be spent on road maintenance. The other 10 weeks will have been spent not only on Rainbow Falls, but trails at Long Lake, North Wrangell, the Institute, Thoms Lake and Nemo Point.

Currently, WCAT is focused on road improvement work on McCormick Creek Road, as a crew restores culverts along the roadside. As of Tuesday, work had gotten to the 8.7-mile point, past Lower Salamander on the way toward Earl West Cove.

WCAT director Bill Willard anticipated that project should be concluded by Aug. 1, when the office will focus again on trail work for the rest of that month.

The partnership is an example of cost saving measures being undertaken within the Tongass National Forest, with USFS reaching out to potential partner groups to maintain a number of trails, cabins and other facilities. As recently as March, staff with the Wrangell Ranger District has reached out to outfitters, sporting groups and other recreation users to help, citing a hiring freeze and declining budgets as problems.

For more information on how to assist, contact the Wrangell Ranger District at 874-2323.


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