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WTA Volunteers Create Easier Access to Green Space in Vancouver

Posted by Jessi Loerch at May 13, 2021 11:26 AM |

As part of our Trails Next Door work, WTA volunteers recently completed work in the Blandford Canyon Greenway. The trail reroute makes it easier to access the green space near Vancouver.

By Ryan Ojerio

The Blandford Canyon Greenway is a beautiful oasis of Douglas fir trees in a quiet Vancouver neighborhood. A “diamond in the rough,” it almost feels like its existence is an accident rather than the result of careful planning — the steep walls of the small valley probably protected the forest from development, while houses filled in the flat land on all sides. Whatever the reason, the strip of wildness within this quiet Vancouver neighborhood is a wonderful place to experience nature right next door to so many houses.

As part of our Trails Next Door work, WTA volunteers recently completed a 600-foot reroute of one of the steeper trails that descends from South Cliff Park into the valley. The small trail system was never formally constructed and this steep section has always been a deterrent for folks who might otherwise want to walk the trail that connects South Cliff Park and DuBois Park or along the forested trail that parallels Blandford Drive which runs up the length of the canyon between the two parks. 

A lush green area, with trees rising high above, including bright green maple leaves.
Blandford Canyon is a welcome green space tucked into a neighborhood. It's a good example of a Trail Next Door. Photo by Aaron Bredl. 

In addition to serving the community that lives here, this project was an opportunity to host work parties specifically for people who might otherwise experience barriers to volunteering on trails. These barriers can be physical, such as long hikes or drives to get to a remote site, but they can also be cultural and social. WTA’s commitment to creating welcoming spaces for volunteers from all walks of life means that we need to recognize that some historically marginalized communities may be less inclined to try a new activity like trail work while also being amongst the group of strangers. Shared-identity work parties can help trail work feel more comfortable, especially for new volunteers. WTA has hosted a number of shared-identity work parties at Blandford Canyon, including events for women, LGBTQ+ people and a day specifically for first-time volunteers. Such events let volunteers enjoy a familiar community while learning about unfamiliar tools and techniques.

At the same time that WTA volunteers have been improving the trail other volunteers have started removing the pervasive and invasive English ivy from the upper end of the valley and are working their way south. This spring, a burst of native vegetation including trillium, osoberry, Oregon grape and other familiar Western Washington species are beginning to flourish again. 

Trail work volunteer, wearing a green hard hat and a face mask and holding a rake stands on a section of freshly improved trail.
Trail work at Blandford Canyon has created an easier way to enjoy the green space. Photo by Ryan Ojerio. 

This area fits in nicely with our Trail Next Door campaign, because it’s an easy way for many families to easily get outside. Kids and families are well served by this small trail system, which lets families pair a play session with a walk in the woods. Dubois Park was recently renovated and features a modern play structure perfect for elementary school age children while South Cliff Park has a smaller play structure that would be good for toddlers and a large grassy area for tossing a frisbee or having a picnic.

Learn more about our other Trails Next Door work.