Stewardship: giving back to the backcountry

The Mountaineers fills a unique niche in the stewardship and care of our public lands. Our leaders provide the leadership and skills required to monitor and restore remote wilderness areas, maintain historic structures, and tend to the impacts caused by intensive recreational use at our state’s climbing areas. Stewardship occurs year-round by dedicated volunteer crews and is an integral part of many of our youth and adult outdoor education programs. Many of The Mountaineers most popular courses contain a service-learning component, directly engaging students in the maintenance and restoration of our public lands.

Learn more about stewardship efforts:

Historic Fire Lookout Maintenance

The Mountaineers Everett Branch Lookout and Trail Maintenance Crew (LOTM) provides critical volunteer maintenance to the historic Pilchuck, Three Fingers, and Heybrook Lookouts fire lookouts on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, keeping these structures open to the visiting public so that thousands of annual visitors may see, touch and experience a piece of history that might otherwise be lost. During an average of 20 work parties each season, the volunteers paint and stain, replace roofing shakes and broken windows, and repair structural elements to lookouts originally constructed in the 1930’s and ‘40s. During the past two years, dozens of urban youth from Seattle Parks and Recreation and the International District Housing Alliance have worked closely with The Mountaineers to paint and repair the Heybrook Fire Lookout, an experience that inspired six of these youth to find seasonal jobs with the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie recreation and fire crews in 2011. Learn more about the LOTM. Participate in an upcoming work party.

Protecting climbing resources

The Mountaineers is leveraging our volunteer resources and staff expertise to address the stewardship of Washington’s extensive rock and alpine climbing destinations. We work in coordination with American Alpine Club and Washington Climbers Coalition, as well as the various state and federal land managers in the region, to infuse volunteers and fundraising into priority projects. The Mountaineers is a major partner in an effort to install a permanent toilet at the state’s most popular rock climbing destination, Frenchman’s Coulee, near Vantage, Washington. We also deploy volunteers to remedy the proliferation of social trails, the trampling and erosion at staging areas located in places such as Castle Rock in Tumwater Canyon and Royal Columns in the Tieton, and to create new and improved access routes at the Index Town Wall.

Trail maintenance

Subject to the forces of bootfall, rainfall and gravity, Washington’s hiking trails take a beating each year. Mountaineers' work hard to maintain trails: brushing, grubbing, building bridges and repairing tread. Our Olympia Branch stewards the Church Creek Trail in the Olympic National Forest, the Foothills Branch partners with Volunteers for Outdoor Washington to maintain the Ira Spring and Gold Creek Pond Trails and the Everett Branch manages upkeep of trails at Lord Hill Regional Park, in addition to other locations. Trail work occurs throughout the dry season, but look for special work parties on National Trails Day in early June and National Public Lands Day in September. Find a trail work party.

Service-learning: stewardship requirements

Each year, nearly 500 students volunteer on public lands during one of a dozen Mountaineers courses with stewardship requirements, contributing over 3,600 hours of volunteer labor on state and federal lands in Washington. Students participate in restoration activities, trail work or historic lookout maintenance with The Mountaineers or with community partners. Most courses require a full day of volunteerism to fulfill the stewardship requirement.

Can’t find a Mountaineers stewardship event that works for your schedule? Try one of these organizations:


Mountains to Sound Greenway

Pacific Crest Trail Association

Pacific Northwest Trails Association

Volunteers for Outdoor Washington

Washington Conservation Corps

Washington Trails Association

More information: Contact Conservation and Responsible Recreation Manager, Katherine Hollis for more about The Mountaineers stewardship efforts.