Clear Creek crew kicks off work season

Christopher Mercado, a senior at Central Kitsap High School, is the third sibling in his family to volunteer on construction of the Clear Creek Trail

He hopes to keep the tradition in the family.

“Hopefully if I have kids, which will be a long time away, I’ll take them here to work on the trail,” he said.

Mercado and 105 other students from teacher Marie Crumb’s CKHS biology and ecology classes kicked off the season’s Clear Creek Trail work on Thursday, April 18.

By noon, the students had built 650 feet of trail, planted 60 trees and removed hundreds of invasive Scotch broom and blackberry plants from the trail, which winds west of Schold Road.

“Some (students) are surprised that other parts of the trail were done by students. It gives them a buy-in to the community, which is so important,” said Crumb, who has brought students to work on the trail for nine years.

Several teens said they use the trail for recreation and were happy to take part in expanding it.

“Personally, I like to come out here and walk and bike, so more trail is good,” said sophomore Sean Forness.

The grassy fields surrounding the Schold Road segment of the trail were once wetlands, according to Tex Lewis, co-chair of the Clear Creek Task Force, but they were drained for farming. He said volunteers will plant 400 trees in the area by the end of spring but leave some of the fields, which are prime hunting grounds for birds of prey.

“I think if we stop the degradation and enhance the area with trees, we’ll restore the natural systems,” Lewis said.

The following Clear Creek Trail projects are scheduled for the coming months.

• On June 15, a 120-foot pedestrian bridge will be installed behind Ross Plaza.

• Over the summer, 800 feet of boardwalk will be installed west of Schold Road, and handicap access to that area will be improved.

• A bathroom will be installed this summer at the trail head off Bucklin Hill Road.

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