Volunteers are needed to help finish a new 2.5-mile trail within the popular Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve.
Jim Langdon, trailmaster for Friends of Badger Mountain, said the unnamed trail is about halfway done and could be ready to open around Thanksgiving.
The new trail starts and ends from the existing Skyline Trail, traversing Badger's southern slope.
Work started in March, breaking for the summer in May as the soil became too dry. It resumed a couple of weeks ago.
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"Right now, it's manual labor. We're removing dirt from the edge of the trail," Langdon said, noting that those interested in volunteering need to be able to do some lifting.
Individuals and groups can pitch in. While Benton County owns and operates the preserve, the nonprofit Friends of Badger Mountain -- a volunteer organization -- coordinates construction and maintenance of the trails.
"A lot of people use the trails and (helping with the new one) is a way of giving back," Langdon said.
The new trail will be the fourth major trail in the preserve, and it will bring some variety.
"It's a different view of the mountain. It's more agricultural. It's very quiet on that side," Langdon told the Herald. "It's more rolling and gentle, so it's going to be an easier trail. It's definitely not straight -- it's going to weave around a little bit. You'll be discovering more stuff as you go instead of seeing it from a half-mile away."
REI grant money is covering construction costs for the new trail.
As it moves forward, county staffers continue to work on a management and master plan for the Badger preserve. A Spokane-based community planning and design firm is assisting with the project.
An effort to acquire about 195 acres on nearby Candy Mountain for a similar preserve also seems to be gaining momentum. The county has applied for about $700,000 from the state Recreation and Conservation Office. Adam Fyall, county sustainable development coordinator, said the proposal is highly ranked.
Friends of Badger is leading a fundraising effort for a local match.
The Badger Mountain preserve was established almost a decade ago and now totals about 650 acres.
It's the most popular of Benton County's parks and one of the most-visited recreation spots in the Tri-City area. About 200,000 visits were recorded last year.
How to help
To help finish the new Badger Mountain trail, email Jim Langdon at email@example.com or call 509-943-3992.
For more information on Friends of Badger Mountain, go to www.friendsofbadger.org.
Cougs hit the trail
Washington State University Tri-Cities students and other volunteers will help landscape part of the southside Badger Mountain Trail on Oct. 18 as part of the university's service-based learning program.
Chancellor H. Keith Moo-Young and his wife Monika started Cougs In the Community after arriving on campus in 2013.
The program, which is working with Richland Rotary and Friends of Badger Mountain on the project, is meant to strengthen ties between the community and students.
Volunteers still are needed. Participants will start working at 8:30 a.m. and tools will be provided. Participants are encouraged to wear weather appropriate clothing and be prepared to get dirty.
For more information, contact Ken Fincher at 509-372-7398 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; email@example.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald