For the past several years the Disabled Access Committee (all of us) have spent a lot of time in the woods.  Last year, despite COVID, we were still very busy inspecting existing wheelchair ramps/platforms, repairing some, and built two brand new ones, and installing those two on Aladdin Mtn, installing a refurbished platform on the upper side of Rustlers Gulch, and returning two from Betty Cr to the warehouse where they have each been refurbished and are now ready for deployment at Squirrel Meadows, and Blanchard Hump. 

Along with inspecting the existing platforms, several required a lot of work just to gain access to them.  Along the way we found a lot of deadfall, which of course required removal.  Some of this work required coordination with the USFS for access, and the last of it was not completed until after hunting season opened. 

In November, as I was debriefing the Colville NF District supervisor, whom I have coordinated with for the past several years, re: all our activity over the season, he tossed an idea past me that I brought to the INWC board for discussion and approval.  Then Marie, Pete, and myself had a conference call with him, and the Newport District Ranger about specifics.  Having approval from the board to move forward with this new endeavor, I am now sharing this project opportunity with you.

Because we have earned their trust, we have entered a collaborative endeavor with the Colville National Forest to take care of the six routes within the forest that have been administratively closed – meaning they’re closed for disabled hunters access only – and not to include the road surface which we must always be mindful of, we have agreed to monitor the condition of those six gates, condition of the lock, or to report a missing lock, and then patrol those routes to ensure disabled sportsmen/women have adequate access to the entirety of each route to include all approves spurs of those routes.  

This means cutting away deadfall, reporting problem trees (widow makers), and any tree that is too big for us to handle – and report it to them for their sawyers to remove.  Any route that has a wheelchair platform also means not only inspecting that platform, but it means saving time and travel by taking some spare material from the warehouse to repair a rogue handrail, or adding an extra screw here and there.  Observe the condition of the platform and ramp deck surface.  Could it use a coat of stain to help prolong life?  Make a note of it and it will be taken care of on the second trip of the season.  Yes, you heard that right.  They have asked us to patrol the route in late Spring/early Summer as soon as snow melt allows, and then a final trip in late summer before hunting season opens, no later than October 1st

Since many families within the INWC gather together on weekends during the season with their ATV/UTV’s anyway, why not make part of the trip traveling trails you don’t normally have access to?  This opportunity is not just for those on the Disabled Access Committee, it’s for all of us. 

If you’re interested in helping on any of these trips, there is a Forest Service form you need to add your name to at the office.  If you have any questions, please contact me, 

Thanks in advance for all you do, 

Ken McNaughton