Local treasure re-opens to the community

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category icon Editorials, Opinion

The Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail, a true treasure in our community, re-opened to the public on Friday, nearly six months after a fire burned 148 acres of the 1,049-acre Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Washougal.

The timing for the re-opening of the full-length of the trail couldn’t have been more perfect. Weekend temperatures reached the mid-70s. Not a rain drop was in sight.

Walkers, birdwatchers and nature photographers took full advantage of the opportunity to once again experience this unique site. It transports users from the noise of a small city to a serene, picturesque setting where the only sounds to be heard are those created by nature’s creatures and the gentle crunch of footsteps on the gravel pathway. It is a special place that many people have dedicated many years of time and effort to create and preserve.

Some of that work was put in jeopardy on Oct. 5, 2012, when the fire believed to be sparked by vehicle exhaust emission occurred following three months without any significant rainfall. The incident was devastating for many people who had put their heart and soul into the refuge. But since that time, volunteers of all ages have been feverishly working to re-plant native species of trees and shrubs and replace a damaged portion of the trail.

The Camas-Washougal area has a number of beautiful trails, but the Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail is something special. It’s a unique place that should be treasured, and it’s great to have it back.