The red alder blocking the trail in the Hansville Greenway was staggering—18-inches thick with leafy branches jutting every which way. It had taken several smaller trees with it. The destruction cut off two trails and drew a small crowd of awed hikers and their dogs.

                “I have no clue how many trees we’ve lost this year. Maybe 50?” says Art Ellison, longtime trail volunteer and instructor of chainsaw safety for Kitsap County. “Some people think this year has been wetter. Some trees fall for no apparent reason.”

                When they do, Art grabs his 18-pound chainsaw and hiking boots. He’s one of about 50 volunteers who coordinate efforts to keep the Hansville Greenway safe and accessible. They cut and move fallen trees, drain buildups of water, undo unauthorized alternate trails and even occasionally relocate the trail when an uprooted tree takes the pathway with it.

                Art brought his professional skills as a forester to the Greenway in 2002. He calls himself a glutton for punishment for volunteering, but he is one of 10 to 15 reliable volunteers you’ll find fixing nearly every calamity. They hike in with chainsaws, Pulaskis and shovels. Art prefers that good-intentioned hikers don’t beat them to the punch.

                “We get a little annoyed when we carry all our stuff into the woods and someone’s done the job,” he says. “Safety’s another problem. If they get hurt, it’s on them.”

                The red alder project took half an hour to clear. A day later, Art and his crew were on the Hood Canal Trail, cutting a fallen tree that had nearly taken a bridge out with it.

                If you spot a trail problem or want to volunteer to help, contact Art, the Greenway webmaster, at

Cynthia Taggart