Help Local Woman Anita Will Win a John Deere Tractor for Whipple Creek Regional Park

54,000 people use Whipple Creek Regional Park each year. Chances are you are one of them. Its beauty has been preserved and the accessibility increased thanks to the dedication of the volunteers from the Whipple Creek Park Restoration group. Founded by Anita Will, a Clark County resident for over 50 years, the group has worked tirelessly to make the park suitable for year-round use (a rare thing in the muddy Pacific Northwest), for horseback riders, hiker and bicyclists. Now, the group is trying to win a John Deere skid steer to help make their work a bit easier and our trails even better. Our park is one of three national finalists.

Anita Will Whipple Creek Regional Park John Deere Contest Anita Will
Anita Willis the founder of Whipple Creek Park Restoration group and also the person who entered the John Deere contest. Photo courtesy: Whipple Creek Park Restoration

You can help this amazing group of volunteers keep our park beautiful by simply texting WIN 3 to 33373 once a day from now until June 24.

“This isn’t about me,” Anita says. “It is about much more. The people in this community who love this little green heaven! It is about all the amazing volunteers that have continued to come back and work, and I mean really work, at this project. We have all the high schoolers volunteering. Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4 H clubs.  Businesses have come to trail workday. Many horse people and bicycle riders and hikers and runners all work together. It is such a success for our community.”

Having lived in Battle Ground for 42 years, Anita has visited Whipple Creek Regional Park many times, often on the back of one of her Quarter Horse geldings, Russell (16) and Nifty (14). She noticed when the trails were falling into ruin and graffiti had appeared on the old mill. “I started the Whipple Creek Restoration Committee officially in 2011 when I signed a MOU agreement with the city parks department,” she says. “Never dreaming how long this project was going to take.” She adds that the main reason for starting the group was to restore the trail and the stone mill and waterwheel built by Day W. Hilborn. “Vandals had done serious damage to the mill and torn apart the wooden waterwheel,” Anita recalls. “This upset me and I had to do something.”

In 2008, the main trails had been mulched, but it was no match for the heavy Pacific Northwest rains. Serious erosion occurred, along with mud issues that turned the trails into bogs. “The trails had become almost impassable to horses even, because of the lack of drainage caused from rotting mulch,” Anita explains. “Horses had slipped badly in the mud and mulch pulling tendons. They had trouble navigating the muddy bogs and this caused them to go around these bogs causing more erosion issues. A hiker or bike rider had an impossible time trying to use the trails like this. They could not make it
through the two-and-a-half-foot deep muddy areas from rotting mulch. I realized something had to be done to prevent the loss of the trails to all trail users.”

Anita Will Whipple Creek Regional Park John Deere Contest Betty Espey and Nifty, and Anita Will and Russell
Front – Anita Well astride Russeel and Betty Espey astride NIfty (background) on the trails at Whipple Creek. Photo courtesy: Whipple Creek Park Restoration

Restoring the Trails for Everyone

Anita soon was surrounded by many people and groups that were willing to pitch in a help, whether it was through monetary donations or time, or both. Some of the many groups that helped build culverts and add gravel to make the trails year-round steady include Washington Trail Riders, Clark County Executive Horse Council, Columbia Gorge Horseman’s Association, Back Country Horse St. Helens Chapter, Clark County Saddle Club, to name a few. These groups donated money and also time to work on the trails. Countless people donated items, too many too list.  In the beginning, Dan’s Tractor Skip, another equestrian, donated the use of his Kubota tractor to begin scrapping the mulchy mud off the trials. Jim Carlson came with three pieces of heavy equipment to repair and clear Northridge way trail. Steve Conger helped drive the tractor to clear mulch and downed trees.

Help Our Trails Be Even Better

Text WIN 3 to 33373
once a day from now until June 24

The winter months did not stop this group.  Gene Courtney bought in the work horses Diesel and Tinkerbell in the winter when they could not use the tractors to scrape deep rotting mulch and mud off the steep hills. Anita even used her own geldings for work in the park, including hauling water for volunteers, carrying tools, pulling logs out of the way, moving posts, and riding them to trim tree branches. They hauled garbage a time or two.

“We all added culverts where needed,” says Anita. “We hauled in gravel base rock, trip by trip, in-hand in wheel barrows and by tractor too. Beth Skaggs let us use her new Kubota tractor we put 60 hours on it graveling the Northridge way trail.

This is an amazing story of people all working together to make a trail system stay open for horses and all users. This is only one trail, just the beginning of seven plus years of hard labor.”

A Deere For the Park

A John Deere skid steere would help keep the trailers we all use even more accessible and would be available for more community projects in the future. Photo courtesy: Whipple Creek Park Restoration

“The Loops on South Ridge Way at Whipple Creek Regional Park are now graveled to make them also a year round trail system,” Anita says. “We have to keep up with the growth and heavy use this park gets, so I entered the contest to get the skid steer because it is needed for hauling gravel up in to the park. It is the perfect machine to get this done safely and with the least amount of damage to the trails as this is done. Having this machine will help keep project costs down. We will also be able to use this machine in other community trails and projects in the future so please tell them to vote for us.”

The John Deere Impact contest narrowed the responses they received down to three finalist with “project ideas to make a big impact in their community using the power of a G-Series machine.”

Voting is happening now. You can vote once a day, every day, through June 24 by simply texting WIN 3 to 33373.

To get involved in the restoration project, visit the Whipple Creek Park Restoration website. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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