Dozens of volunteers donated their time on Saturday to help clean up Chester Creek Trail. The area is overrun with brush and invasive species like chokecherry bushes, which have become a major safety hazard.

"Some of us have put in 75 hours," said volunteer Larry Monson. "Between here and Valley of the Moon Park, there are a million trees that have been disbursed and need to be cleaned up. We can always use more help."

While clearing the site's lines, Larry says one of every three people would give him and his crew a thumbs-up -- a way of saying thank you for the work being put in.

"Just that passive encouragement lets us know that many people are really concerned," Monson said. "People on these trails aren't able to see a moose just ahead or a dog running or another biker. We have so many people out here, from the Rogers Park area and other parts around town -- it shows that this is really a community thing."

The volunteers worked with staff from the muni Department of Parks and Recreation to trim trees, remove chokecherry bushes and clean up trash and waste along the trail. The teams are also raising the canopy to the waterline 25 to 50 feet around the trail, improving poor visibility which had made the trail hazardous for hikers, bikers and people out for a stroll.

"It’s an amazing thing to see citizens organizing in a meaningful way to make change," said Anchorage Assembly member Christopher Constant. "What it means to me is that my neighbors are activating and they are willing to be the change in our city that we need.”

The Chester Creek Trail and Valley of the Moon Park are high-traffic areas, which also host numerous homeless camps. Moose are also in the area and the lack of visibility along with the trash presented a real health and safety concern.

"The invasive species, the bird cherry grows real well here," Monson said. "So, once we clear an area, we leave it as natural as possible and then we come back the following year and clean up what we missed and continue to maintain."

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