By Cheryl Hill – TKO Trail Ambassador and author of Fire Lookouts of Oregon
You may know that you can volunteer with TKO to build and maintain trails, but did you know that you can also volunteer as a Trail Ambassador?
Through out TKO’s history, we’ve found that one of the most symbiotic relationships we can develop is through helping land conservation partners with their trails management. Whether it be The Nature Conservancy, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, North Coast Land Conservancy or Lower Nehalem Community Trust – we can help one another in protecting our public access lands through partnering and doing what we each do best.
Mt Ulka sits above the Discovery Center, provides terrific views down the Columbia River towards Rowena Plateau, and is otherwise closed to the public. TKO is supporting the Friends’ efforts to protect land and advance trail connections between Mosier and The Dalles for Friends’ Gorge Towns to Trails initiative. In the spring of 2021, TKO first visited the site with Friends’ staff to think through how to build a trail from the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center to the top of Mt. Ulka. Over the course of this year, we’ve assisted the Friends in developing a viable route, proposing a grading plan and we now await our approvals to break ground in 2022!
And here lies a recipe for success: TKO can be a useful trail design, development and maintenance partner for land conservancies. They focus on what they do best, relying on our collective interest in protecting and enhancing the Oregon hiking experience.
Places like Mosier and Rowena are only available to the public thanks to the tireless work of the Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and The Nature Conservancy. Their role as land trusts ensures that these precious habitats will remain protected for every generation in the future. TKO’s role as trail steward ensures that the trails you use to hike these wonderful areas are sustainable, low impact and consistently maintained. You can support these partnerships and continued access to protected lands by donating today!
Mosier Plateau and Rowen Crest are two of the gems of the eastern Gorge. Right on the edge of the Cascade’s rain-shadow, these classic scrub oak hikes host spectacular wildflowers in the spring and offer a chance at sunshine when all else is covered in clouds during the winter. With breathtaking views along every part of the trail, these special places see heavier traffic every year. We are committed to ensuring that the trails every visitor leaves their boot prints on are maintained and sustained in a way that can support their use. This will ensure that even as these treasures are discovered, the habitat around them remains protected.
Portland, Ore. – March 3, 2022 – This spring, Trailkeepers of Oregon, the US Forest Service, Oregon State Parks and the Mt. Hood – Columbia River Gorge Regional Tourism Alliance are kicking off another season of the Trail Ambassador Program to equip visitors with the information they need for a safe, informed, and positive experience when hiking and visiting the region. The Trail Ambassador 2022 season will kick-off on Earth Day weekend, April 23rd, and Trailkeepers of Oregon is currently seeking volunteers.
Volunteer Trail Ambassadors are placed at some of the busiest trailheads in the Columbia Gorge and Mt. Hood. Volunteers will have the opportunity to table at trailheads and hike the trails on weekends during peak season. Volunteers will engage with the public to answer hiking and destination related questions, promote responsible stewardship ethics, communicate about trail conditions and alternative hike information, as well as direct folks to resources such as OregonHikers.org, Ready, Set, GOrge, and land manager and partner websites.
Trail Ambassadors communicate key safety and trail condition information integral to both keeping folks safe and promoting stewardship of our most heavily visited recreation sites. Staying on official trails, packing out waste, being responsible with pets, and knowing about other nearby options if the destination is overcrowded, are important aspects of the program.
“Local volunteer Trail Ambassadors are one of the greatest assets we have in the region to help inform and inspire safe and positive hiking experiences on our trails. A warm welcome and helpful advice can make the difference in having a good vs. bad experience on a trail and that is what Trail Ambassadors can provide. And who is better at sharing a favorite post-hike lunch or brewery suggestion than a local?” said Lizzie Keenan, Regional Lead for the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge Regional Tourism Alliance.
Program organizers are looking for friendly, professional, outgoing individuals who enjoy informing and helping others and possess knowledge of Gorge and Mt. Hood trails. Volunteers are required to take an online training before signing up to volunteer.
For Trail Ambassador Program details and to sign up to volunteer, go to trailkeepersoforegon.org/trailambassadors.
There will be an online information sessions to answer any questions about the program. The next sessions are on March 16 at 6:30pm and April 6th at 12pm. Please register for the info sessions here.
For additional press questions, please contact Natalie Ferraro with Trailkeepers of Oregon at email@example.com
Since cutting their saw teeth after the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017, TKO Volunteers have (unfortunately) gotten really good at using their skills to recover trails from wildfire. Mt Hood National Forest has engaged TKO to help in the rehabilitation of the Clackamas River Trail, a popular hiking destination within the Mt Hood National Forest. […]