Bringing the Trail Crew to you! This is a continuation of our “Interview with a Volunteer” series that we’ll be using to bring the fun of being a Trailkeeper to you while you stay safe at home. […]
Waterfalls throughout our landscape are as iconic as the Douglas fir tree. We celebrate them with great fanfare as a quintessential outdoor highlight to be sought after, connected to and protected. When the Eagle Creek fire swept through the waterfall corridor of the Columbia River Gorge, it was a moment that swept our breath away and we all wondered when we’d be able to see those falling waters once again. In the meantime, the waterfall destinations elsewhere in the state saw an even greater visitation. Trails connecting to these scenic sites are in constant need of keepers to tend to their care.
Elowah Falls, at John B. Yeon State Recreation Corridor is part of a waterfall hunter’s punch card. Gorge Trail #400 and other connective trails were closed due to the fire. Elowah Falls is still closed, testament to the damage incurred and the fragility of the Columbia Gorge landscape. So much natural beauty, unique ecosystems and historical marvels are at play, we’ve steadily stacked thousands of rocks to build back this trail. 2020 will see this trail possibly open due in no small part to our TKO Rock Team of volunteers. Turning our sites to the central valley, Silver Falls State Park is the flagship of the Oregon State Parks system and a waterfall alley all on its own. We’ve just started in there and we are seeking the support to keep on keeping.
The Eagle Creek fire burned away the carpet of moss that acted as the glue holding in place endless hills of rocks that ultimate make up the landscape. At Elowah Falls, other Gorge Trail #400 segments and connective trails, scree zones were exposed and rock slides occurred. Meanwhile, an era of trail building from the 1930s was revealed. Out of necessity, a mighty force of trail builders honed skills in dry rock stacking. A number of trails are cleaned up, but the fragility of this place will likely see more rocks spill over our trails. Somebody needs to stack them up again, that’s where we can help.
TKO has been a nonprofit for just over 12 years. We are Portland-based, but that is now changing and we are growing our geographic reach. Oregon State Parks has been a gateway for our growth, taking our strong partnerships with parks in the Portland/Gorge region and letting that trust spread to other parks. With strong relationships to precede us, stewardship growth can only happen through recruiting and training more volunteer leaders. The only reason we are able to start in at Silver Falls is because local leaders stepped up to the challenge. TKO’s strong relationships with park staff confident in our work. TKO has established a leadership training series, next class is this week! Join us to do more for trails.
By Tom Kloster
After the Eagle Creek Fire in September 2017, I know I was not alone in
sorting through photos and trip reports from before the fire. While it has
taken time for all of us to absorb the changes the fire brought to the Gorge,
seeing old photos of our favorite places from years passed was a needed
I am deeply concerned about what is happening to our Oregon State Parks with reductions in operational staff and the possible layoffs of critical support within the agency’s ranks. We are concerned this is a preview of what is going to happen across all public lands. All federal, state and local lands are scrambling to catch up on season staff changes while managing new normals in visitor safety — all in a time of re-opening public lands and the looming realities of shrinking budgets. Oregon’s citizenry can help, if we make it a priority.