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. […]
Cascade Head is a thrilling place – hiking out to the headlands, you feel as though you are tipping off the edge of the world. Meanwhile back in the forested section of Cascade Head, you can soak in the shades of green from the surrounding mosses and lichens. Thanks to our funding partner, the Oregon Coast Visitors Association, we have taken on stewardship priorities up and down the Oregon Coast. We connected with the folks from the Siuslaw National Forest at the Hebo District to take on a challenging role in bringing a lost section of the Oregon Coast Trail back to life. As that section of trail leads to The Nature Conservancy’s property, out on the Headlands we also tackled rethinking the design and maintenance of that trail network.
The best way we know to grow our stewardship and advocacy across the state is through strong relationships with partners and land managers. We let our reputation propel us towards new ventures both near and far. Smith Rock State Park truly is a wonder. While that word has taken on new meaning through a tourism spotlight in recent years, this gem in our state parks system is packed with visitors now more than ever. We’ve dabbled in trail improvements over the years here. Through our strong partnerships with field staff from Oregon State Parks, we are now concentrating our efforts in 2020 to help lift up the park’s trail infrastructure through newly designed field training opportunities for both agency staff and local volunteers.
A 2008 winter storm slammed into Oregon’s coast and caused an exorbitant amount of windfall, flooding and slides. Cascade Head wasn’t spared and hundreds of fallen trees caused extensive trail damage. At that time the damage was too much to reclaim, and this section of the Oregon Coast Trail was closed indefinitely. Now, thanks to a concerted effort and partnership with Forest Service staff, TKO has worked on bringing this trail back to life. The work has been challenging, but this trail is worth reclaiming and we’ll be there with our volunteers and our growing family of coastal partners to help make it happen.
There is a strong need in the trails community to have a wider offering of training experiences that can build up trail stewardship skills not just within the volunteers community but the professional community as well. With the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s Trail Skills College and curriculum as our guide, TKO hopes to build upon that model to provide this type of training experience throughout Oregon. Recognizing the same needs, Oregon State Parks will be hosting a rock structure training in the spring of 2020 for their park rangers and have invited TKO volunteer leaders to attend. We hope that by providing support in developing this training, we’ll be able to expand this class into other places in Oregon that need it too.
Northwest Youth Corps is amazing and we are thankful supporters of the work and service they provide. They offer experiences in conservation and recreation management to youth and young adults that set a foundation for careers in the outdoors. There is still a large leap for those participants to get jobs in this field and TKO has found that by teaming up with NYC through individual internship positions, we can create one more stepping stone toward jobs . Each week, our NYC interns spend 1-2 days with Forest Service trail crews and then host TKO trail parties over the weekend. The model has proven successful and we have been excited to witness our NYC interns go on to new job opportunities as a direct result of their experience with TKO, NYC and the Oregon trails they’ve improved during their service.
And just as our partnerships have brought us to Smith Rock and Cascade Head, The Nature Conservancy has asked to have our expertise in trail design and initiating development at this property near Post, OR – a remarkable array of central Oregon landscapes, featuring John Day and Clarno “painted hills” formations. TKO will be heading up volunteer vacations in June 2020 at Juniper Hills. Whether it be ocean views on the Headlands or desert vistas on 10,000 acres between the Ochocos and Maury mountain ranges, TKO is getting after trails in Oregon.
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.