We celebrate Earth Day every day and offer many weeks to celebrate our National Parks as well. Below are two examples on how you can celebrate and give something back to the National Park Service this year:
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is best known for its central attraction, Lake Powell, but it's the Escalante River that forms the wonderful network of canyons between Waterpocket Fold to the east and the Straight Cliffs of the Kaiparowits Plateau to the west. This wide, deep redrock canyon cuts numerous narrow slot canyons and is surprisingly riparian with springs hidden deep in shaded walls.
Our work will be a continuation of fourteen year's work eradicating Russian olive in the Escalante watershed (over 45 miles of river have been cleared from the reservoir up). We'll use saws and loppers to prepare larger trees for later cutting by a chain saw crew, and apply an herbicide to smaller stumps we'll cut. This invasive non-native tree is well known for choking rivers and streams in the west. The incidence of Russian olive in the area is such that it is possible to get it out of the corridor and keep it from expanding its grip, effectively restoring natural conditions. The miles of river that have been cleared are much more pleasant for hiking, kayaking and rafting, and our project will assure that the native trees continue to thrive.
The Grand Staircase Partners have arranged pack animal support to haul tools, group food and our commissary to the camp site. We'll backpack with our personal gear approximately 6 miles to set up a tent camp near the mouth of Harris Wash, one of the largest side canyons of the Escalante River. From camp, we'll work upstream in daily forays, prepping and cutting trees as we go.
Designated a World Biosphere Reserve, Olympic National Park is the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest’s magnificent ancient temperate rain forests. 95% of the park is federally designated Wilderness. The Olympic peninsula is one of the wildest places left in the lower forty-eight states. Here you will find Pacific Ocean beaches, rain forest valleys, glacier-capped peaks and a stunning variety of plants and animals. Roads provide access to the outer edges of the park, but the heart of Olympic is wilderness; a primeval sanctuary for humans and wild creatures alike.
Our project is a long-anticipated work in progress and a cause for celebration of all that is wild! With the dismantling and removal of both the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams on the Elwha River, the once-again-wild river now comes tumbling out of the Olympic Mountains, unhindered all the way to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Salmon have already begun to repopulate the river. The de-watered reservoir beds behind those dams are rich in sediment but currently bare after decades underwater. Wilderness Volunteers will assist National Park Service staff to replant trees and woody-stemed shrubs in the upland areas of the old beds, as part of a larger restoration effort throughout the Elwha River system. We're excited that the work of past Wilderness Volunteers crews is coming full circle -- all the plants used in the project have been grown from natives in the Olympic NP greenhouse -- continuing a chain of volunteer revegetation work that began years earlier with gathering cuttings from area plants and transporting them to the greenhouse for propagation!
We'll set up a base camp at one of the established park service campgrounds and make daily short drives and hikes to the areas we'll be replanting. Participants should expect rain and come prepared for it. This project is suitable for those new to service work and who are fit and ready to work in wet conditions. Our free day options include exploring the Elwha River area for wildlife and wildflowers, photography, day hikes to area peaks, or a visit to the spectacular Olympic National Park beaches.
See more photos from projects at these locations at the WV Photo Gallery.
Happy Earth Day!