Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wilderness Volunteers Seeks Development Coordinator

Wilderness Volunteers is hiring!

Position: Development Coordinator. We’re searching for a dynamic, enthusiastic and skilled individual to add to our growing program. The Development Coordinator is responsible for achieving the fundraising goals of Wilderness Volunteers. This is a full-time position, salary pursuant to experience. Location is flexible; must be able to work remotely. Occasional travel required. Outdoor leadership experience a plus. Applicants should have experience in nonprofit fundraising.

Interested applicants should submit a resume and a one page cover letter stating your interest in the position and why you should be selected. Please send both as .pdf files to with Development Coordinator in the subject line. Deadline June 30, 2012. No calls please.

Primary Responsibilities:

-- Manage membership/partner program
-- Grow donor base, cultivate major gifts, manage annual endowment campaign
-- Manage sponsorship program (corporate and retail)
-- Coordinate online auction: solicit donations and sponsors
-- Work with ED to develop Board fundraising capacity
-- Work with ED to identify and write grant proposals
-- Produce annual report

This list is not comprehensive, but reflects primary aspects of the position. Wilderness Volunteers is an at-will employer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Russian olive removal in Escalante River gains national attention

Those of you who've followed Wilderness Volunteers for a while know that one of our longest-running service projects is the effort to restore southern Utah's magnificent Escalante River by removing the invasive (and rather thorny) Russian olive tree. Since 1999, we've coordinated volunteer activities with recently retired Park Ranger Bill Wolverton from the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (downstream) and since 2003 with Botanist Amber Hughes from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (upstream). Wilderness Volunteers joined a recently formed coalition called the Escalante River Watershed Project to coordinate efforts throughout the drainage, providing groups of volunteers and scientists to work in remote locations from headwaters to major side canyons downstream. ERWP consists of private landowners, local business alliances, public land agencies and a host of government and nonprofit interests.

Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recognized the effort and accomplishments of the greater project as part of the President's America's Great Outdoor Rivers. The declaration reads in part "Healthy rivers are a pillar of the President's and Secretary's vision for America's Great Outdoor Rivers because rivers offer 'close to home' recreation (boating, swimming, fishing, camping, hiking) and rivers provide important habitat and migration corridors for fish and wildlife. River connect communities to natural places like parks and wildlife refuges." You can read the Interior's proclamation here.

Wilderness Volunteers is featuring two Russian olive removal projects this fall in southern Utah. Our project with the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Sept 23-29 begins and ends with a thrilling off-trail backpack 6 miles deep into the Escalante Canyon where we'll  base camp near the mouth of Boulder Creek. Our second Escalante River project, Sept 9-15, just downstream from the Hwy 12 river bridge, only has two spaces remaining. Please join us to be part of a very special effort to restore this great river.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Portaging for Wilderness Volunteers!

Reeni and Jack Knudson, adventurous Wilderness Volunteers participants from Prescott, AZ, are planning to cross the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) from end-to-end in June. They are reaching out to the WV community to give them motivation and raise money for Wilderness Volunteers by asking you to pledge money for each portage they will make on this approximately 175-mile journey. A portage requires them to move their boat from one lake to the next and can vary in length from a few rods to 680 rods (a rod is 16.5 feet and is the traditional unit of measuring portages).

Reeni & Jack Knudson in Chile
There are more than 40 portages on the planned route, which starts at Crane Lake in the west, and will end about 30 days later at South Fowl Lake to the east. Renni and Jack, who have years of experience doing shorter trips in the BWCAW, are doing the trip unsupported and have been dehydrating food for the trip (they hope to supplement their menu with fresh fish) while working on being in top condition. Some of the lakes they will paddle include Vermillion Lake, Loon Lake, Lac La Croix, Iron Lake, Crooked Lake, Moose Lake, Knife Lake, Saganaga, Gunflint Lake, North and South Lakes, Rose Lake, Mountain Lake, and another Moose Lake, and many more. They plan to begin the journey on June 1st and be finished by June 30th.

Along the way, they will paddle through placid lakes and flowing rivers, listen to loons and wolves calling, carry their canoe and gear over some rugged land and sleep under the stars in this vast lake-studded wilderness!

Show your support for this worthy expedition and Wilderness Volunteers by making your pledge to Reeni and Jack by email  (KnudsonRnJ(at) with the subject "A Pledge for Wilderness Volunteers."
Wilderness Volunteers is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, TIN 91-1821692 Contributions may be tax deductible up to the limits of the law.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hanging Bear Bags, PCT Style

Jasper Nat'l Park, Canada (2009)
Our inaugural trip last year into West Virginia's Cranberry Wilderness - 1 of 8 projects in the east in 2011 - led us into the middle of 90,000 acres of beautiful hardwood forest, which up until 2007 was a black bear sanctuary boasting nearly 1 bear per square mile. (By comparison, Shenandoah National Park, home to one of the greatest concentrations of black bears in the country, is estimated to hold upwards of 1.5 bears per square mile). As with any trip in bear country, securing our food from bears - as well as raccoons, chipmunks, and possibly bigfoot - was a top priority.

Heavy duty bear boxes are generally the preferred method of choice, particularly when you have a group of hearty and able mules and horses to carry them and your food into camp. With no trails in the Cranberry graded for pack animals, we turned to the tireless Forest Service and their strong and able backs for assistance.  Short on bear boxes, we improvised.

Enter the PCT method, which requires only 50-60' of rope, a carabiner, 1-2 stuff sacks, and a sturdy 6" long stick.  (And a tree of course).  Unlike the usual method of simply throwing a rope over a limb and tying one end to a nearby tree (and hoping that a bear doesn't pull the taut line - and the food bag - down to the ground), the PCT technique allows the rope to hang freely, tension-free from the limb, eliminating the risk that a critter will wreak havoc in your backcountry kitchen and spoil your next meal.

Here's a great step-by-step tutorial on how to use the PCT method, which came in quite handy during our stay in the Cranberry.  It will take some practice to get the hang of the clove hitch, but once you do you'll appreciate the simplicity and utility of this approach.  We certainly did and we'll be using it again when we head to the Monongahela's Dolly Sods Wilderness this October. 

Have suggestions on how to improve upon the PCT method? Or suggested alternatives? We're all ears! 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

River, History & Wildlife in the North Fork John Day

It was the Spring of 2009 when I co-led a Wilderness Volunteers trip for the first time as an employee. Seeking a special experience, I chose a previously unexplored part of the country for me, and with a co-leader I trusted -- Gayle Marechal, whom I'd met as a participant ten years earlier in the backcountry of southern Utah.

The North Fork John Day Wilderness is centered around the Wild & Scenic North Fork John Day River in northeastern Oregon. While it's huge larch and pine trees were the initial attraction, I was equally impressed by the beauty of the river and the evidence of the area's mining history. Old miner's cabins adjacent to the river were rotting away and being taken back by the wilderness while the big, crystal clear river carved its way through the steep vegetation covered canyon.

While Gayle took lead on all things food related and worked with volunteers closer to camp, myself and others in the ahead work crew cut back very overgrown vegetation and removed downed logs from the main NFJD trail downstream. Unexpectedly, my most memorable moment of the trip came on the last work morning when I spooked not one but two black bears well ahead of me and on the other side of the river. Although very excited, I managed to get a picture of the cinnamon-colored bear standing on the opposite hillside. I'd never seen such a beautiful and strong creature and it made my week!

This year's project to the North Fork John Day Wilderness, July 8-14, has a few spaces remaining. Our leaders Dean & Laurie Twehues are eagerly awaiting their chance to get back into this wonderful place, meet new folks and show off one of their favorite wild places too. Hope you can join them!