Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Coming Back For More

We received this nice note from Glenn Thornton, a participant on WV's service project in Utah's Dark Canyon Wilderness of the Manti-La Sal National Forest, May 12 - 18, 2013.

Dave and Wilderness Volunteers,

Glenn conquering invasive tamarisk
Thanks for the fantastic opportunity to "give something back" on the 2013 service project in Dark Canyon. It truly was a rich and rewarding experience. This was my first WV trip and so I was not quite sure what to expect. Some volunteer/non-profit projects end up being a bit cobbled together logistics and communications wise. But with WV, I was very pleased to be able to have access to an up-to-date website with current info in the participants area, as well as the trip specific communications that were sent out to each participant. Then in the field you and Peyton had everything well planned and organized so that the hike in, and the camp-life was kept smooth and safe. And the food was quite good, varied and fresh, considering the remote location and all.

After all the hard work your crews have done in Dark Canyon and Woodenshoe Canyon, I felt honored to help WV and the USFS get one step closer to declaring victory over the evil tamarisk in Dark Canyon, at least in the wilderness portion of Dark Canyon. If all you guys offer is great volunteers, great leaders, great remote logistics, and seven days of hard and hot sandy work killing tamarisk while hiking in some of the most beautiful country around, then I'll definitely be back for more. Thanks again!

Glenn Thornton

While WV's next trip to Dark Canyon is already full, we'll likely be back in 2014. There are a just a few projects still in need of volunteers, such as a great project in the Moquith Mountain Wilderness Study Area by Kanab, UT and a neat one in the San Gabriel Mountains within the Angeles National Forest. Take a peek over on the WV project page for all the info on the service projects remaining in 2013.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Report From The Field: Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Report From The Field by Dave Pacheco

This past week, I co-led a group of intrepid Wilderness Volunteers into the rugged Sawtooth Wilderness to help the agency managing the Sawtooth National Recreation Area with some much-needed trail maintenance. We're proud to say this was WV's 15th project giving something back in the Sawtooths since 1999!

Under the long-time supervision of Liese Dean, Wilderness Program Coordinator, and Deb Peters, Assistant Trails Supervisor and expert packer, we backpacked in five miles to a campsite in the Stanley Creek area of the wilderness and immediately got familiar with our home for the week. Our first impressions were how incredibly clean the water flowed through this magnificent granite-based, Lodgepole pine forest -- some of the clearest water we had ever seen. And we couldn't help but be starkly reminded that the entire location, camp and work sites, were in a burned area from a 2007 fire.

For the next five days we made daily forays of up to eight miles round trip performing an assortment of
trail tasks. Volunteers took turns sawing out 55 downed trees across trails with a six-foot cross-cut saw, we lopped and brushed back overgrown vegetation from 5 miles of trail, and mostly we cleaned out debris and rocks from 244 water bars over that same distance. The water bar work was particularly important because of the unusual level of erosion from the past fire, and they are necessary to divert the water from gouging through trails.

Over the course of the week, we were thrilled with late night visits through camp by Mule deer and elk, and on the smaller scale we were entertained by pika, Clark's nutcracker, bluebird, and some very colorful Western tanagers. Thankfully, Thursday's storms that touched off wildfires across Idaho were well away from the immediate area, but they did make for some incredible evening red skies. The Sawtooth NRA is a place of many streams, deep glacial lakes, craggy peaks, and it's a place many of us will return to as we constantly explore wild America. If you're looking for a spectacular wilderness adventure, join us next year for another week in the Sawtooths!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Last Opportunities to Give Back with WV in 2013

Last week, we crossed the halfway mark for our 16th season of giving something back through weeklong service projects.  While there's still a large amount of work to be done, there aren't many spots available in the latter half of our season.  However, spaces are still available for these three neat places:

Mt. Rainier National Park, Sept. 8 - 14
Often referred to simply as "the mountain" by locals, Mt. Rainier is the most prominent topographical mountain in the contiguous United States. At 14,411' the massive stratovolcano can be seen from as far away as Portland, OR and Victoria, BC. Just under 60 miles from Seattle, the mountain and surrounding area offer tons of wilderness land to explore. Our service project in this very popular National Park is lending much needed restoration support to the Park Service. We will assist the restoration crew by transplanting native plant seedlings in subalpine meadows near the toe of Emmons Glacier. We will be car and tent camping down the road at White River Campground for the week, a developed site with amenities that is often noted for having breathtaking scenery. This is an active service trip appropriate for newcomers to backcountry volunteering and does not involve backpacking. Join us on the mountain in September.

San Gabriel Mountains Proposed Wilderness, Sept. 29 - Oct. 5

The San Gabriel Mountains are more than a scenic backdrop for the bustling city life of LA and the inland empire. These mountains support an interesting array of wildlife, many native species of plants benefiting from the range of microclimate and elevation variation, and also provide a much needed watershed for Southern California. Our service project in this proposed wilderness  is the removal of invasive Spanish Broom, which thrived following 2009's wildfires. We'll work with the Angeles National Forest's biology team to eradicate these invasives and also collect native seed for replanting.  Join us on the first WV project in the San Gabriels.

Big Bend National Park is unique as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan desert in the United States with more than 120,000 species of plants within its boundary. Lying on the Mexico border, the area offers an exceptional range of biodiversity with elevations ranging from 1,800' to more than 7,800'. The area offers much in the way of human history with archaeologists uncovering items dating back more than 9,000 years! Our service project will focus on trail maintenance and erosion controls on several key passages throughout the Park.  We'll stay in an established Park Service campground in the center of the Park, offering a great base to explore.  Learn more and join us on the last WV project of 2013, in Big Bend.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Katy Goes North

We're pretty fortunate at Wilderness Volunteers to work with and interact with an excellent group of dedicated volunteers.  We're grateful for all the hard work our participants put in, giving something back in precious wild spaces.

One such volunteer that we adore is Katy Giorgio. A longtime participant and WV leader since 2011, Katy takes amazing photos, gets a ton of work done and always is a joy to be around.  Not only that, she's a great writer and has a blog!  Her latest post is all about the weeklong service project on Admiralty Island in Alaska's Tongass National Forest. Check it out: Katy Goes North.

And you can see more of Katy's photos (and more) in our photo gallery as well.