Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Wilderness!

President Obama signed the defense spending act into law on Friday, and with it, a bill that adds 245,000 acres of newly designated wilderness in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington.

Included are:
-- the Hermosa Creek Watershed, San Juan National Forest,  near Durango, CO, includes 38,000 acres of new wilderness and 70,000 acres of special management area where the roads will be left as is and motorcycles, snowmobiles and bicycles will be allowed. 
--  the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, WA, adds 22,100 acres to the existing wilderness and parts of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt rivers have been designated as Wild and Scenic.

-- the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness, Carson National Forest, NM, permanently protects 45,000 acres of new wilderness, but also adjusted a current wilderness boundary to allow access to mountain bikers to link popular single track trails, and get them onboard with supporting the new wilderness designation.

-- the Wovoka Wilderness and Pine Forest Range Wilderness, NV, with 48,000 acres and 26,000 acres respectively. The Wovoka Wilderness is named in honor of the Native American spiritual leader who lived in the area.

-- the Rocky Mountain Front, MT, adds 50,500 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and 16,700 acres to the Scapegoat Wilderness. The legislation also sets aside 208,000 acres as Conservation Management Areas which limits road building but allows current motorized recreation and access for hunting, biking, grazing and logging.

This Congressional gift was the result of many compromises and sacrificed many wilderness study areas that are as deserving of protection, but we must celebrate the victory of preserving America's wild lands however it's achieved. This is a gift to our children and future generations -- they will need wilderness as much as we do. Please take the time to thank your Congressmen and Senators so they will know that we appreciate their leadership in preserving our national heritage.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Celebrate Wilderness Photo Essay

Oregon Field Guide video essay reflects on the 50th year of the Wilderness Act in the northwest.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Another Year in the Books!

Wilderness Volunteers wrapped up the 2014 season just before Thanksgiving with the Saguaro National Park service trip in southern Arizona. This was the latest trip that we've fielded, but it was a perfect time with great weather and we plan to do it again in 2015.

Thanks to everyone who participated in a project this year. We collectively maintained and repaired more than 106 miles of trail, built 3 miles of new trail, created more than 490 waterbars, cleaned 219 existing waterbars, placed 105 checkdams, removed 652 trees from trails, moved 97 tons of rocks, removed two and one/half miles of trail, 60 illegal fire rings, and 235 illegal campsites. We also maintained/improved 68 campsites, created 8 new campsites, took out 1/4 mile of closed road, removed 99,000 invasive weeds and planted 621 native plants. This list of work done in 2014 isn't complete - reports are still being collected for the last few projects.

We did all of this on public land in cooperation with some wonderful agency personnel who supervised and supported our groups across the country. We're especially thankful for our great volunteer leaders who give so much time to planning and making sure that the projects are successful, to mentor new leaders, to keep everyone safe in the field, to cook all those meals, and to be the face of Wilderness Volunteers to the world -- they are truly the heart of our organization.

We are thankful for our partners and sponsors who make the program possible, especially the National Forest Foundation who supports our work in national forests with matching grants, and to Keen for awarding us a Keen Effect grant. They make much of this work happen!

While we love to take stock of what we've accomplished, there isn't much time to look back as it's time to leap ahead into next year's projects. We are finishing the planning for 2015 and will post the summer and fall projects later this week. Stay tuned! Let's do it again!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Continental Divide Trail

Wilderness Volunteers recently did a week of work on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) near Apache Creek, NM, in cooperation with the Glenwood Ranger District of the Gila National Forest. We were building new trail through a section of the forest that is closed to this activity for all but a few months each year due to proximity to Mexican spotted owl habitat. It was hard work but very rewarding to see the new trail come together.

The CDT spans five states and travels 3100 miles along the spine of the country. It is a combination of dedicated trails and backcountry roads and is considered 70% finished. The Gila Forest is building trail to take it off the forest service roads which will improve the experience for hikers using it.

Standing from left: Paul, Cloudwalker, Don, Debbie, Annette,
Josh, Chris. Seated: Paul, Sarah, Liz, Katy, Bill

One evening we were eating dinner when we spied a hiker on the trail, walking south at a high rate of speed. We asked him to join us and didn't have to worry about what to do with leftovers that night. His trail name was Cloudwalker, and the CDT was his third through-hike as he'd already completed the Appalachian (AT) and Pacific Crest( PCT) trails, in fact, he hiked the AT (2,200 miles) just before he started on the CDT!

He was full of enthusiasm, and it was great to meet an actual through-hiker while we were working on the trail. When we went back to work the next day, we could see visions of these robust characters passing through on the trail we were creating.
Before and After -- a trail is born                     photos by Paul Walski
Wilderness Volunteers will offer this trip again in 2015 on June 7 - 13th. Spend a week on the Continental Divide and help us on this legendary trail!

Experience the trail we completed here:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wilderness Volunteers Enjoy Long Commute by Gillian Grant

Gillian Grant, a participant on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness project we did with the LaCroix Ranger District in August, wrote a post for her employer's blog about the experience. It finally went live this week and can be seen at this link with the title Wilderness Volunteers Enjoy Long Commute.

Sandy Stroo & Gillian Grant
Gillian works at the University of North Texas and the piece was posted to the Community Engagement blog. It was edited (quite severely) from her original piece which is posted here:

Wilderness Volunteer trip to the Boundary Waters, August 2014

Imagine escaping that tedious crawl through repairs on Interstate-35 and replacing your commute with a quiet canoe ride on pristine, mirrored water floating by lily pads and wild rice with the sound of loons and only your paddle gently striking water. This was our typical 2 hour and 15 minute commute to work, and it was pure joy.

A couple of UNT IELI (Intensive English Language Institute) Faculty decided to spend some of their summer break getting closer to nature through the Wilderness Volunteers in a week long volunteer service trip to do some much-needed and much appreciated volunteer work for the forest service.

Gillian at work
The daily commute was from our campsite on an island in Shell Lake in the Superior National Forest in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area that separates the USA from Canada in far NE Minnesota.   The commute involved nearly an hour of hiking in a lush green forest where the Sioux- Hustler hiking trail traverses some dense,  wonderful birch and pine trees. Part of the trail is on what seems to be a spongy bouncy tundra like springy carpet. This Texan was surprised to see the enormous number of trees felled by storms in various states of decomposition. Much of the area has glacially smoothed boulders a foot or two below the surface, so try as the trees do to anchor themselves, eventually the windstorms win and take down tall trees to expose horizontally massive root systems. Also on the daily commute was the wonderful peaceful, quiet canoe trip through lily pads, lotus, wild rice, and other marine based flora. The multiple portages which entailed carrying the canoe either by yourself over your shoulders or with your partner were a physical test, and the rocks in the water were a navigational challenge. Totally engaging and invigorating.

Sandy and Gillian at a portage
Sandy Stroo (retired in August from IELI faculty at UNT after 18 years of service) and I were on a week long service trip doing trail maintenance on the Sioux –Hustler hiking trail with Wilderness Volunteers, a nonprofit outfit that was started by a couple of dedicated Sierra Club members 18 years ago who thought the Sierra Club volunteer trips  had become too expensive. Wilderness Volunteers is based in Flagstaff, Arizona, and they run week long trips with 6-10 volunteer participants, in addition to 2 volunteer certified leaders, to clean up national and state parks and forest service land, choosing projects pitched to them by rangers all over the country. This year there were more than 60 trips. Sandy has done 3, and she inspired other IELI Faculty; I have done 5 trips, Donna Obenda did one and so did Sally Kloppe (currently on assignment for IELI and UNT teaching at Kansai Gaidai in Japan).  In total, we IELI teachers have used time off in the summer (without pay) to participate in 10 WV trips in Colorado, Montana, California, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, and Minnesota. There is a small cost to participate ($300), which covers all food, beverages, and associated park costs. If selected for a trip, participants provide their own basic gear (tent, backpack, hiking boots, sleeping bag, thermarest, etc) and pay for their own transportation.

On the water
On our trip to the Boundary Waters in August, there were 8 participants (including a mother-daughter leader team) and we worked with small tools called “silky saws” and a big old timey 2 person cross cut saw. Our team cut and cleared about 200 trees on the Sioux- Hustler hiking trail. It had been years since the trail had seen maintenance. Like most of our parks in America, they are vastly understaffed and depend on volunteer groups like the WV to keep trails open. In fact, there are 2 rangers assigned to maintain the trails in a half million acres at this park.  As a consequence, ranger stations depend on volunteer groups like the WV to keep trails open.

If you like starry nights, frogs, loon cries, making new friends with people who love nature, and a great commute to work, you will love Wilderness Volunteers.
For more information, go to the WV website   http://www.wildernessvolunteers.org/
- Gillian Grant

Sunday, September 14, 2014

50 Years of Wilderness

"If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it."
                   — President Lyndon Baines Johnson, signing the Wilderness Act of 1964 into law.

Elizabeth Kolbert, an environmental writer, says in the current National Geographic magazine: "Some 30 proposed wilderness areas now await approval from a gridlocked Congress. None of the proposals would have made it even that far without broad local support. There would be no better way to celebrate the Wilderness Act's golden anniversary than for Washington to approve them."

Read her article 50 Years of Wilderness here.

Please take the time to write your Congressional members and ask them for protection now before they are degraded by competing uses.

Let us hear from you -- what does Wilderness mean to you?

National Wilderness Month

President Obama has declared September National Wilderness Month, and in 2014, we also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of The Wilderness Act. In his proclamation
President Obama called on Americans to “reflect on our rich tradition of stewardship, which has preserved the wild and scenic places we enjoy today, and renew our commitment to advancing our country’s legacy of conservation in our own time.”

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, MN
Read the proclamation here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Rethinking the Wild

In a recent NYTimes editorial, Christopher Solomon states that the Wilderness Act, at 50 years, is facing a midlife crisis. Solomon cites some environmentalists that believe human intervention may be required in order to save or restore the original wilderness qualities in many of our wilderness areas.
Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness

Due to climate change, areas like Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows is drying out and being replaced by lodgepole pine forest. Should the Park Service keep the meadow intact by cutting these trees and irrigating the meadow? Sequoia and Joshua Tree national parks are considering interventions to help these titular species survive rising temperatures and drought, either relocating trees or irrigating groves. In Bandelier National Monument, the Park Service has already stepped in to remove the increasing pinon-juniper forest to stave off erosion of thousands of archaeological sites and restore the grassland character of the area.

It's an interesting question -- is Wilderness truly wild? Is any place on the planet not shaped by human impact? Can we really experience land "untrammeled by man?" Grazing is still an allowed use of Wilderness, and the impacts of over-grazing are evident everywhere in the American west (compacted soils, cutbanks, disappearance of native grasses and other species, and the invasion of nonnatives). Popular areas are overrun by recreationalists, like the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness where hundreds of people and their dogs pound the trails everyday.

What do you think? Is Wilderness worth keeping? Do we relax the rules to allow more intervention by land agencies or contracted concessions? Is it time to rewrite the Wilderness Act?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wear Sunscreen!

Here at Wilderness Volunteers, we all spend a lot of time outside. Photographer Thomas Leveritt filmed people under UV light, and the results are amazing. This video drives home why we should be wearing sunscreen:

Girl in UV light and in regular light
My dermatologist tells me that most people don't put enough sunscreen on, and you can see the difference in properly (thickly) applied sunscreen vs the thin layer we usually use.

Do you wear sunscreen regularly?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Indian Peaks Wilderness Causeway

On the High Lonesome Trail:

This was only one of the projects we did; we also built two 25-ft bridges over the creek. See the bridge photos at this link.
Bridge on the High Lonesome Trail, Indian Peaks Wilderness, CO

Adventure Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

This new film by Backpacker's Pantry makes the point that everyone welcomes a good hot meal in the outdoors, whatever their backpacking style:

Monday, June 30, 2014

Memoirs of a Cactus: Saguaro Wilderness

Shared from NPS Wilderness

"They say that history is in the eye of the beholder, but what if the beholder is wilderness itself? What do our actions as a species look like to a member of the wilderness community? A personal history from the eyes of the saguaro cacti, this video recounts how over time humans have transformed Saguaro National Park's desert landscape. Saguaro cacti are among the oldest members of the Sonoran desert community, and over centuries and generations, the cacti have seen their home change dramatically as groups of humans moved in. Over the course of this memoir, we see poetic vestiges of human settlement in the desert, echoes from a time before wilderness reclaimed its own."

Friday, June 27, 2014

One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire

The California Fire Prevention agencies have teamed up to create "One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire" Public Service Announcements to help decrease the number of wildfires started by spark ignition.

Share these videos with friends and family to get the word out about how we can decrease unintended fire!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Available Summer Adventures

There are still spaces remaining on WV service projects in several outstanding wild places. Here are a few of the places that have spots available to give something back:

Mission Mountains Wilderness, Montana, July 19 - 26

Photo by Tammy Rinaldi, WV Service Project in 2010
The Mission Mountain Wilderness, with its rugged peaks, pristine glacial lakes and mountain streams, is frequently called the American Alps. The Missions feature 225 lakes and its clear waters hold native trout, a high-bred "Cutbow" (which is a cross between the Cutthroat and Rainbow trout), and pike. Its high peaks tower 7000 feet above the valley floor, up to 9280' McDonald Peak. The slopes and valleys are heavily forested, rocky and lush with undergrowth.

This a great trip for everyone, including beginner backpackers, as it's fairly level and we have terrific pack stock support. Our service project will be very useful in helping maintaining these scenic mountain trails after a particularly late snow season this year.  See the project page to learn more and join us in America's Alps.

Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness, Bighorn Crags, Idaho, August 17 - 23

Photo by Caroline Williams, WV Service Project 2013

Located in west-central Idaho and below the Montana state line, lies the 2.3 million acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area - the largest wilderness in the United States outside of Alaska. Cutting through it with ferocity is the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Salmon River, called the River of No Return by pioneers. High above the river is the remote, jagged Bighorn Crags area, with outstanding opportunities for hunting, hiking, primitive camping, fishing and whitewater rafting.

Please join us on our service project in this undeveloped and wild land, assisting wilderness rangers from the North Fork Ranger District with trail maintenance on the Ship Island Lake Trail. Our work will include erosion control, reroutes, brushing, and maintaining campsites following a 9 mile backpack to a picturesque base camp at Airplane Lake in the Ship Island Lake basin. 

Mt. Hood Wilderness, Oregon, September 7 - 13

Located twenty miles east of Portland, Oregon, and the northern Willamette River valley, the Mt. Hood
Photo by Sharon Pilot, WV Service Project 2012
National Forest extends south from the strikingly beautiful Columbia River Gorge across more than a million acres of forested mountains, lakes and streams. At its heart lies the imposing figure of Mt. Hood, a dormant volcano with 11 active glaciers, forested slopes and alpine meadows. The Mt. Hood Wilderness follows river drainages to lower elevations, concealing waterfalls and valleys that support an understory of Oregon grape, salal, rhododendron, huckleberries, and an overstory of towering cedars and other moss-covered conifers.

The service project is working with the Mt. Hood NF Fisheries Biology team on a continuing collective to restore and aid salmon habitat recovery along Still Creek and the Salmon River. We'll spend the first part of the week working on stream banks restoring riparian habitat, wetlands and stream-side vegetation by planting native Red cedar, and removing illegal campsites and fire rings as they are encountered. The second half of the week we'll be gathering seeds and berries for direct sewing or later propagation. Opportunities abound for day hiking to area waterfalls and taking in the sites of this classic Pacific Northwest temperate rainforest. This project is great for all experience levels including beginners to car camping and service work.

Thanks for giving something back with Wilderness Volunteers!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Antiquities Act turns 108 this week!

The Antiquities Act allows "the President to set aside and reserve for use as public parks or reserves and public lands upon which are monuments, cliff-dwellings, cemeteries, graves, mounds, forts, or any other work of prehistoric, primitive, or aboriginal man, and also any natural formation of scientific or scenic or scenic value or interest, or natural wonder or curiosity together with such addition area of land surrounding or adjoining the same, as he may deem necessary for the proper preservation and subsequent investigation of said prehistoric work or remains."

National Monument managers include the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Devil's Tower
There have been 124 monuments created through the act; some of these have later been designated National Parks/Preserves through the action of Congress. You can find a list of the monuments with the President who dedicated them at this link.

The first was Devil's Tower in Wyoming, dedicated by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 shortly after The Antiquities Act was signed into law. The latest was the Organ Mountains - Desert Peaks in New Mexico in May of this year by Barack Obama.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Wilderness: Our Enduring American Legacy

Hiking in the John Muir Wilderness
A new publication from The Wilderness Society celebrates the role of wilderness in shaping our national character, highlights the significance of wilderness in America and calls on Congress to protect more wild places.
"Changes unforeseen by the authors of the Wilderness Act five decades ago ... make the resource of wilderness even more essential to our nation's future."
 More than two dozen locally-crafted, home-grown bills to protect new wilderness areas are still pending before the House and Senate; many have been stalled on Capitol Hill for years due to political partisanship and ideological disputes. To honor the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, The Wilderness Society is calling on
Eagletail Mountains Wilderness in Arizona
Congress to renew its commitment to protecting wilderness by passing legislation to protect our wild legacy. The report highlights Hermosa Creek in Colorado, Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front, and Maine’s Coastal Islands among other priority areas.

You can view this special report here. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Finding Current Information on Wildfires

Fire season is once again upon us, and living in the forests of Northern Arizona, we hold our collective breath every year while raking pine needles and creating defensible areas around our homes.

Much of the stewardship work that Wilderness Volunteers do each year is in areas that can be affected by wildfire. It's important for our project leaders and participants to have a way to find out if their trips will be affected by wildfire, and to monitor the status of the fire.

InciWeb is an interagency all-risk incident web information management system provided by the US Forest Service. It was developed for wildland fire emergencies, and its mission is to provide the public with a source of incident related information. It includes information on air quality, news releases, maps of affected areas, photographs, evacuations, road closures and current situation info about each wildfire.

We've definitely been using InciWeb here with the large Slide fire burning in Oak Creek Canyon between Flagstaff and Sedona. I'll also use this great tool when preparing for the projects I'm doing this summer.

Another resource is the National Interagency Fire Center and many states also have informational sites for current incidents like the Arizona Interagency Wildfire News site.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Newest National Monument - Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks

Organ Mountains as seen from the east.

Nearly 500,000 acres of beautiful New Mexico wild land are now protected with the declaration of the new Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. The work in managing the monument only begins once the land is designated. The agency will likely need volunteers in managing the area - let us know in the comments section if you'd like to go on a service project there next year!

If you want to be a part of setting the direction for a recently declared New Mexico National Monument, you don't have to wait for things to get rolling in the Organ Mountains. You can join WV for the service project at the Rio Grande del Norte NM this summer! Designated in March of last year, the RGDN is more than 240,000 acres in Taos County. Our project will be on the north side of Ute Mountain, helping to site and plan a single well-managed trail. Come join us and make an impact - more info on our website.

WV's 2014 RGDN project will be on Ute Mountain, seen behind the Rio Grande gorge in the photo above.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Reduce Condensation in Your Tent

Tips for reducing condensation in your tent from Mountain Safety Research:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cool Adventures Towering Above Hot Moab

Join Wilderness Volunteers on our second annual project in the La Sal Mountains of the Manti-La Sal National Forest, July 27 - August 2, 2014. The La Sal Mountains are the second highest range in Utah and offer miles of trails, great wildlife viewing, abundant fields of wildflowers, comfortable temperatures and astounding views of the slick-rock deserts below.

Photo from the La Sal Mountains out to the Red Rock Desert, Taken July 2013 by P. Goldberg
Our service project for 2014 is conducting maintenance of heavily used trails in the Geyser Pass area of the central La Sal range. The Manti-La Sal National Forest struggles to keep a myriad of user types all satisfied and trails delineated for specific purposes. We'll improve drainage and increase the stability of the trail tread.  We'll set up a car camp around 10,000' elevation for the week, and day hike to the work sites with tools.  Nearby peaks top out in the range of 12,000', so come prepared for some free day hiking with unbelievable views...and don't forget your camera!

La Sal Mountains loom behind Fisher Towers - July 2013, photo by P. Goldberg
Read more about the area in our interview with Brian Murdock - Recreation, Wilderness & Trails Manager for the Monticello/Moab ranger district of the Manti-La Sal National Forest. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Superstition Wilderness, March 2014 by Elaine Gorman

Sarah & I left Modesto at 8 AM on Sat. 3/21, eagerly anticipating our week on a trail crew with Wilderness Volunteers. The most boring part of the almost 1000 mile drive is the stretch along highway 99, but we spent the time catching up from the last time we backpacked together, about 7 years ago. After many stops (shout out to Kohnenos German Country Bakery in Tehachapi), we arrived in Golden Shores, Ariz., where sister Leanne had created a scrumptious dinner for us. The perfect weather allowed us to eat al fresco, and we enjoyed a great night's sleep.

After breakfast, we headed southeast, and as we approached the mining towns of Superior, Miami and Globe, we saw some of the results of copper mining activity, mainly the steep walls formed from digging and reconstructing the land. The grazing cows on these steep slopes were comical, how were they able to stand up straight, legs longer on one side? In Globe, we visited Besh Ba Gowah Archeological Park, a 700 year-old Pueblo ruin. The museum and gift shop are worth a stop if you are traveling in the area. Early dinner at LaCasita, a family-owned restaurant since the '40's. We happened to sit next to members of the family, who recommended the machaca and the green chili, yum!

On Sunday at the Globe Forest Service office, we met the Wilderness Volunteer leaders Jane and Bill, the other 8 trail crew volunteers, and ranger Pablo. We carpooled to the Haunted Canyon trailhead in the Superstition Mountains Wilderness, part of Tonto National Forest. We drove through an active mining area, 10s of square miles of pits, tailing ponds, and huge mounds of earth covering the landscape. A seemingly sacrifice area for all of our metal needs, depressing. And then suddenly we were in the beautiful forest.

We hiked about 4 miles to our campsite, hiking in and out of the Haunted Canyon's mostly dry streambed, admiring plants from riparian, mountain, and desert habitats -- black walnut, cottonwood, sycamore, poison ivy, yucca, agave, alligator juniper, and several types of cacti. Lots of organisms with thorns and spines, toxins, or ghostly white bark.

The previous day, volunteers on horseback had brought in camp gear and tools. After setting up camp for the next 6 days (I was on latrine-digging duty) we enjoyed a scrumptious meal of veggie chili, cornbread, and fresh strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. Most of us were tuckered out from the activities of the day, and we all hit the sack by 8:30 PM.

We had 4 days of work, mainly clearing brush on 2 miles of trail. We also built cairns at junctions/stream crossings, dug out rocks, constructed water bars, and fixed "tread". Cat claw acacia grew thick in some areas, and its curved thorns would tear at our clothing, hair, and skin. My shirt soon became polka-dotted with my blood. Since this plant, and many others, root sprout, we had to dig out the thick root clumps with the pick-matic. I would shout "die!" as I hacked out a gnarled root.

On our day off, we split into groups, with some people hiking and others staying close to camp to relax. Our campsite was near the Toney Cabin, occupied by the Toney family from 1913-24. This family of 10!! shared 2 small rooms and raised wheat, apples, vegetables, chickens, and livestock. People were really tough back then! The cabin and surrounding land is now owned by a conservancy.

Our last morning was spent packing up camp and heading back to the trailhead. Two volunteers with the Forest Service were waiting for us with made to order root beer floats! After hugs and farewells, Sarah and I paid another visit to LaCasita, then onward to Tempe for a shower and hotel bed.

Favorites of the week....
Desert Penstemon
Wildflower -- Desert Penstemon, Penstemon psuedospectabilis

Tree -- Arizona Cypress
New recipe -- Munch n crunch -- mix together equal parts p-nut butter and cream cheese, add diced apple, celery, and green olives, spread on bagel/bread
Morning sky objects -- venus and the waning moon
Evening activity -- singing with the uke, everyone picked a song
Bird -- Cardinal

If you haven't fallen asleep yet, this Haiku might do it:
Ocotillo red
flames on stickery green stalks
Beauty sears my eyes.
Check out www.wildernessvolunteers.org for future trips. Join me in Desolation Wilderness in August?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Distance to Nearest Road

The USGS Geographic Analysis and Monitoring program developed a national high resolution dataset that gives the distance to the nearest road every 30 meters (square) across the conterminous 48 states. These roadless areas are clustered mostly in the west around mountain ranges and deserts, with a few in the east ( the bayous of southern Louisiana, northern Minnesota, etc.).

The dark green signifies the areas farthest from roads and much of it overlaps with federally designated wilderness areas. Designated wilderness comprises only about 5% of the continental United States, and this map shows how special these areas are. (Click on the map to enlarge it.)

What are your favorite roadless areas?

View the complete publication (Fact Sheet, 2005, Watts, RD, RW Compton, JH McCammon, CL Rich, and SM Wright. Distance to the nearest road in the conterminous United States. Fort Collins, CO: USGS)

Monday, March 17, 2014

WV Auction Currently Awaiting Your Bids!

The Wilderness Volunteers Online Auction is happening right now! Check out the auction site to see all the great items donated by these amazing supporters. Please spread the word and feel free to bid generously, as every dollar bid supports Wilderness Volunteers!