Monthly Archives: October 2019

Pittsburg Landing restrooms shine with help from volunteers

Volunteers from the with the Hells Canyon Recreation Collaborative (HCRC), which includes representatives of recreation groups who enjoy the Wild and Scenic Snake River, pose for a photo during a break from work on a facilities upgrade project at Pittsburg Landing campground on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Volunteers representing the organizations that formed the collaborative have logged approximately 960 work hours to date since the forests' partnership was established in 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

It might be the least-glamorous job on the National Forest; making sure people have a safe, sanitary place to retreat to when… well, when nature calls.

That’s why Jeff Stein, a facilities engineer on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, is especially grateful to volunteers from the Hells Canyon Recreation Collaborative (HCRC), who have donated hundreds of hours their time to refurbish three “comfort stations,” or restrooms, at the forest’s Pittsburg Landing campground.

It’s not glamorous work – and some of it requires not just willing pair of hands, but skilled labor, Stein explained.

“We were fortunate, in this case, that we were able to get such a big volunteer effort put together,” he said.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Eagle Cap Wilderness comprise one of 15 national priority areas for trail maintenance under the National Trails Stewardship Act.

HCRC represents several recreation groups comprised of members who enjoy the Snake River, which is federally designated as a Wild and Scenic River and managed as part of the country’s Wild and Scenic river system.

At Pittsburg Landing, the agency’s deferred maintenance backlog had been catching up with the campground’s infrastructure for years, Stein said.

“The siding was getting eaten up by woodpeckers chasing bugs, and then the roofing was original, mid-’80s cedar shingles… They were just wearing out,” he said.

Many of the volunteers traveled long distances to donate their time and labor to the effort.

“There were several people from the Treasure Valley, in the Boise area, and there were people from Washington (State). These people donate a lot just to get themselves there,” Stein said.

Since 2018, HCRC has organized three work parties at the campground, in Sept. 2018, May 2019, and Sept. 2019. Volunteers repaired or replaced the damaged siding, installed new metal roofs, and gave the buildings a few coats of paint. A fourth and final work party to complete the renovations is tentatively scheduled for spring, 2020.

“A lot of them have a somewhat generational history with Hells Canyon, they’ve been going there forever to enjoy hunting, or fishing, and it’s kind of a destination. I think that’s what helped them take as much ownership as they did.”

The collaborative group is organizing several other projects at the site, including vegetation management and a water system upgrade.

“I’m thankful there’s such willingness to help, and get things restored – get things back in order,” Stein said. “The personal sacrifices, that people give up their long weekends to come participate and offer their knowledge and skills. I’m very thankful for that.”

Since it was established in 2018, the group has focused its members’ efforts on a number of deferred maintenance needs in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, including both recreation and heritage facilities.

Stein said the collaborative has made a remarkable difference in the quality of campers’ and other recreational users’ experiences in a relatively short time.

“There’s a lot more to it than just replacing the roof on a toilet building,” he said. “There’s … vegetation management within the campground, getting things cleaned up and back to the way they were intended to be when the site was first constructed. And there’s a water system replacement-slash-upgrade project for the campground (that the collaborative is working on).”

“There’s also some noxious weed treatments that the collaborative group is wanting and willing to do within the Hells Canyon corridor,” he said.

Since the partnership began, volunteers from the collaborative have logged approximately 960 work hours on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

For more information about the Hells Canyon Recreation Collaborative, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/HellsCanyonRecreationCollaborative.


Source information: Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region (staff reports)

BEFORE: A comfort station at the Pittsburg Landing campground, located on Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, as it appeared in Sept 2018, prior to the start of a volunteer-supported renovation effort. The Hells Canyon Recreation Collaborative, whose mission is maintaining and improving recreation access in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, recruited volunteers from a number of member organizations to refurbish the aging facility, which district facilities engineer Jeff Stein called "fairly typical" of deferred maintenance needs found at recreational facilities across the Forest Service. USDA Forest Service photo.
BEFORE: A comfort station at the Pittsburg Landing campground, located on Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, as it appeared in Sept 2018, prior to the start of a volunteer-supported renovation effort. USDA Forest Service photo.
AFTER: A comfort station at the Pittsburg Landing campground, located on Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, as it appeared in Sept 2019, following a volunteer-supported renovation effort. The building received a new roof, updated siding, and a fresh coat of paint. The Hells Canyon Recreation Collaborative, whose mission is maintaining and improving recreation access in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, recruited volunteers from a number of member organizations to refurbish the aging facility. USDA Forest Service photo.
AFTER: A comfort station at the Pittsburg Landing campground, located on Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, as it appeared in Sept 2019, following a volunteer-supported renovation effort. The building received a new roof, updated siding, and a fresh coat of paint. USDA Forest Service photo.

Field Notes: Strengthening roots through LatinX communities outreach

USDA Forest Service staff from Mt. Hood National Forest, Resource Assistants Leslie Garcia and Kira McConnell, and VIVE Northwest participants pose for a group photo during a stewardship event at Zig Zig Ranger Station April 6, 2019. Courtesy photo VIVE Northwest.

As the Hispanic/LatinX Communications and Community Engagement Specialist for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Regional Office in Portland, Ore., I’ve been able to connect with many organizations and community leaders that are working to ensure members of LatinX communities feel comfortable and welcomed in outdoor spaces.

It’s important to understand the backgrounds and diverse cultures within the LatinX communities.

The ability to provide bilingual educational and nature-based programs is critical to educating all populations about the importance of public lands.

There is a need for diversity, equity, inclusion and cultural relevance when trying to engage communities in the outdoors, and the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region has had several opportunities to be part of community engagements led by these organizations.

Their work is not only helping the Forest Service meet a need for outdoor and conservation education in these communities, it’s also helped Forest Service employees recognize the importance of intentional, meaningful and culturally relevant outreach.

VIVE Northwest participants join Resource Assistant Leslie Garcia in clearing ivy on Bear Creek during a stewardship event April 6, 2019 on Mt. Hood National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo by Resource Assistant Kira McConnell.
VIVE Northwest participants join Resource Assistant Leslie Garcia in clearing ivy on Bear Creek during a stewardship event April 6, 2019 on Mt. Hood National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo by Resource Assistant Kira McConnell.

Founded in 2016, Vive NW was created to provide a solution to the lack of diversity in the outdoors through powerful and enriching experiences here in the Pacific Northwest.

VIVE connects Latino communities to the outdoors by providing powerful and enriching experiences offered through nature. The end goal, Diversifying the Outdoors.

In early spring, VIVE Northwest partnered with Mt. Hood National Forest for a stewardship day.

Families, children, friends, and LatinX communities members from all parts of Portland met at the Zig Zag Ranger Station to help clear ivy and plant a hundred trees in pouring rain.

Photograph of young VIVE Northwest participant planting a tree with Resource Assistant Leslie Garcia at Bear Creek on Mt. Hood National Forest, Ore. April 6, 2019. Courtesy photo by VIVE Northwest.
Photograph of young VIVE Northwest participant planting a tree with Resource Assistant Leslie Garcia at Bear Creek on Mt. Hood National Forest, Ore. April 6, 2019. Courtesy photo by VIVE Northwest.

This photo is one of my favorites from this event. Besides this being such a great picture, the memories attached to it truly make me smile! I love that it was captured, because of all the moments leading up to the taking of this photo.

While we were all working together to clear the ivy, I had the opportunity to meet this young girl, along with her mother and older sister. I had a very heart-felt conversation with the mom. I was curious to know how they’d heard of the event, and what they thought of it so far.

Her response was one I could immediately relate to, and sparked so many memories from my own life and the lives of my family.

In her hometown of Michoacán, Mexico (which is where my mom is from), she would help her family en el campo de aguacates (avocado fields) as a young kid. She told me how much she missed doing this type of work. She was happy that she could share a similar stewardship experience with her daughters and that organizations like VIVE Northwest were organizing these types of opportunities.

I grew up hearing this same story from my mom. Although I don’t remember much of that time, I know I, also, roamed the campo de aguacates in Michoacan as a child. Now this is shared stewardship!

Not everyone will have the same positive experience or interest in doing field work, but acknowledging the stories behind others experiences in stewardship work allows us to see the roots that connect us all, together, to the land. 

Latino Outdoors is a Latino-led organization that aims to inspire, connect, and engage Latino communities in the outdoors by embracing cultura y familia as part of the outdoor narrative, ensuring Latino history and heritage are represented and appreciated alongside those of other communities and cultures.

Members of the Latino Outdoors Seattle Chapter with Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Youth and Community Engagement Resource Assistant Kelsey Chun and Latinx Resource Assistant Leslie Garcia at Snoqualmie Pass March 10, 2019. Courtesy photo by Latino Outdoors.
Members of the Latino Outdoors Seattle Chapter with Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Youth and Community Engagement Resource Assistant Kelsey Chun and Latinx Resource Assistant Leslie Garcia at Snoqualmie Pass March 10, 2019. Courtesy photo by Latino Outdoors.

In March, I joined Kelsy Chun, Youth and Community Engagement Resource Assistant for Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, on a snowshoeing expedition with Latino Outdoors Seattle Chapter at Snoqualmie Pass.

At that time, Latino Outdoors Seattle was the only active Latino Outdoors chapter in the Pacific Northwest.

It was amazing to see such a fun group of people enjoying a day out in the snow. It was my first time snowshoeing, just like several of the participants, but sharing the first time experience even as a facilitator was truly amazing!

I was so inspired, I’m currently serving an Outings Leader for the Latino Outdoors Portland, Oregon Chapter.

Members Latino Outdoors Portland Chapter pose with outings leaders, members, a State Park Ranger a Forest Service employee, and an interns during a conservation education activity at Tryon Creek State Park, Ore. July 21, 2019. USDA Forest Service photo.
Members Latino Outdoors Portland Chapter pose with outings leaders, members, a State Park Ranger a Forest Service employee, and an interns during a conservation education activity at Tryon Creek State Park, Ore. July 21, 2019. USDA Forest Service photo.

On July 21st, for the last day of Latino Conservation Week, our chapter organized a nature hike at Tyron Creek.

The hike was led by a state park ranger, and Forest Service employees joined us to share Leave No Trace principles and engage with the community members.

Serving communities often means meeting them where they are and where they are interested in being. Local parks can be a place for all nature lovers and conservationists to come together.

The chapter partnered with the Forest Service for an outing at Mt. Hood, their first trip on National Forest, earlier this month.

My position (a short-term Resource Assistant position supporting the USDA Forest Service’s Regional Office, provided through an agency partnership with Northwest Youth Corps), has been an incredible opportunity to connect and work alongside these organizations, and others.

I’ve been able to take part in new activities and see new places, but what I will cherish is the sense of culture and community that was present during those moments.


Source information: Leslie Garcia recently completed a 14-month assignment supporting the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region Office of Communications and Community Engagement and its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion outreach programs through an agency partnership with NW Youth Corps. For more information about education and employment opportunities for young people, including the Youth Conservation Corps, Resource Assistant Program, internships and fellowships, visit https://www.fs.fed.us/working-with-us/opportunities-for-young-people.

What’s the buzz about pollinators?

Within the past month, Walmart stores in Pendleton and Hermiston, Ore. joined 16 other Walmart stores in opening pollinator gardens on their store grounds.

It’s a small step that, multiplied across backyards and public spaces across the country, could make a big impact on the survival of the native insects that are such a critical part of our northwest ecosystems.

Be a friend to pollinators! Animal pollinators are essential to reproduction for 35% of the world’s food crops ,but they are disappearing. This animation explains what individuals can do to help pollinators in their own communities, and describes the varieties of pollinators. USDA video, via YouTube.

The issues facing native pollinators are daunting. While some species are able to thrive on food from many plants, others are highly specialized and depend on just a few plant species. In other cases, specific plants provide cover to hide from predators or preferred breeding grounds that a dependent insect species needs.

When those plants are replaced, by crops or invasive weeds, parking lots, or buildings, small patches of remaining habitat – and the insect populations they sustain – can get isolated from others of their kind. And while some of these smaller plant and insect colonies eventually adapt to these changes, others dwindle and eventually die off.

That’s a problem, because ecosystems are interdependent.

As the number and types of of pollinators decline, plants that rely on them may also decline – including plants that rely directly on the specialized pollinators that have adapted to thrive with them, and plants that simply rely on large numbers of pollinators generally to maintain a healthy degree of cross-pollination across a geographical area.

Specific pollinators or the plants that rely on them may also be an important food source for specific bird and animal species.

Improper use of pesticides is another threat to our pollinators.

While pesticides are an important and necessary part of protecting agricultural crops, and even native plants and trees from infestations by aggressive or invasive insect species, it’s important for users to follow application guidelines.

Applying too much product, watering too soon after pesticide applications, or applying pesticides under the wrong conditions can create residue, runoff, or drift, potentially causing harm to beneficial organisms well beyond the intended treatment area.

It’s not just highly-specialized species that are struggling. Honeybee populations have declined drastically in recent decades, in part due to a syndrome called “colony collapse disorder.”

Scientists are still studying what is causing hives to fail in such large numbers, but believe a range of cumulative stressors, which could include fungal infection, infestations by parasitic mites, habitat loss that requires bees to fly further to collect sufficient food for their hive, pesticide exposure, ultimately results in stressed, unhealthy bee colonies that can’t sustain sufficient numbers to stay warm and fed through the winter.

The Monarch butterfly, which the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife website calls “one of America’s most recognizable species in North America,” is being considered for Endangered Species Act protection.

The migratory butterfly’s numbers have plummeted during the past two decades, likely due in part to overall habitat loss and fragmentation, and especially from reduced numbers of the milkweed plants it relies on, particularly when breeding.

Many communities are joining the effort to protect pollinators by removing invasives and planting native species in parks and other public spaces, and even utility rights-of-way! You can research milkweed species that are native to your area at http://www.xerces.org/milkweed/.

Individuals can also help native northwest pollinators, and the plants and animals that depend on them, survive and thrive.

Flower beds and border gardens planted with of native plant species can be beautiful and beneficial to pollinators! Many pollinators are especially attracted to showy flowers, their favored source of food. Here in the Pacific Northwest, many of our native plants are highly ornamental. Even a small container garden, planted with native flowering plants, can creating a safe place for insects to stop, rest, and feed while travelling between larger areas of habitat. You can read more about how to build such a garden at https://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/PollinatorGarden.html.

Gardeners and professional growers can also help protect pollinators by using caution when planning for use of herbicides and insecticides (both organic and synthetic can impact beneficial insects or plants that they rely on).

For more information, visit: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/plantsanimals/pollinate/

For links to USDA research re: pollinators, visit: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/economic-and-policy-analysis/natural-resources-analysis/pollinators/index

* Special thanks to Ron Kikel, visitor information assistant and conservation educator on the Mt. Hood National Forest, for providing the close-up photos below of some pollinators he’s recently encountered in and around Oregon. Thanks also to Chamise Kramer, Public Affairs Specialist for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, for the informative and shareable graphics.

‘Land of Umpqua’ photo contest winners

A wildcat is spotted through the leaves. Courtesy photo by Lindsay Briley. Awarded First Place-Wildlife in the 2019 Land of Umpqua photo contest, sponsored by the Forest Service, City of Roseburg, and Bureau of Land Management.

ROSEBURG, Ore. (Oct. 1, 2019)  The Roseburg District, Bureau of Land Management and the Umpqua National Forest announced winners of the 2019 “Land of Umpqua” Amateur Photo Contest yesterday.

This past year, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have been celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and National Trails Act.

Amateur photographers submitted a variety of photos featuring the beautiful landscapes and wildlife on BLM and Forest Service -managed lands from around the Umpqua River, Umpqua Valley and surrounding forests.

Photos submitted by amateur photographers were grouped and judged in several categories: “Fall Colors,” “Water,” “Waterfalls and Wilderness,” “Wildlife along Trails and in the Wilderness,” and “Pets on Trails.”

Congratulations to the winners!

Richard Krieger, Waterfalls and Wilderness-First Place

Winning entries, by category:

Fall Colors on Public Lands

  • 1st Place – Tiffni Curley – Roseburg
  • 2nd Place – Kevin Berhardt – Roseburg
  • 3rd Place – Jane Brown

Umpqua Wildlife along Trails and in the Wilderness

  • 1st Place – Lindsay Somers – Roseburg
  • 2nd Place – Lindsay Somers – Roseburg
  • 3rd Place – Tracy Moulden – Myrtle Creek

Water, Waterfalls and Wilderness

  • 1st Place – Richard Krieger – Ashland
  • 2nd Place – Amy Egli – Toketee
  • 3rd Place – Shanti-Rail-Chatfield – Oakland

Pets on Trails

  • 1st Place – Cheri Knott – Roseburg
  • 2nd Place – Lindsay Somers – Roseburg
  • 3rd Place – Kevin Berhardt – Roseburg

The winning photos are available to view at: http://bit.ly/2na3iGt. All photo submissions for the contest can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/2nSy72E.

The Roseburg District, Bureau of Land Management and the Umpqua National Forest hosted the photo contest as part of a multi-agency exhibit at the 23rd Annual Sportsmen’s & Outdoor Recreation Show held earlier this year.

Winners receive prizes, including free overnight stays at BLM and Forest Service campgrounds, as well as Smokey Bear -themed items.

The winning photos are also featured on the BLM and Forest Service Social media services.


Source information: Umpqua National Forest (via Facebook)