Category Archives: culture

In the News: Forest biologist discusses bighorn sheep on podcast

A bighorn sheep stands in a field

The Forest Service’s Mark Penninger, forest biologist for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, discusses natural history and conservation of the bighorn sheep on Episode 6 of the
Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s Northwest Nature Matters podcast.

Called the “koepa” by the Northern Paiute people, the bighorn sheep is an icon of the mountain West; yet complex disease issues have stalled its complete recovery. Mark discusses the history of bighorn conservation, its life history, management, and how sheep conservationists are trying to solve pressing challenges to sheep recovery.  – from the Northwest Nature Matters episode page

Listen to the full episode here: http://nwnaturematters.libsyn.com/the-bighorn

The Northwest Nature Matters podcast is produced by the Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society, in partnership with the Oregon Wildlife Foundation.

Recent episodes have featured subject matter experts from state and federal agencies, academia, journalism, and environmental advocacy sectors for long-format conversations about conservation, natural history, and wildlife protection issues across the Pacific Northwest.

  • Episode 4, released last month, discussed the marbled murrelet – an Endangered Species Act -listed species, like the spotted owl, requires old growth forest for nesting habitat.
Northwest Nature Matters logo
The Northwest Nature Matters podcast was launched in 2018 to share long-format conversations with subject matter experts about wildlife and conservation issues affecting the Pacific Northwest region.

Related story: The Wildlife Society’s Oregon Chapter launches “Northwest Nature Matters” podcast


Source: The Wildlife Society seeks to inspire, empower and enable conservation, environmental and wildlife professionals to sustain wildlife populations and habitats through science-based management and conservation. The Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society is comprised of approximately 350 members from state, government, tribal, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations statewide.

Smokey Bear to bring fire prevention message to Oregon license plates this summer

Smokey Bear is an iconic symbol of wildfire prevention. Oregon's new Keep Oregon Green special license plate joins 1950's artist Rudy Wendelin’s Smokey Bear with a backdrop of Oregon's lush forests. The plate's $40 surcharge will help fund wildfire prevention education activities around Oregon, which share Smokey and KOG's shared message regarding the shared responsibility to prevent human-caused wildfires.

Keep Oregon Green, in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, the Ad Council, and Oregon Department of Forestry, have partnered to bring Smokey Bear and his important message to Oregon drivers: Only YOU can prevent wildland fires.

The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles sold 3,000 vouchers for a new, Smokey Bear -emblazoned license plate in December.

The vouchers serve as pre-payment for the special plate surcharge fee for drivers hoping to adopt the new plate; the sale of 3,000 vouchers is required for the state to begin placing orders for plates with a new design.

With 3,000 vouchers sold in just a few days, the plate is will go into production soon, and will become available to vehicle owners registering their passenger vehicles, or replacing their existing license plates, later this year.

Once the plates are released, any Oregon vehicle owner can apply by paying a $40 “special plates” surcharge when registering for new or replacement license plates, in addition to the usual registration and plate fees.

The surcharge will help fund wildfire prevention activities conducted by Keep Oregon Green, an organization that educates the public about the shared responsibility to prevent human-caused wildfire in communities throughout Oregon.

For more information, visit:
https://keeporegongreen.org/smokey-bear-license-plate/


Source information:
The Keep Oregon Green Association was established in 1941 to promote healthy landscapes and safe communities by educating the public of everyone’s shared responsibility to prevent human-caused wildfires.

Smokey Bear was created in 1944, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear would be the symbol for their joint effort to promote forest fire prevention. Smokey’s image is protected by U.S. federal law and is administered by the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council.

In the news: WTA ‘Thank a Ranger’ & ‘The Changing Face of National Forests’

Yewah Lau, district ranger for Hood Canal Ranger District, Olympic National Forest, in a 2017 photo. Photo courtesy of Washington Trails Association, used with permission.

The Washington Trails Association recently re-posted an interview with Yewah Lau, district ranger for Hood Canal Ranger District, on the Olympic National Forest, to highlight their “Thank a Ranger” campaign.

Yewah Lau spoke to the association’s member magazine about diversity, and the values that brought her to a career with the agency, in 2017.

Would you like to show your thanks and appreciation for a forest ranger through WTA? Read the article online at https://www.wta.org/news/signpost/the-changing-face-of-the-national-forest-1, then fill out the “thank you” form at the end of the page to express your thanks and pledge to thank a ranger on the trail during your next forest visit (please note: filling out the form discloses your email address and may result in additional emails from WTA).

From the article:

As the local decision-maker for the happenings on the east side of the peninsula, from Sequim to past Hoodsport and along some of its south side, her role is all-encompassing: recreation, vegetation and wildlife management, working with local staff and specialists to help protect resources, and interacting with and creating opportunities for the public.

Yewah deals with big complex multi-stakeholder issues, working with diverse factions, like elected officials, community groups and local tribes, something that she finds extremely fulfilling…

“I have met women who were the first: the first wildlife biologist in their forest or office, or the first firefighter … I feel like I’m following in their footsteps.”

Ultimately, though, Yewah’s work is driven by an overarching principle:

“Our obligation is to protect natural resources, wildlife and watersheds.  We have a mission that is unique and complex because we’re serving the American public and also trying to find the best combination of what all of those values are.”

 

SWEET HOME TO DC: 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree team celebrates Thanksgiving in St. Louis

A Modern Day Adventure on the Historic Oregon Trail

Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in the western Cascade mountain range. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog.

To read previous entries, visit https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.

For more information, visit the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website, www.capitolchristmastree.com, and story map: https://arcg.is/10DOyv

Track the tree! Follow the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree on its Return to the Oregon Trail journey in near real-time, at www.trackthetree.com


November 22nd, 2018
St. Louis, Mo.

Celebrating the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree at the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade

It’s Thanksgiving Day, and I am 2,054 miles from home. But I’m thankful for the technology that allows me to correspond without the need for the Pony Express.

It’s harder than I thought it would be to be away from my family during the holiday, and I don’t think I was alone in feeling that way. Emotions were near the surface for many of us this morning.

But our day was brightened by the parade!

Here we are getting ready to hand out some Smokey swag to parade goers!

And here we are, making our way to the parade route.

What an amazing thing to be a part of! The St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade is the second largest Thanksgiving Day parade in the United States. It was broadcast on live TV, and occasionally the parade would pause for a commercial break.

There were nearly 150 entries, including the amazing animal balloons that are filled with helium. I had only seen those on TV before today. They are pretty cool on TV.  They are WAY COOLER in person.

Smokey Bear and firefighters from the nearby Mark Twain National Forest joined our entry. It was a toss up over who had the most fans between the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and Smokey Bear. Combined, I’m pretty sure they stole the show….. but, I’m only a little bit biased. Cries of “SMOKEY BEAR!” and “Look it’s the tree!” followed us along the entire parade route.

After the parade, we all ate together as a “tree team family.” We had a fantastic dinner.

Several people were heard to say that it was the best food they had ever eaten, from the butter, to the main course, to the desert. I, myself, have never remarked on the excellence of butter before tonight, but I was not alone in stating this particular fact out loud!

Some of us had traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner, and some ventured away from the holiday menu. But all enjoyed their meal!

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Following dinner, we dispersed to nap, exercise, or to call family back home.

After so many days and nights on the road, we’re all thankful to spend two nights in the same hotel and to have an opportunity to rest up a bit before the journey begins anew in the morning.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nikki Swanson
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest

 

 

 

 

 

SWEET HOME TO DC: 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree enters Idaho

The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree and team stop at the headquarters of Sawtooth National Forest en route from Baker City, Ore. to Pocatello, Idaho

Sweet Home to DC: The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree journey

A Modern Day Adventure on the Historic Oregon Trail

Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in central Oregon. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog.

To read previous entries, visit https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.

For more information, visit the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website, www.capitolchristmastree.com, and story map: https://arcg.is/10DOyv

Track the tree! Follow the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree on its Return to the Oregon Trail journey in near real-time, at www.trackthetree.com


November 15th, 2018
Pocotello, Idaho.

Goodbye, Oregon. Hello, Idaho!

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Just a short entry today, as there were no stops. Today was a big travel day, 359 miles from Baker City, Oregon to Pocatello, Idaho.

What took us six hours took the Oregon Trail pioneers twenty days!

It was arid country, without much in the way of water. Fine for us, but it would have been difficult for those early trail travelers to find enough water for their livestock.

For much of the way, travelers could only look down from the high rock on the rim of the Snake River Canyon to the water below.

The rocks along the route must have created difficulties for the wagon wheels and the soles of the pioneers boots. One of the early pioneers described this stretch of trail this way: “It’s dust from morning until night, with now and then a sprinkling of gnats and mosquitoes, and as far as the eye can reach it is nothing but a sandy desert, covered with wild sage brush, dried up with heat; however, it makes good firewood.”

We ended the day near Fort Hall, which was the last trading post along the Oregon Trail for many miles. It was a place where travelers could resupply, fix wagons, trade out weary livestock and rest up a bit for the next part of the journey – one of the hardest of the entire trail. (It would have been hard to rest, though, given the millions of mosquitoes sharing the river valley with the pioneers).

I got to ride shotgun in the semi pulling the tree! What an amazing experience, to see the Snake River plains from this perspective.

It was fun to get to know the driver of the day and CEO of Central Oregon Trucking Company, Rick Williams. He was so proud to be a part of the tree team, and we are so lucky to have him and his company as a partner.

He and his drivers are so skilled and so professional… good thing too! There were some sporty moments negotiating some of the turns, but with the skill of the drivers and the help of Forest Service and local law enforcement, the truck made its way safely.

PS: See below for a lovely video montage of the tree as it traveled through Oregon, courtesy of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Nikki Swanson
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest

SWEET HOME TO DC: 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree returns to the Oregon Trail

Sweet Home to DC: The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree journey

A Modern Day Adventure on the Historic Oregon Trail

Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in central Oregon. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog.

To read previous entries, visit https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.

For more information, visit the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website, www.capitolchristmastree.com, and story map: https://arcg.is/10DOyv

Track the tree! Follow the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree on its Return to the Oregon Trail journey in near real-time, at www.trackthetree.com


November 14th, 2018
Baker City, Ore.

Our last night in Oregon

Today we traveled 261 miles. The weather was clear but cold. All of the members of our wagon train were excited about today because we would be stopping in two iconic Oregon Trail locations, The Dalles and Baker City.

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Members of the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree team at the whistle-stop tour event in The Dalles, Ore. Nov. 14, 2018. Courtesy photo, The Joy Trip Project (used with permission)

This year the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is being transported by a crew that includes amazing women serving as rangers, law enforcement officers, media relations and the first EVER female driver of the truck transporting the tree!

After all of the fun for the day was done, we stayed in a hotel that has the reputation of being haunted.

From the beautiful Columbia Gorge to the open plains of sagebrush, the landscape changed before our eyes and I found myself imagining how difficult this journey would have been 175 years ago.

The river was more wild then, before the dams which turned the mighty Columbia into a series of large lakes slowed the raging waters. The overland route was filled with rocks and large trees and deep canyons that were very difficult to pass via wagons. Now we just cruise through at 65 miles per hour and marvel at the beautiful scenes passing by.

We picked The Dalles because of its importance along the Oregon Trail, and because we really wanted to stop in as many of the smaller communities as possible.

 

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A view of the 70+ foot trailer carrying the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree during the USDA Forest Service tree team’s whistle-stop tour,stop in The Dalles, Ore. Nov. 14, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

The historic buildings of The Dalles downtown are straight out of the old-time pictures in vibrant modern day color. We were welcomed into town by a band and a choir. The mayor was so thankful that the tree was visiting his town, and all of the people of the town seemed to share his enthusiasm.

A very special thing happened in The Dalles.  The tree was blessed in the traditional way by tribal members from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, Yakima, Warm Springs, Nez Perce, and Apache tribes.

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Members from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, Yakima, Warm Springs, New Perce, and Apache Tribes. performed songs and prayers and a traditional smudging (burning of sage) to wish the tree and its trees safe travels on its way to Washington D.C. a blessing for the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree at the whistle-stop tour event in The Dalles, Ore. Nov. 14, 2018. Courtesy photo, The Joy Trip Project (used with permission)

Songs and prayers and a traditional smudging (burning of sage) was performed to wish the tree and its trees safe travels on its way to Washington D.C.

A pioneer display at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Nov, 14, 2018

A pioneer display at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Nov, 14, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

Next, we traveled to Baker City. Several of our team had the opportunity to visit the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center at Flagstaff Hill. I was a bit of a tourist, buying books so that I could learn as much as possible about the Oregon Trail as I travel along it.

Nikki Swanson, district ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District, models a pioneer-era women's bonnet at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center,

Nikki Swanson, district ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District, models a pioneer-era women’s bonnet at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Nov, 14, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

I bought a bonnet fashioned after the traditional bonnets that were worn by pioneer women. I thought it would be quite fun to take photos of myself in the bonnet along the Oregon Trail. I took the first of the photo series today along an intact section of the Oregon Trail.

That’s right! I actually touched the Oregon Trail today, with my very own feet. The only thing better would have been if I was riding the trail on my horse. Someday I’ll be back to make this dream a reality, too.

A pioneer-style wagon, displayed at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Nov, 14, 2018.

A pioneer-style wagon, displayed at the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Nov, 14, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

I’ll consider this a scouting mission for my someday in the future adventure of riding sections of the Oregon Trail on horseback. Dreams are meant to plan for… and then to accomplish.

The final stop of the day was a nighttime parade in Baker City. The city hosted a wonderful event. It was my favorite so far (shhhhh…. don’t tell the other cities!) because there was an ACTUAL covered wagon pulled by horses.

I climbed right up on the wagon and introduced myself to the driver, Danny Clary, from DH Wagon and Carriage.

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Nikki Swanson, district ranger for Sweet Home Ranger District, Willamette National Forest, lived her childhood dream when she rode in a horse-drawn covered wagon during the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree “Return to the Oregon Trail” tour whistle-stop tour event in Baker City, Ore. Nov. 14, 2018. Courtesy photo, The Joy Trip Project (used with permission)

It felt so wonderful to be around horses. And I’d always wanted to sit in a covered wagon, hooked up to horses.

There was also an absolutely incredible youth choir filling the crisp, clear, night air with sounds of beauty and bringing joy to all who were there.

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Santa Claus signs a banner carrying holiday greetings from many of those who came to view the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree during a whistle-stop tour event in Baker City, Ore. Nov. 14, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

There is hardly any room left on the banner for signatures. Oregonians really came out in full force and did not leave much room for those in the remaining states…

Oh, and another exciting thing happened! I met some of my cousins that I have never met before. How fun to see family so far from home. It was such a lovely surprise.

I wonder how many times that happened on the Oregon Trail?

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USDA Forest Service employees thank a participant in the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree’s whistle stop tour stop in The Dalles, Ore. Nov. 14, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

I suppose it might be fairly common, as the wagon trains grew in numbers during the height of the greatest human migration in the history of the American west. Friends and families met, became separated, and met again along the long and dusty road.

Tomorrow our journey is long and we leave our beautiful Oregon as we travel from Baker City, Ore. to Pocatello, Idaho.

Nikki Swanson
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest

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SWEET HOME TO DC: 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree visits Oregon capital

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signs the banner hanging on the side of the trailer carrying the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree

Sweet Home to DC: The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree journey

A Modern Day Adventure on the Historic Oregon Trail

Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in central Oregon. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog.

To read previous entries, visit https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.

For more information, visit the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website, www.capitolchristmastree.com, and story map: https://arcg.is/10DOyv

Track the tree! Follow the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree on its Return to the Oregon Trail journey in near real-time, at www.trackthetree.com


November 13th, 2018
Oregon City, Ore.

The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree arrives at the Return to the Oregon Trail tour whistle stop event in Salem, Ore.

The 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree arrives at the Return to the Oregon Trail tour whistle stop event in Salem, Ore. Nov. 13, 2018. The tree is travelling cross-country on a route dubbed “Return to the Oregon Trail” to deliver the tree, harvested from the Willamette National Forest in central Oregon, to the U.S. Capitol on behalf of the state. USDA Forest Service photo.

Travelling the Willamette Valley

Today we made two important stops on our journey, the State Capitol in Bend, Ore. and the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Oregon City.

The State Capitol event was amazing.  The tree pulled up right in front of the Capitol building and the gold Oregon Pioneer statue stood proudly above us like a sentinel shining in the sunlight against a blue sky.

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The golden Oregon Pioneer statue stands as a testament to the spirit of early trail-goers at the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree whistle stop event in Salem, Ore. Nov. 13, 2018. The tree is travelling cross-country on a route dubbed “Return to the Oregon Trail” to deliver the tree, harvested from the Willamette National Forest in central Oregon, to the U.S. Capitol on behalf of the state. USDA Forest Service photo.

Granite monuments of Oregon Pioneers on either side of the Capitol building reminded all in attendance about the spirit of the Oregonians and our love for freedom and adventure and making a better life.

Speakers including Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown spoke about what this tree meant to them and to the entire State of Oregon.

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From left, Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, Gov. Kate Brown, and Senate President Peter Courtney pose with a smaller tree during the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree. The tree is travelling cross-country on a route dubbed “Return to the Oregon Trail” to deliver the tree, harvested from the Willamette National Forest in central Oregon, to the U.S. Capitol on behalf of the state. USDA Forest Service photo.

It was touching to hear how moved they each were about the honor of having the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree come from Oregon.

Brigette Harrington was on hand to read her amazing poem once more.

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Brigette Harrington, winner of the State of Oregon 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree essay contest, delivers remarks as the tree, harvested from Willamette National Forest and travelling to the U.S. Capitol for the holiday season,, at a tree tour whistlestop event in Salem, Oregon Nov. 13, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

After the speeches, a smaller companion tree, also from the Willamette National Forest, was presented to the Capitol.  This sister tree will be lit on November 27th at a special celebration. Next, pictures were taken to capture this exciting event for memories in years to come.

My favorite moment was when Smokey accidentally photo bombed the photo of Gov. Brown and Brigette.

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Oh Smokey…. Always wanting in on the fun.

Our second stop of the day was at the End of the Oregon Trail Museum in Oregon City.  This stop put our entire journey into perspective.  There was a very large map that showed the route we are taking across the country as we follow the Oregon Trail in reverse.

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Members of the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree team point to places they look forward to visiting along the Oregon Trail as they travel cross-country with the tree on a route dubbed “Return to the Oregon Trail.” The tree was harvested from the Willamette National Forest in central Oregon and will be delivered to the U.S. Capitol on behalf of the state and the Forest Service to light the Capitol Lawn during the holiday season. USDA Forest Service photo.

My favorite photo of the day was of our team pointing to their favorite part of the Oregon Trail, because we are actually going to see those favorite places.

I have wanted to journey on the Oregon Trail ever since I first learned about it in the 4th grade.  I never dreamed I would be taking a 70-foot long tree with me on my adventure… but here we go and this stop made it all seem so real.

It’s really happening!

Several of our team members were not as obsessed with the Oregon Trail as I, and thus did not have the same context for the trail we are about to take.

The Interpretive Center provided that context through some amazing videos and we all left excited and a bit daunted about what was to come.

The Interpretive Center put on a lovely event with live entertainment consisting of an older couple in period dress.  The wife played the dulcimer and the husband played the bass and it was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard.

There was hot chocolate and free posters from Travel Oregon encouraging people to find their trail and there was joy, so much joy.

What a lovely way to end the day and to begin our journey on the Oregon Trail at the end of the Oregon Trail.

Nikki Swanson
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest

A walk on the wild side: Exploring the forest with your dog

A German Shepard poses against the view after a hike to a mountain ridge.

It’s a bright cool morning when a hiker arrives at the trailhead with great anticipation. The trail ahead is lined with huge trees towering over the cerulean sky. The only thing that could possibly make the experience better, for many recreation users, is to have their canine best friend along for the adventure.

Dogs are welcome in most areas throughout our National Forests, but there are some simple guidelines we ask dog owners to follow to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all who use these great public resources, including their furry friends.

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The underlying rule for people bringing their dogs into “developed recreation” sites — that means areas designated as trail heads, campgrounds, parking lots, interpretive trails, visitor centers, and so on — is that dogs need to be a leash six feet in length or shorter, or restrained in some other way, such as a crate or carrying case.

In most other forest areas— including areas of trails beyond the trailhead or outside a developed recreation area — there are typically no leash requirements.

That doesn’t mean owners are relieved of responsibility for their animal, or that an off-leash walk is recommended, or even safe for your dog.

“Know your dog, but also recognize that the changed environment can impact your dog in different ways. You can’t control the environment or the possible sensory stimulation your dog may experience on the trail,” Tanya Roberts, Manager of Training and Behavior at Oregon Humane Society, said. “It’s always best to keep your dog on a leash when you’re on an unfamiliar trail.”

Some campers aren’t dog lovers; they may have phobias or allergies that prevent them from being happy to meet an unrestrained pet.

“Learn as much about trails and campgrounds as you can before you bring your dog. Steep terrain, narrow trails, steel mesh bridges, and log climbs can make the hike very difficult for your dog,” Roberts said.

When hiking, uncontrolled dogs may wander off a path and encounter wildlife, with disastrous results for the animal or themselves.

Some dogs have little fear of heights; in areas with cliffs, gulches, canyons, caves, or big rocks, they may slip under railings or over a steep drop and get hurt — or worse.

Another way to protect your pet: Before heading outdoors, ensure all vaccinations are up-to-date and make sure you’re using flea and tick control. Make sure dogs are both wearing identification tags on their collar and are microchipped, in case they get lost. Bringing a recent photo is also good idea, so you can show it to others campers or a rangers if your dog does go missing.

In some forests, you may encounter areas that restrict access to domesticated animals outside of developed recreation sites. These restrictions may be in place to protect watershed health, municipal water systems, sensitive plant species, or other natural resources that could be damaged. For example, restrictions are in place on some parts of the Deschutes National Forest to protect the City of Bend’s municipal water supply.

“Bottom line, it comes down to being respectful to others, wildlife, and keeping your dog safe,” Logan Free, the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s developed recreation program manager, said.

Free is an avid hiker and dog owner, and enjoys helping others enjoy the outdoors successfully with their dogs.

Yielding on trails is a common friction point among recreation users, he said.

“A basic etiquette rule I’ve heard is ‘Wheels yield to heels,’ where bikers and OHVers yield to all other users, while hikers yield to horseback riders,” Free said. “Restrain your dog when others try passing and yield to others, as you don’t know if other hikers would enjoy Fluffy jumping up to greet them.”

Keeping your leashed on trails is recommended, even if it’s not required, Roberts said.

Maintaining a safe distance between your dog and other trail users, including those on bikes or horseback, protects not only other users but also your pet.

“It’s just not worth the risk of having your dog off leash. It could become a life or death situation if your dog runs around a corner on a trail and startles a horse. This can be very dangerous both for your dog and for the horseback rider,” she said.

While some dog owners are confident allowing their dog to roam off-leash because their pet is trained to follow voice commands, even well-trained dogs can behave unpredictably — especially in an unfamiliar area, Roberts said.

“Some people are concerned that their dogs won’t get as much exercise if they stay on a leash, but usually with all the new sensory input, dogs will come home very tired anyway,” she said.

Another source of human-dog conflicts are areas around developed recreation sites. Even leashed, a dog’s presence can interfere with activities like bird watching. Barking is also a common source of friction between dog owners and other visitors.

“The National Forests are for everyone to enjoy. If people encounter dogs that are interfering with their ability to enjoy public lands, a polite conversation with the dog owner is a good first step, if the issue isn’t serious or threatening; followed by a call to your local ranger district office if the problems persist, and a call to law enforcement if the dog is aggressive,” Free said.

If you encounter other dog owners, remember that they also may prefer your dog be leashed around their pet, Roberts said.

“There may be lots of possible reasons. Maybe a dog is recovering from surgery, and having other dogs jump on them could do real damage,” Roberts said.

And sometimes, the best way to ensure your dog enjoys your time outdoors is to leave them at home.

Before taking your dog on a hike, take the weather, and the distance and terrain into account, Roberts said.

“Watch out for heat,” she said. “Put your hand down on the terrain: if it’s uncomfortable for you to put down pressure on the ground because of heat or sharp terrain, it will probably also be for your dog.”

If your dog is younger, older, or hasn’t hiked before, start with shorter hikes so dogs can get familiar with the environment, strengthen supporting muscles, and toughen up the pads on their feet.

“Get your dogs’ heart checked by a veterinarian before attempting any hiking. Carry a first aid kit, especially if you have a big dog who you won’t be able to carry back to your car. With elderly dogs, it’s especially important that you know what the dog will encounter along the trail and how difficult it will be,” Roberts said.

For pet safety tips, first-aid, and more information about responsible recreation with dogs on National Forests, check out the FAQ at https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5351574.pdf.

Before your visit, contact the local Ranger district office for specific local considerations or recommendations.

And don’t forget to scoop your dog’s poop! “Leave no trace” should be your goal for pets (and people, too). Dog feces can take months to decompose, and may carry diseases and parasites that are dangerous to wildlife and contaminate water that humans rely on, as well.

“It’s lovely to see people being respectful and being aware of how their dogs may be impacting others around them,” Roberts said. “We need to encourage people to do things right.”


Source Information: Chris Bentley is the Website and Social Media Manager for the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s Office of Communications and Community Engagement. He doesn’t have a dog… yet.

Field Notes: 自然に触れる大切さ (The Significance of Nature)

A man and woman pose holding pine cones.

Jay Hideki Horita is a resource assistant in the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s Office of Communications and Community Engagement. In this “Field Note,” he shares his first week on the job, which he spent working with a pair of Japanese Exchange students volunteering at the region’s Portland, Ore. office.

“As a new Resource Assistant with the Northwest Youth Corps and the U.S. Forest Service, I knew much of my job as a Youth & Community Engagement Specialist would be to act as a liaison between the Forest Service and improve information and access to the agency’s services for under-served communities in Oregon and Washington.

“I didn’t know that this would mean using my experience as a Japanese-American who is fluent in Japanese in my first week on the job!

“As a participant in the Resource Assistants Program, folks like me have an internship of at least six months, after which we have a shot at becoming a permanent employee of the Forest Service. It’s one of the ways the Forest Service is trying to attract a younger and more diverse workforce.

“Recently, the Forest Service hosted two volunteers from Musashino University 武蔵野大学at the agency’s Regional Office in downtown Portland. The students were studying in the U.S. as part as an exchange program, and required to complete a volunteer service project while they were here.

“My first assignment, as a recent graduate – more importantly, Japanese-language speaker, was to guide our new volunteers during their time with us in Portland.

“During job interviews in Japan, one often explains their motivation, or 切っ掛け (kikkake), for applying to an organization or company.

A man and woman pose holding pine cones.

Kousuke Yoshia (left) and Yukime Nakajima (right) hold Douglas Fir cones on a hike at the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Ore. (Sept. 2018). USDA Forest Service photo by Jay Hideki Horita.

“For Yukime Nakajima and Kousuke Yoshida, their motivation aligns with many others who choose to work or volunteer for the Forest Service; an interest in forests, wildlife, and nature in general.

“Their assignment seemed simple enough: to help develop social media and other conservation education material by researching related pictures, quotations, and facts for 25 topics. The 25 topics ranged from universal themes like “employment” and “rivers” to more culturally-specific terms, like ‘Woodsy Owl’ and ‘Smokey Bear,’ ‘trail work,’ ‘wilderness,’ ‘mushroom foraging,’ and ‘veteran employment.’

“To understand these, the volunteers dove deep into the complicated history and culture surrounding U.S. land management.

“I asked Yukime what her favorite term was, and she expressed her affection for “Holiday Trees.” She was intrigued – and delighted – to learn that each year since 1970, the Forest Service provides the U.S. Capitol with a carefully chosen conifer, now known as “the People’s Tree.”

“These trees often complete cross-country trips to the National Mall in Washington D.C., where they are decorated with ornaments created by residents of the state where the trees originate.

“This charming tradition marries the Forest Service’s efforts with those of the many volunteers involved.

“The tradition also manifests more locally; the Forest Service encourages the public to harvest their own Christmas trees from National Forest -lands across the U.S., offering Christmas Tree cutting permits for only $5.

“Our two volunteers were delighted to hear about these traditions, as Christmas tree-harvesting is unheard of in Japan; indeed, Christmas itself is a holiday seldom celebrated in their country, as either a secular or religious holiday.

“Kousuke was surprised to learn about the darker history of land management in the United States. When looking at a map of Oregon, he asked me about the large tracts of reservation land.

“The ensuing conversation focused on the U.S. government’s displacement of and systemic discrimination against Native Americans and how this dark history laid the groundwork for public land management in the United States, including our national forests and parks.

“Through our work, our volunteers gained a more comprehensive and realistic understanding of the federal government’s role in U.S. land management.

“They also learned about the Forest Service’s more recent efforts to right these wrongs and to share perspectives often left out of the standard environmental education curriculum.

A woman and man pose with forestry hand tools

Yukime Nakajima (left) watches as Kousuke Yoshia (right) poses with a trail work tool while learning about forest recreation work. (Sept., 2018). USDA Forest Service photo by Jay Hideki Horita.

“Other terms, like ‘trail work’ or ‘wilderness,’ were completely foreign to our guests, who are both residents of Tokyo — Japan’s capital, and one of the worlds most densely populated cities.

“They learned about the creation of wilderness areas, and the trail work crews employed to maintain the nation’s many trails.

“We had sobering discussions about the accessibility of outdoor spaces for city residents across the world; in a mega-metropolis like Tokyo, these accessibility problems are often magnified.

“For their final day, the volunteers hiked the nearby Hoyt Arboretum, a 189-acre forest preserving 6,000 plant specimens from around the world. There, they gained a behind-the-scenes perspective on land management work.

Portland Parks & Recreation Trails Coordinator Jill Van-Winkle gave them a tour of the Arboretum’s facility, and the two experienced wielding a ‘double-jack’ and ‘Pulaski,’ among other classic trail work tools.

“Next, they visited the World Forestry Center, where they learned about the diverse forests across the world, including those in their home country Japan.

“Throughout these two weeks, both the Forest Service and the volunteers gained much insight into cross-cultural conservation work.

“As their journey in Oregon concluded, Yukime and Kousuke said they’d miss the Pacific Northwest’s vibrant landscapes, and wished they could stay longer.

“As the day ended, we said our final farewells in true cross-cultural spirit: with a big hug, and a low bow.

“When I asked Yukime what message she plans to bring home, she offered the phrase自然に触れる大切さ, which roughly translates as “the significance gained from nature.”

“She said she was moved by the love and care that people place on wilder places in this country and how nature gives its humans a way to understand love, care, and significance.

“For the many who live, work, and play in outdoor spaces – whether in the city or beyond – perhaps the same sentiments are true after an early morning wildlife sighting, an afternoon walk in the woods, or even an evening outdoors playing basketball on the blacktop, in a park surrounded by some of the trees that comprise Portland’s urban forest.”

A man and woman pose holding certificates outside the entrance and sign for the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum

Kousuke Yoshia (left) and Yukime Nakajima (right) at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon (Sept., 2018). USDA Forest Service photo by Jay Hideki Horita.

More information:

USDA Forest Service – Resource Assistant Program:
https://www.fs.fed.us/working-with-us/volunteers/resource-assistants-program


Source Information: Jay Hideki Horita is a resource assistant in the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s Office of Communications and Community Engagement.

Special activities, events through Labor Day weekend on Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie NF

An accessible trail circles the shore of a small alpine lake

EVERETT, Wash.August 22, 2018 —  The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is offering a number of opportunities to explore the history, culture, ecosystem, and other features of the forest through Labor Day weekend.

At Heather Meadows Visitor Center, a guest speaker, class, activity or event is scheduled every Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., through Sept. 2. The visitor center is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 7 days a week and features exhibits on local geology, plants, and animals, and a Discover Your Northwest gift shop. Please note: Heather Meadows Visitor Center exhibits and the events listed are ADA-accessible, free, open to the public – but you will need a federal inter-agency / “America the Beautiful” pass or the Northwest Forest Pass annual pass or day-pass for your visit.

Upcoming special presentations at Heather Meadows Visitor Center include:

  • AUG. 25, 1 p.m.: Civilian Conservation Corps and Camp Glacier – Janet Oakley. Listen to local historian, Janet Oakley, as she shares her knowledge of the Civilian Conservation Corps and their pivotal role in developing infrastructure within the rugged Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
  • AUG. 26, 1 p.m.: Nooksack Tribal Storytelling – Tammy Cooper-Woodrich. Join Nooksack Tribal elder Tammy Cooper-Woodrich for traditional stories about the animals, plants, and people of the Nooksack River drainage.
  • SEPT. 1, 1 p.m.: Local Wildlife Education – David Drummond. Join David Drummond as he talks about local wildlife within this Alpine Ecosystem!
  • SEPT. 2, 1 p.m.: The Grand Old Lady of Mt. Baker – Michael Impero. A history of the Mt. Baker Lodge with Michael G. Impero, author of the books, “The Lone Jack: King of the Mount Baker Mining District” and “Dreams of Gold” will give a presentation on his newest topic of interest, the Mount Baker Lodge.

Guided hikes at Deception Falls:

At Deception Falls Picnic Area, guided hikes are offered with a Forest Service field ranger Saturdays through Sept. 1. Learn about identification of local plants and animals, forest ecology and health, and the geologic processes which have shaped this unique landscape during a free, one-hour interpretive hike, beginning at the Deception Falls Picnic area. Bring your wilderness related questions about animals, vegetation, geology, waterfalls, hiking and forest safety!

You’ll find the Interpretive Ranger near the picnic tables, just off of the parking lot at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. on the scheduled days. Come early as the walks begin promptly. Guided hikes are complimentary and open to everyone. For questions, please contact the Skykomish Ranger Station on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest  at (360) 677-2414.

A uniformed Forest Service field ranger speaks as a visitor listens attentively

A field ranger talks with visitors at Artists Ridge, near the Heather Meadows Visitor Center, on Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Wash., August 4, 2016. USDA Forest Service photo.