Category Archives: culture

Smokey Bear exhibit in Sedro-Woolley, WA June 3-16

Painting of Smokey Bear holding a cub in one hand and a shovel in another. There is a cub holding onto Smokey's leg and a variety of different forest animals behind Smokey. Wendelin, Rudy. 1995. “Smokey Says- Prevent Wildfires .” Special Collections, USDA National Agricultural Library. Accessed May 31, 2019, https://www.nal.usda.gov/exhibits/speccoll/items/show/423.

This year Smokey will celebrate 75 years at the forefront of the Forest Service’s wildfire prevention campaign. To commemorate Smokey’s contributions to the U.S. Forest Service and wildfire prevention, replicas of historic portraits by artist Rudolph Wendelin will travel to National Forests across the country throughout 2019.

Wendelin created hundreds of Smokey representations that highlighted natural resource conservation and wildfire prevention.

Under his direction, Smokey assumed the softer human features, ranger’s hat, jeans and shovel for which he is best known.

The touring exhibit consists of replicas provided by the National Agricultural Library.

The replicas are on display at the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest’s Mt. Baker Ranger District offices from June 3-16, 2019 during regular office hours. Address: 810 WA Route 20, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284.

For more Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday events, visit: https://yournorthwestforests.org/2019/05/22/celebrate-smokeys-75-years-of-wildland-fire-prevention/

For more information about upcoming events in Your Northwest Forests, check out our calendar: https://yournorthwestforests.org/calendar/

View images from the collection online at https://www.nal.usda.gov/exhibits/speccoll/exhibits/show/smokey-bear/rudy-wendelin-gallery

Why? Painting of Smokey Bear holding a cub and a shovel in a burned down forest. One side shows another cub holding onto Smokey’s leg and on the other side is a deer. In front of Smokey is a burned sign that reads “Prevent Forest and Brush Fires.” Wendelin, Rudy. 1995. “Smokey Says- Prevent Wildfires .” Special Collections, USDA National Agricultural Library. https://www.nal.usda.gov/exhibits/speccoll/items/show/423.

In the News: Improving diversity, equity, and inclusion on public lands

A family poses with their tree during a holiday tree -cutting outing on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Nov. 30, 2018. The outing, designed to introduce youth from under-served communities to the forest, included an interpretive hike, tree cutting, and s'mores and was coordinated by the USDA Forest Service and partner organizations, including Northwest Youth Corps, iUrbanTeen, Urban Nature Partners Portland, and Big Brothers Big Sisters Pacific Northwest. USDA Forest Service photo by Sandie Burks.

Public lands are open to all, but research shows not everyone feels equally at home in them. That’s a problem for our national forests, which are managed by public resources that won’t be made available if the public doesn’t understand their needs. And it’s a missed opportunity for Americans who are not aware of, not encouraged to, or who don’t feel empowered to enjoy the incredible recreation opportunities, inspiration, and personal health and well-being that can be found on public lands. That individual disparity adds up to effects on society as a whole, though less public awareness of rural and ecological issues and in less diversity among applications for forestry-related science programs and for natural resources jobs.

This New York Times article talks about the disparities that exist, and how members of some underrepresented communities are seeking to change it.

Full story, via New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/travel/unlikely-hikers-hit-the-trail.html

Join the conversation!

What barriers are keeping you, or people you know, from exploring Your Northwest Forests?

Let us know, in the comments!

Building a Recreation Economy: Community development grant applications due May 31 (webinar May 7)

A woman navigates whitewater rapids while kayaking on Mt. Hood National Forest, May 11, 2012. USDA Forest Service photo.

WASHINGTONMay 6, 2019 — The USDA Forest Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Northern Border Regional Commission will offer a webinar for community representatives interested in applying for planning assistance through the new Recreation Economy for Rural Communities initiative Tuesday, May 7, 2019 from noon-1 p.m. PDT.

Program applications for the summer, 2019 cohort are due May 31, 2019.

The federal agencies are jointly accepting applications from communities seeking help in revitalizing their economy through outdoor recreation as part of a pilot program created in support of President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America in 2017.

“By partnering alongside EPA and the Northern Border Commission, the Forest Service is proud to help communities deliver recreation experiences that better meet the needs of visitors and support local economies,” Vicki Christiansen, Chief of the USDA Forest Service, said. “We are committed to sustaining the nation’s forests and grasslands through public-private partnerships that engage people directly in the shared stewardship of their natural resources.”

According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s 2017 report on The National Outdoor Recreation Economy, outdoor activities – including hiking, biking, boating, fishing, hunting, bird watching, off-road vehicle riding, skiing, snowmobiling, and viewing historic places – generated $887 billion in annual spending and created more than seven million jobs. These activities can bring new investment to local economies, heighten interest in conservation of forests and other natural resources, and improve quality of life for residents and visitors.

A planning team will help selected communities bring together local residents and other stakeholders to decide on strategies and an action plan to grow the local outdoor recreation economy. The planning assistance process will take place over a period of four to six months, focused on a two-day facilitated community workshop during which participants will work together to identify a vision, goals, and specific actions to realize their goals.

Partner communities are encouraged to pursue activities that foster environmentally friendly community development and main street revitalization through the conservation and sustainable use of public or private forests or other natural resources, such as:

  • building or expanding trail networks to expand use and attract visitors and new businesses
  • ​developing in-town amenities, such as broadband service, quality housing, or local shops, restaurants, or breweries, to serve residents and help attract new visitors and residents with an interest in nearby outdoor assets;
  • marketing main street as a gateway to nearby natural lands and recreational opportunities; and
  • developing a community consensus on the management of outdoor assets.

USDA Forest Service and its federal partners expect to announce the selection of eight communities for planning assistance during summer, 2019 and anticipates repeating a second round of pilot planning projects in 2020.

To register for the webinar, visit: https://epawebconferencing.acms.com/ec93eh7zih6m/event/event_info.html.

The deadline to apply for the program is May 31, 2019.

Special consideration will be given to communities that are:

  • small towns;
  • economically disadvantaged, such as those in Opportunity Zones; and/or
  • in the Northern Border Region.

The USDA Forest Service develops and implements place-based recreation planning using collaborative processes with communities and outdoor recreation and tourism providers within regional destination areas. Forest Service recreation programs support over 205,000 jobs, the majority of which are in rural gateway communities near national forests.  The agency partners with states, tribes, local communities, and landowners to promote shared stewardship of public and privately-owned forests and grasslands.

The Northern Border Regional Commission provides federal funds for critical economic and community development projects throughout the northeast.  These investments lead to new jobs being created and leverages substantial private sector investments. 

EPA’s Smart Sectors program also provides support to grow the outdoor recreation economy. In 2018, EPA offices in the New England and Mountains and Plains regions established Smart Sectors programs that recognize the wealth of natural resources and outdoor recreational opportunities that can be leveraged to create jobs, spur new businesses, and support economic revitalization.

For more information:

USDA Forest Service – https://www.fs.fed.us/

EPA Community Revitalization and Smart Sectors partnerships – https://www.epa.gov/community-revitalizat and https://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/recreation-economy-rural-communities.

Northern Border Regional Commission – http://www.nbrc.gov/


Source information: U.S.Environmental Protection Agency Public Affairs (joint press release)
https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/trump-administration-help-rural-communities-grow-recreation-economy

Registration opens for Sweet Home RD 2019 Heritage Hikes, interpretive tours

A 1903 Oldsmobile displayed at Fish Lake on the Willamette National Forest in 1991 (USDA Forest Service photo).

SWEET HOME, Ore. (May 1, 2019) — Sweet Home Ranger District, Willamette National Forest have announced the 2019 guided forest interpretive tour dates, and registration for these activities is now open to the public.

These professionally-guided nature tours are a chance for visitors to learn more about the plants, animals, geology and cultural history of the Sweet Home area, located at the edge of the Willamette Valley, in the Cascade mountains, and tours typically fill quickly.

Most tours meet at the Sweet Home Ranger District Office and take approximately six hours, returning by 3 p.m (longer tours return by 5:30 p.m.). Transportation to and from trailheads or other start points is provided by the USDA Forest Service.

This year’s tour topics include general outdoor preparedness, wildflowers, and the history of the Kalapuya tribe in the Willamette Valley, as well as opportunities to make art in nature, paddle boarding, horseback riding, citizen science projects, and mountain biking. 

Pre-registration is required. Most tours cost $10 per person ($5 for those with a senior or access pass), plus a $3 processing fee. Register via the National Recreation Reservation System at www.recreation.gov (search for “Sweet Home Nature and Heritage Tours”) or call (877) 444-6777 and press “1” for tours to make a reservation (ask for “Sweet Home Nature and Heritage Tours”).

These events are offered under the Recreation Fee Program authorized by The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. Fees are collected to fund protection and enhancement of local historic sites for public use and enjoyment, and for the continuation of conservation education programs.

For more information and a link to the 2019 tour catalog, visit https://go.usa.gov/xmggs. Or, call Sweet Home Ranger District at (541) 367-5168.


Source information: USDA Forest Service – Willamette National Forest (press release)

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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