Category Archives: Education

Field Notes: Backpacking Gifford Pinchot NF with Outdoor Asian

Participants during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. Courtesy photo by Deepak Awari.

Jay Horita is a Youth & Community Engagement Specialist for Northwest Youth Corps, supporting the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region. Here, he shares notes from a weekend backpacking experience with Outdoor Asian, a nonprofit whose goal is to encourage and study the participation of Asian and Pacific Islanders in the outdoors.

Participants pose for a group photo during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. Courtesy photo by Deepak Awari.
Participants pose for a group photo during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. From left: Jay Horita, Alvin Loong, Alice Cao, Chris Liu, Yewah Lau, Mumtz Mesania, Reina Miyamoto, Natalie Balkam, Deeshi Donnelly, Cheryl Truong, and Depak Awari. Courtesy photo provided by Deepak Awari.

On Friday, August 30th 2019, eleven members of the Outdoor Asian community from the Oregon and Washington chapters drove up a pothole-ridden and rocky Forest Service road to the Glacier View Trailhead in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest.

After a hot meal of noodles, we hit the sleeping bags to prepare for the next day’s backpacking adventure. 

Participants hike a trail downhill during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. Courtesy photo by Deepak Awari.
Participants hike a trail downhill during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. Courtesy photo by Deepak Awari.

This trip was the very first of its kind for Outdoor Asian in many ways: the first backpacking trip, the first multi-chapter collaboration event, the first trip occurring in wilderness areas of two public land agencies.

Trip leaders Chris Liu and I spent much time planning a positive, fun, challenging, and educational backpacking adventure for eleven Outdoor Asians. 

Participants prepared food, including some traditional asian dishes, during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. Courtesy photo by Deepak Awari.
Participants prepared food, including some traditional asian dishes, during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. From left: Chris Liu, Reina Miyamoto, Natalie Balkam, and Deepak Awari. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. Courtesy photo provided by Deepak Awari.

We deliberately chose a diverse meal plan, which ranged from instant noodles to elaborate dahl and roti from scratch (rolled out on our Nalgene bottles!), to showcase the vast diversity of Asian backpacking food options.

Our goal was to ensure the participants realized they don’t have to give up their culinary heritage on trips into the back country! Thinking back to my early years in back country adventuring, I remember trips where all I ate were dehydrated mashed potatoes and tortillas, so it was great to treat everyone to familiar foods. We even had a rare tea blend, a Yuzu Green tea, to enjoy throughout the trip. The food brought us closer together, helping make the trip feel more like a family adventure.

Participants get a lesson in reading topographical maps during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. Courtesy photo by Deepak Awari.
Participants get a lesson in reading topographical maps during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. From left: Jay Horita, Yewah Lau, Mumtaz Mesania, Reina Miyamoto, Natalie Balkam, Alice Cao, Cheryl Truong, Chris Liu, and Alvin Loong. Courtesy photo by Deepak Awari.

Besides giving everyone a great backcountry experience, Chris and I also wanted to talk about a range of important topics from Leave-No-Trace principles to Wilderness First Aid. Some even had the chance to practice wilderness first aid by patching each others’ blisters and hot spots!

Participants compare trail footwear during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. Courtesy photo by Yewah Lau.
Participants compare trail footwear during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. Courtesy photo by Yewah Lau.

Our group included seasoned public land stewards, from biologists to district rangers, who shared their experiences working for the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service.

Those uninitiated to public land management got a crash course on the differences between National Forest land (where we started the hike) and National Park land (where we ended it).

Participants during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. Courtesy photo by Deepak Awari.
Participants during an Outdoor Asian hiking trip on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. The trip was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service. Courtesy photo by Deepak Awari.

Crossing the boundary from the Glacier View Wilderness into Mt. Rainier Wilderness was a special moment!

For me, the ultimate trip highlight was arriving at the Gobblers Knob fire lookout tower, where Mt. Rainier (or Tahoma, one of many Native American names for the mountain) peaked its glacier-covered summit through the clouds.

The mountain was spectacular and humbling. The lakes and meadows we visited were calming. The stars gave us perspective. The wilderness gave us the best backdrop to share our experiences as Outdoor Asians and develop our connection to a life outdoors.

Outdoor Asian participants pose atop a rocky outcrop during an August, 2019 backpacking trip through Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. Courtesy photo by Yewah Lau.
Outdoor Asian participants pose atop a rocky outcrop during an August, 2019 backpacking trip through Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington. Courtesy photo by Yewah Lau.

In future trips, we hope to address how all public lands (indeed all lands in the Americas) were cared for by the diverse tribes, groups, and nations of Native Americans; and still are, in many places.

Most importantly, we celebrated our shared connection to the land across all cultures. The Forest Service is, like most things, ephemeral in comparison to the mountain and its landscapes.

Animation tells story of fish and fire

Fire and Fish: Habitat and History in the Northwest is a 5-minute animated video featuring two Forest Service research biologists that illustrates the complex relationship between fire and fish in Pacific Northwest rivers and streams. This screen capture from the video depicts juvenile fish finding shelter within a fallen log that has become submerged in a stream channel, providing refuge from both predators and strong currents.

An animated video recently released by the Pacific Fire Science Consortium explores and illustrates the complex relationship between fish and fire in the Pacific northwest United States.

The video, “Fish and Fire: History and Habitat in the Pacific Northwest,” was produced by the University of Oregon School of Journalism.

It features interviews two Forest Service research fish biologists, Rebecca Flitcroft and Gordon Reeves, both assigned to the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station.

The scientists explain how some fish species in the Pacific Northwest have adapted to benefit from the impact of intermittent forest fires:

  • Fire adds silt and small rocks or gravel, which replenish materials needed to for some fish to create spawning beds.
  • Dead trees may fall into streams, creating complexity in the stream’s flow, which can reduce stress on fish by providing refuge from strong currents.
  • Log jams especially benefit juvenile species by creating broad flood plains, further diffusing rapid currents and offering many nooks and crannies in which to evade predators while nourishing the insect larvae, worms, beetles, and other organisms they may feed on.

The University of Oregon, the university’s Ecosystem Workforce Program, the Oregon State University and its Extension Service, The Nature Conservancy, Sustainable Northwest, the Center for Natural Lands Management, and the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station are members of the Northwest Fire Science Consortium, one of fifteen regional science information exchanges funded by the Joint Fire Science Program.

From FireScience.gov:

In the Pacific Northwest, native salmon and trout (family Salmonidae) are some of the toughest survivors on the block. Over time, these fish have evolved behavioral adaptations to natural disturbances, and they rely on these disturbances to deliver coarse sediment and wood that become complex stream habitat. Powerful disturbances such as wildfire, post fire landslides, and debris flows may be detrimental to fish populations in the short term, but over time they enrich in-stream habitats, enhancing long-term fish survival and productivity.

LAND MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS

Forest management activities, such as enhancing river network connectivity through fish passage barrier removal and reducing predicted fire intensity and sizes, may increase the resilience of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in the face of disturbances such as climate change and wildfire.

Natural disturbances, along with sound riparian management and road management practices that allow natural flood plain functioning, are important in maintaining healthy change in aquatic habitats. Connected, complex aquatic habitats benefit from ecosystem management practices that are analogous to the spatial extent of wildfires and bridge human-imposed divides such as land ownership boundaries.

Fire planning that includes aquatic issues such as habitat quality, stream network connectivity, and fish population resilience offers resource managers the opportunity to broaden fire management goals and activities to include potential positive effects on aquatic habitats.

WATCH the video here (or find it on YouTube):

More information:

Science Findings #198 (July, 2017): https://www.fs.usda.gov/pnw/publications/adaptation-wildfire-fish-story

“Wildfire may increase habitat quality for spring Chinook salmon in the Wenatchee River subbasin, WA, USA” (submitted 2015, published 2016): https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/journals/pnw_2015_flitcroft001.pdf


Source information: The USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station is a leader in the scientific study of natural resources. We generate and communicate impartial knowledge to help people understand and make informed choices about natural resource management and sustainability. The station has 11 laboratories and research centers in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, and manages 12 active experimental forests, ranges, and watersheds.

Forest Service partners to extend outreach in Slavic community

USDA Forest Service staff, Slavic Family Media employees, and their families gather for a group photo following the signing of a partnership agreement July 17, 2019. The media company manages a number of Russian-language news and information platforms serving the Slavic community in and around Portland, Ore. and across the Pacific Northwest. Under the agreement, the group will assist the agency in translating and sharing Forest Service information about conservation, permits, fire prevention, recreation. volunteerism, and other public lands news and information for the Slavic community through spring, 2020. USDA Forest Service photo.

PORTLAND, Ore. (Aug 20, 2019) — The USDA Forest Service has signed an agreement with Slavic Family Media to expand the agency’s outreach to the Russian -speaking immigrant and refugee community in and around the Portland metro, which includes Multnomah County, Ore. and Clark County, Wash.

“Our community loves recreating, and they love to hike, camp, and enjoy day trips to harvest mushrooms and berries. Our goal as a community organization is to ensure make sure that our people our members have the proper information and resources to do so safely and legally,” Timur Holove, the media organization’s creative director, said. “We want to give our audience this valuable information in their native language so they can understand and take advantage of all the programs offered by the U.S. Forest Service,” some of which they may not have even known existed, he said.

To underscore the importance of this outreach effort to the agency, the agreement was signed live, on-air, by Nick Pechneyuk, Slavic Family Media chief executive officer, and Glenn Casamassa, Pacific Northwest regional forester, at the Slavic Family Media radio and television studios in Portland, Ore.

From left: Timur Holove, creative director for Slavic Family Media, Nick Pechneyuk, chief executive officer, and Glenn Casamassa, Pacific Northwest regional forester, on the set at Slavic Family Media radio and television studios in Portland, Ore. July 17, 2019. USDA Forest Service photo.

“This agreement … is really another step forward in our commitment to shared stewardship, and expanding our engagement to broader audiences, like the Slavic family,” Casamassa said during the July 17 signing. “This is a great opportunity, for us, noth only for this generation, but for future generations as well, to be able to work together.”

The agreement that outlines how the two organizations will work together to bring information about the national forest system to the Russian-language speaking population in and around Portland, Ore.

“We’re providing information that we need disseminated to the Slavic population,” Shandra Terry, Forest Service regional program coordinator for community engagement and inclusion, said. “And what we are providing is information that they can use – about recreation, and special use permits for special forest products, such as mushrooms, huckleberries, Christmas trees – things that are special to this community. These are opportunities that public lands offer, and this demographic will now have better opportunities to access these public lands and services.”

Under the agreement, Slavic Family Media will translate information provided by the Forest Service into Russian, then communicate it via the company’s various Russian-language media platforms. These include television, radio, a website, social media, and print publications – including a newspaper, business journal, and a magazine that, combined, potentially reach more than 150,000 Russian -speakers across the Pacific Northwest.

Information will include conservation education, recreation, and land stewardship topics, wildland fire prevention and preparedness information, and information about special places on nearby National Forest lands, such as the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mt. Hood National Forest, and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Terry said.

From left: Shandra Terry, Forest Service regional program coordinator for community engagement and inclusion, and Glenn Casamassa, Pacific Northwest regional forester, pose with an example of a wildland fire prevention product that was translated into Russian while at the Slavic Family Media radio and television studios in Portland, Ore. for the July 17, 2019 partnership signing ceremony. USDA Forest Service photo.

The Slavic language family is diverse, consisting of languages that include Russian, Ukrainian, and Moldova. But many immigrants from former Soviet countries learned to speak, read, and write in Russian in school, or from family members who were taught in Russian and otherwise discouraged by that government from using their native language in public life, prior to the dissolution of the U.S.S.R.

After English and Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian are the 3rd largest language-group spoken in Oregon. Large Slavic communities are also present in Washington State, in the Seattle-Tacoma metro, and smaller populations of Russian-language speakers are found in several areas of rural Washington and Oregon.

In the U.S., English, is the language most often used for communicating government information, placing non-fluent speakers at a disadvantage when it comes to receiving information or from benefiting fully from public services – including public lands, and specifically opportunities available on National Forests and Grasslands.

Terry said that while working on this partnership and related Slavic outreach efforts, she’s learned many in the community deeply value opportunities to spend time in the outdoors, and are very interested in information that will expand their opportunities to access public lands.

“Fishing is a huge area of interest. So is finding places the family can gather, and make memories,” she said, noting that Christmas tree -cutting permits and the Every Kid Outdoors (formerly, Every Kid in a Park) program for fourth-graders have been a particularly strong draw in previous Forest Service engagements with Portland’s Slavic community. “They’re wanting to know more about what the regulations are, so they can access those places. We’ll be sharing a lot of information, about our special places and how to access them, so they can do that.”

Terry said she hopes the Forest Service’s partnership with Slavic Family Media will help more members of this community find connect with public lands stewardship and volunteer opportunities, as well.

“These are public lands. They are for everyone, and we are all responsible for them,” she said.

Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa will also deliver remarks to the Slavic community Sept. 1, 2019 at the Slavic Family Festival 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Gateway Discovery Park (10520 NE Halsey St.; Portland, Ore.). Casamassa will deliver his remarks at approx. 11 a.m. The agency will have employees present to provide forest user information throughout the day, and Smokey Bear is scheduled to make an appearance at the event.

From the Memorandum of Agreement (signed July 19):

  • National Forest System lands are open and welcoming to everyone.  Slavic Family Media and USDA Forest Service value the opportunity to communicate and highlight National Forest recreation opportunities, forest products, eco therapy, forest safety, smoke health, fire recovery information, conservation education, volunteer and employment opportunities and National Forest System events to audiences primarily in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area through multimedia opportunities. 
  • The partnership between Slavic Family Media and the USDA Forest Service signifies our partnership and commitment to connecting Russian-speaking communities to national forest lands and Forest Service engagement opportunities. 
  • The USDA Forest Service is committed to shared stewardship to protect public lands and deliver benefits to the people and communities we serve in Oregon and Washington. 
  • Through Slavic Family Media, the USDA Forest Service aims to leverage its communications and reach the Slavic community through bilingual (Russian and English) print, radio, and social media platforms.  This partnership initially became effective in March 2019.

Watch the signing ceremony, here:

USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region and Slavic Family Media partnership signing; July 17, 2019.

Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region, Office of Communications and Community Engagement (staff report)

In the News: Campers leave ‘wildfires waiting to happen’

A campfire, photographed July 3, 2018 on the Malheur National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo by Shiloh Burton.

Apparently, not everyone is celebrating Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday this month by taking his “only you can prevent wildfires” message to heart:

More than 100 abandoned (or incompletely extinguished) campfires have been discovered by Mt. Hood National Forest visitors and staff in just the past six weeks.

Recreation was heavily impacted on Mt. Hood National Forest following the Eagle Creek fire in the nearby Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, which makes it a little bit surprising more campers haven’t taken campfire safety procedures to heart.

The good news is, other campers have been quick to help by reporting the unattended campfires they’ve discovered, and consistently cool evening temperatures and periodic rain has helped keep sparks from spreading the fires to nearby vegetation.

  • To enjoy your campfire safely: Check for local fire restrictions on the forest you are visiting. If fires are allowed, make sure the weather is calm – do not light a fire during windy conditions, which can carry sparks far from your campsite. Use the provided fire rings, or dig a fire pit surrounded by at least 10 feet of bare ground, and surround the pit with rocks. Keep a shovel and bucket filled with water nearby, and stack extra wood upwind and away from the fire.
  • To safely extinguish a campfire: Pour water on the fire, stir it into the coals and embers with a shovel, and continue adding water and stirring until all coals are thoroughly soaked and cold to the touch. (Make sure there are no warm embers still trapped beneath the top layers; such fires can smolder for hours or even days before reigniting when the materials around them dry out).

Full story, via The Weather Channel website: https://weather.com/news/news/2019-08-14-abandoned-campfires-mt-hood

Don't keep it lit, extinquish it: Follow the rule, stay until ashes are cool. Only you can prevent wildfires. Smokeybear.com. Ad Council illustration by Janna Mattia, released in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters.
Don’t keep it lit, extinquish it: Follow the rule, stay until ashes are cool. Only you can prevent wildfires. Ad Council illustration by Janna Mattia, released in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters.

For more wildfire prevention tips, visit SmokeyBear.com.

Forest Feature: Bigfoot

Someone you might see on the National Forest: Bigfoot/Sasquatch, pictured here. Sasquatches have been seen running away from a wildfire. Please be careful with fire when you are visiting their neighborhood.

It comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms. It’s an animal today, but a plant the next? Few see it, but it sees all. It (allegedly) LOVES Nutella! It’s everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It’s the last of its kind, a true legend. That’s right, this month’s Forest Feature honors the Pacific Northwest’s most unique forest creature: BIGFOOT!

Lurking always just out of sight, our friendly 8-or-more-feet-tall, gentle giant of the Pacific Northwest has (reportedly) graced us with its presence for decades now.

Some say that its large stature belies an otherwise congenial attitude towards other forest-dwelling creatures.

However in times past and present, many have described a “wild man” or “hairy man” stealing food from unwary hikers.

Some anthropologists and dedicated Bigfoot-hunters have devoted their lives to revealing its secrets; but in true bigfoot-style, the creature remains largely unexposed. You won’t even find it posting on Instagram (although you may find many imposters posing for a Kodak moment).

Did you know?

  • Bigfoot, sometimes known as Sasquatch, is also rumored to be a shapeshifter
  • The highest number of Bigfoot sightings is in Clackamas County (Oregon), along Hwy 244.
  • The Blue Mountains is allegedly one of its favorite spots, and where parts of the 1995 film “Bigfoot: The Unforgettable Encounter” were filmed (the story is set in Shaver Lake, Calif. and in the Modoc National Forest, also in California).
  • The first motion picture footage (alleged to be) of the elusive, notoriously camera-shy creature is known as the Petterson-Gimlin film, filmed in 1967.

This month, we have no photos of Bigfoot to share… but we do have a coloring page depicting an artist’s conception of Bigfoot in its natural habitat, created by the Jimmye Turner, a USDA Forest Service fire prevention specialist on the Umatilla National Forest.

We also have a drawing activity to help students draw on their creativity, curiosity, and to inspire questions about the many adaptations animals have evolved to meet the challenges of their environment.

While some of you may not be Bigfoot believers, Bigfoot offers a wonderful opportunity to talk about fire prevention during the hottest month of the year, the unexplored and undiscovered aspects of our forest’s wild and wilderness areas, and the importance of preserving habitat before more species become scarce, and seemingly as difficult to find as Bigfoot has proved to be.

Both of these resources are fun for all ages, but are especially suited to students in early elementary school (grades K-4).

Gather stories about Bigfoot in your own communities, use its mystique to inspire stewardship of the forest!

Resources:

Someone you might see on the National Forest: Bigfoot/Sasquatch, pictured here. Sasquatches have been seen running away from a wildfire. Please be careful with fire when you are visiting their neighborhood.
A coloring page, featuring Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch). USDA Forest Service illustration by Jimmye Turner, Umpqua National Forest staff.

Source information: Forest Features highlight a new Pacific Northwest species (or sometimes, a family, order, kingdom, or genus) each month as part of the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s regional youth engagement strategy.

If you’d like fact sheets, activities, or links to other educational resources about this topic – and for information about other ways the Forest Service can help incorporate environmental education and forest science in your classroom – email YourNorthwestForests@fs.fed.us.

Smokey Bear 75th birthday celebrations Aug. 9-10

Smokey Bear waves from a wildland fire truck, accompanied by a uniformed Forest Service employee.

(Updated Aug. 5, 2019). Smokey Bear turns 75 years old this year, and the U.S. Forest Service’s fire prevention is still hard at work, promoting wildland fire safety and prevention of human-caused fires on public lands, including our National Forests. Smokey stars in television, radio and internet public service announcements. His image is found in coloring books, and on stickers. Each year, he appears at dozens of community events across the Pacific Northwest.

Smokey’s story begins Aug. 9, 1944, when the the Ad Council created a fictional bear to serve as the mascot for the U.S. Forest Service’s fire prevention efforts. But when a bear cub was saved by firefighters during a wildfire in New Mexico in 1950, news of this real-life “Smokey’s” rescue spread quickly across the nation and provided a real-life icon for promoting fire safety and wildfire prevention. 

He received so many gifts of honey and an outpouring of mail that he was assigned his own zip code!

Celebrate with Smokey at events around the country this summer, including these upcoming Washington and Oregon -based events:

Friday, Aug. 9:

  • Siuslaw National Forest hosts Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday Party from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center in Yachats, Ore. Enjoy birthday cake, learn about fire ecology on the Siuslaw National Forest, and with Smokey a “happy birthday” in person, at the party!
  • Colville National Forest will celebrate Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday with cake from 10 a.m – noon at the Forest Headquarters (765 S. Main St.; Colville, WA). Smokey will be available for photos at this location from 10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
  • Colville National Forest will also celebrate Smokey’s birthday with the community by hosting games and giveaways from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Chewelah Farmers Market (Chewelah City Park: N Park Street (U.S. 395) and E. Lincoln Ave.; Chewelah, WA). Forest staff will be there to answer questions, offer forest and fire prevention information, and host activities and games. Smokey will be available for photos from noon-12:30 p.m., weather permitting.
  • Tillamook Forest Center celebrates Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday, 1:30-3:30 p.m. with cake, prizes, songs, and games. Don’t leave these birthday candles unattended—only YOU can help Smokey celebrate in style! Programs are free, and open to Smokey Bear fans of all ages. For more details, call (503) 815-6800, visit the forest’s website, or visit the forest’s on Facebook

Saturday, Aug. 10

  • Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Friends of Fort Vancouver, and the National Park Service will celebrate Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center (1501 E. Evergreen Blvd.; Vancouver, WA), 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Children and their families are invited to this free event for fun activities, historical Smokey Bear videos, wildfire prevention safety information, and to Smokey Bear a happy birthday. Children in attendance will have the opportunity to become USDA Forest Service Junior Rangers. Come enjoy a piece of birthday cake with Smokey to celebrate this milestone birthday! Smokey Bear-themed items and national forest recreation maps will be available for purchase in the Friends of Fort Vancouver bookstore.
  • The Discovery Museum at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Ore. celebrates Smokey’s 75th birthday during August’s “TREEMendous” Second Saturday event. The museum will have birthday treats, Smokey-related crafts, and an in-person visit from Smokey Bear himself! The museum is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults ($7 for seniors), and $5 for children/teens ages 18 and under (children under 3 are admitted free of charge).
  • Celebrate Smokey’s 75th birthday with activities for all ages, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the Columbia Breaks Fire Interpretive Center (15212 State Hwy. 97A; Entiat, WA). Climb the stairs of an historic fire lookout to hear a former lookout describe his experiences and responsibilities, play games, interact with real wildland firefighters and learn about their fire gear, tools and engines, hug Smokey, and sing happy birthday to him as you enjoy a slice of cake!

For more information about Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday, educational activities, and special celebration events planned across the U.S., visit: https://www.smokeybear75th.org.

Illustration of Smokey Bear and a sign reading "Years preventing wildfires: 75. Happy Birthday, Smokey!"
Smokey Bear celebrates his 75th birthday Aug. 9, 2019! Learn more at https://www.smokeybear75th.org.

Source information: Gifford Pinchot National Forest (press release), Siuslaw National Forest (press release), Smokey’s 75th Birthday website (https://www.smokeybear75th.org).

Passport in Time: Volunteers sought for homestead restoration on Colville NF

Cedar shake shingled roofs, log outbuildings and log-rail fences are hallmarks of the Uptagrafft Homestead, a century-old homestead and interpretive site on Colville National Forest, Washington.

Step back in time, hone your homesteading and log-construction skills, and join Forest Service employees for skills-building and historical preservation work on a century-old historic homestead on the Colville National Forest!

Uptagrafft Homestead is believed to be built in 1919, and was one of many homesteads in the area filed under the Homestead Act. Today, the homestead is a forest interpretive site, demonstrating the typical layout of homesteads that were once common in the area, but which have become increasingly rare.

The site has been the subject of several restoration efforts, beginning for the American Bicentennial in 1976, and its current condition is a testament to the quality work of the volunteers who have been involved.

This season, volunteers will assist in general maintenance on the site, including reconstruction of a root cellar (including archaeological excavation of the root cellar floor); splitting cedar shakes and using cedar shakes to repair shingled roofs; felling, notching, skinning, and installing logs, replacing missing or damaged shutters and associated hardware, and installing an interpretive sign. Project work is scheduled to take place Aug. 19-23, 2019.

Help the Forest Service continue to preserve, maintain, and improve the homestead so visitors can continue to experience a glimpse into early pioneer life!

To volunteer, you must be able to commit a minimum of two days to the project. Volunteers will work with the project manager on a small team of up to eight participants, and must be physically capable of lifting/bending/kneeling/standing/stooping for extended periods of up to eight hours each day, in a variety of weather conditions. Volunteers must be at least 12 years old (applicants under age 18 must apply with and be accompanied by a participating parent or guardian). Previous carpentry, roofing, construction, general maintenance, and/or historic building restoration experience helpful, but not required.

Volunteers may camp at the homestead or at nearby OHV campground, located approximately 10 miles from Usk, Wash.; the camp will have a toilet, and potable water will be provided. Volunteers are responsible for their own lodging, camping equipment and meals; transportation to and from Uptagrafft and designated meeting area can be provided by Forest Service (the access road is in rough condition, a high-clearance vehicle is recommended for passage).

Your participation can help preserve this piece of history for future generations to enjoy.

For more information, visit: http://www.passportintime.com/uptagrafft-homestead-restoration-2019.html or contact Stuart Chilvers, project supervisor, at (509) 775-7430 or stuart.chilvers@usda.gov.


Passport in Time (PIT) is a nationwide volunteer cultural heritage resources program sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and managed with assistance of many partners, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), state parks agencies, and HistoriCorps. PIT volunteers work with professional archaeologists and historians on public lands throughout the U.S. on such diverse activities as archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering, and analysis and curation of artifacts. The professional staff of archaeologists, historians, and preservation specialists serve as hosts, guides, and co-workers for volunteers working on various archaeology, research and restoration projects.

Field Notes: Helping new climbers reach new heights

Jonathan Perez, Crew Leader with Portland Parks & Recreation Youth Conservation Crews, climbs French's Dome on Mt. Hood National Forest during a USDA Forest Service -hosted climbing clinic for a Portland Parks and Recreation Youth Conservation Corps crew and PDX Climbers of Color. USDA Forest Service photo by Jay Horita.

Mathilda Bertils is an international fellow working in the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station. In this “Field Note,” she shares an experience introducing young people from urban Portland, Oregon to the outdoors as part of a climbing clinic on Mt. Hood National Forest.

“As an international fellow with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, I get to accompany my co-workers on public outreach activities. These activities are opportunities to communicate research, show the wonders of nature, and have some fun in the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

“Last month, that meant accompanying USDA Forest Service employees Jay Horita, Kira McConnell, Rachel LaMedica, and Nate Buch to French’s Dome on the Mt. Hood National Forest to introduce young people from under-served communities to the forest, and the outdoors recreation and even career opportunities available in the outdoors and land management fields.

“At French’s Dome, we met up with several different organizations including members of the Portland Parks and Recreation’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) crew, and an organization called PDX Climbers of Color.

“YCC creates job opportunities for high school students between the ages of 14 and 18 in and around Portland, Ore. The organization focuses on summer jobs for a diverse population of teens to work outdoors and explore the environmental sciences.

“PDX Climbers of Color is an organization that welcomes everyone, acknowledging that not everyone has equal access to climbing opportunities and trying to create those opportunities for those who otherwise might not have them.

A forest service employee and a Youth Conservation Corps member install a fence post along a forested trail.
Youth Conservation Corps members work with Forest Service personnel to install new fencing on Mt. Hood National Forest trails. USDA Forest Service photo by Mathilda Bertils (international fellow, USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station).

“Nate Buch worked with the YCC group during the first half of the day. The participants were divided into three groups; one worked on restoring the fences on the steep side of the trail, and another group worked on blocking ‘social trails’ (trails created outside the managed trails system) around the dome. The third group used loppers to trim the plants and branches crossing the trails.

“Lunch was homemade, provided by a member of Climbers of Color, and included a Venezuelan dish, the empanada, made with locally-sourced ingredients.

“After lunch, the Climbers of Color were in charge. They set up some climbing routes for us on the wall of French’s Dome.

Forest Service employees and Youth Conservation Corps members pose cliffside during a climbing clinic.
Forest Service employees and Youth Conservation Corps members pose cliffside during a climbing clinic. USDA Forest Service photo by Mathilda Bertils (international fellow, USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Research Station).

“It was an adrenaline rush and we got to test our fear of heights and our ability to trust the person on the other end of the climbing rope!

“At the end of the day participants received books regarding outdoor equity in the Pacific Northwest.

“The Forest Service supports opportunities like these because exposing young people to the outdoors, and specifically opportunities to work outdoors, may open up job opportunities that they would not have thought of for themselves.

“For more information about PDX Climbers of Color and climbing meetup opportunities, visit https://www.facebook.com/pdxclimbersofcolor/.”

Jonathan Perez, Crew Leader with Portland Parks & Recreation Youth Conservation Crews, climbs French's Dome on Mt. Hood National Forest during a USDA Forest Service -hosted climbing clinic for a Portland Parks and Recreation Youth Conservation Corps crew and PDX Climbers of Color. USDA Forest Service photo by Jay Horita.
Jonathan Perez, Crew Leader with Portland Parks & Recreation Youth Conservation Crews, climbs French’s Dome on Mt. Hood National Forest during a USDA Forest Service -hosted climbing clinic for a Portland Parks and Recreation Youth Conservation Corps crew and PDX Climbers of Color. USDA Forest Service photo by Jay Horita.

Forest Feature: Herons

Wildlife like this majestic Great Blue Heron make their home in and along the lower Duwamish River in western Washington State. You might also catch glimpses of eagles, ospreys, seals, and otters when traveling along the river. EPA added about five miles of the lower reach of the river to its list of Superfund cleanup sites in 2001. Visit www.epa.gov/region10/duwamish to learn more about EPA's efforts to clean up and restore the lower Duwamish River. U.S. EPA photo.

It’s July? Where did half the summer go! Let’s all take a moment to breathe, relax, and experience the present while reflecting on this month’s Forest Feature, the graceful heron.

Herons are wading birds in the Ardeidae family. There are dozens of species (including bitterns and egrets). Herons feed on fish and small aquatic animals.

They are important birds that appear frequently in traditional folklore from many cultures, including Greek, Aztec, Celtic, Chinese, and Egyptian, and the Nisqually Indians, a Native American tribe from the south Puget Sound region of western Washington state.

There are many species of heron that are prevalent in the Pacific Northwest, but these are a few of the most prominent species:

Great Blue Heron: One of the most easily spotted and found throughout much of the United States, this massive bird (with a wingspan up to 6 and a half feet wide!) is as handsome as it is graceful. You can find great blue herons wading across an impressively diverse habitat range: from brackish to freshwater systems, agricultural and suburban landscapes, wetlands and sloughs.

Green Heron: Smaller than many other herons, the green heron uses a different strategy to hunt. Standing still, it waits for small fish and amphibians to wander within striking range. Once prey is near, the move quickly! You won’t see more than a quick flash of green and brown before the green heron gulps its dinner.

Black-Crowned Night Heron: A generalist in the true sense of the word, this bird is the most widespread heron in the world. It’s a social animal, often nesting with other herons, egrets, and ibises. The oldest Night Heron on record was a 21-year old female.

Resources:

Are you inspired to spend more time with this remarkable bird, the heron


Source information: Forest Features highlight a new Pacific Northwest species (or sometimes, a family, order, kingdom, or genus) each month as part of the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s regional youth engagement strategy.

If you’d like fact sheets, activities, or links to other educational resources about this topic – and for information about other ways the Forest Service can help incorporate environmental education and forest science in your classroom – email YourNorthwestForests@fs.fed.us.

In the News: Pack it in, pack it out

"Trash No Land" Target Shooting Cleanup Event near Fish Creek, Mt. Hood National Forest for Earth Day, 2013. USDA Forest Service photo by Trent Deckard.

In recent years, recreation visits have steadily increased on national forests… and the problem of discarded trash sometimes seems to have increased exponentially with the increase in visitors.

KMTR-TV 16 helped staff remind western and central Oregon communities. that trash dumping isn’t welcome on the Willamette National Forest or any other public lands.

The story aired a few days before Independence Day holiday, an especially busy time for recreational visits to National Forests all around the country.

Many forest visitors have heard frequent admonitions from federal, state and local agencies – as well as environmental advocates – to “leave no trace.” But many still fail to realize that discarded trash isn’t just a nuisance; it can be an environmental hazard, threaten wildlife health and safety, and even have adverse impacts on human health.

Trash found littering the forest floor near Cougar Reservoir, Willamette National Forest, Ore., Oct. 3, 2010. USDA Forest Service photo.
Trash found littering the forest floor near Cougar Reservoir, Willamette National Forest, Ore., Oct. 3, 2010. USDA Forest Service photo.

Phosphorous-heavy soaps and detergents can foster algae and microbe growth – which can result in algae blooms that irritate eyes and skin for humans and wildlife, or other algae growth that trap oxygen needed by fish when it decomposes in the lakes and streams where they live.

Pet waste may carry parasites or microbes that are deadly to wildlife.

And while all trash litters the natural landscapes others come to the forest to enjoy, some creates health and safety hazards for those who encounter it – while also creating many hours of work for volunteers and federal land managers who must train for, plan, and conduct a safe and thorough clean-up of the affected area when such dumping occurs.

Full story, via KMTV-16: https://nbc16.com/news/local/pack-it-in-pack-it-up-a-motto-for-leaving-your-campsite-as-you-found-it-this-summer

Dump Stoppers trash haulers, 4XNation volunteers, and Mt. Hood National Forest Staff clean up thousands of pounds of trash dumped at La Dee Flats, Mt. Hood National Forest, Ore. during a 2019 forest clean-up event. USDA Forest Service photo.
Dump Stoppers trash haulers, 4XNation volunteers, and Mt. Hood National Forest Staff clean up thousands of pounds of trash dumped at La Dee Flats, Mt. Hood National Forest, Ore. during a 2019 forest clean-up event. USDA Forest Service photo.
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