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.
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.
This trip was the very first of its kind for Outdoor Asian in manyways: 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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
The USDA Forest Service and Hydro Flask have embarked on a unique partnership to protect firefighters working to protect Your Northwest Forests, and protect our environment at the same time!
The Forest Service’s National Greening Fire Team partnered with the Bend, Ore. -based company, which provided 64 oz reusable, thermal-shielded water bottles to thousands of firefighters serving throughout Washington and Oregon this summer, at no cost to the firefighters and minimal cost to the agency.
Staying hydrated is critical to conducting any outdoors activity safely. It’s especially critical for wildland firefighters, who are often required to work in direct sunlight on the hottest days of summer, wearing protective clothing and boots, often while performing physically arduous work like clearing a fire line with hand tools, sometimes just inches away from hot coals or even an actively-burning fire.
The partners hope that putting durable, reusable, thermally-protected water bottles in the hands of firefighters will help reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles on fire-related incidents.
“Thanks to Hydro Flask, over 3,000 firefighters on incidents throughout the Pacific Northwest will receive a reusable water bottle, contributing to the National Greening Fire Team’s goal of waste minimization on incidents while maintaining high standards of firefighter safety and wellness,” Lara Buluc, Sustainable Operations and Co-Climate Change Coordinator for the USDA Forest Service, said.
The National Greening Team is working towards a goal of producing no net waste on agency-managed fire incidents by the year 2030.
The partnership is a way for HydroFlask, which is based in Bend, Ore., to show it’s commitment to local firefighters, Phyllis Grove, vice president for marketing and ecommerce for Steel Technology LCC (HydroFlask’s parent company), said in a prepared statement.
“This win-win opportunity supports the Team’s vision of achieving net zero waste at incidents,” Buluc said.
USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region staff report
One of the most unique sights in Your Northwest Forests is recent scenes of mountain goats in blindfolds, hoisted high above the forest floor by helicopter.
It’s part of a multi-agency effort to relocate the goats from Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park in Washington, where they’re not a native species to Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, also in Washington. At the first location, the goats have approached and even attacked hikers while seeking salt, which they can’t easily find there. In the new location, natural salt deposits are plentiful and a diminished local population of goats expected to benefit from an expanded selection of mates.
Recently, KIRO-TV 7 featured four high-flying minutes of mountain goat video, in a behind-the-scenes look of the relocation effort.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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:
Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region, Office of Communications and Community Engagement (staff report)
Decades ago, the trail was an active logging road, with a bridge that connected both sides of the narrow gorge. Equestrians have long been interested in replacing the bridge to provide better access to what is now a non-motorized loop trail for riders on horseback, Camille Stephens, Recreation Assistant for the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, said.
While hikers and even mountain bikers could climb down the gorge’s steep embankment to ford the creek, the embankment was too treacherous for horses, and most riders, such as those staying at the nearby Kalama Horse Camp, were forced to experience the loop only as two disconnected segments, she said.
The non-profit organization had secured grant funding for the project several years earlier, and USDA Forest Service employees placed the bridge’s supporting beams in 2018.
The Backcountry Horsemen volunteers installed the bridge’s decking later that same year.
This summer, agency employees from the forest’s Mt. Adams Ranger District and Backcountry Horsemen volunteers worked together to complete a 6′ tall rock and gabion support structure for a ramp leading up to the bridge. The structure was then covered in dirt to create an approach to the bridge.
“This trail is now ready to be hiked, biked, or ridden,” Stephens said. “I think all of the partners involved should be very proud of bringing this project to fruition.”
Source information: Gifford Pinchot National Forest – Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument recreation staff.
PORTLAND, Ore. (Aug. 14, 2019)— On Tuesday, state and federal forestry officials joined Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and James Hubbard, USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment in Salem, Ore., to sign a Shared Stewardship agreement between the state and the USDA Forest Service.
Oregon State Forester Peter Daugherty and USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa, building on years of strong state-federal partnership, also signed the agreement to seek even greater collaboration between the agencies..
this agreement, the Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry will work
together to identify shared priorities and implement collaborative projects
focused on healthy and resilient forested ecosystems,
vibrant local economies, healthy watersheds with functional aquatic habitat,
and quality outdoor opportunities for all Oregonians.
“Federal and state agencies face many of the same challenges, including longer and more destructive wildfire seasons; forests facing threats from insects and disease, and the need to ensure the continued long-term ecological and socioeconomic benefits our forests provide,” Casamassa said. Pacific. “Working together in a spirit of shared stewardship, we are better prepared to tackle these challenges on a landscape scale.”
The Forest Service and the State of Oregon have a long history of working together, including coordinated fire protection and grant programs to cooperatively manage forest health issues across all forest lands in Oregon.
In 2016, the Forest Service signed a Good Neighbor Authority Agreement with the State of Oregon to increase the pace and scale of forest health and restoration projects.
Now, there are Good Neighbor projects underway on every national forest in the State of Oregon.
The Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry are working more closely and effectively on a wide variety of projects, including forest restoration, watershed restoration projects, timber sales, and other fuels reductions projects.
In May, the Forest Service signed a Shared Stewardship agreement with the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
With this newly signed Oregon agreement, the Forest Service anticipates working even more effectively with state partners, on a landscape scale, across the Pacific Northwest.
CORVALLIS, Ore. (July 29, 2019) — USDA Forest Service officials are seeking proposals from individuals, businesses, or organizations interested in offering outfitter or guiding opportunities on the Siuslaw National Forest.
This request for proposals, or RFP, is not a formal application process. The RFP is intended to determine the level of interest and identify next steps for issuing outfitter and guide special use permits to interested parties.
Outfitters and guides – who typically offer opportunities such as gear and equipment rentals or recreation experiences led by an expert guide to paying customers – are required to have a special use permit issued by the Forest Service to operate on national forest lands and waters.
Depending on the level of interest expressed in response to this request for proposals, the process for issuing special use permits may be competitive or noncompetitive.
“Outfitters and guides are important partners,” Dani Pavoni, recreation lead for the Siuslaw National Forest, said. “They help open the doors to experiences for people who may not have the skills, experience, or equipment needed to do it on their own, and they help people experience the national forest in new and exciting ways. ”
Pavoni said the forest’s leadership is especially committed to connecting children with nature and partnering with organizations who provide quality outdoor opportunities, and especially encouraged outfitter and guides offering programs that serve youth and historically under-served populations or communities to submit proposals in response to the forest’s RFP.
Proposals are being accepted through Sept. 20, 2019.
More information and proposal documents can be found here.
Questions about special use permits and this request for proposals can be directed to Chris LaCosse, forest recreation specialist, at (541) 271-6017 or SM.FS.SiuNFComment@usda.gov.
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.
“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.
“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.
PORTLAND, Ore. (July 20, 2019) —The Environmental Protection
Agency recognized the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest regional
fisheries biologist and regional Aquatic
and Riparian Effectiveness Monitoring Plan program lead for
their contributions as part of a multi-agency federal team that established a
now four-year-old partnership to encourage and fund watershed improvement
James Capurso, Pacific Northwest regional fisheries biologist for the USDA Forest Service, and Christine Hirsch, Pacific Northwest Aquatic and Riparian Effectiveness Monitoring Plan (AREMP) Program Lead, were among six federal employees honored at the 2018 EPA National Honors awards July 10 for Outstanding Leadership in Collaborative Problem Solving, in recognition of their contributions as the Forest Service representatives to the Drinking Water Providers Partnership, of which the EPA and Bureau of Land Management are also members.
“I think this is the
first time we’ve had a funding partnership which also includes state funding in
the mix. This particular partnership also includes non-profits that have been
instrumental in reaching out to the municipal water providers,” Hirsch said.
“Traditionally, the Forest Service hasn’t partnered very frequently with water
providers so this is bringing new partners into the fold to accomplish key
The Drinking Water Providers Partnership is a regional
interagency program that protects and restores drinking water quality and
native fish habitat within municipal watersheds, benefiting the towns depending
upon them for clean, pure water. A
component of the partnership pools agency financial resources to fund
restoration projects and outreach efforts within municipal watersheds.
Mike Brown and Scott Lightcap, from the Bureau of Land
Management, and Teresa Kubo and Michelle Tucker, from EPA Region 10, were also
recognized as members of the federal team.
The Partnership provides a mechanism for federal, state, local,
and several non-government partners to collaboratively evaluate projects and
distribute pooled funds towards projects benefiting municipal watersheds,
including those reducing erosion and
sedimentation, improving aquatic organism passage, increasing the complexity of
habitats in streams and floodplains, addressing contamination or other issues
related to legacy mining projects, performing vegetation management, and
conducting public outreach and education efforts.
Local partners create the projects and pool resources for action – but if they need additional resources to complete the work, they submit applications for regional funding.
“When we were establishing this partnership, we literally went
door to door visiting city and town water providers in the Cascade Mountains
and Coast Range,” Capurso said. “Everywhere we went, from the ‘one traffic
light towns to the larger cities, water providers were supportive, even
excited, about the partnership.”
During its first four years, the Drinking Water Providers
partnership has awarded more than $2.3 million in federal, state, and private
funding towards watershed restoration, protection and improvement projects in
Oregon and Washington.
straightforward; like everyone puts their money in, then we pick the projects
and write checks. But there are so many rules and limitations on what we use
the money for among the various agencies and partners… that’s where a lot of
the creative problem-solving comes in.
We rank the projects and determine whose funding can legally be used to
support it,” Hirsch said.
Projects on seven national forests, including the Willamette,
Umpqua, Wallowa-Whitman, Olympic, Okanogan-Wenatchee, Siuslaw, Gifford Pinchot,
and Umatilla National Forests, to protect or improve drinking water supplies in
more than a dozen communities (including Walla Walla, Cashmere, Leavenworth,
Port Townsend Wash. and Glide, Eugene, Langlois, Cave Junction, Myrtle Point,
Lincoln City, and Yachats, Ore.) received funds from partnership in 2019.
In addition to traditional projects, such as infrastructure
repair, vegetation planting, and returning large wood to restore water current
complexity to streams, some of the 2019 awards funded conservation education
The Umatilla National Forest and City of Walla Walla received
funds for a documentary film on the Mill Creek Municipal Watershed as a
drinking water source and how it serves as important wildlife habitat which
will be used for education and outreach in the surrounding community.
Cascadia Conservation District partnered with Okanogan-Wenatchee
National Forest on a project to education farmers, tree-fruit growers and
viticulturalists in the Wenatchee watershed about best practices for protecting
water quality and potentially achieving the Salmon-Safe certification for their
And the Olympic National Forest and City of Port Townsend will
use some of the funds awarded for protecting the Big and Little Quilcene Rivers
through improved sanitation facilities for managing human waste at recreation
areas, and signage and even field ranger outreach to inform the public about
proper human waste disposal and the dangers presented by fecal contamination of
the city’s drinking water supply.
Other funds are allocated for research towards future water
quality improvement and watershed protection opportunities.
The partnership awarded a 2019 grant to Trout Unlimited towards developing a GIS model that uses existing data to identify high-impact opportunities for beaver location on the Upper Columbia River. The McKenzie River Trust received funds to research into potential land protection opportunities to protect the drinking water source watershed for the City of Yachats.
Gallery: The Drinking Water Providers Partnership is a collaboration of the USDA Forest Service Region 6, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Washington Department of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management OR/WA Office, the Geos Institute, and WildEarth Guardians. The floodplain enhancement work on the lower South Fork of the McKenzie River, located on the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, pictured here, was funded in part through funds allocated by the partnership; approximately one third of the funds awarded were from non-Forest Service partners.
Source information: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region (staff report)