Category Archives: Recreation

Postcard: Get Outdoors Day

The USDA Forest Service’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest staffers team up with colleagues from the National Park Service to host an event for national Get Outdoors Day at Fort Vancouver, Wash. each year.

Get Outdoors Day has evolved into a major community event, with visitors from throughout the greater Portland, Ore. and Vancouver, Wash. metro area and partners from local organizations, businesses, government partners, and even historical re-enactors, all working together to encourage and inspire members of the public to “GO” – Get Outdoors – and explore!

The 2019 National Get Outdoors Day was also a fee-free day on National Forests in Washington and Oregon.

Fee-free days offer no-cost access to Forest Service -managed trail heads and recreation sites, in an effort to encourage outdoors experiences and ensure all Americans have opportunities to access and enjoy recreation opportunities on their public lands.

USDA Forest Service -designated -fee-free days may not extend to some vendor, or concessionaire, -managed sites, or to sites managed by other federal agencies.

Gallery: Photos from the Get Outdoors Day event, hosted by the USDA Forest Service – Gifford Pinchot National Forest and National Parks Service – Fort Vancouver June 8, 2019 at the fort, located in Vancouver, Wash.


USDA Forest Service photos provided by Gala Miller and Heather Ibsen, Gifford Pinchot National Forest staff

Forest Service seeks business partner for camps, rec sites

Takhlakh Lake Campground, on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State. USDA Forest Service file photo (undated).

VANCOUVER, Wash. (June 13, 2019) — The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is seeking proposals for a concessionaire to provide high-quality public services in the operations and maintenance of 33 campgrounds, group camps, and associated recreation sites on the forest. Recreation sites being offered in this prospectus are located on the Cowlitz Valley, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams Ranger Districts.

Applicants are encouraged to consider new ways to enhance user experiences at existing campgrounds.  This could include interpretative services, campfire talks, concession-owned yurts, cabins or other overnight camping options, to name a few.

An electronic copy of the prospectus can be found online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/gp/campgrounds and the Federal Business Opportunities website at https://www.fbo.gov. 

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest provides a broad range of quality recreational opportunities and experiences for visitors around the world.  The concession program represents one means of delivering recreation opportunities to the public and providing business opportunities to those interested in managing recreation sites on the forest. 

Applications must be received by the forest no later than Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019 at 5 p.m. Anyone interested in this opportunity is encouraged to apply. For questions about the prospectus, contact Debbie Terrion, forest special uses coordinator, at (360) 891-5175 or deborah.terrion@usda.gov.


Source information: Gifford Pinchot National Forest (press release)

In the News: Ten Outdoor Essentials

Shandra Terry, USDA Forest Service, shares the Ten Outdoor Essentials with Tra'Renee Chambers on KATU-TV 2's "Afternoon Live" program, June 4, 2019. Full story: https://katu.com/afternoon-live/lifestyle-health/national-forest-essentials

The “10 Outdoor Essentials” should be second-nature for anyone engaging in responsible recreation on public lands.

Yet every day, people head outdoors unprepared.

Don’t do it!

The “essentials” list, recognized by everyone from scouts to mountaineers, is an easy way to make sure you’re prepared for anything that comes your way while enjoying the great outdoors.

Can you wear flipflops in the woods? Sure – but make sure you also have sneakers or boots in your pack, in case you get caught outdoors longer than planned.

Speaking of which, have a plan!

Make sure someone knows where you are going and how long you will be gone, so they can sound the alarm if you don’t return when expected.

Shandra Terry, from the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s Office of Communications and Community Engagement, shared these and other essential outdoor tips with KATU-2 Afternoon Live host Tra’Renee Chambers in Portland, Ore. June 4.

Full story: Watch the KATU-2 interview, below (or, visit https://katu.com/afternoon-live/lifestyle-health/national-forest-essentials).

Help us spread the word! Print or save the “Ten Outdoor Essentials” flyer and share it with everyone who enjoys public lands... or wants to start!

Outdoor Essentials: Be prepared and carry these essential items any time you head out into the outdoors! 1. Appropriate footwear. 2. Printed map. 3. Extra water. 4. Extra food. 5. Extra clothes. 6. Emergency items. 7. First aid kit. 8. Knife or multi-purpose tool. 9. Backpack. 10. Sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses.
Outdoor Essentials: Be prepared and carry these essential items any time you head out into the outdoors! 1. Appropriate footwear. 2. Printed map. 3. Extra water. 4. Extra food. 5. Extra clothes. 6. Emergency items. 7. First aid kit. 8. Knife or multi-purpose tool. 9. Backpack. 10. Sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses. USDA Forest Service graphic, Sept. 2018

Boulder Cave reopens for summer; bat protection protocol in place

Townsend's big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii), in a July 20, 2011 file photo by Ann Froschauer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

NACHES, Wash. (June 3, 2019)Boulder Cave, a popular highlight for visitors to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, will opened for the 2019 summer season May 24. Boulder Cave, Boulder Cave Day Use Site, and the Boulder Barrier Free Trail will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Sept. 20, 2019.

The cave is home to Townsend’s big-eared bat, which is listed as a sensitive species in Washington and Oregon.

Bats are susceptible to White Nose Syndrome, a deadly disease triggered by a fungal infection that can kill entire bat colonies by disrupting their winter hibernation.

A USDA Forest Service interpreter will be on site at Boulder Cave to provide information about the cave and explain the White Nose Syndrome prevention protocol visitors must follow as they enter the cave., which include brushing and scraping off the soles of their shoes when entering and leaving the cave.

We’re all about providing great recreation on public lands while minimizing harmful impacts to wildlife,” Joan St. Hilaire, a USDA Forest Service wildlife biologist, said. “To help prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome, visitors are asked to brush off and scrape their shoes on an astro turf carpet prior to entering and leaving the cave.”

Cave visitors are also encouraged to wash clothing, outerwear, and gear between visits to different caves or other places bats congregate.

When visiting Boulder Cave, all visitors are required to carry a flashlight. A good pair of walking shoes and layered clothing are also recommended. Pets are not allowed.

“We can all do our part by limiting all noise, staying on the trail, not touching cave walls, and keeping lights off the ceiling (to avoid disturbing the bats),” St. Hilaire said.

The cave is closed annually from September through May to provide a secure refuge during the bats’ hibernation period.

A footbridge leads into Boulder Cave west of the community of Naches, Washington on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in an undated USDA Forest Service file photo.

Source information: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (press release)

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!

Dog Mountain weekend hiker permits return to CRGNSA for peak season

The view facing west over the Columbia River from Dog Mountain Trail (Forest Service trail #147) in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area May 19, 2017. USDA Forest Service photo.

STEVENSON, Wash. (March 1, 2019) – For the second year, the USDA Forest Service requires permits for visitors interested in hiking Dog Mountain on weekends during peak wildflower season, which began in mid-April and continues through June 16, 2019.

Visitors can obtain permits one of two ways:

Visitors who board the Skamania County West End Transit bus at Skamania Fairgrounds in Stevenson will receive a free permit on arrival at Dog Mountain Trailhead. The shuttle ride costs $1 per person, per trip ($2 round-trip), and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each permit is good for one individual, on the day it is issued. The shuttle runs every half hour, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through June 16.

Visitors interested in reserving a permit online can submit their request at www.recreation.gov. Dog Mountain hiking permits are offered at no cost, but a $1 per person administrative fee is charged for processing. Visitors parking a vehicle at Dog Mountain Trailhead will also need to pay the recreation site fee of $5 per car for use of the parking area, or present a valid Northwest Forest or interagency federal pass in lieu of the day-use parking permit. Only 250 reservable permits per peak season weekend day are available to limit congestion. Online permits do not guarantee a parking spot, so visitors are encouraged to carpool (or check-out the weekend shuttle service from Skamania Fairgrounds).

The permits are required as part of a partnership between Washington State Department of Transportation, Skamania County, and the Skamania County Chamber of Commerce to protect public safety. The permit program began in 2018, in response to growing safety concerns about congestion and accidents near the Dog Mountain Trailhead.

“Last year’s program was highly successful,” Lynn Burditt, area manager for Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, said, “In fact, many people said they hiked Dog Mountain for the first time last year, because they didn’t have to wake up early to beat crowds into the parking lot.”

Permits will be required for all visitors to the Dog Mountain trail system on Saturdays and Sundays through peak wildflower season (this year, defined as April 20 to June 16), as a measure to prevent congestion at the trailhead by encouraging visitors to take a shuttle.

“We made a few improvements this year – there are more permits available per day, and the administrative fee for online reservations is down to $1 from last year’s cost of $1.50, thanks to a new service provider,” Lorelei Haukness, recreation planner for the scenic area, said.

Dog Mountain Trail System includes both forks of Dog Mountain Trail (#147 and #147C), Dog-Augspurger Tie Trail #147A, and the lower portion of Augspurger Trail #4407.

Each hiker should carry a printed permit or electronic copy of their permit, as Forest Service employees will check for permits at the trailhead.

Back again this year, several businesses in Stevenson will offer discounts to shuttle riders — including Walking Man Brewing, Big River Grill, North Bank Books, Columbia Hardware, and Bits n’ Spurs. Visit Skamania County Chamber of Commerce in Stevenson to learn more about area businesses that are participating.

For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/crgnsa/hikedogmountain or call (541)308-1700.

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area encompasses 292,500 acres of Washington and Oregon, where the Columbia River cuts a spectacular river canyon through the Cascade Mountains. The USDA Forest Service manages National Forest lands in the National Scenic Area and works with the Gorge Commission, states, counties, treaty tribes, and partners to protect and enhance scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Columbia River Gorge while encouraging local economic development consistent with that protection.

Learn more about Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area at www.fs.usda.gov/crgnsa or follow CRGNSA on social media at facebook.com/crgnsa or www.twitter.com/crgnsa.


Source information: The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (press release).

Celebrate Smokey’s 75 years of wildland fire prevention!

Many forests and partners will host "Smokey's 75th birthday" events this summer. To find special events in your area as they are scheduled, check out https://www.smokeybear75th.org/.

Smokey Bear celebrates his 75th year of wildland fire prevention this summer. To celebrate, celebrities like Stephen Colbert, Al Roker, and Jeff Foxworthy have lent their voices to help spread Smokey’s message: “Only you can prevent wildfires.”

Learn more about Smokey’s history, find wildland fire prevention tips, children’s activities, and watch historical public service announcements alongside the new PSAs on Smokey Bear’s website: https://www.smokeybear.com/en (en español: https://www.smokeybear.com/es).

Celebrate Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday with us!

Stephen Colbert, Al Roker, and Jeff Foxworthy are among celebrities lending their voice to help share Smokey Bear’s message: “Only you can prevent wildfires” during the iconic spokesbear’s 75th year sharing fire prevention messaging for the USDA Forest Service and other land management agencies.

Source information: USDA Forest Service and the Ad Council

In the news: Start summer right by brushing up on campfire safety

Enjoying a campfire safely in a designated fire pit while camping at Malhuer National Forest, July 4, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Shilo Burton.

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer in the Pacific Northwest. With warmer weather and dry conditions already present or on their way, state and federal land management agencies – including the USDA Forest Service – are reminding recreationalists that we need everyone’s help to prevent human-caused fires on our forests and other public lands.

You can find some great campfire safety tips from Chris Havel at Oregon Parks and Recreation Department the KTVZ-TV 21 story, linked below.

Full story, via KTVZ-TV 21: https://www.ktvz.com/news/campfire-safety-tips-given-as-summer-trips-beckon/1079597496

Other frequent sources of unplanned wildland fire include backyard debris burning, and motor vehicles, chains, or other equipment that heats up or throws sparks in proximity to dry grass or brush. Find more information and tips to reduce the risks at https://www.smokeybear.com/en.

In the News: How to summit Mt. Hood safely

View of Mt. Hood from Timothy Lake with hillside trees and forest in the foreground, Mt Hood National Forest, Jan. 18, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo.

We talk a lot about the 10 Outdoor Essentials here at Your Northwest Forests, and there’s a reason for it- again and again, we’ve seen that when the unexpected occurs, just a little preparation can make the difference between an uncomfortable experience and a life-threatening emergency.

That goes even more so for technical climbing, such as the increasingly popular snow- and ice- covered climbs approaching the summit of mountains located just beyond the Pacific Northwest’s urban areas, like Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood.

This KGW-TV story, produced with assistance from volunteers from Portland Mountain Rescue, does a great job showing why the mountain appeals to so many – and why such climbs are so dangerous, even when many other visitors seem to be using the same route and summer weather is imminent.

Full story, via KGW.com: https://www.kgw.com/article/news/local/key-safety-tips-for-climbing-mount-hood/283-bd294b2f-8499-4127-9863-dacc1887936e

Puddles gets jump on invasive mussels in WA waterways

WDFW Sergeant Pam Taylor and Puddles, a rescued 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix who will use her keen sense of smell to help detect quagga and zebra mussel larvae on boats traveling through mandatory watercraft-inspection stations run by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). WDFW courtesy photo.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (May 16, 2019) – The newest member of the team that protects Washington’s waterways from invasive species has quite the ruff routine: Sniff, sit, play!

Starting this spring, Puddles, a 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix, will use her keen sense of smell to help detect quagga and zebra mussel larvae on boats traveling through mandatory watercraft-inspection stations run by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Starting this spring, Puddles, a 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix, will use her keen sense of smell to help detect quagga and zebra mussel larvae on boats traveling through mandatory watercraft-inspection stations run by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Courtesy photo provided by WDFW.
Starting this spring, Puddles, a 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix, will use her keen sense of smell to help detect quagga and zebra mussel larvae on boats traveling through mandatory watercraft-inspection stations run by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Courtesy photo provided by WDFW.

“Invasive mussels can impact our state’s water quality, power and irrigation systems, wildlife and recreation,” Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council, said. “We all need to work together to prevent invasive mussels from changing our way of life and harming resources we value. In many ways, invasive mussels would change what it means to be a Washingtonian.”

Quagga and zebra mussels can clog piping and mechanical systems of industrial plants, utilities, locks and dams. Researchers estimate that invasive species cost industries, businesses and communities more than $5 billion nationwide over 6 years, and the power industry more than $3 billion.

“We believe Puddles will be a great addition to the Washington invasive species program,” Heidi McMaster, regional invasive species coordinator for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said. The bureau paid for Puddles’ training as part of the Bureau’s fight to keep the Columbia River basin and Washington State free of invasive mussels. “Reclamation is proud to be part of this effort to prevent the introduction of quagga mussels to the Columbia River basin.”

Puddles was initially surrendered to a shelter in Fresno, California where she caught the attention of the Green Dog Project’s “Rescued for a Reason” program. Staff at the Green Dog Project contacted Mussel Dogs, a training program for dogs, and Puddles was trained there.

WDFW Sergeant Pam Taylor spent 2 weeks in California and at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona and Utah training with Puddles for her new assignment.

Puddles is just one of the ways Washington State is working with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other partners – including the USDA Forest Service – to control and stop the spread of invasive species.

National Forest lands in the Pacific Northwest protect a number of watersheds that provide clean water for drinking and irrigation, as well as hydroelectric power generation and wildlife habitat – all uses that are threatened by invasive species, including quagga and zebra mussels.

WDFW Sergeant Pam Taylor and Puddles, a rescued 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix who will use her keen sense of smell to help detect quagga and zebra mussel larvae on boats traveling through mandatory watercraft-inspection stations run by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). WDFW courtesy photo.
WDFW Sergeant Pam Taylor and Puddles, a rescued 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier mix who will use her keen sense of smell to help detect quagga and zebra mussel larvae on boats traveling through mandatory watercraft-inspection stations run by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. WDFW courtesy photo.

How you can help: Clean, Drain, Dry!

The Washington Invasive Species Council asks the public to Clean–Drain–Dry their boats, personal watercraft, and other gear each time they remove their craft or equipment from a body of water.

Some invesive species can hitch a ride on clothes, shoes and boots, boats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and even fishing poles, pails, and shovels!

Clean: When leaving the water, clean all equipment that touched the water by removing all visible plants, algae, animals and mud. This includes watercraft hulls, trailers, shoes, waders, life vests, engines and other gear.

Drain: Drain any accumulated water from watercraft or gear, including live and transom wells, before leaving the access point to the water. If transporting watercraft, clean and dry everything before transport.

Dry: Once home, let all gear fully dry before using your boat or watercraft it in a different water body. Just draining and letting your watercraft and gear dry may not sufficiently remove some invasive species.

Transporting boats across state lines: Clean, Drain, Dry may not protect local waterways against all potential invasives. If you are bringing a watercraft into Washington for the first time, contact the Washington State aquatic invasive species hotline (1-888-WDFW-AIS) before placing it in the water. Be prepared to provide the state and water body where your watercraft was used, and whether you decontaminated your watercraft before you left that state. In some cases, WDFW will require an intensive decontamination upon entry into Washington, provided at no cost to the owner. Remember that it’s illegal to transport or spread aquatic invasive species and violators can face heavy fines, and even jail time!


Source information: The Washington Invasives Species Council and Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (joint press release).

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