Category Archives: Washington State

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)

Backcountry Horsemen volunteers help build 66-foot bridge

From left: Tristan Rivers, Sawyer Meegan, and Taylen Howland, all USDA Forest Service employees assigned to the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument backcountry recreation crew, build a rock gabion that supports a 6' tall earth-covered ramp to a new 66-foot equestrian bridge over Fossil Trail #242 on Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington. USDA Forest Service photo, 2019.

AMBOY, Wash. (Aug. 19, 2019) — Backcountry Horsemen of Washington‘s Mount St. Helens Chapter and the USDA Forest Service’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest recently completed a 66-foot equestrian bridge over a creek on Fossil Trail #242, located in the southwest corner of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (near Goat Mountain).

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.

Forest Service employees Dean Robertson and John Cruse install bridge stringers. USDA Forest Service photo
Forest Service employees Dean Robertson and John Cruse install bridge stringers. USDA Forest Service photo

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.

Backcountry Horsemen of Washington members Jim Anderson and Mitch Hensley use a skidsteer to build the bridge approach. USDA Forest Service photo.
Backcountry Horsemen of Washington members Jim Anderson and Mitch Hensley use a skidsteer to build the bridge approach. USDA Forest Service photo.

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.”

Forest Service employee Camille Stephens harvests rock for the bridge approach. USDA Forest Service photo.
Forest Service employee Camille Stephens harvests rock for the bridge approach. USDA Forest Service photo.

Source information: Gifford Pinchot National Forest – Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument recreation staff.

Fire season safety tips for smoke-sensitive persons, drivers

Smoke blowing over a roadway nearly obscures USDA Forest Service wildland fire truck (WA-OWF E644) and a wildland firefighter from the camera's view.

While the “fire season” is off to a slower-than-normal start in many parts of the Pacific Northwest, fires like the Milepost 97 are here and ready to remind fire isn’t the only seasonal hazard to watch for. There are also two, other, closely related risks faced by our firefighters and our community during the season: smoke and motor vehicle traffic.

Even small fires can send a lot of smoke into nearby roadways. Sometimes, even smoke drift from distant fires can create enough haze to reduce visibility. That reduced visibility is a risk to pedestrians, other motorists (including those in or responding to disabled vehicles along the road shoulder), and even firefighters working nearby.

If you’re traveling in areas with nearby fire activity, be careful and use extra caution. In addition to reduced or poor visibility, you may encounter heavy equipment and firefighting trucks on the road. Drive carefully, slow down, and give plenty of space to firefighters and fire vehicles. Use extra caution when driving in smoke-filled conditions; debris, disabled vehicles and pedestrians may be concealed from view until you’re vehicle is just a few feet away.

Follow these tips to keep yourself and others, including firefighters and smoke-sensitive loved ones, safe!

  • If your travel plans require you to drive on routes that are impacted by fire or firefighting activity, consider alternate travel dates and/or routes.
  • If you must drive, pay close attention to road closures and warnings.
  • Be alert! Fire activity and subsequent operations can change quickly.  Adapt driving patterns accordingly and always yield to emergency responders.
  • Navigation applications on smart phones or other devices (GPS / maps) may not accurately reflect changing conditions. Watch out for changing local conditions and detours.
  • Plan ahead. If you live in a fire-prone area (which is all of us, in the Pacific Northwest!), keep your gas tank filled at least 3/4 full at all times. Maintain a clean air filter, and carry paper map or road atlas to assist you in travelling in areas with limited cell phone reception. Bring an extra cell phone charger (and battery back-up); make sure you have a spare tire and jack; and carry extra water, food, a first aid kit and a blanket in your vehicle at all times.
  • Remove unnecessary flammables from the vehicle, such as containers of gas and oil.
  • Stay calm and focus on driving tasks. Drivers should not be texting, taking photos or video footage, no matter what is unfolding around them!
  • Keep headlights “on” for safety when driving.
  • Keep vehicle windows closed when travelling through smoke, and close all exterior air vents; set air conditioning to the “recirculation” setting.
  • Smoke-filled air can also impact health at home, particularly for young children, the elderly, and for people with chronic heart or lung conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and COPD. If possible, maintain a “clean room” at home in which air can be filtered by an appropriately-sized filtration system; ideally, a True HEPA filter rated to remove 99.97% of particles of .3 microns or larger, paired with an activated charcoal filter to trap volatile organic compounds. (An air ionizer may also be helpful, but discuss your plans with a doctor as not everyone is a good candidate. Those with sensitive lungs should only run an ionizer while away from home to avoid breathing ionized particles, and people who are sensitive to ozone should not use ionizers).
  • Plan ahead! It’s important for everyone to have an emergency evacuation plan, but it is especially important for those with special needs, pets, or who do not have access to a motor vehicle to plan ahead. Find advice on emergency preparedness planning at RedCross.org and at Ready.gov.

Planning travel, and need the latest traffic, smoke and safety updates? These websites can help!

August is Fire Hire season for Forest Service in WA, OR

Images of an aircraft dropping fire retardant, a fire truck and crew, fire personnel in nomex and protective gear reviewing a map in the field, a firefighter spraying water on a fire from a hose, a firefighter hand crew, and a firefighter lighting dry grass using a drip torch. Text: 2019 Fire Hire, USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Region.

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 31, 2019) — The annual “fire hire” hiring event for the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region opens Aug. 1, 2019.

The Forest Service is looking for committed, hardworking, highly-skilled employees to support wildfire suppression, fuels reduction and other fire management work on 17 National Forests in Oregon and Washington.

The fire and aviation program features rewarding opportunities for candidates with seasonal wildland firefighting experience to pursue challenging, full-time positions with the agency.

The agency uses the centralized, annual “fire hire” process for hiring most positions in the region’s permanent fire management workforce.

Specialized opportunities being offered include dispatch, engine crew positions, fuels technicians, hand crew members, helitack crew members, hotshot crew remembers, smokejumpers, and fire prevention and education specialists.

Opportunities will be posted at www.usajobs.gov, with an application window of Aug. 1-28, 2019.

Vacancy announcements for seasonal opportunities during the summer, 2020 wildland fire season – which includes the majority of the region’s entry-level and trainee fire management opportunities – will be posted to USAJobs in September, 2019.

“Fire Hire” timeline:

  • Aug. 1, 2019: Vacancy announcements are posted to USAJobs.
  • Aug. 28, 2019: Application deadline, 7:59 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (10:59 p.m. EDT, or 11:59 EST). Applicants are encouraged to read all vacancy announcements carefully prior to applying, and ensure all required documents are included with their submission. Applicants are also encouraged to apply for multiple locations (where they would accept a position if offered), even if positions for certain locations are not listed as vacant, as vacancies may occur during the hiring process and could be filled during Selection Week.
  • Oct. 15-31, 2019: Supervisory Reference Checks, and Subject Matter Expert evaluations occur during these weeks. Please ensure your references are notified of this and they are available at the email address (preferred) or phone number provided on your application.
  • Nov. 4-22, 2019: Selection week. Representatives from each forest will make recommendations for hiring, and candidates selected will be notified by a Forest Service representative by phone. Those not selected should check their USAJobs account for status updates. During the selection week candidates will be given 4 hours to respond to voicemails or emails from the recommending officials. It is highly encouraged candidates plan be available via phone during this time!
  • March, 2020: Earliest possible effective date for new hires.

Note: Where Interagency Fire Program Management (IFPM) and Forest Service – Fire Program Management (FS-FPM) qualifications are required, these qualifications must be met prior to the closing date on the vacancy being applied for. Applicants with relevant fire certifications or experience must provide a current copy of their IQCS Master Record, where indicated in the announcement, to meet qualification requirements for positions with IQCS requirements.

For more information: Visit https://go.usa.gov/xyfx8.

Images of an aircraft dropping fire retardant, a fire truck and crew, fire personnel in nomex and protective gear reviewing a map in the field, a firefighter spraying water on a fire from a hose, a firefighter hand crew, and a firefighter lighting dry grass using a drip torch. Text: 2019 Fire Hire, USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Region. Apply on www.usajobs.gov August 1-28.
The USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s next “Fire Hire” hiring event is Aug. 1-28, 2019 at https://www.usajobs.gov. Applicants are encouraged to apply for current and potential vacancies at all locations they are interested in being considered for, for a variety of permanent, full-time positions supporting fire and aviation management programs on 17 National Forests in Washington and Oregon, with projected start dates in spring-summer, 2020.

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).

Organizational camps open doors to the outdoors

A woman seated in a small boat raises her arms in the breeze, while a second woman paddles the boat across a forest lake.

Where can you try zip-lining, horseback riding, camping, swimming, hiking, or other outdoors activities you’ve never tried before, with a group of your new best friends – and an assist from someone with more experienced to guide you?

The answer could be one of the organizational camps that operate on many of the seventeen National Forests in the Pacific Northwest.

Organizational camps are located on public lands and managed by third-party organizations under the authority of a Special Use permit granted by the U.S. Forest Service.

USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region video by Chris Bentley, Office of Communications & Community Engagement

There are 44 such camps operating on national forests in Oregon and Washington, each offering unique opportunities for people who might not otherwise be able to enjoy the beauty and adventure opportunities available on forest lands.

“Permittees are able to offer a wide variety of experiences to the public,” Shawnee Hinman, regional special uses program manager for the Forest Service, said.

Because the agency’s work involves balancing multiple uses of the forest, many of the most-developed recreation sites on National Forest System lands are operated by permittees.

“They’re vital partners… often providing the unique level of services, with more staff, more amenities, more flexibility, and more infrastructure than what the Forest Service can normally provide,” Hinman said.

A camper flies above the forest floor while strapped into a climbing harness.
A camper at the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp, an organizational camp at Mt. Hood, Oregon, flies over the forest floor while strapped into a climbing harness. Courtesy photo by Justin Tucker, Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp staff (used with permission).

The extra amenities and services provided at some organizational camps are especially important because they provide opportunities for members of the public who need more support than the minimalist facilities offered at many Forest Service operated campgrounds and recreation areas.

For example, people with different ability levels, such as special medical needs or mobility challenges, that can limit their activities on forest lands could find better opportunities to enjoy their public lands – while sustaining the support or assistance they need to do so safely – at an organizational camp.

“These are organizations whose sole purpose is enriching the lives of others: spiritually, physically, or emotionally,” Nathan Fletcher, special use manager for the Mt. Hood National Forest, said. “The main idea here is that these groups are improving lives through outdoor experiences.”

A camper gives the "V" for victory symbol while cycling with a staff member.
Campers at the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp enjoy the outdoors in a safe, supportive environment with a one-to-one ratio of staff to campers. Many of the staff are local college students, who earn credit for their participation – creating strong and lasting connections between the camp and local community. Courtesy photo by Justin Tucker, Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp staff (used with permission).

The Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp, located on the Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon, introduces people with disabilities to the great outdoors via day outings and overnight camps. It offers a 1:1 ratio of campers to counsellors, offering eight weeks of summer camps and two winter retreats each year.

“We provide one of the only fully-accessible camps on Forest Service lands in the nation,” Matt Grager, the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp’s communications director, said. “The real magic of the camp is that if you were to pull up to our 22 acre camp, it would look like a regular summer camp straight from the movies—camping, hiking, canoeing, swimming, horseback riding, even whitewater rafting and a ropes course… you name it we got it – the campers get to do all of the traditional summer camp activities just geared around the needs of people with disabilities.”

A camper and a staff member smile and embrace while posing for a photo at camp.
A camper and staff member lean in for a hug while posing for a camera. Many campers return year after year to attend the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp, which provides physical fitness and social opportunities for people with intellectual and physical disabilities at its organizational camp on the Mt Hood National Forest in Oregon. Courtesy photo by Justin Tucker, Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp staff (used with permission).

The Boy Scouts of America operate numerous camps on national forests in the Pacific Northwest, providing day, overnight, and week-long summer camps for youth from around Washington, Oregon, and the United States.

These camps expand recreation access to the outdoors for young people from all across the country, including urban, suburban, and rural areas, offering activities ranging from archery lessons to week-long trail riding trips on horseback.

Organizational camps can create deeply rooted relationships and a connection to the land that reach from the forest to the Forest Service, and back into the community.

More than 500 people participate in programs at the Mt. Hood Kiwanis camp each year, and many return year after year. In fact, some of the organizations campers have been returning each summer for 20 to 30 years, Grager said.

Most of the camp’s counselors come from Portland State University (PSU) where students earn 6 credits for their participation as a capstone project for the college’s degree programs. Approximately 4500 college students have served as Kiwanis camp counsellors since the partnership was first established in the 1970’s.

“The experience the counselors have is as transformative for them as it is for the participants,” Grager said.

The Forest Service doesn’t have the capacity to provide the kind of individual attention these organizations can provide for their visitors, Hinman said – but considers organizational camps to be important partners in creating those opportunities for a diverse group of campers.

“We so appreciate the many organizations who invest so much into helping so many people get outdoors who otherwise probably wouldn’t get the chance,” he said.

More information:

To find out what organizational camps operate in your area, contact your local forest supervisor’s or district rangers’ office. Organizational camps may also be listed on the forest’s website, under Recreation or Special Use program offerings.

For the 2019 season, the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp will host a barbecue to celebrate the last night of each weekly camp. Skits are performed by campers and counselors. The community is invited, and food and music will be provided. Barbecues are scheduled every Thursday, through Aug. 18. A $10 donation is suggested.

Campers and staff paddle a canoe across a lake. Mt. Hood is visible beyond the far shore..
Campers and staff paddle a canoe across a reflection of Mt. Hood at the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp in Oregon. Courtesy photo by Justin Tucker, Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp staff (used with permission).

Chris Bentley is the Website and Social Media Manager for the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s Office of Communications and Community Engagement

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.

Forest Service employees on team recognized by EPA award for Drinking Water Partnership

A view of the Blue River Reservoir, located between Finn River and McKenzie Bridge on the Willamette National Forest, Oregon. USDA Forest Service photo (undated file photo)

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 efforts.

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.

Christine Hirsch, USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Region
Christine Hirsch, USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region

“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 restoration work.”

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.

Members of the Drinking Water Providers Partnership regional interagency team.

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.

Jim Capurso, USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Region
Jim Capurso, USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region

“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.

“It sounds 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 efforts:

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 products.

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.

More information:

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)

Postcard from: 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)

« Older Entries