August Stewardship Update & Highlights

Holy smokes it’s already August!

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and that certainly applies to our stewardship activities this summer. Along with Trail Ambassadors Lindsay Butcher and Julia Tawney, our trio has been out and about lopping overgrown trails, bucking logs off of trails, interacting with and educating the public, and packing out all trash we find on trail or at the trailheads.

Some highlights include:

  • I (Stewardship Director Alex Ertaud) just got back from two days of crosscutting downed logs with students from the Athenian School’s Athenian Wilderness Experience, a 26-day backpacking course rising seniors from the school embark on in the Sierra. I met up with them just below Buckeye Pass on the Humboldt-Toiyabe side of things. The helpful staff with the Forest was able to identify three instances of logs being down over the trail. I am happy to report that thanks to 14 enterprising young souls and their adult chaperones, we were able to clear the trail of nearly 10 logs. This helps prevent folks creating social trails around trees, reducing soil erosion and visual impacts. This also was a good exercise in doing trailwork in the COVID-19 environment, as Athenian and Friends of the Inyo worked together to come up with guidelines for student and my safety. We sanitized tools after each use, wore face coverings when in proximity of one another, and maintained social distance when possible. Luckily, all of our work takes place outside, and when using tools, we always want to be six-feet away from each other for safety purposes. And Athenian had their own protocols and practices for safety that I won’t dive into here.
  • Lindsay Butcher has been doing great work all over the Inyo National Forest, from Lone Pine to June Lake. Whether it is talking to visitors and educating on the need for overnight permits and bear cans when backpacking at Cottonwood Lakes, moving boulders off of the South Fork of Big Pine Creek trail, or removing pounds of trash from overflowing trashcans and bearboxes, Lindsay shows tremendous poise and a rock star attitude as she joins us for her first summer of working on our National Forests.
  • Lastly, Julia Tawney has joined us for another year, this time focusing on a project centered around the Owens River Headwaters Wild & Scenic River. She has been coordinating with Forest Service staff and a Student Conservation Association intern to work on the Glass Creek Meadow trail, Upper and Lower Deadman campgrounds, and the banks of Glass Creek to improve water quality and scenic attributes of the area. She will also be developing interpretive content on the area, to share the wonders of this watershed with all you folks at home. Stay tuned for details on that as it develops.

Phew, typing it all out makes it seem even more impressive what we’ve accomplished in a month and a half. And we’re only now really hitting our stride. With another work trip with Athenian students slated for next week in the Rush Creek drainage, and a four-day hitch planned with the Sierra National Forest in French Canyon the week after on tap, August will be busy too.

We’ll be working to the end of September, so stay tuned for more updates of everything we’re doing out there on the trails and public lands of the Eastern Sierra. And if you see us out on the trail, be sure to say, “Hi”!