Yee-haw: It’s time for another edition of Stewardship Round-Up!
Though this is our penultimate issue of this monthly dispatch, never fear and shed no tear, for we have a great re-cap for you this month.
Recap compiled by Alex Ertaud, Stewardship Director for Friends of the Inyo
August is always a great month for the Trail Ambassadors (TAs) to sink their teeth into some meatier projects they may have been eyeing and scouting in June and July. So, without further ado, here are some highlights of what the TAs have been up to this month:
From Bradley Olson, Trail Ambassador on the Bridgeport Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest: The first signs that summer is coming to a close have been showing in the Hoover Wilderness. Campgrounds have been quieter with kids returning to school, and the mornings are starting to get chillier than normal. However, I’ve remained as busy as ever joining the Forest Service on a variety of projects. It’s been great working more closely with Wilderness Crew and fostering a fun, energetic work environment on the trails! The highlight of this past month (and I might even say summer) took place a of couple weeks ago when I joined three other trail crew members to move a 3,000 pound rock off of the trail that was blocking the way for pack stock. At the beginning, I really couldn’t see how there was any way we would be able to flip this rock out of the way. But with the expertise of Lizzie (the Forest Service Wilderness Crew Lead), the proper use of leverage, communication, and teamwork, we slowly pried the rock up higher and higher. We had to constantly reassess, build new fulcrums out of smaller rocks, and get new bites with our rock bars. After about 5 hours, the rock reached its tipping point and we pushed it over while cheering all together. The adage that we really can move mountains when we come together holds true in the trail work world.
From Jean Redle, Trail Ambassador on the Mono Basin RD of the Inyo National Forest (INF): This summer’s highlights have included getting to know the awesome communities of Lee Vining, June Lake, Athenian School and folks coming to my Interpretive Nature-based Yoga program from all over. I enjoy my partnerships with the Mono Ranger District staff, including Keith Dawley, Jameisha Washington and Eric Rios-Bretado. These folks are “on it” when it comes to what and who needs to make it happen. They rally the troops, so to speak, such as INF Fire, INF Trails, and local engaged citizen and DeChambeau Creek Foundation staff member Paul McFarland when more hands are needed to “get it done.” I have been impressed by the collaborative efforts and accomplishments of this district. I also have an all-star, hardworking volunteer, John Ellsworth, who joins me at least once a week to lop brush, saw downed logs, or do some heavy-duty rock work on trails. John was a USFS Ranger for 30 years, retiring 20 years ago, and is still a FORCE. I am so fortunate that he has volunteered so much time, hard work and magic trail tricks. Thanks to John for his dedication and inspiration! Athenian School students proved how strong they are when two different groups met me at Rush Creek/PCT junction to restore 15 campsites and break down multiple campfire rings. These students were on a 26-day backpacking trip with only one resupply, carrying up to 14 days’ worth of food in large bear cans in their packs! I have also been inspired by the locals and visitors who show up to Gus Hess Park every Friday morning from 8 to 9:15 for Nature-based Yoga. This program has been well attended all summer long and there are only two more sessions left. This summer has been incredible working for Friends of the Inyo and forming solid partnerships in the Mono Basin!
From Will Young, Trail Ambassador on the Mammoth RD of the INF: I’ve been coordinating with the Forest Service this past month on a few different projects to keep the trails looking their best! I’ve done a bit of drainage work on the Mammoth Pass Trail after it was hit hard by some early August rainstorms, and I’ve removed a few logs from the trails around Emerald Lake and Deer Creek. It’s always satisfying to work on tasks that have an immediate positive impact both on the condition of the trails and on the user experience. I hope everyone has been enjoying the summer season out here. Autumn is just around the corner! ***Special thanks to the Town of Mammoth Lakes Measure U funds for supporting Will’s work this summer!***
From Lindsay Butcher, Trail Ambassador on the White Mountain RD of the INF: I am slowly becoming a “cat-lady,” so it’s no secret that I love critters–furry, feathered, or even scaled. That’s why this season I chose to lead an interpretive hike along Rock Creek that revolves around key mammals of the Eastern Sierra, although in a group setting the biggest mammal we’ve been able to spot thus far is a squirrel. However, while out on the trails working solo, I’ve had some exciting sightings! Some of the highlights include:
- Pika always barking near Long Lake out of Mosquito Flat.
- At the end of a crosscut project in partnership with the Athenian school on Buckeye Creek, there was a sizable black bear, and many, many cows.
- Up above Lamarck Lakes live some of the most healthy/hefty marmots I have ever seen.
- I spotted a coyote loping along the creek near Bishop Pass.
- Today a scorpion scuttled from under a large rock I was working to move out of the trail.
- And then there are the many trail doggos I make friends with (and even a few adventure cats!).
- From Cordero Chavez, Trail Ambassador on the Mt. Whitney RD of the INF: August has been a great month in the Whitney Ranger District. We had our grand opening in Lone Pine for the new FOI office and we had great turnout for our volunteer event in Onion Valley. I am very happy to be working with the supportive rangers in my district. Working together has made my job easier and more rewarding. I have seen through our communication and hard work out in the field that we’ve been able to make an impact on the never-ending challenges and tasks of maintaining our trails.
Wow! As always, I’m blown away at what our hearty TAs can accomplish out there.
There is one month left of interpretive hikes, so head over to our events page and sign up for one (or several) today!
And as always, a HUGE thanks goes to the National Forest Foundation for supporting all our summer stewardship work!