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Jun 09, 2015

Little River State Park, Waterbury, VT:  Exploring the outdoors can come in many forms: high-adventure exploits, casual strolls through a park, or journeys through time.  Dotting the globe, heritage sites feature historical remains that offer a peak into the lives of generations before us--they are an integral piece to the human puzzle. Our story.  Our culture.

We, the east central team of the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, have spent the last week in Waterbury, Vermont working with local groups like the Green Mountain Club and exploring some of the local history left behind from the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and the early 1800s when immigrant farmers inhabited much of the area that is now the Waterbury Reservoir.

Some things to remember when exploring heritage sites:

  • Visit in small groups—this will give everyone a front row seat without trampling off-trail.
  • Find out if you need a permit for the site.
  • Stay on designated roads and trails to avoid accidentally stepping on or destroying artifacts.
  • Pack out all trash and leftover food—if we care for and appreciate the site, others will follow suit.  
  • Take photographs to commemorate your visit or bring a friend to share the experience--using the artifacts as a surface for etchings, rubbings, or molds can cause damage. 

  • Do not dig for artifacts; this can be irreversible damage and leave us feeling like we missed a few pages in the story of the area.
  • Leave what you find so others can also experience it as you did.
  • Some cultures consider their ancestral land sacred—show respect to the local cultures so the invitation remains open.

 

As we rode our bikes on the multi-use trails, we noticed that artifacts were abundant throughout the Little River State Park.  The “human puzzle” was able to come together for us because of the large number of artifacts/pieces that were left in their original place; they gave substance to the interpretive plaques that lined the trails.

Artifacts are a precious source of information for an area’s history; they hold clues to what life was like long ago.  Impacts to historical sites are often permanent.  If we are not careful and respectful of these resources, we could lose them forever.  The stories and knowledge gone. 

Thank you for helping sustain a world where exploration and Leave No Trace are synonymous.

Katelyn Stutterheim and Blake Jackson

Leave No Trace’s Katelyn Stutterheim and Blake Jackson are part of the 2015 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Deuter, Hi-Cone, REI, Smartwool, The North Face, and Yakima.

Jun 08, 2015

Tillamook State Forest, OR: If you've ever wondered what land managers are doing to practice Leave No Trace and what issues they face, this interview is for you. In order to better understand specific recreational impacts to Tillamook State Forest and how the Oregon Department of Forestry works to resolve them, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer West Team interviewed Macy Yates, Recreation & Facilities Specialist for Tillamook State Forest. Macy has literally seen it all - from left behind self-made port a potties to piles of litter so vast that you would think you were in a third world country. She has also been apart of many success stories and has a wealth of knowledge surrounding recovery of damaged sites, amongst a variety of other skills. While this interview is specific to Tillamook State Forest, the impacts discussed below provide an insight into issues that are evident across the nation, throughout our parks and in our waterways. 

BEHIND THE SCENES INTERVIEW WITH MACY YATES:

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Macy and Jenna discuss impact at Tillamook State Forest.

J&S: How did you get into this line of work?

Macy: I started my career with the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area in the Young Adult Conservation Corps. I attended the University of Oregon earning a Bachelor of Science in Outdoor Recreation and Park Management. My entire 35 year career has been in parks and recreation management and environmental interpretation serving with the US National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, Oregon State Parks and Oregon Department of Forestry. 

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All in a days work: Macy locks up the storage area after unloading a truck full of tools for an upcoming trail maintenance day.
 

J&S: What does your day-to-day routine look like as a Recreation & Facilities Specialist?

Macy: Depending upon what time of the year it is, I may be working on implementing a variety of facility and trail maintenance projects, conducting grant writing, designing facility improvements and developing long range planning projects. In the summertime I spend nearly all of my time at our trailheads, hiking trails and in our 5 overnight campgrounds, and visiting with campers in our 84 designated dispersed campsites.

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Jenna and Macy take a walk over the Wilson River footbridge to help gain a greater understanding of impacts.

J&S: What are the top three impacts created by forest users in the Tillamook State Forest:

Macy:  1.) Human Waste - surrounding campsites, day use area­s and river banks 2.) Live Tree Damage - chopping, slicing, shooting at and debarking trees of all sizes 3.) User Created Trails - over 30 sites along a 15 mile stretch of the Wilson River (a major coastal salmon river) have trails that head straight for the water, carrying silt and debris directly to the water during rainy periods.

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Live tree damage: Impacts from tree bark being chopped and hacked exist at nearly every campsite in Tillamook State Forest.

J&S: What actions are you able to take as a land manager to mitigate the impacts?

Macy: We continue to work on re-routing trails that drain directly into water sources, but need additional funding and agreements with other agency landowners before some work can be done.

Human waste and tree vandalism are behavioral issues that require a shift in people’s mind-set about what is ethical and responsible behavior. Working with Leave No Trace has been a great opportunity to formulate messages and education strategies to communicate with the general public.

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An example of impacts, in this case the use of paper plate notes, being resolved through education and management in the Tillamook State Forest.

J&S: If you could wave a magic wand and have everyone arrive to the forest with one piece of knowledge what would it be?

Macy:  The human waste problem. People need to understand it doesn’t disappear overnight and they’re not the first, nor the last to visit. Many guests will use these same sites throughout the seasons.

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Macy shows Sam an area on the Wilson River where human waste, along with toilet paper (what's known as the "white roses" of the forest), has been deposited on the surface of the ground in the past. Remember: keep calm and dig a cat hole at least 200 feet from the river, 6 to 8 inches deep. 

J&S: What is the craziest impact you have seen in the forest?

Macy: That’s a toss up with the number of years I have been in on the job. The man-made hot tub on the river has got to be one of the craziest though. What this entailed - Some people created a rock caldron, covered it with painter’s tarp and lined it with plastic. They then ran a hose under the river and up to Wilson Falls to collect water. The water collected flowed into a metal container surrounded by heat coils heated by a propane burner, which then dumped into their “hot tub”. Yes, we made them take it apart and pack it out.

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It is great to see everyone enjoying the waterways in the forest: Remember if you generate trash and waste, please pack it out.

J&S: Can you tell us about an area that was impacted and how you solved it?

For the last three years we have been redesigning riverfront dispersed campsites by moving the camping areas 75 to 100 feet back from the water, fencing perimeters to prevent site expansion and limiting vehicle access with large boulder barriers and designated parking areas. In some cases as funding permits, portable toilets are provided during heavy summer season use. 

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Macy shows Jenna campsites that have been restored through successful management practices.

J&S: What draws you to the Tillamook State Forest?

Macy: Even with our human impact issues, the forest is still a great place to work. My office is 285,000 acres of scenic forests, rivers and home to a great variety of wildlife.

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One of many beautiful views in Macy's office.

Do any of these impacts sound familiar? Take a look around the next time your enjoying your favorite trail or neighborhood park, and the noticeable damage might be shocking. Remember, these are our shared lands and waterways, and if we want to preserve them we must all take care of them. So be a part of the solution, join the movement and practice minimum impact outdoor recreation. 

See you downstream, 

Jenna and Sam

Leave No Trace’s Jenna Hanger and Sam Ovett are part of the 2015 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Deuter, Hi-Cone, REI, Smartwool, The North Face, and Yakima.

Jun 03, 2015

Please fill out our poll on which aspect of each of the Leave No Trace Seven Principles you feel is the most important. 

Thanks for reading and remember to be like the Center’s mascot Bigfoot and Leave No Trace.

Pat and TJ - Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer West Central Team

Leave No Trace’s Patrick and Theresa Beezley are part of the 2015 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Deuter, Hi-Cone, REI, Smartwool, The North Face, and Yakima.

Jun 01, 2015

Little River State Park, VT:  You wake up early, antsy to climb Camel’s Hump Mountain and summit to the 360* view.  Hours later, legs heavy with the repeated squat-like steps up the mountain’s side, you hear the “Sound of the drums, Beating in my heart, The thunder of guns, Tore me apart”.  And suddenly realize, “You've been, Thunderstruck”!

Every year, thousands of hikers are struck by lightening.  Yes.  Thousands.  This week, we decided to discuss different tactics we can do if we find ourselves in a lightning storm.  Please, keep in mind, these are not sure-fire ways to avoid the dangers of a lightning storm, only precautions that may minimize the threat.

“I was caught; In the middle of a railroad track; I looked round; And I knew there was no turning back”

Let us learn from the above lyrics by making a pact to never find ourselves caught, looking around, and finding there is no turning back.  Best way to ensure that happens?  Plan ahead and prepare by avoiding thunderstorms.  In mountainous areas, large storms tend to cumulate in mid-afternoon; knowing this, we can plan our trip accordingly by either hitting the high-peak trails early, summiting/descending before the storm hits or by heading out post-storm.  If post-storm, be aware of slippery terrain and remember to avoid walking around any puddles that may have formed on the trail (stepping to either side can widen the trail, harm surrounding vegetation, or send us into flight due to the slippery terrain).

“Broke all the rules; Played all the fools; Yeah yeah they, they, they blew our minds; And I was shaking at the knees”

Okay, so maybe the weather report was wrong (or perhaps we broke all the rules, figuring the storm would not be that intense) and while on top of the summit that blew our minds, we heard the first boom.  Saw the first strike.  And felt the earth shaking at the knees.  What now?  Well, there are a few things to consider: 

1.  The basic goal of a lightning bolt is to discharge its energy into the ground.  The basic goal of a human is to not be its connection to said ground.  With that in mind…

2. Consider the distance and usefulness of the nearest shelter.  An ideal shelter is not a tent, shed, or out-house.  Rather, it is a 4-walled structure with electricity and plumbing—both which serve as a connection to the ground through which the lightning can discharge its energy.  If, say, there was no nearby shelter, doing the jig down to the car before the storm hits is another option to consider; however, when it is safe to exit the vehicle, be sure to jump with both feet to ensure we do not create a connection between the vehicle and the ground through which the lightning’s energy can travel. 

3.  Get below tree line, avoid tall objects, and nestle low into a dry ravine or depression in the earth.  When doing so, do not lay flat; if lightning strikes nearby, energy can travel through the ground and be harmful to our bodies.  The lower we can get to the earth and the less contact we have with the ground, the better.

Knowing the above could help us while in unpredictable elements; but the only way to ensure our safety is to plan ahead and prepare:  knowing when storm might strike, getting acquainted with the area, pinpointing safety shelters, planning emergency exit routes, and always telling our plans to a family member or friend. 

Post thunder and lightning inspection.

Just recently, the Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer East Central Team was caught in a Vermont thunderstorm which roared through the Little River State Park.  Luckily, after checking the weather, the two decided against hiking one of the famous high peaks in the area; however, there was no chance of avoiding the storm’s tantrum after a large tree fell across the only exit of the park.  With the above knowledge in mind, the two took refuge in parks’ restrooms until the lighting subsided.  This sequence of planning ahead and preparing potentially saved them from an epic.  

“It's alright, we're doin' fine; It's alright, we're doin' fine, fine, fine; Thunderstruck, yeah, yeah, yeah”

So be careful!  Avoid the thunderstorms.  And keep exploring. 

"You've been Thunderstruck”

Katelyn Stutterheim and Blake Jackson

Leave No Trace’s Katelyn Stutterheim and Blake Jackson are part of the 2015 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Coleman, Hi-Cone, The North Face, REI, Smartwool and Yakima.

  

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