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My Life on Trails--What a Cougar Taught Me About Conservation

Trails play a major role in the life of many Central Oregonians—whether in city parks or mountain wilderness. But have you ever thought about how those trails came to be? Join 27-year Deschutes National Forest trails specialist John Schubert for an evening on trails. Learn about the rich history of trails and how contemporary design, construction, and maintenance strive to minimize our impacts on nature. Finally, John, renowned trail designer and bridge builder across the country, will share tips on how people who love trails can reduce their own impacts while using them.

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My Life on Trails--What a Cougar Taught Me About Conservation

  1. 1. My Life on Trails — What a Cougar Taught Me about Conservation
  2. 2. Urban Trails Nature is present, but the Human Experience Dominates.
  3. 3. Wildland Trails — Humans visit, but nature dominates.* Tonight we’ll focus on Wildland trails, where I spent my career. (*May be inside or outside designated Wilderness)
  4. 4. Tonight, Let’s Take a Look at : 1. Where Do Trails Come From? 2. Where Do Trails Specialists Come From? 3. Where Did the New Whychus Creek Trails Come From? 4. How Can We All Help Protect Trails? 5. A Few Scenic Photos with Music Finally: Questions and, maybe, Answers.
  5. 5. “The deer were the first; then the elk followed the deer; the Indians followed the elk; trappers next; then army officers came along…” Mathilde Holz & Katherine Bemis, Glacier National Park: Its Trails and Treasures, 1917 1. So, Where Do Wildland Trails Come From? Historically speaking.
  6. 6. Paisley Caves and Rimrock Shelter — the oldest known human occupation sites in North America; ~15,000 years old, are both in Central Oregon! Thus, lots of Indian trails!
  7. 7. .png
  8. 8. Portion of 1855 Map from Lts. Abbot & Williamson RR Survey. “S“ marks Camp Polk Meadow, today a Land Trust Preserve on Whychus Creek near Sisters.
  9. 9. UPSHOT: Indian guides led virtually every early explorer, trapper, and military party along Indian trails. Lewis & Clark had Sacajawea and Billy Chinook led John C. Fremont through Central Oregon.
  10. 10. One of many logging trains used in Central Oregon during the timber boom days, ~1916-1935.
  11. 11. Many RR grades were incorporated into forest roads, and a few into trails! Look along the Deschutes River Trail, Peter Skeen Ogden Trail, and others, for the distinctive raised grades for the long gone tracks.
  12. 12. Livestock, especially sheep, were trailed from the desert to mountain summer pastures in the late 1800’s. — some of the eroded trails can still be found.
  13. 13. During the1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps, from their base near the Metolius headwaters, built many trails, some up to fire lookouts such as this one on Black Butte. In popular places, fishermen create trails with their feet.
  14. 14. Old maps are a treasure trove of information about historic trails.
  15. 15. Changes in the Landscape Trails Sometimes Arise & Pass Away —Here at Alder Springs the trail survives because of its popularity.
  16. 16. Despite valiant efforts of many volunteers and Forest Service trail crews, nature is reclaiming some of the Mt. Jefferson wilderness trails. Massive 2003 B&B fire in Mt. Jefferson Wilderness gave rise to explosion of Snowbrush!
  17. 17. My favorite local history books that include stories of early trails. Lots more if you dig.
  18. 18. 2: So, Where Do Trails Specialists Come From? Or this one, anyway. And what do they do?
  19. 19. 1963: Moving east to Maryland. — via the Grand Canyon 1950’s : An Oregon Family — Outdoorsy, like most then.
  20. 20. In Maryland, we found Sycamore Island Canoe Club on the Potomac River, and I found trail work there!
  21. 21. 1974-1987 13 Years exploring 10 outdoor careers in 7 states and 3 countries. Last Stop: Fiji as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
  22. 22. Fijian Trails Uh oh, better learn more about trails ! After 3 1/2 years overseas, we landed in Bend in 1987. And I found my home and a career on Trails that have lasted 30 years, so far.
  23. 23. Timber Mentor: Carroll Vogel * Founder & Chief Instructor SCA Wilderness Work Skills. *Hired us to lead our first crew. *Taught me to build joinery bridges. *Lit my fire for trail work, and for passing the torch!
  24. 24. Timber “tools of the trade” in Wilderness (and everywhere during extreme fire conditions) — no motors allowed!
  25. 25. My first simple trail bridge — Grand Teton National Park 1988. After further training and practice….
  26. 26. No Crosscut felling and peeling a lodgepole pine. 1991: Joinery Bridge for the new North Fork Trail, upstream from Tumalo Falls.
  27. 27. Flattening the deck.
  28. 28. The detail work begins —
  29. 29. Mortice & tenon handrails.
  30. 30. Static rope and rescue blocks “fly” the stringers across the creek…
  31. 31. Where it is re-assembled — no steel, just wood !
  32. 32. Probably my favorite bridge ever, but alas….
  33. 33. 2008: Seventeen years later, the bridge failed. So, we skied in to figure out why.
  34. 34. More training in rigging. And bring in the engineers!
  35. 35. “Rigging”— Moving big logs is a fun and sometimes scary challenge. Here COTA crew gets after it on South Fork Trail.
  36. 36. Construction on snow to protect fragile vegetation, and to get it done before snowmelt brought visitors.
  37. 37. Finished new Middle Fk. footbridge — Forest Engineer Bob Deane inspecting. Hoping for 30 + years. We’ll see. Mother Nature may have other plans.
  38. 38. Rock Mentor: Bob Birkby * Author of Lightly on the Land (and every Boy Scout manual!). * Taught me to move big rocks & how to build with them. * Inspired me always to carry a pennywhistle, and to write about trail work.
  39. 39. 1988 Teton National Park SCA youth crew— turning disorder into a stock trail, with just rock bars, brains & muscle.
  40. 40. 2009: Trail development for BLM at Otter Bench.
  41. 41. Rock Steps on Otter Bench spur trail.
  42. 42. nnnn Not a trail for everybody, but …this gal is blind !
  43. 43. “ .” -- “ .” -- Sisters Trails Alliance Volunteers show how it’s done. Trail Rock Maxim: “If you can pick it up alone, it’s way too small.”
  44. 44. “ .” -- “ .” -- What could be more fun than this?
  45. 45. Restoration Mentor: Tim Tunison * National Park Service Restoration Ecologist * Taught me to love plants, field research and how to help heal damaged landscapes.
  46. 46. Ripping compacted soil to allow moisture to penetrate, seeds to germinate, and roots & plants to grow!
  47. 47. “ .” -- “ .” -- In 2009, ONDA volunteers rake in seed, plant native grasses and shrubs, and add woody material to discourage walking in the area.
  48. 48. Here in 2016, seven years later at new Scout Camp Trailhead — Road is gone!
  49. 49. Local Native Plant Nurseries make it all possible!
  50. 50. Sean Connelly installs one of many rock water bars on Scout Camp Trail to divert water that could erode the trail and carry sediment into the river. Trail Maxim “Three greatest threats to trails: water, water & water”
  51. 51. “Get the water out of the trail, or the trail out of the water.” “Learn to imagine water flowing even on a sunny day.”
  52. 52. Paying it forward. Instructing Trail Work Skills for new crew leaders around the country.
  53. 53. Cuttin’ it Up !
  54. 54. Americans sent to Siberia! — to assist with trail design on the Great Baikal Trail.
  55. 55. And the Russians came to America to learn about trails in Central Oregon.
  56. 56. Tanya and Svetlana joined in with new American trail crew leaders for training in Washington State.
  57. 57. 3.Where Did the new Whychus Creek trails Come From? A Brief Tale of “Modern” Trails (Oh, and something about a cougar.)
  58. 58. Whychus — “the place we cross the water” also, “the way to the mountains”
  59. 59. This is too close for comfort.
  60. 60. In 1988 Congress, at the request of Sisters residents, designated the uppermost 15 miles of Whychus Creek as a Wild & Scenic River.
  61. 61.
  62. 62. One of Many High Impact Creekside Campsites that Shed Dirt Directly into Whychus Creek
  63. 63. One of many party sites.
  64. 64. Even archeological sites were vandalized and adopted for parties, rock climbing and camping.
  65. 65. Meanwhile, others enjoyed the beauty of the area.
  66. 66. The area is rich in wildlife
  67. 67. The team of “ologists” included: Hydrologist, Ecologist, Fisheries and Wildlife Biologists, Archeologist, Landscape Architect, Engineer, Recreation Planner and behind the camera, a Trail Designer (that would be me).
  68. 68. District Ranger and Ecologist discuss concerns about proposed trail with Appellant. Ecologist reviews rock climber concerns.
  69. 69. “ .” -- “ .” --
  70. 70. The next day, we set to work.
  71. 71. “Same site after tilling, seeding, planting, and 5 years of rest.” 2010 Eroding into the creek.
  72. 72. “ .” -- The narrow trail we built, in 5 years widened significantly from heavy traffic.
  73. 73. News Flash! Just last week sign of cougar have re-appeared on Whychus Creek trails!
  74. 74. 4: How Can We Help Protect Wildland Trails and the Nature they are intended to protect ?
  75. 75. More important than anything, we all need to become better educated about best Leave No Trace practices., And, we need to find ways to share our knowledge with others in respectful ways that draw them in. “May I share something with you?….” We must create a shared culture of appreciation and respect for nature, in balance with, not overwhelmed by humans.
  76. 76. Become a stewardship volunteer! Deschutes Land Trust, Friends of Central Cascades Wilderness, Oregon Natural Desert Assn.
  77. 77. Join a volunteer trail crew! High Cascades Forest Vols., Sisters Trails Alliance…
  78. 78. Become a Weed Warrior ! With a group such as the Deschutes Land Trust, or on your own. Join John’s War on Mullein in Wildlands !
  79. 79. A COUGAR WAS REPORTED SEEN IN THIS AREA ON IF YOU ENCOUNTER A COUGAR... STOP Never approach a cougar at any time for any reason. STAY CALM Face the cougar and do not turn your back towards it. Do not run. Running encourages it to chase. APPEAR LARGE Make yourself look large. Do not bend over or crouch down. Raise your hands. Hold your coat open. Hold small children. FIGHT BACK Fight back if attacked. MAKE NOISE Make noise while hiking to reduce the chance of surprising a cougar. KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE Always keep children close by and in sight. AVOID WALKING ALONE Report all sightings to local Oregon State Police or Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife BE ADVISED Always visit the trailhead bulletin board for important messages, such as cougar notices….
  80. 80. Always carry the Ten Essentials !
  81. 81. Getting feet wet at stream crossings can be fun & safe! Piling up logs and rocks, harms the stream AND makes for a slippery unstable crossing.
  82. 82. Reduce damage to trails with rubber caps for trekking poles & keep points on trail tread. Try just using just one pole.
  83. 83. Help Keep Wild Animals Healthy and Wild! Don’t share food with critters. Watch with binoculars and use a telephoto lens.
  84. 84. Staying on trails reduces more impact than any other single action.
  85. 85. Choose a trail carefully that suits the group and its goals. Big social group? Choose a wide durable trail outside wildlands.
  86. 86. Transition slide needed Walk single file on wildland trails.
  87. 87. Never cut switchbacks.
  88. 88. Gather on durable (already impacted) surfaces; not vegetated ones.
  89. 89. Marking off trail routes and social trails detracts from discovery and adventure. Please don’t blog or post GPS tracks of off trail hikes. They both diminish wildness and damage nature. Wildlands Need More Secrets
  90. 90. Traveling Off Trail ? Small group. Spread out. Tread lightly, avoid plants, step only on dirt, rock, snow… Please not on fragile plants. Be aware.
  91. 91. Stay off fragile vegetation & living desert soils. Stay on disturbed ground.
  92. 92. Cairns and abandoned flagging mar wilderness.
  93. 93. A digital world is not a wild world. Carry a map, not a smart phone in the wild.
  94. 94. Tempting as it was, this stone axe belongs exactly where I found it.
  95. 95. Ah, dog owners on wildland trails — pick up or bury the poop, keep dog on leash, or the cougars will sort it out.
  96. 96. Early season hiking while snow is still on trails leads to this on Tam Rim and similar places.
  97. 97. Parking lot full? — seek a quieter trailhead. Join organizations that support wildlands and participate in Forest Service and BLM wilderness planning under way!
  98. 98. Looking to the futuree of Central Oregon Wildlands!
  99. 99. “Uncertainty is the heart of adventure.” — Robert Moore, On Trails: An Exploration
  100. 100. “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.” -- John Muir
  101. 101. “Every time I go there, it’s like walking into heaven.” -- John Roskelly
  102. 102. “Going to the mountains, is like going home.” John Muir
  103. 103. “ The chief reason for preserving wilderness is they are great reservoirs of the serene order of nature…” —Donald Culross Peattie
  104. 104. “The path is made in the walking of it.” — Zhuangzi
  105. 105. Transition slide needed
  106. 106. “Less talk. More rock.” — Bob Birkby
  107. 107. “What the river says, that is what I say.” William Stafford
  108. 108. change image
  109. 109. Replace image
  110. 110. “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” Loren Eiseley
  111. 111. “A path is a way of making sense of the world.” Robert Moor, On Trails
  112. 112. “Let us go singing as far as we go; the road will be less tedious.” —Virgil
  113. 113. “The earth is our home away from home; we should strive to leave it in better shape than we found it.” Jim Anderson
  114. 114. “Here in wilderness, I can better hear my own heart.” -- Doug Scott, Our Wilderness: America’s Common Ground
  115. 115. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.” — Robert Frost
  116. 116. My nephew, following his own life on trails.
  117. 117. “Trail Work is a blend of engineering, ecology, psychology, craft, and art. And, a colossal amount of labor, ideally, labor of love.”
  118. 118. “Trails lead us to beauty, knowledge, health and inspiration. They are designed, built and maintained by the work of thousands of professionals and volunteers — for which, I am profoundly grateful to be a part.”
  119. 119. And tonight, I’m grateful for your interest! I’d be happy to hear your questions and thoughts.