For the trails, for the kids

For the trails, for the kids

The Howe-Stokes clan rafts the Wild Rogue, 2017

for the Siskiyou Hiker
by Gabriel Howe, Siskiyou Mountain Club

28 APRIL 2018 | ASHLAND, ORE. — When SMC started as a small group of volunteers back in 2010, I was a newlywed with no kids. Today my son, Carter, is six, and my daughter, Azalea, is four. “Four and a half,” she says.

Youth programming has never been intertwined into our operations. But the work we do might have more to do with kids than you realize. Rewind 100 years.

The Forest Service was in its birth, and building trails was a product of manifest destiny. USGS maps show a labyrinth of trails throughout Southwest Oregon emerging in that time frame. Those trails were fortified and expanded by Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps. The great generation was laying the framework for a national trails system for their children and their grandchildren.

After WWII, huge timber and huge receipts propped up huge recreation programs, and more trails were built throughout our National Forests.

My kids hanging out on the Mule Creek Trail, which before our work in 2015 had eroded and become impassable.

As the great generation aged, who enjoyed these places? Their children, the baby boomers. That generation would lead a renaissance in recreation on public lands. But by the early 2000s the public lands heritage was fading.

Cuts in timber programs lead to agency wide deficits. Those trails that my grandparents’ generation built, and built to last, were starting to fill in and fold up, and nobody was shoring up the gulf in resources. That’s what I encountered in 2006 when I started exploring the deep backwoods of Southwest Oregon.

Howe-Stokes clan on the Chetco

Thousands of trees filled my mapped out routes. Trailheads were derelict. Signs were missing. Our wilderness areas were being choked to death by deferments and fire damage, and there wasn’t then a community driven effort to keep our backcountry and wilderness trails alive.

Now there is, and our crews alone maintain over 250 miles of backcountry and wilderness trails on a three year rotation, and many other groups are stepping in to make a difference.

So if you want to keep your public lands alive, not through attorneys or political campaigns, but through on the ground work, I invite you to join us.

If you want your grand children to be able to explore like you were able to; if you want to leave a legacy like your parents left you, then I invite you to join us as we focus this year on fortifying our own legacy, so our work will last beyond my own tenure, however long that may be.

For the trails, for the people,

Gabriel Howe
Executive Director

P.S. My wife, Jill, and I have made a binding pledge of $1,200 over the next year. It was easy through our easy monthly giving:

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