Youth in Action: Linking the Community to the Continental Divide Trail

Southwest Conservation Corps , in partnership with the Pike-San Isabel National Forest and funded in part by the National Forest Foundation, restored 5.7 miles of the Greens Creek Trail linking to the Continental Divide Trail .

Motorcycles and off-highway vehicles severely degraded the trail and impacted the watershed and habitat health. Significant restoration efforts included stream crossing, trail tread and talus slope reconstruction, as well as the repair and protection of wet sections by providing trail drains, check dams, and other drainage structures. Finally, the elimination of braided trails and re-vegetation with native plants and shrubs provides a sustainable and safe trail system to support the local economy that relies on their use.

Greens Creek is an important access point to the Continental Divide Trail and the well-known Monarch Crest which attracts numerous visitors to the area each year. Nearby communities are supported by the tourist-based economy that benefits from the safe and sustainable trails throughout the forest. The 2013 Southwest Conservation Corps crews contributed to the maintenance and restoration that provides safe and sustainable trial networks.

National Forest conservation groups such as the Southwest Conservation Corps depend on Youth Corps Crews to assist with the annual maintenance of recreation trails. They provide transformative experiences beyond the environmental impact like job skills and lifelong environmental stewardship ethics. Youth are often flexible for seasonal employment supporting the much needed trail restoration and recreation work that occurs in the summer months when snow has melted and the heavy rains have subsided in most of the country. Job training and education in conservation and land management provide rich experiences for many of the youth corps members.

Crew 274 with Brazilian guests
Danielle breaking rock
Educating on the trail



Chicago Youth Celebrate Conservation Success at Midewin and Look Ahead to This Summer

Mix together a passionate environmental science teacher, inner city students that need real life work experience and a National Tallgrass Prairie and what do you get?

The Midewin Youth Corps Program!


Eight high school students from North Lawndale College Prep (NLCP) formed a teacher-led work crew at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie where they supported a variety of conservation projects. Last summer’s conservation results included:

  • 482 ft of trail maintained around the Welcome Center 
  • Bolder placement at Hoff Road Trailhead
  • Area of 3,100 square ft of seed planted at the Hoff Road Trailhead
  • Area of 1,300 square ft of vegetative overgrowth cut
  • 4.25 acres of Seed Collection
  • And more…

And thanks to generous support from the Exelon Foundation , not one but two youth crews from NLCP will work at Midewin this summer. With a total of 16 students working this summer we’ll be able to double our conservation results and expos eight additional students to this incredible experience out at Midewin.



14 Best Places to Canoe and Kayak on National Forests

With hundreds of miles of designated Wild and Scenic Rivers on our National Forests, not to mention stunning lakes, you don't need to look too far for a great paddle experience near you. 

Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook !

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Superior National Forest, Minnesota

One of the most famous paddles in the country if not the most famous is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota. The Area contains more than 1200 miles of canoe routes and upwards of 2000 campsites.  More info.  



Prince William Sound
Chugach National Forest, Alaska

The next time you head up to Alaska, be sure to plan to kayak Prince William Sound where you’ll be surrounded by towering glaciers and joined by orcas. Within the sound, sixteen rustic Forest Service cabins offer respite during your journey on the Chugach.  More info.  

Prince William Sound
Photo by Elisabeth Gustafson


Juniper Run
Ocala National Forest, Florida

Paddle down seven miles of the Juniper Run within the Ocala National Forest. Crystal clear waters will steer you through a lush landscape before widening downstream. For a small fee you can be shuttled back up to your car.  More info.  

Juniper Run Canoe Launch
Photo by Sandra Friend


Eleven Point National Scenic River
Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri

In 1968 the Eleven Point National Scenic River was established as a Wild and Scenic River. Grab your canoe for a meandering journey through the stunning Ozark hills of southern Missouri. Along the river, you can camp at one of eight camps.  More info.  

Eleven Point NSR


AuSable, Manistee, Pere Marquette and Pine, White River
Huron-Manistee National Forest, Michigan

The Huron-Manistee is home to five Congressionally designated Wild and Scenic rivers, all feature a beautiful landscape. The Pine River has the faster average flow of any river in lower Michigan which can induce light rapids. The Manistee appeals to anglers searching for salmon, steelhead, brown trout, small mouth bass and walleye. More info.  

Pere Marquette River


Indian River Canoe Trail
Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

In the upper peninsula of Michigan, check out the 51 mile-long Indian River, a Wild and Scenic River as of 1992. The canoe trail features canyon-like banks, sharp curves and broad marshland reaches. You’ll be surrounded by northern hardwoods, mixed conifers and rolling hills. Camping is also available to extend your journey over a few days. More info.  

Indian River


Wambaw Creek Wilderness Canoe Trail
Francis Marion National Forest, South Carolina

Just north of Charleston, South Carolina, the Wambaw Creek Wilderness Canoe Trail features majestic cypress tupelo stands and abundant wildlife. Take note that the creek is tidal and about three hours later than Charleston.  More info.  



Tyger River Canoe Trail
Sumter National Forest, South Carolina

Take a float down the Tyger River Canoe Trail on the Sumter National Forest in Northwestern South Carolina. Along the way you’ll have ample opportunities to see a variety of wildlife and birds. More info.  

Tyger River Canoe Trail


Clearwater Canoe Trail
Lolo National Forest, Montana

Take the afternoon and float the Clearwater River Canoe Trail near Seeley Lake, Montana. The slow-moving waterway is part of a chain of lakes in the Seeley-Swan area of Western Montana. As you paddle down, you won’t be lacking for views of surrounding mountains.

More info.

Rainy Lake
Rainy Lake, near the Clearwater Canoe Trail. Photo by Wes Swaffar

Mulberry River
Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

If you find yourself in the Ozarks, make time to float the Mulberry River, a beautiful and wild mountain stream flowing through the Ozark National Forest. Make your launch at the Redding Recreation Area complete with a developed campground and access to hiking.  More info.  



Lake Chelan
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington 

Lake Chelan stretches fifty miles through the North Cascades with the picturesque down of Chelan at the base. Paddle your way up the lake and relax at one of the 25 campsites on the shore or explore the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness.  More info.  

Lake Chelan


North Fork Flathead River
Flathead National Forest, Montana 

Alongside Glacier National Park, the North Fork of the Flathead flows cool and clear. Peaks from Glacier will watch you as you float by along one of the most scenic places in the country.  More info.  

North Fork Flathead


Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, California and Nevada

Spanning California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe’s iconic landscape and surroundings make it ideal for your next paddling vacation. With campgrounds and hiking a plenty, you won’t be lacking for adventure on and around the lake.  More info.  

Lake Tahoe
Photo by Michelle Turner


Green River
Ashley National Forest

Speaking from personal experience, the Green River was one of the most fun river experiences I’ve ever had. Just down the way from the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, the Green features rugged scenery and cold, cold water.  More info.  

green river


California's rivers were too hard to pick from!

Mokelumne – Eldorado/Stanislaus National Forest
Truckee River – Tahoe National Forest
Upper Sacramento – Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Klamath – Klamath National Forest


Upper Goat Creek Bridge Replacement Vital to Watershed and Local Economy

The recent reconstruction of the Upper Goat Creek Bridge on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is a great example of how the National Forest Foundation works with the Forest Service and local partners to make a positive difference on National Forest lands.

The Methow Valley is known for having the most extensive network of groomed cross-country ski trails in the nation, attracting recreational skiers and Olympians in training alike to the gorgeous valley surrounded by the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. In the summer trekkers, bikers, horseback riders and runners extensively use the 120-mile Methow Valley Sport Trails System, over 50 percent of which is located on National Forest. It is a vital component of the local, recreation-based, economy.

The Upper Goat Creek Bridge, located on National Forest land, is a critical link on this trail system, allowing passage over Goat Creek, and connecting one of the major portions of the trail network. Each year 50,000 users cross the bridge, and it is on the course of nine different race/sporting events. So in 2012, when the 20 year-old bridge was closed to all users due to safety issues, it threatened the local economy by limiting access to popular trails.

Goat Creek itself provides critical habitat for threatened species of bull trout and salmon. The old bridge was impeding the stream channel, which meant during periods of high water there were incidents of stream blockage and channel over-flow, and potential for bridge damage, all of which can degrade both upstream and downstream critical habitat.

old bridge
Pieces of the old bridge about to be removed.
old bridge takedown
Machinery removes large pieces of the old bridge. 

Replacement of the Upper Goat Creek Bridge was a project that fit well with the NFF’s mission to promote both the health of and the public enjoyment of our National Forests. So, we partnered with the Forest Service and the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association to redesign and reconstruct the bridge.

new bridge
The start of the new bridge.
new bridge
new bridge from river
The complete bridge ready for hikers and skiers. 

The bridge replacement, part of the NFF’s Majestic Methow Treasured Landscapes campaign, was completed in 2013, reconnecting the trail system for the 2013-2014 ski season. The new bridge allows for unimpeded stream flow, protecting the habitat critical for threatened fish species. This project has resulted in happy skiers and recreationalists, happy fish and happy business owners. And we are happy to have helped it happen!

To learn more about the Majestic Methow Treasured Landscapes campaign, visit or contact Dayle Wallien at 206-832-8280 or