NFF Supports New Mexico Natural Resource Conservation Projects

Funding through NFF’s Matching Awards Program and Ski Conservation Fund has made it possible for Forest Guild in New Mexico to increase the capacity of their Youth Conservation Corps. Youth from rural, forest-based communities gained summer employment, training and job experience in natural resource management through this program. Each of the past two summers, they implemented a comprehensive set of natural resource conservation projects on six different Forest Service Ranger Districts in New Mexico involving approximately 45 youth, from seven different counties..

In 2014, the Carson, Cibola, and Santa Fe National Forests benefitted from the successful leverage of funds from the NFF’s Matching Awards Program, which included in-kind and cash donations from the state funded New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps Grant Program and the McCune Charitable Trust, as well as an award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation “Next Generation of Conservationists”. Results included 27 miles of trail maintained or improved, 11 miles of fence constructed or repaired, 155 acres of fuel reduction completed, and 205 acres treated for invasive plants.

Forest Guild

In 2013, through the generous donations of guests at Ski Apache in partnership with the National Forest Foundation’s Ski Conservation Fund, Forest Guild’s Youth Corps accomplished 6.5 miles of road decommissioned, 167 campsites maintained, 280 acres of invasive species, 25 trees or shrubs planted, 15 acres of recreation damage restored, and 4 bear cans installed.

The Youth Conservation Corps program consists of many crews on six different districts, and in 2014 five of the eight crews worked in Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) program landscapes such as the Zuni Mountain and Southwest Jemez CFLR. On the Santa Fe National Forest, Jemez Ranger District, the crews assisted with management of archaeological sites in restoration areas and helped monitor and repair riparian fencing that protects the newly listed meadow jumping mouse.

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Six of the “Greenest” National Forests

St. Patrick's Day has us all thinking green. Our National Forests may not always look green but they're certainly doing 'green' things all year round. In honor of the holiday, we selected some of our National Forests where you're most likely to see green. 

 

Olympic National Forest, Washington
Surrounding Olympic National Park, Olympic National Forest receives about 220 inches (more than 18 feet!) of precipitation every year.

Olympic National Forest

 

 

Tongass National Forest, Alaska
The Tongass, our largest National Forest, contains the largest remaining temperate rainforest on the planet.

Tongass National Forest

 

 

Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon
Along the central Oregon Coast, the Siuslaw extends from the Pacific Ocean into the wet Coast Range Mountains.

Siuslaw National Forest

 

 

Idaho Panhandle National Forest, Idaho
Up in North Idaho, the Idaho Panhandle National Forest is a moist forest type, influenced by maritime air masses riding prevailing winds from the coast. Some areas receive up to 80 inches of precipitation annually.

Idaho Panhandle National Forests
Photo by Susan K. Beard

 

 

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
While not green for all of the seasons, the Pisgah is painted green come spring once the heavily forested slopes of hardwood come to life.

Pisgah National Forest
Photo by Jeff Clark

 

 

Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont 
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include a National Forest with green in its very name! The forest lies within the Green Mountains of Vermont with elevations over 4,000 feet.

Green Mountain National Forest

 

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Fire Lookouts in Oregon + a Few Tips on Booking Your Own

We asked experienced lookout user, Kat Dierickx, Marketing Director for Outdoor Project, for some insight into one of the best outdoor experiences available. Explore some of her favorite lookouts in Oregon and start planning your trip today.

The cold wind whistles outside, a cracking fire warms the air, and the stillness of the surroundings puts your soul at ease. It doesn't matter how you get there, an overnight stay at a fire lookout is an adventure I highly recommend. Your adventure to the lookout will be filled with skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking through the National Forest, followed by a 360-degree sunset view as you prepare your evening feast. When the sky darkens, grab your nightcap and step outside for some of the best stargazing you'll ever get.

Early fire detection became a priority for the Forest Service after the devastating fires of 1910. Fire lookouts soon appeared in National Forests all over the country to help aid detection. Lookout operators reported fires using telephones, carrier pigeons, and heliographs. While the Forest Service carrier pigeons have all retired, a number of the fire lookouts are still in working order and are manned during fire season. Once the fire season dies down, the lookouts become available to the public for overnight stays. There are 20 such lookouts in Oregon alone.

Booking a fire lookout can be a tedious task as they are growing in popularity and the experience is high in demand. All lookouts can be booked online at recreation.gov. Here are a few tips to help the search and score yourself a night, or two, in a 40-foot-tall historic lookout.

  • Be flexible. Take one of those unused vacation days and head out during the week.
  • Lookouts can be reserved up to six months in advance, so set a reminder on your calendar to look earlier in the year and early in the day.
  • If you want to go for the weekend, look on a Thursday. The reservations open by day, and if you book on the last open Thursday, you can book through the weekend even if it's not actually available yet.
  • Check in often because people often cancel their reservations at the last minute. You may be able to nab a reservation just as it opens up.

Here are a few of my favorite lookouts in Oregon.

Flag Point:  This lookout located in the Mount Hood National Forest is my absolutely favorite so far. The hike in is riddled with one view after another until to reach the lookout, which has the best view of them all. Mount Hood is front and center outside the front door. The wood shed is fully stocked, and the stove and propane lights make for a wonderful ambiance for relaxing the night away.

Photo by Kat Dierickx
Flag Point Lookout in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Photo by Kat Dierickx, Outdoor Project.

 

Clear Lake Butte : This is another gem in the Mount Hood National Forest. Again, boasting beautiful views of Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson and Timothy Lake. The trek to the tower is short, but steep enough to encourage a light load.

Photo by Halvor Tweto
Clear Lake Lookout in the Mount Hood National Forest. Photo by Halvor Tweto, Outdoor Project.

 

Pickett Butte : I was able to drive right up to this lookout when I visited the end of November. Even though Pickett Butte is fairly accessible by vehicle, the stairs are quite steep making it a bit more difficult for kids or pets. I actually had to have my dog sleep in the car.

Photo by Kat Dierickx
Pickett Butte Lookout in the Umpqua National Forest. Photo by Kat Dierickx, Outdoor Project.
Photo by Kat Dierickx
Pickett Butte Lookout in the Umpqua National Forest. Photo by Kat Dierickx, Outdoor Project.

 

Fivemile Butte : Fivemile is available all year long and beautiful all year long. Though the mountain views aren’t quite the same as at other lookouts, the tower stands even with the trees around it giving a different sense of seclusion. Seeing as it doesn’t still function as an operated lookout, the trees have not been trimmed to maintain a further line of sight.

Photo by Eric Guth
Fivemile Butte Lookout in the Mount Hood National Forest. Photo by Eric Guth, Outdoor Project.

 

Warner Mountain : The trek to Warner Mountain is a nice 12-mile trail primed for skiing and snowshoeing making this feel like one of the most remote lookouts in Oregon. The trip in is most certainly worth it as the views from the 40-foot tower will take your breath away.

Photo by Jessica Beauchemin
Warner Mountain Fire Lookout in the Willamette National Forest. Photo by Jessica Beauchemin, Outdoor Project.

Pack up your gear, leave your gadgets, and head to one of these unique escapes on top of the world (or what feels like it, anyway). You won't be disappointed.

 

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Powder Hounds and Access to Play

This blog post was inspired by  Cutting Lines by Solomon Freeski TV, which describes the unique relationship between active forest management and skiing on Canada’s forested lands.  

With 60 percent of all alpine skiing happening on National Forests, powder hounds are recreating on many National Forest lands. The U.S. Forest Service and the ski industry have enjoyed a unique history since the first ski resorts – Sun Valley, Alta, and others –opened. However, the origins of recreational access for skiing, hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, or any other use is more complex than you might expect.

Alpine skiing

In the U.S., access to skiable terrain is often available via the same roads that were built long ago to connect mining outposts and timber towns with forest-based industrial activities that take place on some National Forests. While roads that access ski resorts are well-maintained, some of the other roads are no longer maintained and cause damage to ecosystems. From sending sediment into streams and rivers, to promoting the spread of invasive weeds, these problem roads will degrade our streams and rivers unless they are decommissioned. Other roads are important portals to backcountry access, and should be repaired as needed and maintained properly in the future.

What is the National Forest Foundation doing?

As part of the Ski Conservation Fund, a signature partnership between the National Forest Foundation and the ski industry, the National Forest Foundation matches every $10 contributed by ski resort visitors with an additional $5. The NFF then invests the funds in projects back on the National Forest where the resort operates. On 11 National Forests across the U.S., Ski Conservation Fund projects are keeping trails open, improving recreational access, reducing invasive species, rehabilitating overused recreation areas, and making sure powder hounds still have plenty of places to play.

Cottonwood Canyons Foundation

For your next ski vacation, book your travel with one of the National Forest Foundation’s Ski Conservation Fund partners. Learn more here.

Another way to get involved…

Around the country, National Forests are also revising their land and resource management plans under the new 2012 forest planning rule. The revision process will determine where lines are drawn on the map for multiple values – logging, mining…and play. Participating in a forest planning process is a great way to learn more about recreational access, share your knowledge about local roads and recreational access, and plan for future recreational designations.

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