This past July, an Outward Bound California (OBCA) crew of teens took part in a service project around shimmering Rae Lake. This project, located in Sierra National Forest, was the first in a series of service days that crews would be participating in thanks to the National Forest Foundation's Matching Awards Program—which funded stipends for two Wilderness Ranger Interns and projects around reducing human impact in the wilderness.
Rikki Dunn, one of OBCA’s instructors, was part of the project’s pilot in 2014. “An ethic of service is an outcome of every Outward Bound course and it is important that the projects are applicable to the course experience,” Dunn explained. “This partnership with the Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will dramatically improve our ability to provide meaningful service projects for students. It also allows students to interact with Forest Service staff, creating positive relationships between wilderness management and public users.”
“With this grant, we have the resources to work on trail maintenance, meadow monitoring, surveying endangered wildlife, and deconstructing campsites from sensitive areas.”
Several years ago, Dunn was a Wilderness Ranger Intern in Washington, an experience which he says gave him the strong wilderness ethic that he now shows students. “I teach low impact travel and camping techniques. The connection they make with the course area amplifies the service project buy-in which in turn gets students giving back to their communities at home.”
During last month’s first service project, students learned that in Wilderness Areas, like the one in which Rae Lake is located, campfires are prohibited. The goal is to reestablish the natural space around the lake. Students used serrated ‘silky’ saws to remove stumps from the dirt and moved logs away from the lake’s edge. They picked up bits of trash, scattered ashes, and rolled unnaturally placed rocks back to the mountain’s edge.
Collin Farmer, one of the Wilderness Ranger Interns working that day, explained his role this summer. “With this grant, we have the resources to work on trail maintenance, meadow monitoring, surveying endangered wildlife, and deconstructing campsites from sensitive areas.”
The energetic crew of teenagers cleared six campsites in two hours. When asked how they felt completing the morning’s mission, Donna, a high school junior, said, “It feels good to give back to a place that I have grown to love.” Outward Bound California appreciates the National Forest Foundation for their support in creating a generation of environmental stewards by working on real needs in the backcountry.