A Day of Trail Restoration and Camaraderie

on National Public Lands Day

by Amber Card,
a Glide resident, military daughter and an active community member

On September 23, 2023, in honor of National Public Lands Day, Source One Serenity and the Forest Service joined hands for a day of trail clearing and maintenance in the Umpqua National Forest. The day began with a 9 a.m. rendezvous at the Diamond Lake Campground, where a diverse group of individuals, all united by a shared dedication to preserving our public lands, gathered.

As the morning sun battled through the smoky haze, around 15 eager participants convened near the Diamond Lake Visitor Center, their faces alight with anticipation. Wayne Chevalier, the Trail Crew Supervisor of the Umpqua National Forest, took the lead, imparting essential safety guidelines.

The day's activities kicked off with an essential task - determining who among us was certified to operate a chainsaw on the trails. Soon, crews were swiftly organized for each trail, and at the Rodley Trailhead, three cutting teams emerged, armed with chainsaws to clear fallen trees from the Rodley Trail. Among these teams, one member, equipped with a chainsaw, focused on a specific area scouted earlier by a member of the USFS. The attention was concentrated on two trails in desperate need of maintenance: Porcupine Creek and Rodley Trail.

With a determined effort, the Porcupine Nature Trail was not only cleared but also meticulously graveled, with the help of some essential equipment. As the day unfolded, it was evident that every participant was deeply committed to the cause. Their presence was a testament to their dedication; after all, they wouldn't have been there otherwise. People eagerly formed teams, each person's familiarity with one another indicating that many had previously participated in events organized by the Forest Service or Source One Serenity.

I personally felt there was a bit of curiosity towards myself, being the new face in the group. Although, as names were exchanged, faces could now be put with recognized team members' names. By the end of lunch, I noticed a distinct shift began in the form of camaraderie. It was heartwarming to see everyone join together for a purposeful cause. Rusty, a seasoned hand, assisted a younger female volunteer. He patiently guided her through the intricacies of using a chainsaw, demonstrating cutting techniques and tree awareness.

It was a moment of shared learning, highlighting the supportive atmosphere that permeated the event. There was laughter and encouragement as we recognized that learning was all part of the process.

During lunch, I had the pleasure of sitting with the Porcupine Trail crew, engaging in lively conversation. It was a chance to connect with fellow nature enthusiasts, share experiences, and revel in the satisfaction of contributing to the community's enjoyment of these natural spaces.

The sense of accomplishment was palpable. Though there might have been physical tiredness, it was eclipsed by the emotional rejuvenation gained from a day spent in the forest, laboring together. Personally, my favorite escapes are places where cell phone service is a distant memory. Stepping away from the demands of daily life is rejuvenating in itself. The absence of cell service and social media access creates a unique kind of recharge - a sense of freedom from constant digital tethering.

In the end, it's not just about the work; it's about the bond forged through shared effort and the profound connection to nature that lingers long after the day concludes. This experience reinforced the importance of such initiatives, reminding us all that preserving our public lands is a collective responsibility, one that each person present that day took to heart.

Reflecting on the day's work, it became evident how crucial it is to preserve these natural havens. The events of 2020, particularly the Archie Creek Fire, served as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of our pristine environments. Over the last decade, Douglas County has grappled with an increasing number of wildfires, prompting a sobering realization that our cherished habitats are not invulnerable.

These experiences were eye-opening for many, including myself. They served as a wake-up call, forcing us to confront the aftermath of such natural disasters and the need for diligent cleanup efforts. It begged the question - who shoulders the responsibility of maintaining our public lands in the wake of such events?