Page 1

Treasured Landscapes | Unforgettable Experiences








Since 2009, the National Forest Foundation’s Tree for Me™ program has been providing individuals and companies with a unique opportunity to help restore our amazing legacy of National Forests. For every $1 donated, the NFF can plant a tree to restore National Forests that have experienced wildfires, insects, disease, and other natural deforestation events.

The National Forest Foundation and You

Growing a Better Tomorrow for our National Forests! Trees on our National Forests provide many benefits…

Oxygen. One acre of mature trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people


Carbon dioxide sequestration. One acre of mature trees can absorb up

to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide in a year, the equivalent of driving a car for about 5 months.

Clean water. By filtering rainfall and snowmelt, capturing sediment and

pollutants, trees are critically important to the 123 million Americans who depend on National Forests for their clean water.

Habitat. Hundreds of species depend on healthy forests. FUN! Vibrant National Forests provide the best outdoor recreation out there. A Tree for You, A Tree for a Friend Tree-planting makes a great gift, a powerful memorial, a meaningful way to recognize a valuable employee, or a lasting way to thank someone special.

Participation in Tree

for Me™ is simple.

Just head to the NFF’s Web site,, and decide how many trees you’d like to plant. Or call us at 406-830-3355.

There’s truly no easier way to give back to your National Forests!

Your donations are fully tax-deductible, and you (and any gift recipients you choose) will receive confirmation of your tree-planting contribution.

Join the thousands of individuals who play a part in helping to care for your National Forests everyday. If you’re one of the millions who love to camp, hike, ski, hunt, fish, or paddle, we invite you to stay informed and get involved.


These forests belong to each of us. With use comes a responsibility to care for your National Forests. How will you exercise that responsibility? As a Friend of the Forest®, we’ll show you how. Become a Friend of the Forest® at

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at: Sign up for free tree-mail TM at:



A backyard for all

DEPARTMENTS 5 Volunteer Perspective

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado

6 Forest News

Updates from our National Forests

14 Field Reports

National Forest Foundation partners in action

23 Corporate Partners

Companies team up with NFF to be good stewards

24 Sights Set on Conservation

Sporting clays event

25 Kids & Nature

Campfire cooking for kids

26 Treasured Landscapes

Tujunga Canyon travelogue

28 Voices from the Forest

Growing up in Leopold’s land


32 Forest Perspectives

Helistat airship log remover


Protecting America’s fisheries

YOUR NATIONAL FORESTS Official Magazine of the National Forest Foundation

Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Schoonen Consulting Editor Darcy Poletti-Harp

The National Forest Foundation engages Americans in community-based and national programs that promote the health and public enjoyment of the 193-million-acre National Forest System, and administers private gifts of funds and land for the benefit of the National Forests.






Contributors Jennifer and Hannah Almstead, Darren Choate, John Frandsen, Greg M. Peters, Darcy Poletti-Harp, William J. Possiel, Vance Russell, Jennifer Schoonen, Joan H. Young Graphic Artist Jennifer Frandsen, Old Town Creative Communications, LLC

INSIDE THIS EDITION Photos by / L.A. Nature Graphics, Kenneth Sponsler; Joan H. Young


Featured Forest

Angeles National Forest


Unforgettable Experiences

North Country National Scenic Trail


Tree Spotlight

Giant Sequoia Business Development Jennifer Schoonen 406-542-2805, x. 3354

NATIONAL FOREST FOUNDATION Building 27, Suite 3, Fort Missoula Road Missoula, Montana 59804 406-542-2805 We welcome your letters and feedback, however, we cannot be held responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or materials. © 2011 National Forest Foundation and Old Town Creative Communications, LLC. No unauthorized reproduction of this material is allowed.

ABOUT THE COVER PHOTO © 2010 Bill Hodge Packing in brook trout in Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest

Your National Forests magazine is printed on recycled paper with 30% post-consumer content. This magazine’s use of FSC® certified paper ensures the highest environmental and social standards have been followed in the wood sourcing, paper manufacturing and print production of this magazine. To learn more log on to








FOR ALL By Bill Possiel, NFF President

In recent months I’ve had the privilege of meeting with and speaking to National Forest enthusiasts in various venues. Last October, I spent time with conservation groups and residents of the New Jersey Highlands while celebrating our collaborative restoration accomplishments there. In April, I joined the National Forest Foundation Board of Directors on the Angeles National Forest where we announced a major restoration effort for areas impacted by the Station Fire (see the stories later in this issue). And in May, I attended the NFF’s 17th Annual Sporting Clays Invitational in New York alongside dozens of individuals who set aside a day or two to help us raise funds for the NFF mission. Throughout my travels, I am awed by the enthusiasm and commitment Americans have for our public lands. That love and appreciation for our forests and grasslands is what led early conservationists to protect these places a century ago—and it is what will ensure that future generations can enjoy our great National Forest System as well. In helping to secure the future for our forests, the NFF staff and Board have recently contemplated how we communicate the value of our National Forests to those individuals who haven’t




yet developed a strong connection to these lands. How can we demonstrate the relevance of National Forests in the lives of people across the country? One idea that has resonated with many of us is the description of National Forests as “America’s expanded backyard.” The notion of America’s backyard circles back to a concept of National Forests as “the people’s lands” that was conceived by Forest Service scientists many years ago. National Forests—whether you live next door to one or not—provide millions of us with our drinking water, clean our air, harbor fish and wildlife, and are open to diverse recreation opportunities we can all enjoy equally. These lands not only sustain critical resources, but they provide economic and social sustenance for hundreds of local communities. Even for those more distant from a National Forest, just knowing that spectacular landscapes like Alaska’s Tongass National Forest exist is reassuring enough. In my travels of late, no place has reinforced the backyard concept more than Southern California’s Angeles National Forest. As profiled in this issue of our magazine, the Angeles is tightly entwined with the quality of life for millions of residents in the Los Angeles Basin. It provides their water, absorbs carbon and pollutants from their air, supports diverse and threatened wildlife, and offers an outdoor escape from the urban chaos. The forest’s San Gabriel Mountains stand as L.A.’s landmark backdrop and the city would not be the same without this protected open space. Whether your connection with National Forests is nurtured through a mountain view outside your window, through weekend family camping trips, or through knowing the source of the water flowing from your tap—National Forests and Grasslands truly belong to all of us. Starting more than 100 years ago, this expanded backyard has blossomed into 193 million acres woven into our geographic and historic landscape as a nation. Throughout the pages of this magazine, you’ll see many ways that people like you are relishing and restoring our public lands. I encourage you to nurture and enjoy that backyard with the rest of them!



National Forest Foundation Building 27, Suite 3, Fort Missoula Road Missoula, Montana 59804 406-542-2805 William J. Possiel, President Mary Mitsos, Vice President Jennifer Schoonen, Vice President Board of Directors

Executive Committee Chairman, John Hendricks Founder and Chairman, Discovery Communications Inc. (MD) Vice Chairman, Craig R. Barrett CEO/Chairman of the Board, Intel Corporation (AZ), Retired

Vice Chairman, David Bell Creative Realities (NY)

Treasurer, Bradley K. Johnson CAO, CFO, Recreational Equipment Inc., Retired (WA)

Secretary, Timothy Proctor Schieffelin Source Capital Group (CT)

Committee Member, Peter Foreman Sirius LP (IL) Committee Member, Thomas Tidwell Ex-Officio, Chief, USDA Forest Service (DC)

Tiki Barber, Chairman, Tiki Ventures LLC (NY); Coleman Burke, President, Waterfront Properties (NY); Robert Cole, Partner, Collins Cockrel & Cole, P.C. (CO); Bart Eberwein, Vice President, Hoffman Construction Co. (OR); Robert Feitler, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Weyco Group Inc. (IL); Lee Fromson, Vice President of Gear and Apparel, Recreational Equipment Inc. (WA); Roje Gootee, Co-owner & Manager, Rush Creek Ranch (OR); Robert Katz, CEO, Vail Resorts (CO); Jamal Mashburn (FL); Jeff Paro, CEO, InterMedia Outdoors (NY); Susan Schnabel, Managing Director, Credit-Suisse (CA); Chad Weiss, Managing Director, JOG Capital Inc. (WY); James C. Yardley, President, El Paso Pipeline Group (TX) The official magazine of the National Forest Foundation, Your National Forests magazine, is published twice yearly by Old Town Creative Communications LLC and the National Forest Foundation. Copyright © 2011 Your National Forests Magazine, Old Town Creative Communications LLC and National Forest Foundation. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Printed in U.S.A. on 100% recycled paper containing 30% post-consumer content and using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper and processes that adhere to the highest social and environmental standards. Please recycle or pass on to a friend.





planted Volunteers do. in Colora 400 trees

By Jennifer and Hannah Almstead Photos courtesy of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado

Driving along Highway 9 just past Frisco, Colo., I wasn’t quite prepared for what I saw. As a Coloradoan, I was very aware of the pine beetle devastation and had seen the large swaths of dead brown trees while hiking. But I wasn’t quite expecting all the trees to be gone. The landscape appeared almost as if someone had bulldozed the forest. This barren place was my destination. I had arrived with my six-year-old daughter, Hannah, at the Peak One campground in the White River National Forest. There, all the dead lodgepole pines had been cut down for safety, leaving the place bare. With no privacy or trees, it certainly didn’t feel like anywhere I’d want to go camping. Hannah and I were there as volunteers with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, a statewide nonprofit that engages volunteers in outdoor stewardship. Our job for the day, along with more than 80 others, was to help reforest the campground by transplanting small (4- to 6-inch tall) lodgepole pine trees. The National Forest Foundation was a major supporter of the volunteer effort. I signed up for the project out of concern for the pine beetle epidemic and its devastating impacts throughout Colorado’s National Forests. The project also attracted me because it was marked as family friendly,

something my father instilled in me and as a allowing children six and older to participate. mother I hope to instill it in Hannah as well. I wanted my daughter to participate in At the end of the day, she and I surveyed something worthwhile in an outdoor setting. the campground. There were no longer little When we left our home at 5:30 that flags marking where trees should be planted; morning, Hannah was so excited she could they were replaced with little pine trees. It hardly contain herself. Three hours of driving was awesome to witness such an effort that, in later, she proclaimed that she no longer the grand scheme of things, took a minimal wanted to be there. I begged her to “please amount of time. In half a day we planted an just give it a chance and we’ll see how the day amazing 400 trees. I told her that when she’s goes.” She obliged and we got to work. 10 or 15, those trees will be taller than she We joined a crew, and a crew leader taught is and she didn’t believe me. I can’t help but us how to transplant a tree without killing it. smile when she says, Hannah and I partnered with another mom and her daughter, forming a little family “When I get a little bigger, me workgroup. We realized quickly that this wouldn’t be easy as we began to dig in the and momma are going back to see the hard, rocky ground. trees and see if they’re grown up yet.” We eventually got the hang of it and our As Hannah and I headed out for our threelittle group ended up transplanting about hour drive home, she said she couldn’t wait 8-10 lodgepole pines. Even at the young to do it again. We’re already signed up for age of six, Hannah did an incredible job the first Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado understanding the transplanting process. planting project this season. Ever since that When I asked her about why we went to plant day in Summit County, Hannah always talks trees up in the mountains, she replied, “We about the baby trees. I ask her if she remembers moved them so they could be safe. They got when we went up to the mountains, and she’ll moved because they needed more room.  If say “and I planted the baby trees.” you want to move them you have to look for Visit if you’d like volunteer the tape on the trees, like a little bow, and then you put rocks around them.” with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. Tree-planting did a couple of things for me. First, I realized just how much work it really takes to plant the pines in such difficult terrain. It brought to mind the awesome power of mother nature, and how, all on her own, she can re-seed the forest. However, perhaps the most memorable moment that day was seeing Hannah carry the little tree sapling in her burlap sack, treating it as if it were a baby. It was a profound moment for me because she was connecting with the Rock rings and ribbons mark land, and that’s exactly why I wanted her to the newly planted pines. be involved. Connecting with the land is






FOREST NEWS Homeland Security on Border Patrol

Coronado National Forest in Arizona

Increasing reports of resource degradation, dangerous conditions, and escalating illegal activity in remote portions of the Coronado National Forest in Arizona have prompted the U.S. Forest Service to initiate a new partnership with the Department of Interior and the U.S. Border Patrol. Since mid-January 2011, the Forest Service has been working with Border Patrol agents and officials from the Department of Interior to better secure and protect the Arizona/ Sonora corridor. This rugged borderland stretches for hundreds of miles through the Sonoran Desert, a dramatic and beautiful landscape that is being heavily impacted by a rise in transnational criminal activity. The Coronado National Forest encompasses 60 miles of the border in southeastern Arizona and supports a high level of biodiversity and several unique and fragile ecosystems. Increased enforcement in other regions of the U.S.-Mexico border has forced criminals to more remote and less patrolled sections

of public lands, like the Coronado National Forest. The stepped-up patrol activities are part of Operation Trident Surge, which will establish safe and secure border communities and work toward preventing criminal organizations from operating within the United States. These efforts will bolster the mission of the U.S. Forest Service to protect public lands from environmental damage. The program pairs Forest Service law enforcement officers, Department of Interior officers, and other land management agency officers with Border Patrol agents to conduct proactive patrols in support of the National Border Patrol Strategy. The goal is to apprehend and deter human smugglers, drug traffickers, and potential terrorists from conducting illegal activities on U.S. public lands, simultaneously protecting American citizens and ensuring that these unique and fragile ecosystems can continue to thrive.

A Positive Side of Bark Beetle Damage Emerges National Forest aficionados throughout the West have doubtlessly noticed that many of their favorite forests have turned from a verdant green to a rusty red over the past several years. A shifting climate, a multi-year drought, a century of fire suppression, and the proliferation of single-age and singlespecies forests have combined to allow the mountain pine beetle to wreak havoc on forests from Colorado to California. As the epidemic has worsened throughout the West, both forest managers and forest friends have decried the landscape changes wrought by the beetles. Debates have raged over how best to deal with the massive mortality, with managers and citizens calling for everything from simply leaving the forests alone to cutting them all down. Recently, however, managers, academics and citizens are beginning to recognize that there might be a silver lining in all that red. New rigorous peer-reviewed studies suggest that after the desiccated needles fall from the trees and decompose on the forest




floor, the skeleton forests that remain are less susceptible to wildfire than their living cousins. Scientists and casual observers are also noticing that as the trees die and lose their needles, the canopy opens—exposing new species of trees and vegetation to lifegiving sunlight that the thick pine forests once obscured. As a result, new mixedspecies and mixed-age forests are beginning to grow—forests that will be better able to adapt to climate change and new diseases and pests than the single-species, single-age forests they are replacing. Certainly, there are still significant concerns regarding the landscape-scale devastation—wildfire (before the needles fall, the trees are extremely flammable) and falling trees are the two most common dangers cited by managers. But as with the Yellowstone wildfires of 1988, forest managers and forest friends alike are learning that nature often needs catastrophe to renew itself.



Trees killed by bark beetles

Photos © / J. Norman Reid, Tom Grundy

Forest Service Partners With

FOREST NEWS Photos by Amy Gulick /

Photo Exhibit Showcases

“Salmon in the Trees” “The Tongass is a place where salmon, bears, eagles and people are all connected in a glorious cycle of life that has thrived for millennia,” says Gulick. “There is no other place like it in the world, and I want other people to know how special it is.” If you’re not fortunate to be travelling to Alaska this summer, you can still check out the book at

In celebration of the International Year of Forests, the NFF, the U.S Forest Service, the Alaska Wilderness League, and Braided River have come together to host a series of photographic exhibits in communities throughout Southeast Alaska. Using the power of photographs by acclaimed conservation photographer Amy Gulick, the group hopes to inspire the protection and restoration of the Tongass National Forest and the habitat it provides for wild Pacific salmon stocks in Southeast Alaska. The tour showcases photographs and multimedia presentations from Gulick’s book, Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska’s Rain Forest. The hardcover book is a beautiful combination of Gulick’s powerful photographs and finely crafted essays by Alaska residents that touch on the intricate ways fish, wildlife, trees, and people coexist in this rugged, awe-inspiring place. North Bend, Washington-based Gulick spent two years traveling the rugged Southeastern Alaskan coastline, taking photos and meeting the people that inhabit this special place. The exhibit will travel throughout several communities that dot the rugged landscape of Southeastern Alaska—an expanse of islands and fjords almost entirely contained within the 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest (See YNF magazine Winter 2010 for a feature on the Tongass)—during the summer of 2011. If you’re heading out on an Alaska cruise this summer, or just planning your own Alaskan adventure, you can see the exhibit in Yakutat (5/31–6/21), Ketchikan (6/23–7/23), Wrangell (7/25–8/18) and Prince of Wales Island (8/24–9/22).

Bears rely on Alaska’s salmon for nutrition.

The Tongass National Forest in Alaska is home to one of the world’s highest densities of brown bears.

Americans Help Frame

Great Outdoors Initiative On April 16, 2010, President Obama announced a new campaign—the America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative—to develop a 21st century model of conservation and recreation that would address the significant challenges faced by our nation’s public and private conservation lands. After nearly a year of work, the President released a report in February that detailed the progress and results of this historic effort to modernize and prioritize America’s conservation heritage for the new century. AGO was designed to ensure that administrators listened to Americans before making broad policy announcements, and listen they did. More than 10,000 Americans participated in 51 public listening sessions across the country, with 21 of them specifically designed for youth. More than 105,000 comments were submitted and catalogued as well. According to the report, all ethnic and racial groups were represented in the comments, and Americans of every


creed, political stripe, religion and region were heard. Concurrent with the report’s release, the President held a press conference outlining the next steps for the AGO. Included in his remarks were pledges to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is used to purchase private lands for public conservation, and to establish a nationwide youth conservation corps in the spirit of the Civilian Conservation Corps created by President Roosevelt nearly 80 years ago. All told, the report articulates dozens of recommendations for officials and conservation leaders to work toward in the coming years—almost all of it suggested by the thousands of participants who attended the listening sessions. As it turns out, not only do Americans want additional conservation of our nation’s great wild places, they have creative ideas about how to achieve it too. You can find the full report at






THROUGH THE AGES By Darcy Poletti-Harp


“Do behold the King sequoia! Behold! Seems all I can say. Some time ago I left all for Sequoia and have been and am at his feet, fasting and praying for light, for is he not the greatest light in the woods, in the world? ” –John Muir

Can you imagine a 25-story building stretching toward the sky in your favorite National Forest? Well, on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, it is possible to walk amongst mighty sequoia trees that reach heights rivaling the downtown offices of any city. Widely accepted as the world’s largest tree (by volume), the giant sequoia is one of the three redwood species still living today. Although the record trees have measured over 300 feet tall and up to 56 feet in diameter, the average sequoia is between 250 to 280 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet around. To reach those dizzying heights and impressive girths, sequoias not only grow extremely quickly, but they also

are very long-lived. The oldest living trees are thought to be over 3,500 years old, placing their germination before the reign of Egypt’s King Tut! Giant sequoias were well known and respected by the Native Americans that populated the Sierra. In fact, the species itself was named in honor of Sequoyah, the famous Cherokee leader who recorded the language of his people. The trees were not known to European settlers until the mid1800s, and soon after their “discovery,” a logging boom swept through the mighty sequoia groves. The extensive harvest that followed turned about one-third of their population into shingles, fence posts, and

The fallen tree below measures approximately 15 feet in diameter.






Photos © / Anton Foltin, Michael Klenetsky


TREE SPOTLIGHT even matches. But, in the end, the giant sequoia proved to be an unprofitable timber species; although the wood is very resistant to decay, it is also extremely brittle, and only half of the trees felled made it from the woods to the timber mill. In the late 1800s public outcry led to the creation of both Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, beginning the wave of conservation that would grow to protect almost all of the remaining sequoia groves. Today, sequoias are only found in a limited 260-mile stretch in California, where they grow in mixed stands with ponderosa pine, white fir, sugar pine and incense-cedar. The trees thrive in a particular climate between an elevation of 4,500 and 7,500 feet, where summers are dry and winters snowy. The Sierra’s snowpack and subsequent snowmelt are an important source of the thousands of gallons of water sequoias need each day. In order to maximize their water intake, the trees have shallow, wide-reaching root systems that can reach as far as 250 feet from the trunk and can easily be damaged by human foot traffic. In addition to water, fire plays a pivotal

role in the giant sequoia life cycle. Sequoias do not begin to produce cones until they’re about 200 years old and it may take as long as 20 years for those cones to open up and release their seeds. In order for the seed dispersal to occur, the cones need to dry out sufficiently, a process that is greatly aided by natural wildfires burning through the area. Natural fire cycles also periodically clear out understory growth, allowing sequoia seedlings to thrive. For added protection against the hottest of blazes, sequoia bark is 1- to 2-feet thick and contains tannic acid, a compound that is so fire resistant it has even been added to fire extinguishers. Giant sequoias truly are one of the world’s great natural wonders. Not only are they some of the biggest organisms on the planet, but they are also some of the oldest. It’s hard to believe that not far from San Francisco or Los Angeles you can stand beneath a tree as tall as a skyscraper that grew from a tiny seed years before the Roman Empire. The giant sequoias that remain today truly are worthy of our respect and awe: as John Muir said, “Do behold the King sequoia! Behold! Behold!”


The largest living organism (by volume), this tree measures an impressive 30 feet around at shoulder height and weighs some 2,100 tons. (Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park)

California Tunnel Tree

This base of this tree was cut in 1895 so that carriages could pass through the trunk. (Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park)

The Telescope Tree

Due to the effects of repeated fires over the decades, this tree is now completely hollow. (Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park)

The Boole Tree

This tree is the largest in the entire National Forest System. (Converse Basin, Sequoia National Forest)

The Chicago Stump

The rings on this 20-foot-wide stump tell us that it was around 3,200 years old when it was cut down. The trunk was cut into sections and then reassembled for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. (Converse Basin, Sequoia National Forest)

Put Your Donations to Work for Conservation Through

Workplace Giving

Workplace giving offers a convenient way to support the conservation of your National Forests and Grasslands. To get the most from your commitment to restore and revitalize America’s forest lands, keep in mind the various workplace giving programs available:

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ~ Winston Churchill

Combined Federal Campaign

The National Forest Foundation is a proud member of EarthShare—accepting Combined Federal Campaign workplace contributions from federal civilian, postal and military employees. Look for the National Forest Foundation—CFC #12053—on EarthShare’s website at

Matching Gift Programs

Many employers will match your charitable contributions—doubling or even tripling the value of your donation to the National Forest Foundation. Check with your human resources department or provide the name of your employer when making your contribution to the NFF, and we will do the research for you. For more information, please contact:

Deborah Snyder: 406-542-2805 ext. 3355 • •











Chippewa National Forest

Completed Trail Temporary Connector

Superior National Forest


Sheyenne National Grassland


Ottawa National Forest


Chequamegon National Forest






er iv iR

Don’t you wish there was a trail that wandered across the upper United States, connecting National Forests and other protected wild areas? It could be laid out in such a way that hikers could walk to some of the most scenic places in the Northeast. Don’t you wish there was a trail that offered a variety of experiences— yes, hills and forests, rivers and lakes, but also sampled small-town Americana, its culture and history? Don’t you wish there was a national trail that was accessible to a quarter of the U.S. population within two hours’ drive? Look again, because there is just such a trail, the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT). It’s 4,400 miles long, the longest hiking trail in the United States, and stretches from New York to North Dakota, winding its way through seven states. What? You never heard of it? Despite much good promotional effort the NCT seems to remain a well-kept secret.

Mi ss iss ip p

Experience the Backcountry

As “my” group of four hikers was traveling west on the Kekekabic portion of the trail (in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness), I stepped into a large clearing paved with boulders. Entering across the rocky way was another hiker. “Hellooooo, Joan,” he called. “Hellooo, Matt,” I hollered back, and we stumbled toward each other across the angled stepping stones in a swaying slowmotion parody of lovers running together through a field of waving wheat. Matt and his cadre of 11 hikers were headed east. The encounter was remarkable, because the North Country Trail is so vast, with low traffic, that one seldom finds other hikers/ walkers, except perhaps near population



centers. Here we were, meeting on one of the least-hiked sections. Although not contrived, our meeting was expected, since I had known his plans. After 18 years of meeting almost no one on the NCT, this was a big deal. We perched on more rocks, sharing our lunches and trail stories before moving on toward our respective goals. For the most part, hiking the NCT is not yet a social experience, but more hikers take on the challenges of this trail each year. Most people are amazed to discover that it is possible to find long stretches of trail, away from civilization, on a trail traversing the North and East.

UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES You might think that a trail with no major mountain ranges and so near to cities and towns is bound to be easy. Many longdistance hikers have thus underestimated the challenges of the North Country Trail. The sheer length of the trail is a challenge in its own right. To do a thru-hike requires nine or 10 months, even for a fast hiker. But the NCT is not a trail that should be hiked quickly. Yes, there are portions of this trail that are level multi-use paths. The NCT takes in small towns, city parks and still includes a large number of miles of roadwalk. But, many people think this implies that the entire trail is a walk in the park. Not so! The challenges of hiking up and down the hills of New York’s Southern Tier (affectionately

Hiawatha National Forest


called “The Western Wall” of New York) or traversing the volcanic upheavals along Minnesota’s north shore of Lake Superior should not be taken lightly. The hills of Pennsylvania are substantial, Michigan has the Trap Hills, and the open spaces of North Dakota require a different kind of stamina to complete. Ohio is not all the flats of the Great Black Swamp, and Wisconsin sports some geologic surprises as well. Herein lies the great strength of the North Country Trail: its diversity. This is a trail to sample and savor. Along its length can be found over 100 waterfalls, remnants of virgin forest, the amazing Pictured Rocks of Michigan, rare plants and geologic oddities. Although it’s a National Scenic Trail, there is plenty of history to be found: spider webs of 19th century canal systems, historic logging and mining sites, Great Lakes shipwrecks and lighthouses, ancient cemeteries, Ohio’s Serpent Mound, and more, all calling to lovers of times past. For those with an engineer’s mind, there are dams, canal locks (some abandoned— allowing exploration, some restored for education), and an abundance of bridges from the Mackinac Bridge spanning the

The NCT passes through Ohio’s East Fork State Park.

LAKE HURON Manistee National Forest



Finger Lakes National Forest



PENNSYLVANIA A Allegheny National Forest



Photo by Joan H. Young

Don’t Underestimate the NCT

Wayne National Forest







Beginnings Pink ladyslipper

straits between Lakes Michigan and Huron to rustic stringers of peeled logs. The trail uses numerous covered bridges and the only remaining Fink Truss Bridge in the world. Transportation themes abound. The canal systems have been mentioned; long forgotten narrow-gauge railroads with nicknames like the “Bent, Zig-zag and Crooked” or “Poverty, Agony, Distress and Want” are yet preserved in berms that wind through second-growth woodlands. Rivers, the 1811 National Road, and portages used by the Voyageurs, all remind the hiker that others have passed this way before. Naturalists will be delighted with the variety of ecosystems along the NCT. Botany is one of my personal obsessions, and I never tire of discovering new plants. Eastern hardwood forests dominate the trail corridor, but one can find marshes and bogs, Great Lakes dunes, islands of alpine ecosystems, oak savannahs, and the great prairies of North Dakota. From the large Eastern prairie fringed orchid to tiny Sullivantia, there is no shortage of interesting plants, rare and common. Hikers of the northern stretches

Prairie clover




The trail was conceived in the mid 1960s, and the Forest Service was a key player in that birth. The idea was simple: to connect and showcase scenic and natural wonders across the northern tier of states. It took until 1980 for the concept to be developed enough for Congress to authorize the NCT as a National Scenic Trail, a sister to the already designated, and better known, Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails. Early on, the National Forests embraced the idea of building this trail, and the first sections to be built off-road were in the Allegheny National Forest of Pennsylvania; the Huron-Manistee, Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forests of Michigan; Chequamegon National Forest of Wisconsin; Chippewa National Forest of Minnesota; and the Sheyenne National Grassland of North Dakota. That’s an impressive list of forest connections, but it’s only just over half of the actual total. Since that time the Finger Lakes National Forest of New York and Wayne National Forest of Ohio have added NCT miles. The Superior National Forest in Minnesota’s Arrowhead region is poised to be added as the 10th forest on the list. The NCT route has been rerouted to trace the Arrowhead, but official Congressional approval is still pending. In 1981 the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) was founded, as a nonprofit, to work with the National Park Service (NPS) to build, maintain and promote the trail. The NCTA, NPS, and U.S. Forest Service (as the NCT’s largest land manager), work together under a memorandum of understanding and are usually referred to as the triad of groups with the greatest impact on the North



Country Trail. Thousands of volunteers are working through the NCTA and affiliate organizations to complete the trail offroad. It’s a huge task! All too often, I hear people disparage the NCT as a trail far from completion. While it’s true that there are many miles yet to build, consider this surprising fact: the NCT has more miles of off-road trail than any other National Scenic Trail. This has been accomplished in only 30 years and with no ability to acquire land until 2009. Its daunting length, twice that of the Appalachian Trail, results in the misconception that it offers little off-road treadway.


Some people consider anything beyond their backyard the “wilderness.” Of course, the Forest Service has a specific definition, which provides experiences more intimate and free of human intrusion. Happily, the NCT is allowed to pass through four such areas: the McCormick in Michigan, Porcupine and Rainbow Lakes in Wisconsin, and the famous Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Minnesota. As hikers traverse these special areas they may experience a unique sense of connection with a quiet past. Much of the trail affords what might be officially called a backcountry experience— places where a hiker can disappear into the woods for two or more days and be free of many of the sounds and sights of the populated world. It is wonderfully refreshing to allow yourself to be enfolded in the forest, putting aside any awareness of the fact that a major highway may be just a mile or two away. Other portions of the trail still require support and day hiking, with few places yet to camp overnight.

State by State

Currently, the termini of the trail are Crown Point, N.Y., and Lake Sakakawea, N.D. Entering New York one first encounters the Adirondack Mountains. The Adirondack Park Agency has yet to provide the NCT with a route. The High Peaks are every hiker’s dream, but almost certainly these will not be a part of the trail. A general corridor has been established through the southern Daks, but it is still

Photos by Joan H. Young

have reported seeing moose, and even a cougar or two. Black bear are sighted more often, but quickly run away from hikers. Chipmunks and squirrels are more likely to compete for one’s trail lunch, and mink, otter, and even a marten may occasionally be seen. Deer, of course, are ubiquitous, and beaver delight in creating ponds which necessitate creative trail maintenance. Butterflies range from the stunning but common orange monarchs, to the endangered Karner blue.


Lake Superior

being negotiated. From the town of Rome, NCT hikers will follow the Erie Canal into the Finger Lakes Region, and drop down to the Southern Tier following the Finger Lakes Trail system. Pennsylvania is characterized first by the Allegheny Reservoir and Plateau, and then by the Clarion River as the trail turns westward. In Ohio, the route follows the Native American “Great Trail” and Sandy and Beaver Canal to Zoar where it joins Ohio’s Buckeye Trail, the longest loop trail in the world. Taking the southern arm, hikers descend to the Ohio River, and then wend westward nearly to Cincinnati, where they turn to the north. Following the Little Miami River and the Miami-Erie canal up the west side of Ohio, and taking a short turn east on the Wabash-Cannonball Trail, 1,800 NCT miles are traveled before entering Michigan. Michigan, by itself, boasts 1,200 miles of the NCT. The Lower Peninsula offers miles of remote but relatively easy hiking, a good place for beginners to test their mettle. The Mackinac Bridge is an official part of the trail, but can only be walked on Labor Day. Thru-hikers appearing there will be carted across by truck. The Upper Peninsula is much more desolate and remote than Lower Michigan. Miles along the lonely Lake Superior Shore, including Pictured Rocks, will satisfy any wanderer. The western UP offers days of hiking with no man-made structures to intrude on a hiker’s thoughts. Wisconsin may have few miles of the NCT but Copper Falls State Park serves up geologic wonders and with recent trail building in Douglas County, it may be the first state to have all NCT miles completed off-road.

In Minnesota, the NCT follows the Superior Hiking Trail, Border Route and Kekekabic Trail to trace the Arrowhead region, providing an overdose of scenery for those willing to take on the challenges of the terrain. Returning to the center of the state, the trail continues west across the remains of Glacial Lake Agassiz to reach Fort Abercrombie on the Red River. Crossing the rolling prairies of North Dakota, a hiker with eastern eyes is awed by the big sky. From Fort Ransom, the trail follows the Sheyenne River for 200 miles to its headwaters and then continues beside the McClusky Canal to reach the Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea.

The Future

Already, the NCT is considered the key component of the Sea-to-Sea route, which also includes the International Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Northwest Trail. One has to wonder how official connections will be made.

Discussions are taking place to extend the trail into Vermont to join with the Appalachian Trail. Some dreamers are scouting possible connections to the west through Montana. The completion of such plans depends upon events which are not dear to the hearts of hikers, such as politics and funding. Much energy will also be required, which hikers do possess in abundance. The North Country National Scenic Trail is coming of age, ready for discovery by many more than the handful of hikers who already love its diversity. Take its new slogan to heart and believe that “Your Adventure Starts Nearby.” Joan H. Young is the first woman and only the 10th person to complete the NCT on foot. She has written a book about her experiences, “North Country Cache,” and is currently working on the sequel to finish the journey which will be called “North Country Quest.”

Two groups of NCT hikers converge on the Kekekabic portion of the trail.






FIELD REPORTS Photos courtesy of Utah Forest Restoration Working Group; / catay

Utah Forest Restoration Working Group meets to discuss aspen restoration in Utah’s forests.

JOINING TOGETHER TO SAVE UTAH’S ASPENS In 2008, NFF staff received a call from the Intermountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service, asking about the potential for forming a collaborative group to foster restoration on National Forests in Utah. Mary Mitsos, vice president of Conservation Programs, and Karen DiBari, director of Conservation Connect, worked as a team to assess the interest and potential for collaboration. The pair contacted a wide variety of stakeholders throughout Utah, and eventually invited a handful of people representing key interests to come to an initial meeting. While a bit guarded, their contacts expressed a willingness to participate and agreed to attend a two-day meeting.




At that first meeting, the group (which became the steering committee) formulated a plan to create a Utah Forest Restoration Working Group (UFRWG). Two members, representing the conservation community and the wood products industry, volunteered to act as conveners. The steering committee decided to focus on developing guidelines for aspen restoration, and discussed which other groups should be included. The NFF’s role was to facilitate the discussion and educate the group on how other collaborative efforts have developed across the West. As with almost any collaborative effort focused on natural resources, the UFRWG was comprised of people that had long



worked on opposite sides of the conservation debate. However, as the process unfolded and people began to understand the perspectives of others at the table, these historically rancorous interests began to identify a “zone of agreement.” Many months of meetings and several field trips later, the group’s persistent communication and cooperation resulted in the publication of “Guidelines for Aspen Restoration on the National Forests in Utah” to help managers assess, diagnose, and respond to the causes of aspen decline across the mixed topography and climate of Utah’s National Forests. Collaboration is tough work, as members of the UFRWG can attest. However, as the group proves, a diversity of participants can produce consensus that will stand the test of time and provide some “sticking power” to its decisions and recommendations. The group can now focus on implementing the guidelines and begin reversing the decline of these iconic western trees. The true results will quiver in the breeze, as the NFF’s Karen DiBari says, “When you see a trembling green aspen stand in Utah’s backcountry, consider the conservation benefits to these magnificent forest communities resulting from such a dedicated group.” For more information visit http://www.western- pdf.

FIELD REPORTS Photos by Greg Seitz and Friends of the Boundary Waters WIlderness

Volunteers Help Preserve

Wilderness in Minnesota Managers of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area were faced with a conundrum a few years ago. How do they maintain the nation’s most visited wilderness area when the primary mode of transportation requires two people and a canoe and budgets dictate a limited number of rangers? The answer came in 2006 when a grant from the NFF’s Matching Awards Program provided the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness (FBWW) with funding to train and match volunteers with wilderness rangers, effectively doubling the Forest Service’s capacity to preserve the wilderness characteristics of the sprawling lakes and trails that comprise the Boundary Waters Wilderness. Wilderness rangers are responsible for everything from ensuring rules and policies are followed to campsite maintenance and improvements to wildlife monitoring and invasive weed removal. This season, the FBWW is expecting 20 individual volunteers to each spend around 30 days paddling the lakes and helping to maintain the Wilderness. Now in the sixth season of work, volunteers and rangers will focus on

helping to inventory and remove invasive weeds, maintain hiking trails and portages, repair campsite infrastructure and survey wildlife. Greg Seitz, communications director for the FBWW, who participated in a weeklong hitch two summers ago, explains, “Digging latrines in the hot sun might not be your typical vacation, but helping preserve the wilderness and spending time with rangers and other volunteers who work hard to protect it was an honor. I’d do it again in a second.”

A volunteer digs a latrine in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.

The next time you set foot on a hiking trail or enjoy a secluded camping spot in a National Forest, you can most likely thank one of the National Forest Foundation’s many partners for their work. By engaging in collaborative partnerships, providing grants to local organizations and encouraging community participation in on-the-ground coservation projects, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) helps the Forest Service meet complex challenges to forest health. Here are just a few examples of how the NFF and its partners make a difference in National Forests throughout the country.






FIELD REPORTS Illinois’ Historic Tallgrass Prairie

Replanting the banks of Crow Creek will benefit trout.

RESTORING YELLOWSTONE CUTTHROAT TROUT IN IDAHO A collaborative project on the CaribouTarghee National Forest in Idaho is working to restore the historic channel of Crow Creek, an important tributary of the South Fork Snake River, in an effort to enhance spawning and habitat opportunities for native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. This unique fish exists in only 10 percent of its historic range nationwide and is identified by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game as an imperiled species. Trout Unlimited (TU), through a Matching Awards Program grant from the NFF, is partnering with the U.S. Forest Service, the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee, the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and the National Resource Conservation Service to spearhead the restoration of a portion of Crow Creek. The goal is to reconstruct the creek’s original channel, which was straightened and channelized more than 40 years ago. The restoration will add and improve spawning habitat while reducing sediment loads and transportation. As well, TU hopes to inspire landowners who own adjacent portions of Crow Creek to implement their




own restoration efforts. Local youth groups will participate in the on-the-ground work, and TU employees plan to give presentations to the local Chamber of Commerce and other interested parties. Improving habitat is great in and of itself, but it’s especially great when it means there’ll be more fish hiding under banks and in pools, just waiting for the perfectly placed fly fisher’s cast.


Although Illinois is known as the Prairie State, less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of the tallgrass prairies that once covered the state remains today. Just 60 miles south of Chicago at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, one of the NFF’s Treasured Landscapes conservation sites, The Wetlands Initiative is putting NFF funding to work as part of an unprecedented effort to bring back some of this lost natural treasure. Until the late 1970s, this land hosted the nation’s largest ammunition plant, the U.S. Army-operated Joliet Arsenal. In the mid1990s, the 19,000-acre site was turned over the U.S. Forest Service. Now, the original landscape is being reclaimed, and has become the largest tallgrass prairie restoration initiative east of the Mississippi River. Midewin is also the largest tract of protected open space in the six-county Chicago area, providing critical habitat for declining wildlife species, and unique recreational opportunities for human visitors. The Wetlands Initiative is a nonprofit dedicated to restoring the valuable wetland ecosystems of the Midwest for the myriad of benefits they provide humans and wildlife. For the past 13 years, the Initiative has been working with the U.S. Forest Service to restore high-quality prairies and wetlands at Midewin. Grants through the NFF’s Matching Awards Program and conservation campaign have supported the Initiative’s two most recent projects, which have resulted in the transformation of more than 840 acres. Removing invasive species, bringing back the area’s original hydrology to recreate wetland areas, installing a variety of native plants, and supporting the reintroduction of rare and threatened species like the Eastern prairie fringed orchid are all part of the Initiative’s restoration goals for Midewin. Once restoration is complete, future visitors will be able to enjoy the beauty of a richly diverse prairie/wetland landscape and experience the natural heritage that once defined the Midwest. Wetland restoration in Illinois improves habitat for the green heron and other wildlife.


Top photo by Chris Hoag; Bottom photo courtesy of The Wetlands Initiative

Bringing New Life to

TREASURED LANDSCAPES Photo by / trekandshoot


ngeles A National Forest By Darcy Poletti-Harp Just beyond the fringes of the concrete jungle of Los Angeles lies an area as wild as any night in a Hollywood club. The rugged landscape is home to mountain lions, black bears, rattlesnakes and bighorn sheep. In the fall, the Santa Ana winds come rushing through the canyons and down into the city, carrying the parched breath of the Mojave Desert, fierce and unsettling. Snowfall graces the higher elevations through the winter, and springtime brings a bloom of wildflowers to the meadows and hillsides, the brilliant orange and purple of poppies and lupine forming a striking palette. Summers are hot, the dry chaparral apt to burn with the smallest of sparks.

As one of the few remaining open spaces in Southern California, the over 650,000 acres that make up the Angeles National Forest are truly a breath of fresh air no matter the season. Every year, millions of visitors flock to the forest to find respite from the hustle and bustle of the city below. The Angeles is the most “urban” of forests, providing the residents of the Los Angeles Basin with everything from clean drinking water to the wonder of a wilderness experience. A Dynamic, Diverse Landscape

In a city of so many celebrities, the San Gabriel Mountains really are the stars of the Angeles National Forest. On a clear day, they dominate the city skyline, their striking silhouette reaching up past the downtown skyscrapers. Long before the words “Los Angeles” conjured up images of palm trees and the decadence of fame, these mountains were formed under the same pressures that are still shaping the landscape of Southern California today. The San Gabriel Range rose up between the Mojave

and the Los Angeles Basin as a result of the interaction between the San Andreas Fault system, the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. Because of the nature of its geological formation, the San Gabriel Range is orientated east-west, unlike most of California’s north-south stretching mountains, earning it a “transverse range” classification. Today, visitors wanting to learn about the geological history of the area can stop by the Big Pines Visitor Center located directly on top of the San Andreas Fault itself. Ecologically, the Angeles is a unique natural area. With elevations spanning from 1,200 feet to over 10,000, the forest supports a wide range of plant and tree communities. Lower elevations are home to chaparral forests of scrubby ceanothus and manzanita, dry as tinder during the summer and fall, but vibrant and alive with wildflowers in the spring. Moving up, pines and firs begin to dominate the landscape. Overall, the forest is home to some 29,000 acres of old growth and a wide variety of

View of the Los Angeles Basin from Mt. Baldy







conifers and deciduous trees. Near the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell, a grove of ancient limber pines has survived century after century, with some of the stunted and twisted trees approaching their 2,000th birthday. The Angeles is part of the California Floristic Province, one of only five areas in the world with a Mediterranean climate. Due to the high concentration of native plants and the fact that only an estimated 10 percent of the original vegetation remains in pristine condition, Conservation International has named this habitat as one of the world’s 10 most threatened forest hotspots. In addition to the large number of endemic species, the forest is also home to nine threatened and endangered species like the California condor and the mountain yellow-legged frog, which, if we aren’t careful, could go the way of the grizzly bear, the long-gone state symbol that once also roamed these hills. A People’s History

Back when grizzlies wandered the mountains and forests of the Angeles, the Tongva, Chumash, Tataviam, Kitanemuk and Serrano tribes also called the area home. Archeological evidence of early human activity has been found throughout the forest, with cooking features in the northern drainages of the San Gabriel Mountains dating back some 7,600 years. Europeans first made contact with these tribes in 1769, when explorer Gaspar de la Portola passed through the area on his way north to Monterrey. Later in the century, Spanish presence in the area was firmly established with the construction of missions and by the early 1800s, the traditional way of life followed by the area’s indigenous population had all but disappeared. But today, Native Americans






first National Forest in California and the second in the entire nation. Hollywood Goes to the Woods

Over the years, the Angeles has proven to be a true “multi-use” forest. In addition to five federally designated wilderness areas, water conveyances, telecommunication sites, natural gas and oil pipelines, flood control facilities, research stations, observatories and even Hollywood film shoot locations can all be found on the forest. With more special use permits than any forest in the nation, the Angeles is truly a busy, working forest. According to John Robinson, author of Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriel, “Few mountain ranges have been so much viewed, swarmed over, dug into and built upon by the human species.” Yes, the Angeles may be a “land of many uses” but, one of the best uses is still plain, old outdoor fun. And with 4 million visits per year, Los Angeles residents and visitors from around the nation and world are well aware of that fact. Recreation on the Angeles has been popular since the dawn of the “Great Hiking Era.” With a surge in lowland populations in the 1880s, the forest began to be seen as a place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Interest in fishing, hiking and hunting boomed, and backcountry trails were crowded every weekend. The Angeles is still a great place to get outside today, with canyons to explore, peaks to climb and over 500 miles of trail to cover. In addition to hiking, the numerous old fire roads that crisscross the landscape make for prime mountain biking and the San Gabriel Canyon is known for its mountainstyle trout fishing. Picnicking, water play, equestrian and off-highway vehicle use are always popular activities as well. Want to turn your adventure into a weekend getaway? Depending on the season, there are up to 50 campgrounds to choose from in the forest. Mount Baldy, the highest point in Los Angeles County, is a perfect example of the wide array recreation opportunities offered by the Angeles. In the winter, it is home to Los Angeles’ closest alpine skiing as well the famous “Baldy Bowl,” a challenging snow climbing area. In the warmer seasons,

Photo by / Kinetic Imagery

Biking in the San Gabriel Mountains

once again have a presence on the Angeles; the Tongva have established the Haramokngna American Indian Cultural Center in what was once a Forest Service fire lookout. The center is a gathering place for the tribe to reclaim their traditions and historical connection to the land, as well as for visitors to learn about the forest’s rich Native American history. In 1842 gold was unearthed on the Angeles, the first “authenticated” discovery in the territory. With the subsequent discovery of gold further north at Sutter’s Mill in 1848 and the transition to U.S. statehood in 1850, an unprecedented wave of immigration swept across California, and communities were established throughout the southern part of the state. Unfortunately, the San Gabriel Mountains never lived up to their first tantalizing promises of riches, and mining success in the area has been mixed ever since. When hopes of striking it rich began to fizzle, entrepreneurs focused their attention elsewhere. One colorful character in the forest’s history was Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, a businessman and inventor who had once done hot air balloon reconnaissance for the Union Army during the Civil War. After moving to California, he developed the Mt. Lowe Railway, the world’s first and only all-electric cable incline railway. By the turn of the century, the “Railway to the Clouds” was the most popular tourist attraction in the state, a kind of precursor to Disneyland. Over 3 million visitors rode the streetcars to the top of the railway, until a fierce rainstorm washed away most of the infrastructure in 1938. Today, for a glimpse of what once was, forest visitors can hike to the remnants of the railway above Pasadena. With a growing population and a burgeoning tourist industry, environmental concerns about the area first began to surface in the 1880s. Citizens of the Los Angeles area were troubled by destructive floods that would rush down the fire-damaged hillsides into lowland areas, destroying everything in their path. In response to the public pressure, President Harrison declared the area a Forest Reserve in 1892, when the total population of Los Angeles County was just 115,000. The designation was later officially changed to “National Forest” in 1908, making the Angeles the

TREASURED LANDSCAPES Photos by / Bradley Allen Murrell; National Forest Foundation

it’s known for vigorous hikes, climbing and even a yearly running race. Every Labor Day, athletes test their endurance in the “Run to the Top,” an 8-mile climb to the Mt. Baldy summit with a total elevation gain of 4,000 feet. If a leisurely, scenic drive is more your style, the Angeles has that too. The 66-mile Angeles Crest Highway winds through the forest, crossing the San Gabriel Range. Mt. Baldy Ski Area

Scenic pullouts offer unparalleled views of Los Angeles, the Mojave Desert and the Channel Islands. The two-lane road passes through thick chaparral, montane forests, meadows of wildflowers and even Joshua trees, reaching heights of almost 8,000 feet at Dawson Saddle, its highest point. Just 5 miles off the Angeles Crest Highway is the Mount Wilson Observatory, the sight of numerous important scientific discoveries and home to one of the world’s largest telescopes. Edwin Hubble proved that galaxies outside of the Milky Way existed based on observation made at the observatory in the 1920s and during the same decade, physicist Albert Michelson made the first modern measure of the speed of light by bouncing a beam of light from the observatory to a reflector on Mount Baldy, 22 miles away. Today, visitors have the opportunity to study the night skies through the same historic 60-inch telescope as those astronomy giants. After trying in

vain to spot some Hollywood stars in town, you’ll get to see millions of real stars, and a few planets to boot! The Angeles National Forest is a true American treasure. As the recreational playground for five percent of the country’s population, the forest is a refreshing source of open space and natural wonder. The residents of the Los Angeles area are lucky—they can easily escape the concrete jungle for a few hours and lose themselves in the wilds of the San Gabriels. Wandering through the landscape, take a deep breath of fresh air cleaned by the trees. As you’re crossing that creek remember that 33 percent of Los Angeles’ water comes from the forest. And don’t forget to look up; you might just catch a glimpse of the impressive 9-foot wingspan of the California condor. Whether you’re finding new galaxies or exploring new trails, the Angeles is always a place of discovery.

The Station Fire: On the Road to Recovery The San Gabriel Mountains are no strangers to yearly wildfires, but the flames of the arson-sparked Station Fire burned particularly hot in late August 2009. Consuming nearly 161,000 acres, the Station Fire was the biggest forest fire in Los Angeles County’s history. In the month that it burned, the fire destroyed 91 homes, cabins and outbuildings, and took the lives of two firefighters. Critical watersheds were affected by the fire, and the resulting loss of vegetative cover increased the amount of sediment in the water, impacting communities downstream. Threatened and endangered species like the mountain yellow-legged frog, California condor and Santa Ana sucker are also suffering the loss of critical habitats in the fire’s aftermath. Today, wildflowers and the green shoots of chaparral plants are bringing color to the once-charred landscape, but, greater steps are still needed to help return to the Angeles back to its pre-fire vibrancy. As a part of our Treasured Landscapes conservation campaign, the NFF is partnering with Southern California Edison Corporation, South Coast Air Quality Management District, U.S. Forest Service,

and other community partners to revitalize the area affected by the Station Fire. One of the major components of on-the-ground restoration work in the area will be extensive tree planting. Species planted will include a mix of Ponderosa, Jeffrey, and Coulter pine, as well as big cone Douglas fir. These largescale tree-planting efforts will revitalize the decimated landscape, while generating carbon benefits under the guidelines of the NFF’s Carbon Capital Fund, a program designed to demonstrate the value of trees and forests in a larger climate change strategy. Planting began this past spring, with initial plans to plant more than 473,000 trees to reforest nearly 2,770 acres, offsetting 280,000 metric tons of CO2. The NFF also partnered on the development of a Station Fire Restoration Strategy master plan and will strive to ensure that restoration efforts address the critical needs of watersheds, threatened and endangered species, and recreation opportunities. To facilitate greater community awareness and participation, the NFF will help a network of organizations work together under the umbrella of a new “Friends of the Angeles” group,


to coordinate volunteers, community outreach and project implementation well into the future. Beyond this initial slate of work, the NFF will continue a long-term effort to battle invasive weeds, revitalize recreation sites and wildlife habitat, and restore resiliency to Los Angeles’ treasured backyard forest.

The Station Fire scorched more than 160,000 acres.





CONSERV ATION Photo by / Peter Zachar


Protecting america’s fisheries

By Jennifer Schoonen

Almost in slow motion, you arc the rod back and forward … to 10 and 2 … back and forward again … and elegantly release. You watch the line wave like ribbon through the air. The fly lands tentatively on the water, then bobbles along the ripples as you let it float, just let it float. You stare down the drift, willing it into the pocket under a low-hanging branch. Willing the fish to turn and look. And when that big rainbow hits—all that patience and calm, grace and control, cut loose into wild action culminating in the celebratory high five with your fishing buddy. From Montana’s Big Hole to Missouri’s Eleven Point River, the art and thrill of a great day fishing lure thousands of anglers to our National Forests. World-class fishing can be found across 220,000 miles of streams and more than 2.3 million acres of lakes in our National Forest System. In fact, more recreational fishing occurs on National Forests and Grasslands than on any other federal lands—a total of 46 million fishing visits annually. Caring for our fisheries and their aquatic habitats has been part of the Forest Service mission since 1897. The agency cooperates with other state and federal agencies, communities, private industry and the angling public to help protect and perpetuate these cherished resources. But the chance to tempt a fat rainbow with an elk hair caddis or land a wary monster bass is not to be taken for granted. In the last several decades, the health of our nation’s rivers, lakes and wetlands has declined rapidly—and with them so too have native fish populations. At least 40 species and subspecies of freshwater fish have become extinct due to habitat alteration, exotic species, pollution and overfishing. In recent years, we have seen a 45 percent increase in the number of freshwater North American fish at risk for extinction. For many of these species, our National Forests and Grasslands remain the last stronghold of quality habitat. The Forest Service estimates that National Forests provide habitat for more than 165 threatened and endangered




aquatic and amphibian species. The threats to those species are daunting—but anglers are a passionate bunch who well understand the phrase, “We all live downstream.”


Climate Change: Shifting temperature and precipitation patterns are already changing water flows in our streams and rivers. Earlier spring runoff and higher stream temperatures threaten to disrupt native aquatic ecosystems, with cold water fish—like trout and salmon—particularly vulnerable. Catastrophic Wildfire: From Colorado’s Hayman Fire to Southern California’s Station Fire, we’ve recently witnessed the devastating aftermath that severe wildfire inflicts on watersheds. Not only do the fires themselves immediately damage waterways, but for years afterwards the burned forests continue to clog streams and rivers with eroding sediment. Aquatic Invaders: Intentionally or not, humans have helped to spread nonnative species into our waterways. The pure economic costs can reach into the billions of dollars, but it’s impossible to put a price tag on the sometimes irreversible damage to native species. From Eurasian watermilfoil to zebra mussels to Asian carp, the invaders often out-compete native species for habitat.

Conservation Action

Science: The Forest Service employs some of the world’s top scientists who generate critical natural resource science used around the world. Recent and ongoing agency research is focused on understanding the dynamics of natural disturbances to watersheds and aquatic habitats. Working collaboratively with other agencies, Forest Service scientists are also expanding their ability to model and predict long-term water trends in light of the influences of climate change and other factors. Restoration of Habitats: Planting streamside willows, placing large woody debris into streams, removing barriers to fish migration … just a few of the ways that community organizations, nonprofits and agencies are working together to restore



healthy fish habitat around the country. Through both the Treasured Landscapes conservation campaign projects and grant programs, the National Forest Foundation is teaming with partners to facilitate dozens of restoration initiatives meant to protect and enhance our fisheries and their habitats. In Idaho’s Teton Valley, an NFF partner is revitalizing habitat for Idaho’s unique Yellowstone cutthroat trout. In Michigan, the NFF has supported work to combat the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil destroying fish habitat in the region’s lakes. The combination of communities realizing what’s at stake with declining watersheds and the passion of anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts is generating critical conservation results. Awareness: For all of the issues challenging our diverse waters and fish populations, public awareness has become the most important strategy. Thanks to advertising campaigns about aquatic invasives, anglers are more cognizant of the need to clean their boats and waders when going from one body of water to another. Grass-roots groups in dozens of communities hold river clean-up days yanking garbage and debris out of riverbanks. And programs like “Take Me Fishing” introduce younger generations to the fun of casting a line and get them hooked on conserving our freshwater resources.

Restoring BROOK TROUT On the cherokee

national forest Story and Photos by Bill Hodge

In a unique demonstration of outdoors enthusiasts caring for our fisheries, humans and horses are playing a role in restoring Tennessee’s native brookies.










Backcountry Horsemen (SABCH), Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Trout Unlimited and Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards came together to conduct a trial run of one important element of the brook trout restoration program: transportation. The test was a big success. Using pack stock provided by members of SABCH, 140 rainbow trout were moved 2 miles with a 100 percent survival rate for the fish. Beginning in the fall of 2011, pack stock will be used to transport brook trout from existing population centers to the reopened fish hatchery just before spawn. The offspring of this breeding cycle will become the foundation of future population restoration efforts.



This test was critical to determine the viability of using horses and mules for transportation, as many of the habitats and locations for restoration are remote and even in some federally designated Wilderness Areas. Backcountry members will be called back into action when the time comes to transport these offspring to the new habitats, returning native brook trout to their historic rivers and tributaries. So, the next time you see bulging saddle bags or panniers on a mule or horse in the Southern Appalachians, it might not just be camp gear or food supplies; it might be the hope of new brook trout populations making an important journey.

Photos by Bill Hodge

It’s not evey day that a horse’s saddle bags are full of live trout instead of a stringer of the day’s catch. But, late last year, pack stock provided by the Southern Appalachian Backcountry Horsemen were carrying precious cargo through Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest: 140 live rainbow trout. Currently, the Cherokee is working to reestablish the Southern Brook Trout Hatchery at Pheasant Fields in the Tellico Ranger District. The rebirth of the hatchery is part of a larger brook trout restoration program that has the support and the horsepower of the Southern Appalachian Backcountry Horsemen behind it. Last fall, a coalition of the Cherokee National Forest, Southern Appalachian

CORPORATE PARTNERS CORNER Graphic by / leonardo255

American Park Network Publishes

First National Forest Guide The NFF is excited to be partnering with users find adventure by searching for American Park Network on the production activities at more than 6,000 National of our first National Forest guidebook, Parks, National Forests, state parks and which will feature visitor information for public lands nationwide. American Park 11 National Forest locations. Guides will Network manages, which be distributed to National Forest visitor hosts an online, searchable database that locations around the country allows users to ask questions and will be available on the AMERICA’S and receive expert answers American Park Network’s Web NATIONAL FORESTS about public lands. site, Each of “We’re thrilled to collaborate the NFF’s Treasured Landscapes with the National Forest conservation campaign site Foundation to create this guide forests are included in the as a tool to educate visitors and guides along with several raise awareness of our country’s others. amazing system of National American Park Network  is Forests,” said Mark Saferstein, a leading publisher of visitor publisher and editor-in-chief guides to federal and state at American Park Network.  public lands. Their ubiquitous little, Even if you’re not planning a trip to one of green  Oh, Ranger!  guides are read by the 11 forests featured in the guides, they’re more than 20 million park enthusiasts great for arm-chair travelling and feature each year. Recently, American Park fun articles and stories about camping, Network launched a free iPhone app called Forest Service activities, and other useful Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder™,  which  helps information. COMPLIMENTARY $2.95

Oh, Ranger!®





Public Radio Listeners Grow

a Forest of Support America’s public radio fans are a pretty loyal bunch. Each year, they call, write, or go online to pledge their support for the local stations they love. And each year, those pledges are rewarded with a coffee mug or perhaps a t-shirt. Fine gifts, but really, who needs another coffee mug or T-shirt? This year, select public radio stations are teaming up with Public Media Partnerships to offer a tree-planting incentive for public radio donors. That’s right, you can do good twice by pledging to public radio stations and selecting the tree-planting option from participating stations. While giving levels required for this incentive vary from station to station, the general concept is simple. Donate to public radio, and you can also support treeplanting. Trees from listeners all across the country will be combined to plant a Public Radio Forest on one National Forest each year. Public Media Partnerships is based in San Diego and works with public radio stations across the country to develop environmentally sound incentives for stations to offer their donors. The Public Radio Forest initiative is in its first year and so far, more than a dozen stations have agreed to participate or expressed interest. If you’re a public radio supporter, ask your local station if they have this option and if they don’t, tell them about it. Our goal over the next few years is to have several Public Radio Forests growing in regions across the country, giving a new definition to the term “community forests.”



Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder


2011 2012

Honest Tea Bag-to-Tree Program Plants Trees Across the Country Few things taste better on a hot day than a bottle of cold iced tea—especially if the tea is organic and if quenching your thirst helps to plant a tree on a National Forest or restore tallgrass prairie. This past April, the National Forest Foundation and Honest Tea initiated the Honest Tea Bagto-Tree program with the goal of planting at least 50,000 trees on National Forests across the country. Participants who purchased four bottles of Honest Tea were given a reusable grocery bag and a code to redeem online for one tree to be planted on a site of their choosing. Locations include several NFF Treasured Landscapes conservation campaign sites—the Angeles National Forest, Ocala National Forest, Pike National Forest, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and New Jersey Highlands. Launched in 1998, Honest Tea strives to produce the best-tasting, most natural teas possible. Featuring dozens of varieties of


iced tea, juice drinks, lemonades, children’s drinks, and even bagged teas, Honest Tea is available in almost all major grocery stores and food retailers. Their drinks are 100 percent organic, and they clearly recognize the value of giving back to nature. The NFF is proud to have worked with Honest Tea to involve customers in restoring our forests. Thanks to all who purchased Honest Tea’s products and planted a tree that will clean our air and water, provide wildlife habitat, and enhance recreation across the country.








National Forest Foundation 17th annual sporting clays invitational may 6–7, 2011 On May 6 and 7, many generous sponsors and friends of the National Forest Foundation gathered for a special two-day fundraiser. In Bedford Hills, N.Y., the GlenArbor Golf Club hosted a reception and live auction event on Friday evening, followed by the annual sporting clays team competition at Dover Furnace Shooting Grounds in Dover Plains, N.Y., on Saturday. This event is a vital fundraiser for the NFF’s conservation mission and we are deeply grateful for the participation and generosity of all.

Our special thanks go out to the following sponsors: TITLE SPONSOR EVENT SPONSORS Paul & Sonia Jones Craig & Barbara Barrett John & Maureen Hendricks InterMedia Outdoors NFF Board of Directors Sirius Fund Verizon Business

STATION SPONSORS David Bell Betteridge Jewelers Paul Chinelli Gyro HSR Spencer & Tomoko Haber / Timothy & Susan Schieffelin PricewaterhouseCoopers Ralph Bailey Foundation Waterfront NY






KIDS & NATURE Photos by Jen Frandsen

There may be no direct scientific proof, but most people will agree that food just tastes better outside, especially around a campfire. Maybe it’s the pungent smell of the smoke or the satisfying exhaustion we feel after spending day in the woods, but everyone seems to get more excited when mealtime rolls around. Camping is a great family bonding activity, with many opportunities for quality time and teaching moments, especially around the picnic table. Lessons in cooking basics, fire safety and outdoor skills can all be taught in the course of an evening meal. Here are some tips and recipes for you and your family to enjoy during your next venture into the great outdoors:


To Build a Fire

Cooking over an open fire is always an “experience,” but to be sure that your experience is a good one, keep in mind that a certain type of fire is needed for the best cooking conditions. Save the thrill of the tall flames for later in the evening, and instead cook food over hot coals. Keep in mind these basic safety rules for children: Keep hands and feet away from fire. Don’t run or play near a fire. Only adults should handle food cooked in the fire. Always make sure that the fire is completely out at the end of the evening; sprinkle water on the fire and stir the ashes with a stick.

Campfire Cuisine

When we think of camping fare, hot dogs and s’mores are usually the first thing to come to mind, but really, there are a wide variety of camp foods that are both nutritious and exciting for kids. Camp cooking can be both fun and easy, with minimal clean-up and mess. Do as much preparation as possible before you go; vegetables can be pre-cut at home and meat can be frozen ahead of time to keep the cooler even colder on hot

Mini omelettes cooked in a muffin pan over coals make for a quick and tasty breakfast.

summer trips. Here are some great recipes to try out on your next outing:

Omelette “Muffins” Many of kids’ favorite breakfast foods are possible over the campfire. Toast can be made in specially designed wire baskets, or toasted on a stick like hot dogs. If your kids are in the mood for eggs, omelettes can easily be made in muffin tins. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking oil and fill each cup with one beaten egg and a mix of ham, bacon, cheese and veggies sprinkled on top. Cook the omelettes on top of the grate over the fire. A great way to start a day of exploring the great outdoors! Silver Turtles These “one-pouch” meals are no-fuss, and kids can customize their own meals for extra fun and participation. Keep in mind that some things cook faster than others. Lay out a piece of foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spread a dab of butter in the center and arrange sliced potatoes

Silver turtles shown here with potatoes, hamburger, carrots and onions.

on top of the butter. Next, lay your meat (chicken, hamburger, game meat and steak can all be used) on top of the potatoes and season with your favorite spices. Layer your vegetables of choice (carrots, onions, celery and even frozen mixed veggies are good options). Fold up the package into a pouch, making sure all the seams are secure. Once your fire burns down a bit, place the pouches in the coals or on top of the grate over the fire pit. Let them cook for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the fire. Open carefully and enjoy!

Banana Boats These sweet treats can be cooked while you’re eating your dinner, and they’ll be perfectly gooey when it’s time for desert. Begin unpeeling a banana, but only peel back one strip. Make a cut down the length of the banana, being careful not the cut all the way through. Gently pull the halves apart and stuff with chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows. Fold the peel back and wrap the banana in foil. Cook in the coals or on the grill for 5-10 minutes. Happy camping and happy eating!







NFF California Program Director Vance Russell, NFF President Bill Possiel and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell remove an invasive tobacco tree.

A Big Tujunga Canyon

Travelogue By Vance Russell, NFF California Program Director Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif., is remarkably simple. Deplaning outside, a rarity these days, unless traveling to developing countries, one is immediately struck by the presence of the San Gabriel Mountains. Chaparral and talus cover the slopes and those in the know understand that condor, mountain lions and bears roam in the hills right in Los Angeles’ backyard. And that backyard, whether you have one at home or not, is bigger than you think, stretching across the 650,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest. It was those mountains and forests that brought me to Los Angeles in midApril. I had come for the media event and




community reception celebrating the new partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, National Forest Foundation (NFF) and local communities, all of which are coming together to revitalize the Angeles National Forest after the damage of the 2009 Station Fire. During my time in Los Angeles, I was swept up in the hustle and bustle that defines the city. Our hotel sat right next to Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum weren’t far off. Cars sped down the palm-lined boulevards and a bevy of model hopefuls could be found around each corner. Yet, still in the distance



The Station Fire consumed the hills around Wildwood Picnic Area in 2009.

Photos courtesy of Vance Russell and Sherée Bombard

beyond the Hollywood sign, there are the mountains, ever visible in the midst of a heavily urban area. Wildwood Picnic Area, an area previously burned over by the Station Fire, became the site of choice for our media event announcing the Angeles National Forest as a Treasured Landscapes site. With millions of acres in need of restoration and millions of people unaware of how National Forests enrich their lives, the NFF set forth on a nationwide campaign of restoration a couple of years ago. We are working to restore our damaged forests at sites from Florida to Alaska, with the Angeles as our newest official addition. On the drive up to the picnic area through Big Tujunga Canyon, the road passed burned trees and buildings, reminders of the catastrophic effects of the fire that burned through the area nearly two years ago. But still, nature’s resiliency showed itself in full force; spring greenery was everywhere, shooting out from burned sycamores and live oaks, while finches, flycatchers and towhees sang up and down the canyon. The picnic area was busy with tents and podiums for the announcement. Staff from the forest, the NFF and the Explorers Post 99—young volunteers who hope to be

TREASURED LANDSCAPES future firefighters—all made sure everything ran smoothly. At one point right before the event began, small breezes began to pick up, but luckily they never materialized into the infamous Santa Ana winds whose hot, dry gusts fuel destructive fires like the Station Fire. A front page “Los Angeles Times” article on the Angeles restoration went to print earlier that day, helping to draw in more press than we expected. Without a hitch, the event began with a whir of photographs and television cameras. NFF President Bill Possiel spoke about the the important triad of Forest Service, National Forest Foundation, and community interests in the implementation of landscape-scale restoration projects like the one planned on the Angeles. He was followed by John Hendricks, chairman of the NFF board. “We are restoring natural resources and wild landscapes—but we are also restoring the connection between Americans and their public lands—and what better place to do so than here in Southern California,” Hendricks said. “On the heels of the Station Fire, the Angeles offers a place where we can make an important difference for both the ecosystem and the communities around it.” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike

Antonovich spoke to the extensive treeplanting efforts that are already underway in the area, and said, “Once these trees are growing, it’s going to restore the natural habitat and prevent the mudflows that have occurred because the trees and brush have been burned.” After the speeches were finished, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Bill Possiel joined together to yank a tobacco tree, an invasive species, from the ground. All the project partners joined to plant two ceremonial live oaks on site. We closed the evening with a community reception, a truly energizing and positive event. “Mr. Hollywood” and Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge opened the event by presenting the NFF with a certificate from the city. This heartfelt local warm-up was followed by a Treasured Landscapes video highlighting some of the new tree planting funded by the South Coast Air Quality Management District— which is funding the planting of nearly half a million trees. The speed at which the crews have worked is truly impressive; they were planting some 45,000 trees a day! The weekend wrapped up with a successful NFF Board of Directors meeting and I found myself back at Bob Hope

Cadets from Explorers Post 99 water a newly planted live oak.

Airport ready to head home to Sacramento. As I climbed on the plane I took one look back over my shoulder at the rugged outline of the San Gabriel Range reaching above the city skyline. From the boulevards of Hollywood to the recovering landscape of Big Tujunga Canyon, those mountains had stood as a constant landmark and breath of fresh air during my visit. Yes, truly Los Angeles’ backyard.

NFF Board members pose with Explorers Post cadets, who hope for careers in forestry someday.







From the shores of Nelson Reservoir, Aldo Leopold’s mountain – Escudilla – rises in the distance.

ELK TRACKS, A LEGEND, AND ME I sit at my desk, lazily browsing the Internet. In my periphery, I can make out the bookshelves on either side of me. Bored, I glance to my right, and then focus back on the monitor in front of me. Subconsciously, I can feel the longing of the books on the shelves, waiting patiently for an examining eye to digest their written stories. Finally persuaded, I turn back to the bookshelf. Without hesitation, I reach for an old favorite, A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold. A professor of mine introduced me to Leopold’s ideals in a conservation biology class I took at Northern Arizona University. At the end of the course, he gave each student, including me, a copy of Leopold’s celebrated book. As most know, Leopold was a forester, educator, writer, outdoorsman, and conservationist. He is now referred to as the father of wildlife management, and he is a true legend in his field.




Quickly, I flip through the worn pages, but instead of reading the words, I close the book and stare blankly at the cover, disregarding its needs once again. The book, written in part about my hometown reminds me of my roots, and I drift into thought about my childhood days growing up in the small community of Eagar, Ariz. In the summer of 1979, my family moved from Arizona’s largest city, Phoenix, to the rural town of Eagar, which is adjacent to Springerville in eastern Arizona, near the New Mexico state line. The two communities, nestled on the edge of the Apache National Forest, are fondly referred to as Round Valley. Round Valley’s school mascot is the elk; informally called the Round Valley Elks. I attended school in Round Valley from fifth grade through my high school graduation. Figuratively speaking, I am an elk; and, as an “elk” I have left my tracks as I explored, fished, and hunted all over the White



Story and Photos By Darren Choate

Mountains of Arizona, specifically the Apache National Forest. For the moment, I am out of my trance, and I focus my attention back on the book. Trying to recall the chapter names that are about Arizona, I turn to the table of contents and find the section titled “Arizona and New Mexico.” I turn to the page listed, and instantly I remember it was in the pages of this book that I learned of Leopold’s first job as a forester in Springerville; the same community where I grew up. Although it was unknown to me at the time, I had visited several of the same locations as he did when he worked on the Apache National Forest. In fact, he mentions a few of my favorite places in the pages of this section: “The Boneyard, The Campbell Blue, and Escudilla” (Es-kadee-uh). “The Boneyard” between Alpine, Ariz., and Big Lake is where my late friend, Shawn McCall, and I spent our very own


The Blue River traverses the Apache National Forest – where Aldo Leopold once worked.

senior trip. The day after our high school graduation we embarked on a three-day camping adventure on the forest. On the last afternoon, we arrived at The Boneyard, so named because it is a bog, and if you are not careful you will find yourself stuck in the mud, and eventually may perish. I am sure deer, elk, and cattle have all died there, with Mother Earth recycling their flesh and spitting their bones away. Moreover, even if you are careful, you may lose a shoe or two. “The Campbell Blue” river valley is where I hunted every year, and where I harvested my first deer. My friends, Chad Cooper and Becky Fuentes, and I dragged a pop-up trailer into Tutt Creek, near the confluence with the Blue River as far as we could get it, and set up deer camp on the eve of opening day in 1988. On opening morning, we ventured into the remote, rugged, but beautiful mountains of the primitive area in the dark. Thirty minutes after first light, I harvested my first deer, a four-point mule deer buck. Chad and I, and several more of our friends have all shared many memorable hunts on the Blue since that trip, so long ago. Of course, there is “Escudilla”, a domeshaped mountain that is ubiquitous in the White Mountain region, and is visible from almost anywhere, just as Leopold describes it in his almanac. On many occasions my stepfather, Dan Johnson, and I set off on an adventure on the mountain, whether it was

to hunt deer, fish at nearby Hulsey Lake, or pass through to New Mexico. On one deer hunt, we tracked a buck in the snow over what seemed at the time to cover the entire mountain before we finally harvested the buck. It was a long, eventful day spent climbing over downed aspen and trekking through knee-deep snow. Keeping my place in the book with my index finger, I fall back into a trance, thinking of both my childhood adventures, and Leopold’s words. A realization of similarities between Leopold’s life and mine brings me out of the daze. I recognize that my life comprises similar events to Leopold’s, and each event has contributed to the individual that I am today, whether it is as a camper, recreationist, photographer, hunter or just a human being. Losing my place in the book, I turn back to the table of contents to find the section in the almanac titled, “Thinking Like a Mountain.” Here, Leopold describes his encounter with a pack of wolves, while working on the Apache National Forest. He and his crew had come across a pack of wolves one day, and opened fire, killing at least one wolf. Immediately he regretted the kill. Leopold was changed forever when he watched “the fierce green fire dying in her eyes.” One quote that Leopold wrote in this chapter struck a chord within me, and has since become my mantra. “Only the mountain has lived long


enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.” Although Leopold’s many written words provide viewpoints that span incredible breadth and depth, this quote specifically offers me a new perspective on how to interact with nature, and just as Leopold was changed forever, so am I!

A New Perspective

I realize that I am still holding the book in my hand, and I place the book back on the bookshelf. I turn back to my computer, and stare blankly at the monitor. Since the early 1980s, the landscape of the Apache National Forest has been transformed, as all landscapes are. Fires have charred stands of spruce and pine; drought has come and gone, and come again; and, perhaps most notably, wolves have returned. Like the landscape of this forest, I, too, have changed. As a child and young adult, I became intimately familiar with the Apache National Forest. I could tell you the road number of every road on both the Springerville and Alpine districts. I kept my own maps of places I had been, places I wished to go, and logged sightings of deer and elk that I had seen on my excursions. It was in college that my life changed, and I evolved from merely having the ability to navigate the forest to being able to comprehend the complexities that this ecosystem comprises.





VOICES FROM THE FOREST As Leopold did, I worked on the Apache National Forest—the forest we both dearly love. One summer, as a college student, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station hired me as a research assistant to work the Alpine District of the forest, near Buffalo Crossing. Like Leopold, I worked on a crew and performed various tasks each day. Unlike Leopold, we stayed in a cabin and had the use of a vehicle for transport, quite the luxury comparatively. As a youngster, I knew the forest intimately; however, only skin-deep. As a college student, I grew to know how all of the

components of the forest, animals, plants, climate, humans and human interactions were interconnected. Shortly after I graduated from NAU with an environmental science degree, I heard my first wolf howl. It was an amazing first! It happened in the river breaks of “The Campbell Blue,” while I was guiding an elk hunt in late November. One evening, as we all shared far-fetched stories around the campfire, it happened, first, a short bawl, and then a long drawn-out howl. Finally, the pack joined in, and suddenly, the night was filled with the melodic and magnificent

Ancient art on the Apache National Forest

The author’s son, Seth, had a meaningful elk hunt near Escudilla.






sounds of wolves. The next morning, while looking for elk near Red Hill, I saw my first wolf on the forest. In fact, I saw seven wolves that day in one pack. Seeing wolves firsthand is impressive, and something I will not soon forget. On this hunt, I established a final connection with Leopold; my being became incorporated within the inner workings of the forest, and I was a part of it all. On that trip, as an elk was harvested, humans, myself included, played an important role in the management of game animals, and, indirectly, wolves shared in the hunt. As a hunter, I learned to appreciate wolves and

VOICES FROM THE FOREST their impact on the ecosystem that they inhabit, simply by hearing their words spoken in the wild. Recently, I was able to return to my old haunts once again to hunt cow elk with my two sons, Colton and Seth. At daybreak on opening morning, we were “bounded under foot by grama grass, overhead by sky, and on the horizon by Escudilla,” just as Leopold had once described the area we were hunting in his almanac. Sitting on a hill glassing for elk, we quickly spotted a group of elk, and the hunt was on. We located and kept track of the small herd of elk by the bugling of the herd bull. Seth was able to work into the small herd and harvest his first elk, a mature cow. Later that day, Colton was also able to harvest his first elk as well. Throughout the hunt, I shared the above quote with my boys, and taught them about the meaning and importance of Leopold’s word, while passing on a heritage of strong conservation and behavioral ethics.


The contrast of the bugle of an elk and the howl of the wolf is stark. The bugle is often associated with the continuance of a species, and the howl is more often associated with death. The truth is, only the mountain can listen objectively to either the howl of a wolf or the bugle of an elk, and know which outcome is best for the existence of both species, and all species for that matter. To me, “thinking like a mountain” is symbolic of the complexities of nature, and allows each individual to reflect about how they interact with nature. On the same mountain that Leopold wrote about, many have made their tracks without the guidance of his words. I too have walked without his guiding words, but now, I choose to walk with his guidance. I have adopted the message from “Thinking Like a Mountain” as the unwritten principles that I adhere to as an outdoorsman. As I continue to make my “elk tracks,” I choose to follow the path blazed by a legend.

Near Red Hill, the author spotted his first wolf in the wild.


If asked, I am sure the mountain would say that the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is a beautiful place, and one worth visiting. I know it is. The forest stretches from the central portion of Arizona to the New Mexico border along the famous Mogollon Rim. The terrain is covered by the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the nation, accentuated by knee-high grasslands, stunning pinyon-juniper woodlands, stands of brilliant-colored aspens, and magnificent spruce and fir forests. The forest is a destination for those who love to camp, fish, hike, and hunt or just experience the beauty and wildness of nature. I urge you to visit, and to “think like a mountain” when you do.


Darren Choate is an avid outdoorsman, freelance outdoor writer and photographer, and has lived in Arizona for over 30 years. Happily married, he and his wife have two wonderful teenage sons, and call Northern Arizona their home. To see more of Darren’s writing and photography work, please visit






July 1, 1986

Lakehurst, New Jersey

Four helicopters attached to the airship

In a quest to find more cost-effective and environmentally sensitive methods for removing logs from remote mountainsides, loggers have long experimented with balloons.




The Helistat was billed as a “revolutionary new type of aircraft which is composed of four helicopters mated to an airship,” in a circa 1980 U.S. Forest Service fact sheet. While a fantastical idea, the Forest Service saw promise in the helium helicopter aircraft promoted by Piasecki Aircraft Corporation of Philadelphia. Funding was found to build the aircraft through Oregon Congressman Robert Duncan. Proponents argued that if the concept worked, it would reduce the need to build costly and environmentally damaging roads to reach timber. It was projected that the costs of construction



would largely be offset by the sale of the timber logged by the aircraft during initial tests to be conducted in the Pacific Northwest. Critics decried the design concept and the quality of the project’s workmanship. In a test run of the nine-story-high airship on July 1, 1986, the Helistat failed in a spectacular way. On the very same airfield where the Hindenburg crashed in 1937, the Helistat managed to achieve 30 feet in altitude before the rear helicopter broke loose from the structure, careening to the earth. The rest of the structure then collapsed back to the earth in a fiery heap killing 39-year-old Gary Oleshfski, one of the five crew members.

Photos courtesy USDA Forest Service

THE PA-97 Helistat CRASH The best place for hunters and conservationists, next to the great outdoors.

Here’s why: n Discover where to go using OutdoorRoadmap’s high-tech mapping tools. n Learn what gear you’ll need. n Get how-to advice that’s easy to understand. Powered by Remington Outdoor Foundation.

n Connect with others who enjoy the outdoors.

Visit today to plan your next outdoor adventure.

Your National Forests and Grasslands provide many WILD gifts.

Why not give a little something back to nature with a gift to the National Forest Foundation and help perpetuate the wild places that provide us all with resources, relaxation and adventure. For just $35, you (or your gift recipient) will receive: • a one-year membership with the National Forest Foundation (NFF). • subscription to the official magazine of the NFF—Your National Forests. • 10 trees will be planted to restore one of America’s National Forests. (If you wish to give a gift membership, your gift recipient will receive the above benefits with a card notifying them that this special gift came from you.)

3 easy ways to order: Mail: Return the form below to: NFF, Fort Missoula Rd – Bldg 27, Suite 3, Missoula, MT 59804 Online: Contact: or 406.830.3355

Your gift is tax deductible.

Yes ~ I want to become a Friend of the Forest ® and support the WILD places I love:

Enclosed is my gift in the amount of $ _________ YOUR NAME ADDRESS CITY




I wish to order _________ gift membership(s) at $35 each. NAME OF RECIPIENT ADDRESS CITY




(If you wish to order more than one gift, please enclose additional recipient information with this form.)

Enclosed is my check in the amount of $ Please charge my:



[Payable to: National Forest Foundation] OR American Express


Card Number NAme on Card

Exp. Date /

Your National Forests Summer/Fall 2011  

The official magazine of the National Forest Foundation, this special issue of Your National Forests highlights the North Courntry National...

Your National Forests Summer/Fall 2011  

The official magazine of the National Forest Foundation, this special issue of Your National Forests highlights the North Courntry National...