ATCA Board Member Recognized by Forest Service
Each year, trails stewardship groups across the Willamette National Forest, review final trail work reports; including projects completed and number of feet/miles maintained/logged out, and key learnings from the year's stewardship adventures. Up until Covid times, it was the trails stewardship groups that recognized the outstanding contributions of local volunteers making a difference. Volunteers were elevated based on number of hours working on trail, or championing key projects both on and off trail, with a lasting impact to our trails legacy.
In 2020, many trail work opportunities were cancelled as land managers and trails stewardship groups grappled with safety concerns and exposure to a disease that still evades our scientific understanding of how it is spread, and its affects. In the Middle Fork Ranger District, where ATCA works, USFS staff and Willamette National Forest volunteer program administrator, Alyssa Archer of Cascade Volunteers, took the reins and helped guide local groups through Covid requirements and coordinated efforts, pulling in help from volunteer leaders, such as ATCA founding board member, Michelle Emmons, to bring together the mountain bike trail stewardship groups and businesses, to plan, prioritize, implement, document and track on-the-ground progress, despite the challenges of Covid and the political exhaustion of having to navigate so many "rules" in order to participate in stewarship activities.
In November of 2020, the USFS Willamette National Forest established the Judy Mitchell Volunteer of the Year Award Recognition, including special recognitions, such as the "Lasing Impact Award", given to Mike Kinyon of Greater Oakridge Area Trails Stewards/Scorpians member, for his outstanding contributions to safety and sawyer education, and the "Trails Stewardship Award" awarded to ATCA's Michelle Emmons, for her excellence in planning, organizing, collaboration, and ability to serve as a liason between the Forest Service and volunteer groups.
Collaboration and education are key elements in ATCA's mission to foster a legacy of stewardship in the Middle Fork Willamette district. We believe our relationships to all volunteer stewards, land managers, and environmental/recreational interests in our Forest is critical for maintaining safe and enjoyable public access, as well as recognizing and providing opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds to participate in outdoor recreation. We believe that maintaining the environmental integrity of these experiences, and honoring the Peoples of this land that came here before us, and that are still here, will help instill a sense of connection, responsibility and legacy to this land. Thanks to all our volunteers efforts - we are moving forward in this regard.
Congratulations to Michelle, Mike, and of course, Judy Mitchell - for pioneering the intial concept of volunteerism in the Middle Fork Willamette.