BOISE, Idaho – Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of National Trails Day and here in Idaho, volunteers got to work improving trails across the Gem State.
The Idaho Trails Association is a nonprofit organization with three full-time employees. So she relies on volunteers who spent National Trails Day working on four different trails in Idaho.
“We have 70 projects across the state of Idaho this year,” said Alex Cravenar, who we met at Mother Earth after a day’s work. “They’re all volunteer run, staffed by volunteers and it’s amazing.”
On Saturday, volunteers worked a trail at Sand Point, Pocatello, the new Hawkins Loop in the Boise Foothills and Perjue Canyon in the Owyhees.
Perjue Canyon is a hidden gem in the Owyhees and one of the only hiking trails in the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness south of Bruneau. I hiked there to recognize the hard work of the Idaho Trails Association. pic.twitter.com/BY2Kc9iRXW
—Steve Dent (@idahodent) June 5, 2022
“It’s really important to understand what public land stewardship is all about, and trail reconnaissance is fun,” said Jessica Evett, volunteer crew chief for the Perjue Canyon team. “It’s one thing to walk a trail, but it’s another to get into science, which is what I love.”
Evett led a team of about two dozen volunteers on one of the only trails in the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness on Bureau of Land Management Land in the Owyhees south of Bruneau.
“This is my second season with ITA as a crew chief, but I’ve been volunteering on the trails since about 2000,” Evett said.
Perjue Canyon hike is 8.5 miles round trip through rough terrain and overgrowth due to all the humidity this spring, we didn’t quite make it to the end due to massive thicket of poison ivy.
Evett’s volunteer team cleared brush, leveled trails, and even created a new path, as the path currently took hikers through a stream.
It didn’t take long for this team to create a new trail as they searched for the path of least resistance to minimize the amount of sagebrush they had to remove in order to protect this riparian area of Perjue Canyon.
“When you have a fragile ecosystem like this, it’s really hard to bring something back when you have people making multiple trails in a wet section,” Evett said. “We’ve diverted water from the trail so it doesn’t ruin your recreational experience.”
I always wondered who was doing this kind of work when I came across cut trees allowing me to continue on a backcountry trail and I was certainly impressed with the volunteers who were of all ages, men and women who had to walk in tools and spend all day working because I was in pain just from hiking there and back.
The Idaho Trails Association is always looking for more volunteers, spots are filling up fast but click this link to learn more.