3 Days of hiking in Gifford-Pinchot Forest

Volunteering with the G-P Task Force 

The G-P Task Force has been around for about 30 years supporting the biological diversity and communities of the NW through conservation and restoration of forests, rivers, fish and wildlife.  Recently, they partnered with the G-P National Forest to provide boots-on-the-ground information on some of the 4,000 miles of forest roads within the forest.  The goal is to provide current information on road conditions to provide input for forest service road management planning.

What this meant to us volunteers was using a combination of old maps and a GPS to find roads and walk them, documenting current conditions.  The forest service is primarily interested in usage, and condition of culverts (they're apparently the most expensive part to maintain or remove if the decision is made to close the road).  

I was able to volunteer for 3 days of an approximately 2.5 week project.  The roads that my partner and I were assigned were level 1 roads (level 1 is a closed road).  Some roads were easy to find and easy to walk; some roads we never found; others had been blocked with a berm and big ditch (called a tank trap).  We scrambled over berms, carefully skirted tank traps, and walked as far as we could down roads that nature is quickly recovering.  Often the walking the 'road' became scrambling through brush and downed trees.

We noted campfires, garbage (we packed some out too), took pictures, noted road conditions, effectiveness of any road closure mechanisms (gates, berms, etc).  We didn't find any culverts, but if we had, we would have taken a lot of measurements.  

Temps were in the 80's, company was pleasant and we enjoyed the habitat; not too many wildlife sightings.  I think it was just too hot.  We saw a grounds squirrel, a small snake, a tiny bright green frog and lots of flowers.  
Turk's Cap - Lilium Martagon


  1. Replies
    1. It sounded like a sneaky way for me to suss out new boondocking locations while providing the Forest Service some good info. I did find a couple of nice sites!

  2. Anne, that does sound like an interesting assignment. I hadn't heard of anyone doing that before.

    So I learned something new. :)

    1. Given the poor funding, it really makes sense to use volunteers to gather information. With my background with computers, I was surprised that they didn't have better historical information on file. But, with 4,000 miles of road there's no way that the forest service staff could keep up an inventory on conditions for them all.
      The roads were created for logging and mostly are used now by hunters, mushroom pickers and campers.


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