BOISE, Idaho — Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of National Trails Day and here in Idaho volunteers went to work making improvements on trails all over the Gem State.
The Idaho Trails Association is a non-profit that has three full-time staff members, so they rely on volunteers who spent National Trails Day working on four different trails in Idaho.
"We have 70 projects all over the state of Idaho this year," said Alex Cravenar who we met up with at Mother Earth after a day of work. "They are all led by volunteers, staffed by volunteers and it’s incredible."
On Saturday volunteers worked on a trail in 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 in there to highlight the hard work of the Idaho Trails Association. pic.twitter.com/BY2Kc9iRXW— Steve Dent (@idahodent) June 5, 2022
"It is really important to understand what stewardship of public lands means and trail rec is fun," said Jessica Evett a volunteer crew leader for the team in Perjue Canyon. "It’s one thing to walk on a trail, but it is another to get into the science of it, that is what I love about it."
Evett led a team of about two dozen volunteers into 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 leader, but I have been volunteering to work on trails since about 2000," said Evett.
The hike down into Perjue Canyon is out and back 8.5 miles through rugged terrain and overgrowth due to all the moisture this spring, we did not quite make it to the end due to a massive grove of poison ivy.
Evett's team of volunteers cleared out brush, smoothed out trails and they even created a new path because currently the path took hikers through a creek.
It didn't take this team long to make a new trail as they look for the path of least resistance to minimize the amount of sagebrush they had to take out in order to protect this riparian area in Perjue Canyon.
"When you have a fragile ecosystem like this it is really difficult to bring something back when you have people making multiple trails in a wet section," said Evett. "We diverted water away from the trail so it doesn’t ruin your recreational experience."
I've always wondered who does this kind of work when I stumble upon cut trees allowing me to continue on a trail in the backcountry and I was certainly impressed with the volunteers who were of all ages, both men and women who had to hike in tools and spend all day working as I was sore just from the hike in and out.
The Idaho Trails Association is always looking for more volunteers, spots fill up quickly but click on this link to learn more.