With summer quickly coming to a close, I look forward to the fall season with all the beauty it holds. And within September’s magnificence… I find that it is a great time to rededicate myself to keeping nature beautiful by becoming an environmental steward. REI often has many options throughout the year to get involved with local stewardship projects, in fact REI has a very large focus on stewardship in their overall mission, for which they produce an annual REI Stewardship Report.
So it’s not hard to find ways to sign up on REI‘s website for projects, which is exactly what I did this last week. Yes, I scheduled some awesome recreational sports this month too… but I’m using September to focus on stewardship because it is important to balance my outdoor activities with the support needed to keep them intact, and because stewardship is a large part of REI and their community.
The first project I found on REI‘s website was an entire month of stewardship projects through the Mountains to Sound Greenway (MTS), called Squaktember! and centered around Squak Mountain. The name intrigued me to find out more about their month-long schedule of events and the first project I signed up for was called “Women in the Woods” and it was exactly that, women out on the Squak Mountain trail doing upgrade projects.
I met the MTS Volunteer Manager, Anna Hendricks, in the parking lot and we reviewed tools and safety techniques before we hiked up to the trailhead. I found an excellent example of the tools we used and how to use them as well as a trail maintenance dictionary HERE. From the MTS truck we set out to help the rest of the crew out…
We worked on turnpikes, cleaning up berm from the tread for better water run off, reviewed trail grade, backfilled areas, installed waterbars and the big project of the day… reinstalling a larger culvert. From there it was all about getting to know MTS and all their great work in the PNW area, getting to know my fellow trail volunteers and their journeys in stewardship, chatting with the local hikers and getting our AWESOME REI stewardship T-shirts for being volunteers! If you are a woman and have ever hesitated to volunteer for a stewardship project like this because you don’t know how to use the tools, it looks like really hard physical work, etc. you don’t have to be concerned; MTS put these groups together specifically to help women understand that they can come at any skill level, most any ability and be able to participate. Women in the Woods is there to help you learn the tools, learn the language and the skills needed to work on our trails and help conserve our natural landscapes. I would highly encourage women to seek out MTS’s Women in the Woods events, you will meet a great group of women and leave feeling that your presence made a positive impact! (we heard it all the time from our fellow hikers)
Besides posting stewardship projects for their members on their website or on posters in their stores, I also learned from MTS that REI sends out groups from their company to help out with projects, and if you read their website or their stewardship report(s) you will find out that they support stewardship projects all over the country in multiple ways. Great job setting an example for other stewards REI!
If you have ever thought about what it takes to keep up a trail, ever heard of stewardship, listened to your friends talk about their volunteering experiences outdoors or reviewed the REI Stewardship website or report and thought “I should do that” then the fall is a great time to start; and you can find stewardship projects in your area through REI. Just become an REI member and watch for their monthly Calendar of events to search for upcoming classes and stewardship possibilities. It is that easy to become a steward.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, become the balance and commit to environmental stewardship; make September YOUR stewardship month too and let REI help you find your way!
Here is a list of some of the events you can find on the REI Classes and Events Calendar coming up in the PNW region…by