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Volunteers Make a Difference on Superior National Forest

Superior National Forest   Lake Superior News
#LSN_Outdoors  North Country Trail Association  clearing Kek and Snowbank Trails

DULUTH, MINNESOTA ---  October 2, 2017   (LSN)  In honor of National Public Lands Day, tomorrow, Superior National Forest managers want to recognize the immense contribution that volunteers make year-round on the Forest and we want to take this opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments that their efforts make possible.

In 2016, on the Superior National Forest, more than 300 people volunteered a total of nearly 40,000 hours. 

Trail projects inside and outside of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness generated approximately half of that volunteer engagement. This work continued into 2017 with volunteers clearing debris, repairing boardwalks, installing erosion control, grooming trails, and monitoring use.

While there is a particularly high level of interest and a high level of need for ongoing trail improvement and maintenance, a wide variety of additional volunteer opportunities are available across the Forest throughout the year, including:

  •         Tree planting, restoration and survival monitoring,
  •         Road work,
  •         Invasive species management,
  •         Habitat restoration and monitoring for threatened and endangered plants and animals,
  •         Surveying and archiving archeological and historical resources along with restoration of heritage, buildings,
  •         Administrative and visitor information support,
  •         Campground hosts,
  •         Campground maintenance,
  •         Monitoring portages and wilderness campsites,
  •         Conservation education and interpretation,
  •         And more…

Who can volunteer?  Anyone can volunteer - schools, churches, community organizations, families, friends groups, businesses, or any other group. Minors need parental consent. Some volunteer work may be physically challenging while other may simply require a bit of time in an office setting. Even international visitors can volunteer. A young couple traveled from their home in Germany to volunteer on the Superior National Forest for their second season this summer.

Why volunteer? Volunteers note many reasons for volunteering on the Forest, including an opportunity to visit new places and learn new skills, learn about natural and cultural conservation, meet new people and form friendships with people having common values. Most volunteers express the view that public lands belong to everyone and everyone can have a role in helping to sustain these natural resources for future generations as well as for enjoyment today. Some volunteers earn an America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass and may be recognized nationally or locally.

How can you volunteer? It is important to understand that any volunteer work must be coordinated with the local Ranger District office. Usually, an agreement is developed that describes the project and responsibilities of the agency and the volunteers. Safety of volunteers is a priority. The Forest Service will work with volunteers to match interests and skills to appropriate projects that provide a meaningful experience while addressing Forest priorities that fulfill the mission of the Forest Service. Projects can range from a single day to a long-term undertaking lasting for several months.

Where can you volunteer?  Forest managers may put out a call for help via different avenues. Sometimes, people approach us with an idea for a project. People often volunteer to work on projects that align with an activity that they personally enjoy. A majority of volunteers come to the Forest through partners or programs.

Several organizations work with the Forest Service to help direct people to volunteer opportunities on the Forest. These include, but are not limited to:

  •         Northwoods Volunteer Connection  - Conserve the unique public lands of northeast Minnesota.  http://mnnvc.org/  
  •         Heart of the Continent  - Volunteer on both sides of the Minnesota/Ontario border, from Duluth to Thunder Bay to Quetico Provincial Park   http://www.heartofthecontinent.org/get-involved/volunteer/
  •         Passport in Time - Work with professional archaeologists and historians on public lands throughout the U.S.  http://www.passportintime.com/
  •         Several national and local organizations coordinate volunteer opportunities. These include the American Hiking Society, Kekekabic Trail Club-Chapter of North Country Trail Association, ATV Association of Minnesota member clubs, member clubs of the United Snowmobile Association, Border Route Trail Association, Superior Hiking Trail Association, and many, many more.

In addition to the above partners, people interested in volunteering in a specific area of the Superior National Forest will find contact information on our website at:  www.fs.usda.gov/main/superior/workingtogether/volunteering

They may ‘Like’ us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to receive notices regarding the latest news and volunteer opportunities on the Forest.

The Forest has a long history of working with volunteers to accomplish important projects on the national forests. Volunteer work adds to, and compliments, the work of Forest Service employees.  Employees are then able to focus time in places that need their attention. When volunteers help improve or maintain resources on the Forest, not only are they helping the Forest Service; their effort on public lands is a gift to all citizens.

To all Forest volunteers: Thank you to each and every person who has volunteered on the Superior National Forest or are planning to volunteer in the future.  Thank you for your assistance and your stewardship service to current and future generations.

To Forest visitors:  Next time you come to the Superior National Forest to visit your favorite campground, hike your favorite trail, or approach your favorite BWCAW entry, know that you very likely are benefiting from the contributions of volunteers.

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Group associated with Kekekabic Chapter of the North Country Trail Association taking a break from work clearing Kek and Snowbank Trails hit hard with blowdown from wind storms summer of 2016, credit: Derrick Passe