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  • Steph Noll

Two Outstanding Forest Service Staff Recognized with Trail Stewardship Partnership Oregon Spotlight

COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for maintaining our statewide trail system. During the Governor’s stay-at-home order, trail work by both staff and volunteers largely came to a halt. This summer, trail stewardship partners returned to a new landscape with strained staff capacity, new health and safety protocols, and unprecedented levels of trail use by people desperate to be outside, active, and experiencing nature. An enormous amount of labor goes into maintaining safe and sustainable trails for the public that are clear of obstructions, and much of that labor is done by volunteers.

The Oregon Trails Coalition and partners in the statewide Oregon Trails Stewardship Workgroup want to recognize two outstanding individuals who, during this challenging time, have exemplified a commitment to trail stewardship partnerships in their roles as land managers.

We are pleased to announce our recognition of two staff members at the Willamette National Forest in Oregon for our Trail Stewardship Partnership spotlight: Kevin Rowell and Jennifer Sorensen. We are grateful for their leadership and for the work of all of our land management partners collaborating with volunteers to care for our beloved trails.

Kevin Rowell, Recreation Specialist, Middle Fork Ranger District, Willamette National Forest

Smiling person with mustache and cap standing next to horse with trees in background

Kevin Rowell has been instrumental in developing and expanding the WNF trails volunteer program in the Middle Fork Ranger District for several years. Kevin has acted as a bridge from volunteer groups to the Forest Service, and helped to develop curriculum and implement safety and certification programs for new volunteer trainees working with specialized equipment or learning how to build and maintain trails to Forest Service standards. Kevin’s integrity and sense of fairness inspires other leaders to be more inclusive and open to ideas supporting trail access for all users. Additionally, Kevin has ushered many miles of new trail into the Middle Fork District, working both with USFS crews and many volunteer trails stewards groups.

“With COVID safety protocols in place, Kevin braved a horseback ride with us to survey needed Middle Fork Willamette Trail bridge repairs and possible trail reroutes, so projects can be ready to go when current restrictions are lifted. Thanks for all you do, Kevin!” -Jean Clancey

Nominated by Jean Clancey, Emerald Empire Chapter Back Country Horsemen of Oregon, and Michelle Emmons McPharlin, Alpine Trail Crew Association

Smiling person leaning against a tree in the woods

Jennifer Sorensen, Partnership Coordinator, Willamette National Forest

Jen Sorensen has been leading the charge for National Forests in Region 6 to get forest volunteers back out into the woods safely. She is passionate about volunteers and willing to collaborate on out-of-the-box solutions that meet agency standards and aren't too cumbersome for partners. Her commitment to partnerships is inspiring, and her positive attitude makes working with her a joy.

“We can't imagine working through the challenges of this pandemic with anyone else!” -Alyssa Archer

Nominated by Alyssa Archer, Cascade Volunteers

About the Oregon Trails Coalition

The Oregon Trails Coalition is a collaborative body of trails enthusiast groups, public agencies, land managers, outdoor industry, travel and tourism partners, and other trails professionals and community leaders. We envision a statewide network of sustainable trails that: connect Oregonians of all backgrounds and abilities to the outdoors, build a culture of environmental and cultural stewardship and healthy recreation, provide an off-street network for traveling within and between Oregon communities, and attract a wide range of users that contribute to Oregon’s urban and rural economies.


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