Caring for Nature
Siskiyou Outdoor Recreation Alliance Stewardship Corps…
Conservationist John Muir once remarked, “The mountains are calling and I must go,” a summons that many followed this past year during the uncertainty of a worldwide pandemic and long stretches of confinement at home. We wanted to walk among the living, to feel reassured that we could breathe easy, to find peace in a conflicted time. Where better to find this than nature?
Thousands of us followed this call, flocking to Mt. Shasta and the surrounding mountains, trails, rivers, and streams. While we were “keeping close to nature’s heart,” Siskiyou County residents were worried about its health. Witnessing habitat destruction, trail degradation, water pollution and human waste created by an unprecedented increase in visitor use of recreation areas, they turned to the Siskiyou Outdoor Recreation Alliance for guidance.
With its mission to advocate, educate and create “meaningful and responsible connections” to the varied natural landscapes and outdoor recreation opportunities within the Shasta-Siskiyou region, the Siskiyou Outdoor Recreation Alliance (formed from a merger between the Mt. Shasta Nordic Ski Organization and Mountain Runners) was able to respond to local concerns by leveraging its multi-season, pan-recreational expertise in supporting partnerships, policy and planning for community vitality.
The organization developed and distributed a survey seeking community input to address the primary concerns expressed – fire, overloaded infrastructure, alienated locals, degraded environment and natural resource damage – and held several public meetings to present the results to diverse community stakeholders.
The result has been creation of the Siskiyou Stewardship Corps, an operated by the Siskiyou Outdoor Recreation Alliance to work with landowners/managers, non-profit organizations and Siskiyou County municipalities. The goal is to promote responsible recreation on private and public lands and use volunteers to accomplish partner objectives via public outreach and education, trash removal, trail maintenance in high-use recreation areas and habitat restoration.
After convening a regional 14-member steering committee of cross-sectional community stakeholders, the Alliance created a two-phase timeline for the program’s rollout and is on track to meet its objectives.
This year includes finalizing the project proposal, funding solicitation, partnership agreements, and hiring a lead crew member to work with volunteers, finalize partnership agreements and develop the outreach curriculum.
In 2022, the scope will expand to include finalizing funds to hire a second seasonal crew member and implementing the trail maintenance project component, which, along with the public education component, constitutes the full program.
Inclusive of all, the Siskiyou Outdoor Recreation Alliance is partnering with Leave No Trace and Discover Siskiyou to develop customized, bilingual educational materials with best practices that visitors can adopt to both enjoy and preserve recreation areas. •
For more information or to volunteer visit
siskiyououtdooralliance.org/siskiyou-stewardship-corps or call (530) 812-0110.