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Oregon: Regenerate Forests and Communities from Wildfires

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McKenzie Bridge, OR, USA 3 DAYS / 2 NIGHTS
APRIL - SEPTEMBER 2021
Register before 27 Aug 21 to hold your spot

Learn, Serve & Immerse in Oregon's Willamette National Forest

Global Family Travels brings you this unique and enriching experience in partnership with First Nature Tours and Cascade Volunteers!  Lace up your boots and hit the trails of the Willamette National Forest, in the Cascade Mountain Range of Oregon, where some of our country’s worst wildfires recently took place in 2020. This adventure supports the McKenzie Regenerative Travel Project spearheaded by Cascade Volunteers, an initiative to support multiple communities along the McKenzie River corridor with wildfire recovery. 

A treasured destination with outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities, such as hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and rafting, these communities depend on quality recreation sites that are currently in need of repair and revitalization.  On this Learn, Serve and Immerse adventure, you’ll learn about wildfire recovery and prevention, and experience local outdoor adventure activities, and partake in trail-building projects.

These adventures will take place over four weekends between April - September 2021, however you may also contact us for custom dates for your group.

Each lead by a naturalist guide from First Nature Tours and focusing on a different project hosted by a local stewardship group managed by Cascade Volunteers.

Once you register for this experience, please pick which weekend you want to participate in by selecting your package and dates!

For more information, please click on the LEARN, SERVE & IMMERSE elements in this experience to see all the details and once you pay your deposit, you will be able to choose the date you are interested in participating! 

COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS

With the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), the health and safety of Global Family Travels and First Nature travelers, community partners, colleagues and guides are of paramount importance to us.

Please see our COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS documents, found under the Tasks section, which outlines our commitment to mitigate and manage the risks associated with COVID-19 when you travel with us.  Please also refer to the tasks which have specific details for your activity and destination. 

Thank you for helping to keep yourself and fellow travelers and guides safe!

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GLOBAL FAMILY TRAVELS

Global Family Travels’ vision is to unite humanity and inspire travelers to take responsibility for the challenges and opportunities facing our increasingly interconnected planet.  Our mission is to Learn, Serve and Immerse, using travel as a means to build cultural bridges and to foster global citizens. Using tourism to help solve community challenges, we organize sustainable travel opportunities in partnership with local and global non-profit organizations and support many United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Through partnerships with many Seattle-area non-profit organizations that address community challenges, our one-day educational outings in Seattle are designed to create meaningful connections and support Destination Stewardship, including the preservation of diverse and native cultures, conservation, education, and economic growth of Greater Seattle. 

Learn more here: https://www.globalfamilytravels.com/our-company

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About First Nature Tours

Based in Portland, Oregon, First Nature Tours is a custom private group tour operator that specializes in facilitating outdoor adventures and immersive experiences in the Pacific Northwest. Their professional naturalist guides aim to educate the intrepid traveler by exploring the beauty of the region through the lens of sustainable tourism and visit the naturally and culturally unique places that make the Pacific Northwest so special. Our foundation is built on increasing knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of the world around us through meaningful travel experiences.

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About Cascade Volunteers

Cascade Volunteers (CV) was formed in 2005 by a group of passionate community members determined to maintain and create trails on the Willamette National Forest (WNF) in Oregon. More than 3,600 volunteers logged 193,000 hours from 2005 to 2018 — work valued at more than 4.9 million dollars. These contributions led the Willamette National Forest and CV to enter into a formal partnership in 2018. As the nonprofit friends group of the Willamette National Forest, CV works together with Forest staff to pursue a vision of public lands stewardship and appreciation that offers forest-wide support.

The mission of Cascade Volunteers is to connect individuals and communities to the Willamette National Forest and adjacent public lands through programs, stewardship, and education.

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Overview of Tour

In 2020, the West Coast of the United States experienced a record breaking wildfire season, damaging numerous trails and recreation areas, along with the homes and businesses of neighboring rural communities. Many of the local economies of these “gateway communities” rely heavily on visitation to these treasured natural landscapes. Restoration is an essential aspect to revitalizing these impacted regions. 

After the Holiday Farm Fire, the McKenzie River area of Oregon’s Willamette National Forest is one such region looking to rebuild its communities and natural public spaces. Global Family Travels and First Nature Tours have partnered with Cascade Volunteers, a local non-profit organization in Oregon, to host four weekend immersion trips blending education, service, and recreation.

Each weekend trip is themed around a different recreational “user group” and will include about 10 - 12 hours over two days on a service project in an impacted area, along with guided outdoor adventures and facilitated discussions with community partners about the lifecycle of wildfires, major environmental and cultural impacts of public land management and the importance of stewardship of public lands.

These are small group tours (8-10 participants) with set departures from Portland and Eugene. Additional dates may be added based on demand, private tours available upon request. Please view the itinerary section for a draft schedule. 

The following are the dates and themes for each of the four trips: 

(Check out this Google Map of the locations for each of the four tour dates) 

April 16-18:  Tree Planting

  • Project: Tree planting in the Terwilliger burn area
  • Community Partners: Cascade Volunteers, Worthy Garden Club and Operation Appleseed
  • Lodging: Horsecreek Lodge
  • Activity: Hiking and hot springs
  • Work Intensity: Beginner

May 14 – 16 : Trail Maintenance 

  • Project: McKenzie River Ranger District trail maintenance
  • Community Partner: Cascade Volunteers
  • Accommodations: Horsecreek Lodge
  • Activity: Whitewater Rafting on the McKenzie River
  • Work Intensity: Moderate

August 27 - 29: Wilderness Restoration

  • Project: Mt Washington Wilderness and Tenus Lakes Work, which includes campsite restoration, user trail decommissioning, sign installation, and wilderness boundary sign replacement
  • Community Partners: Cascade Volunteers and Friends of the Central Cascade Wilderness
  • Accommodations: Belknap Hot Springs Lodge
  • Activity: Hiking and Whitewater rafting
  • Work Intensity: Moderate to Advanced

September 24 - 26: Mountain Bike Trail Work 

  • Project: Mountain bike trail work on in the McKenzie River Ranger District
  • Community Partners: Cascade Volunteers and Disciples of Dirt 
  • Accommodations: McKenzie Riverside Cottages
  • Activity: Mountain biking
  • Work Intensity: Moderate to Advanced

Capacity: Capacity of each tours is 8 people for a full trip package including overnight stay. If the tour date you would like to book is full, we will add you to the waitlist.

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McKenzie Regenerative Travel Project

These tours are an outcome of the McKenzie Regenerative Travel Project, a program sponsored by a Travel Oregon Destination Ready Grant with the generous in-kind and financial support of Cascade Volunteers, Willamette Valley Visitors Association, Travel Lane County, First Nature Tours, Horse Creek Lodge, McKenzie General Store, Friends of the Central Cascades Wilderness, and Disciples of Dirt. Tour costs have been offset by funding provided by the grant and supporting partners. 
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LEARN

We believe the most powerful way to learn is through hands-on community-based travel experiences. We let the destination and its people be your teachers, and supplement experiences with reading lists, informal discussions, and a pre-trip orientation to better equip participants with the practical information needed to understand the culture, history, and community challenges of our destination.   

This community-based experience provides participants with the opportunity to learn and grow by working on a regenerative project to help rebuild natural public spaces in the McKenzie River area of Oregon’s Willamette National Forest. 

  • Learning themes unique to the educational experience with the Cascade Volunteers include:
  • Learning how public lands are managed, particularly regions overseen by the National Forest Service. 
  • Impact and management of wildfires on public lands and neighboring communities.  
  • Land stewardship, including forest restoration and rehabilitation practices.
  • Codes of conduct and safety protocols as a volunteer in a public lands.
  • Develop knowledge and skills about trail maintenance, tree planting, and campsite restoration.
  • Decision-making and best practices in cooperative work environments.
  • Understanding ecosystems, and the intersection of human needs and natural cycles. 
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SERVE

Participants will volunteer for 10 - 12 hours in various project locations around the McKenzie River region as directed by professional volunteer coordinators within Cascade Volunteers’ organizational network. Participants will play an active role is tasks such as:

  • Tree planting
  • Trail maintenance
  • Campsite restoration
  • User trail decommissioning
  • Sign installation
  • Wilderness boundary sign replacement
  • Mountain bike trail work

Fitness level demands will vary based on the service project for each weekend (see choices for each of the dates offered). Participants will receive training and orientation by volunteer coordinators, and will be presented with an overview of safety protocols. Participants sign a liability waiver as an official volunteer with the National Forest Service.

April 16-18:  Tree Planting

  • Project: Tree planting in the Terwilliger burn area
  • Work Intensity: Beginner

May 14 – 16 : Trail Maintenance 

  • Project: McKenzie River Ranger District trail maintenance
  • Work Intensity: Moderate

August 27 - 88: Wilderness Restoration

  • Project: Mt Washington Wilderness and Tenus Lakes Work- campsite restoration, user trail decommissioning, sign installation, and wilderness boundary sign replacement
  • Work Intensity: Intermediate to Advanced

September 24 - 26: Mountain Bike Trail Work 

  • Project: Mountain bike trail work on in the McKenzie River Ranger District
  • Work Intensity: Moderate to Advanced
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IMMERSE

By working and staying directly in the wildfire impacted communities of the McKenzie River corridor, participants will hear the stories and perspectives of local citizens and organizations working towards restoring vitality to the region. 

Participants will also connect with the natural environment through several adventure activities, such as hiking, rafting, visiting hot springs, and mountain biking.

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About Kieron Weidner, First Nature Tours (Lead Guide)

A born naturalist, Kieron’s fascination with the natural world has led him from a childhood exploring rural Wisconsin to college study abroad trips to Costa Rica and Europe and eventually a career in Restoration Ecology. Since he began working in tourism in 2007 Kieron has been helping visitors to Portland, Seattle, Central and South America fill their trips with memorable experiences and outright adventure. His tourism career includes work for some of the top luxury travel companies in the world, such as Cruise West, Adventures by Disney and EverGreen Escapes. His experience leading groups through all corners of the Pacific Northwest have made him one of the most recognized guides in the region. On a private tour of Cascadia with Kieron you will get more than just an education, you’ll rediscover the sense of wonder that many lose with the onset of adulthood. For Kieron guiding is more than a career, it’s a passion, and nothing makes him happier than providing people with new ideas, new adventures, and new life experiences.

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Location Information

The Willamette National Forest stretches for 110 miles along the western slopes of the Cascade Range in western Oregon and is about 1,675,407 acres in size.

The varied landscape of high mountains, narrow canyons, cascading streams, and wooded slopes offer excellent opportunities for visitors and make the Forest valuable for many purposes. The Forest’s northern extent is the upper reaches of the Santiam River as the melting snow flows off the glaciated slopes of Mount Jefferson. The Forest continues south where the McKenzie River flows west from the Cascade peaks of Mt Washington. This is where the tours will take place, centralized in the town of McKenzie Bridge and neighboring communities, about 50 miles from Oregon’s second largest city, Eugene.

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About Belknap Hot Springs

Located in the unincorporated community of Belknap Springs, Belknap Hot Springs lies right along the banks of the McKenzie River. Onsite are two mineral hot springs pools where guests can relax and enjoy the benefits of soaking in mineral spring water. The location will serve as a central hub during the tour and the lodging location for the August tour date. Guests will stay in the lodge in double occupancy rooms that have two queen beds each.

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About Horse Creek Lodge

Located in the town of McKenzie Bridge, Horse Creek Lodge is a friendly little enclave of cabins, event center and outdoor adventure outfitter specializing in whitewater rafting and mountain biking. The location will serve as a central hub during the tour and the lodging location for the April and May tour dates. Participants will be staying in the Delta House onsite. 

The lodge is a pillar of the community, serving thousands of participants per year with accommodations and activities to enjoy the surrounding public lands. Owner, Alyssa Brownlee, is very involved in community and recreation development initiatives in the region and will be one of the local voices sharing her story with the tour participants. 

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About McKenzie Riverside Cottages

Located in the town of Blue River, McKenzie River Cottages are located along the banks of the McKenzie River. Each historic cabin has its own personality and unique charm. All cabins have private decks overlooking the river. The location will serve as a central hub during the tour and the lodging location for the September tour date.

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Logistics (Safety, transport, parking, etc.)

Transportation: 

Participants will be escorted in a 12 passenger van and are required to wear masks while in the vehicle. We’ve limited the capacity to 8 participants to allow for social distancing in the vehicle. 

Participants are welcome to drive on their own if they wish but this will not impact the cost of the trip. Some of the project locations are in very remote areas on undeveloped roads, therefore it is recommended that participants use the guide transport while in the McKenzie River region.

Parking:

Tour participants can choose to be picked up in either Portland or Eugene. Closer to the trip departure date, you will receive information on directions and vehicle parking near these pick-up locations. There is limited vehicle parking available onsite at Horse Creek Lodge in McKenzie Bridge and McKenzie Riverside Cottages in Blue River.

Safety:

First Nature Tours will follow industry standard COVID-19 protocols according to the criteria established by the Adventure Travel Trade Association. First Nature guides are wilderness first responder certified and will take proper precautions to ensure the health and safety of the tour participants. 

 

Participants will receive training and orientation by volunteer coordinators and will be presented with an overview of safety protocols and are required to sign a liability waiver as an official volunteer with the National Forest Service.

Pack List: A pack list will be provided to participants prior approximately 1 week prior to trip departure.

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Optional

August 27 - 29: Wilderness Stewardship (Work Intensity: Moderate/Advanced)

DAY 6
Price : Part of tour cost

Project: Mt Washington Wilderness and Tenus Lakes Work, which includes campsite work, user trail decommissioning, sign installation, and wilderness boundary sign replacement

Community Partner: Friends of the Central Cascade Wilderness

Lodging: Belknap Hot Springs Lodge

Activity: Hiking and Whitewater rafting

Work Intensity: Moderate/Advanced

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Optional

September 24-26: Mountain Bike Trail Work (Work Intensity: Moderate to Advanced)

DAY 7
Price : Part of tour cost

Project: Mountain bike trail work on in the McKenzie River Ranger District

Community Partner: Disciples of Dirt 

Lodging: McKenzie River Cottages

Activity: Mountain biking 

Work Intensity: Moderate to Advanced

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Location
McKenzie Bridge, OR, USA
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