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The Cape Horn Trail is one of the Columbia Gorge's newest trails and is quickly becoming one of its most beloved. Only minutes from Vancouver and with year-round views of the Columbia River Gorge, the Cape Horn Trail is a wild treasure for southern Washington. Its beginnings as an official trail were fraught with controversy and uncertainty.
Nearly three years ago, WTA volunteers began redeveloping the user-created Cape Horn Trail in accordance with a Forest Service recreation plan hammered out through a long planning process. At the time nobody knew if it would succeed.
But thanks to the efforts of the collaborative group that formed to implement the plan, the trail has met the expectations of planners, hikers and other trail users alike.Addressing local worries, long-term budget woes
Local residents worried about traffic, trespass and vandalism. Conservationists were alarmed about impacts to rare flora and fauna such as peregrine falcons and Larch Mt. salamanders. The Forest Service wondered how they could monitor and maintain yet another trail after years of budget cuts with no end in sight. These issues came to a head during the planning process that forged an official recreation plan adopted in early 2010.
The Cape Horn Conservancy (CHC) was a keystone organization that grew out of the planning process. Formed to steward the trail, the CHC has met regularly for the past three years with the Forest Service, WTA, and Friends of the Columbia Gorge to collaborate on volunteer events, trainings, fundraising, grant writing, and outreach and education.Created together: new trail, protected habitat, sweeping Gorge views
Together, the groups have improved and maintained every section of the 6.5 mile trail, constructed three new bridges, three sets of steps, rerouted large portions away from sensitive habitat, built 400 ft. of turnpike, installed trail signs, built new trail segments to link the trail to two new pedestrian underpass tunnels, constructed 1/4 mile of ADA trail, and, most notably, built a magnificent stone overlook site with a sweeping view of the Gorge.
For hikers, the full loop provides fantastic views of the Columbia River Gorge, an intimate look at the Cape Horn Falls and a challenging workout as it climbs and descends the rocky slopes of Cape Horn.
WTA's has taken a lead role on major construction and reroute projects; hosting more than 30 work parties per year for the past three years and training volunteers. The projects were funded collaboratively, too, with grants made to the CHC and WTA by the National Forest Foundation, South Gifford Pinchot Resource Advisory Committee (RAC), Jubitz Family Foundation, Columbia Gorge Environmental Foundation, plus many individuals who have generously supported WTA, the CHC and the Friends of Columbia Gorge.Finishing the big stuff this winter, a future of collaboration
Looking ahead, Cape Horn volunteers and WTA aim to finish rerouting one of the last major sections this winter, marking an end to the major redevelopment phase of the trail. After that, Cape Horn can be more than just a fantastic hiking destination—it can serve as a model for how a collaborative effort can succeed in building and maintaining great trails into the future.
When you sign up online for a work party with WTA, you'll get an email confirming your sign up, which includes a handy list of items you'll need to take with you. The list usually reads a little something like this:
These are important things to have on any work party, but winters in the Pacific Northwest can be cold and sometimes wet, and WTA works year-round. So how do you stay dry (and happy) on a super-wet winter work party? After all, your fellow volunteers will provide warm smiles, but that might not help cold fingers.Tips for staying warm and dry
Whether in the Issaquah Alps or out on the Olympic Peninsula, these little tips will make you more comfortable on your next winter work party.
And for those of your with a little extra time on your hands, enjoy this little instructional video on what not to wear to one of our work parties, (unless you're joining us for a costume party at the end).
This is a guest blog by Jim Klug, co-owner and founder of Confluence Films
Check out the world premiere of WAYPOINTS to see more awesome fish like this monster steelhead from Alaska | © Jim Klug
We’re very excited for the world premiere of the newest Confluence Films fly fishing epic, WAYPOINTS, which will be released on Friday, November 8. As in years past, we’re thrilled about the opportunity to present WAYPOINTS in Jackson, Wyoming to benefit American Rivers. The screening will take place on Nov. 8 at 7pm at the Pink Garter Theatre on 50 W. Broadway.
WAYPOINTS is Confluence’s fourth full-length movie, following in the very successful footsteps of DRIFT (2008), RISE (2009) and CONNECT (2011). Shot once again in the “multi-segmented, adventure travelougue” style, the new film will transport viewers to some of the most remote fly fishing locations in the world. From the high altitude rivers of the India-Nepal border, to the flats of St. Brandon’s Atoll in the Indian Ocean, to the wilds of Patagonian Chile. There are also segments that feature jungle fishing for trophy saber-toothed payara in Venezuela and wild coastal steelhead in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.
The new film is aimed at showing all viewers – from hardcore, 300-day-a-year guides to people who’ve never before picked up a fly rod – that fly fishing is a much deeper, more interesting, more varied, and a more fulfilling sport than they’ve been led to believe by mainstream media. Above all, WAYPOINTS focuses on great stories, highlighting some of the sport’s most colorful characters and destinations and capturing these stories on location with the best shooters in the business using the best modern HD digital equipment.
Confluence Films has been a long-time supporter of American Rivers, and owners and founders Chris Patterson and Jim Klug are proud to support American Rivers’ work to protect and restore rivers in the Northern Rockies and across the country.
To order or download copies of the new film, or for a full listing of national and international tour and screening locations, visit www.confluencefilms.com.
Watch the preview:
© Nelson Brooke
Tell the University of Alabama, the major owner of land and mineral rights at the proposed mine site, to say NO to Shepherd Bend Mine.
Recently, we posted a blog from the Black Warrior Riverkeeper talking about the support that has been growing in the basin for protection of the river against coal mining. The Black Warrior River provides drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people near Birmingham, Alabama. American Rivers listed the Black Warrior as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2013 due to this threat.
Last week, the Alabama Surface Mining Commission (ASMC) refused to declare 40,300 acres of land adjacent to the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River as off limits to coal mining, missing a historic opportunity to protect the drinking water source for 200,000 residents in the greater Birmingham area.
Black Warrior Staff Attorney Eva Dillard commented, “It is a shame that state regulatory agencies are not doing more to ensure that the citizens of Birmingham have a safe, dependable and affordable supply of drinking water, both now and for the future.”
Riverkeeper Nelson Brooke believes: “This stretch of river deserves full protection as a vital source of water, and as a recreation resource for the general public. The state should not be allowing companies to discharge water pollution from coal mines into the daily source of water for 200,000 greater Birmingham-area drinking water consumers.”
Black Warrior Riverkeeper filed a petition with the ASMC on September 10, 2012 to designate this area as unsuitable for coal mining under a provision of Alabama’s Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, which was specifically enacted to preserve public resources like drinking water. The designation is required when surface mining could potentially result in a substantial loss or reduction in the long range productivity of the water supply.
Riverkeeper submitted extensive public comments and evidence to support their petition, including an analysis of Birmingham Water Works Board water quality data, as well as preliminary data recently compiled by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management demonstrating that even after reclamation occurs, surface coal mining has negative effects on downstream water quality.
Citing concerns about potential treatment cost hikes or even an inability to treat the water under certain circumstances, the Birmingham Water Works Board intervened in the petition process to represent their concerns about the impacts of surface coal mining on source water quality.
John Kinney, Enforcement Coordinator for Black Warrior Riverkeeper notes that “After initial review, it appears the ASMC severely misinterpreted the available data as well as the standard of review for the petition.” Despite the fact that ASMC made a flawed decision, Riverkeeper will continue to oppose current and potential threats to the largest water source for Alabama’s largest city.
Meanwhile, in a separate effort, Riverkeeper and a growing coalition remain steadfast in their opposition to the proposed Shepherd Bend Mine. The ASMC has granted the Shepherd Bend Mine a permit – still contested – to mine across from the same Birmingham Water Works Board intake that Riverkeeper sought to protect with its Lands Unsuitable for Coal Mining Petition.
After twelve years as advocacy director, WTA bids a fond farewll to Jonathan Guzzo. As he takes the next step in his career, he leaves hikers in a much better position than when he arrived in 2001. From trail funding to coalition-building around trails, Jonathan has delivered time and again for hikers.
In 2001, WTA's advocacy program was focused almost completely on the state legislature. During his tenure, he took it from that narrow focus to a program that was effective across a broad range of issues and in many different venues, from state and federal land managers to the US Senate.
In Olympia, Jonathan poured his first three years of work into reforming the Non-Highway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities program (NOVA). This program allocates gas tax revenue for projects that are accessed via a non-highway road (like those on national forests and national parks). His efforts were instrumental in changing the allocation from being 20 percent for non-motorized projects to 80 percent, which has been a boon for trail maintenance projects around the state.Under Jonathan's leadership, WTA also became a national leader for other funding programs, including the federal Recreation, Heritage and Wilderness and the Recreational Trails Programs as these came up for reauthorization. At the state level, Jonathan successfully advocated for funding for DNR lands and Washington State Parks.
Jonathan's collaborative approach brought together trail groups that had squabbled for years, uniting hikers with equestrians and mountain bikers in particular around issues of mutual importance. After researching a ground-breaking report about the state of recreational access on Washington's public lands last year, he took a lead role in pioneering the Sustainable Roads Analysis Process on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This public process is culminating November 13 in Everett, and will help the Forest shrink the size of its massive road system."I'm proud of the work that I've done at WTA," reflected Jonathan Guzzo on his long tenure. "Our advocacy program is as respected as an innovative, engaged and effective model for positive change. Over the past twelve years, I have worked hard to address difficult issues in a collaborative spirit, and we've won important victories in the process."
Jonathan is taking some well-deserved time off before taking on his next professional venture.
"The time is right for me to take on new challenges and learn new skills. I'm looking forward to watching WTA as it continues to succeed on complex issues and win victories for hikers."
And WTA looks forward to working with Jonathan in whatever new position he takes on. We thank him for a great twelve years!
Today the United States District Court for the District of Utah struck down significant parts of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Resource Management Plan for the Richfield Office, putting the brakes on a Bush-era management scheme that prioritized motorized recreation over all else. A coalition of conservation groups led by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and Earthjustice had challenged the plan (the “Richfield RMP”) in an attempt
Washington has entered a transition season, one where winter has come to the high country while fall still reigns supreme lower down. Sun, snow, sleet, wind, rain—you captured it all and faithfully reported your adventures back for the hikers who will follow in your footsteps.Seasonal safety basics
The changing season also calls for a few changes in your hiking safety basics. Revisit your 10 essentials, and consider adding extra clothes and emergency supplies. Get religious about checking conditions and knowing the weather report.
There are some grand adventures awaiting you in the days and months ahead, but like the land around you, your safety routines need to change with the season. In short, go prepared and be extra careful out there.Six trails, one weekend in Washington
You can get all these views from one single weekend in Washington, making this state a pretty good place for a hiker to live. Match the photos to the trails and trip reporters who captured them below, and then dive deeper into trip reports for more ideas for your late fall hiking.
Top row left: "We were right on the edge of the weather, so we had lots of clouds, but also lots of sun and not too much wind ... We saw a couple of groups of bighorn sheep on the sides of the canyon and some aspens and cottonwoods still holding on to some yellow leaves in the canyon itself." —East Rim Waterworks Canyon in the Naches Valley. David Hagen (aka mytho-man).
Top center: "Make sure you are properly prepared and this isn't for beginners. Overall the elevation gain is not that bad at all and would be a great hike with some better weather." —Fisher Lake by Lismic
Top right: "The trail was covered by snow starting 1 mile from the trail head ... Because it was snowing heavily, the trail was muddy and wet. Make sure you bring your waterproof hiking boots to enjoy the hike." —Melakwa Lake by Elsa
Bottom row left: "There were clouds hiding most of Baker, but the glacier was clear. A light drizzle started about two miles up the trail, but subsided when we reached the glacier. We enjoyed the blue ice in the crevasses and the interesting serac formations. —Helitrope Ridge by geezerhiker
Bottom center: "The trail is in great shape - trees and native rose shrubs nicely brushed back. There are several new areas where the hillside is slumping - wouldn't be surprised we loose the north most turn of the old switchback down to the beach this winter. The views were as awesome as always. If you have never done this relatively easy, close in hike, put it on your list." —Ebey's Landing by wafflesnfalafel
Bottom right: "Soon Mt. Rainier emerged over the horizon. We reached the summit at 11:47. We had lunch below the beacon ... We saw no one else on the trail." —Katchess Beacon by Yasobara
Garden Canyon River, AZ | © Arizona Office of Tourism
Our Waters Are Connected
I strongly support the administration relying on this science report to inform and advance rulemaking to protect these streams and wetlands as “Waters of the United States” that deserve the protection of the Clean Water Act.First Name Last Name Email* Zip Code*
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You may know them simply as a small creek running through the backyard, or the little stream that only appears when it rains. They may not consistently flow with water or even have a name, but headwater streams are where all of our nation’s iconic rivers begin.
While they may not get a lot of credit, a new graphic (below) from the Environmental Protection Agency demonstrates just how reliant many of us are on them for some or all of our drinking water. Across the country, approximately 117 million Americans rely on small headwater streams at least in part for their drinking water supply. This map shows the percentage of the population by county that gets at least some of their drinking water from these small streams.Why care about small streams?
Small streams are where every river begins, from the Colorado to the Mississippi. Not only do they help provide drinking water to millions of Americans, they also help absorb and reduce the impacts of flooding, recharge groundwater supplies, and retain and process the nutrients that can cause water pollution.
Caring about small streams is critical right now as the Environmental Protection Agency takes steps to clarify protections for them under the Clean Water Act. Since 2006 and following two Supreme Court cases, protections for both small streams and wetlands were put into question. The Agency recently put forward a draft rule to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act for interagency review. While the draft rule isn’t available publicly yet, it will be based on the most recent science as put forward in a scientific report that will be reviewed by a panel of experts.How can you help?
American Rivers strongly supports the Administration’s efforts to address this important clean water issue and we hope you’ll add your voice, supporting the EPA’s efforts by signing the petition at right.