Cascade Volunteers, the nonprofit friends group of the Willamette National Forest, is excited to announce a new project along the McKenzie River.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2021, the McKenzie Regenerative Travel Project will bring volunteers to the McKenzie River Corridor, where they’ll spend a weekend volunteering and enjoying all the region has to offer, including outdoor recreation like hiking and mountain biking. This project, funded by Travel Oregon’s Destination Ready Program, combines tourism and stewardship by partnering volunteers with local nonprofits to engage in hands-on forest restoration aimed to help public lands and communities affected by the catastrophic Holiday Farm Fire, which burned nearly 175,000 acres along the McKenzie River in the summer and fall of 2020.
“We have seen an increase in forest use during the pandemic,” said District Ranger, Darren Cross. “Exploring the forest and connecting with nature is important for community wellness and the recovery of the McKenzie River economy. The forest will always be resilient and whether it is wildfire or increased visitation, the Forest Service continues to work with the community and our partners to steward the forest for everyone. The McKenzie Regenerative Travel Project is a great example of partnerships working to boost the post-fire economy and connect people with their national forest.”
The Holiday Farm Fire began on September 7, 2020 just west of McKenzie Bridge, Oregon. Strong winds pushed the fire through the communities of Blue River, Finn Rock, Nimrod, Vida, and Leaburg, burning a total of 173,439 acres in a mosaic pattern.
“The McKenzie Valley holds a special place in the hearts of its residents and visitors alike.” said Alyssa Brownlee of the Horse Creek Lodge. “The Holiday Farm Fire, while devastating, also brought forth an unbelievable amount of support from near and far. This project will be a wonderful opportunity to share and continue the long recovery process, while supporting our local businesses. We’re excited to be a part of this!”
“The Willamette Valley Visitors Association believes travel has the power to positively develop both the destination and those who visit,” said Dawnielle Tehama, Executive Director of the Willamette Valley Visitors Association. “In order for travel to have its greatest power it must be conscious, equitable, forward thinking, and accessible to all. Willamette Valley Visitors Association and its regenerative travel partners are committed to the future of travel. A future ripe with sustainable and regenerative travel opportunities by connecting travelers to guiding principles, inspiration and ways to
protect our destinations. We are all stewards of this land, it is our responsibility to connect to the communities we touch.”
The all-new project is a collaborative effort, partners include, First Nature Tours, Horse Creek Lodge, McKenzie General Store, Belknap Hot Springs, Eugene, Cascades & Coast, Willamette Valley Visitors Association, Friends of the Central Cascades Wilderness, Worthy Garden Club, and Disciples of Dirt.
Interested volunteers can book their three-day, two-night volunteer trip with First Nature Tours. If you’re not ready to travel but want to support stewardship efforts on our fire-impacted public lands, donations can be made directly to Cascade Volunteers.
About Cascade Volunteers
Cascade Volunteers is the 501(c)(3) friends group partner of the Willamette National Forest. Our mission is to connect individuals and communities to the Willamette National Forest and adjacent public lands through programs, stewardship, and education. Visit our website at http://cascadevols.org/ or follow @cascadevolunteers on Facebook and Instagram
About First Nature
First Nature is a tour operator and outfitter based in Portland, Oregon that provides professional guide services and custom itinerary design for the Pacific Northwest and several international destinations. We aim to educate and entertain the intrepid traveler through sustainable explorations of the world by using our expert destination knowledge. to create custom luxury tour experiences that combine professional guides with top-notch transportation, boutique lodging, and naturally and culturally unique places that are off the beaten path. Our foundation is built on increasing knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of the world around us while facilitating personal growth and transformation through travel.
Travel Lane County/Eugene, Cascades & Coast
Travel Lane County markets and promotes the Eugene, Cascades and Coast region as a destination for travel, conventions, sports, meetings and events. It serves as a private, nonprofit association dedicated to economic development through visitor spending, which pumped more than $783 million into Lane County, Oregon’s economy in 2019. www.EugeneCascadesCoast.org.
About the Willamette Valley Visitors Association
The Willamette Valley, defined as the area between the crest of the Cascade Mountains and the crest of the Coast Range, from Newberg south to Cottage Grove, is the largest river valley in the Pacific Northwest. Willamette Valley Visitors Association (WVVA) is a private, nonprofit organization that supports travel and tourism in the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s Wine Country. Comprising six destination marketing organizations, WVVA works to maintain the Willamette Valley as Oregon’s premier travel destination, while also highlighting the culture, heritage and natural resources of the region. For more information, visit https://www.oregonwinecountry.