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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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March 18, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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March 18, 2015
 

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, March 18, 2015 1B INSIDE SECTION B: EDITORIAL OPINIONS UPCOMING EVENTS Ann Powers Staff Writer a powers@plu masnews.com ierra Buttes Trail Stewardship Executive Director Greg Williams bought his first suit and tie -- ever -- for the organization's annual Trailfest fundraiser at the Nakoma Golf Resort and Spa on March 7. "So, I'm pretty serious about it," he chuckled. "It's a chance for us to reach out to the community and not be filthy trail people, dress up and be around the people we want to be around." That'swhat they're really serious about, added Williams : :~i;~::~ii ~ :!~iii: :~i~? i~i "It's about trails, but it's also about cultivating a Community of "people who want to smile, love being respectful, and and respect the outdoors as much as we do and be in a place that's awesome." Formed in 2003, and based in the rugged northern Sierra, Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship is a volunteer-driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated primarily to the maintenance and enhancement of the trail systems in Plumas and Sierra counties and beyond. The group employs about 20 staffers, all of whom are Plumas and Sierra County residents, with a payroll of approximately $425,000. In addition to a paid trail crew, SBTS has donated over 40,000 hours of volunteer labor to both the Plumas and Tahoe national forests to maintain over 150 miles of shared-use trails and create 50 miles of new trails. While these trails -- some of which are 150 years old -- see over 200,000 users per year, they continue to hold an "A" standing. "We don't believe in raping the land for the sake of a dollar bill, nor do we advocate a 'hands off approach to the backcountry," states SBTS literature. "We believe that, with proper care, this area can provide enjoyable backcountry access for everyone for decades to come." STBS says it uses a proven, unique and green stewardship model that improves local economies, strengthens rural communities, promotes active lifestyles and produces sustainable jobs. "It's about trails, but it's also about being respectful, and kind, and loving and creating a community around you," explained Williams. "It's more of a philosophy and a way of living. We want to contribute and we have a long history of doing a really good job." Boy, do they ever. Staffers and volunteers work at an almost obsessive-compulsive pace (translation: passionate) on a trail-blazing enhancement mission maintaining, restoring, realigning and -- their favorite -- constructing new trails for motorized, multiuse and accessible pathways. The nonprofit pays its own grassroots way through a combination of grants, donations, endowments, sponsorships, membership dues and fundraisers. Then, they pay it forward. For example, as part of its Challenge cost-share agreements with the U.S. Forest Service, SBTS supplies an in-kind match of 20 percent by offering staff time, volunteer labor, equipment and tools, food for volunteers, employee and volunteer travel.., and sometimes free beer. The hardworking and fun-loving bunch also unites with local businesses to support area trails by inviting merchant customers to make a $1 donation that is then added to their lodging or food bill. This project started as a pilot program at the Gray Eagle Lodge in the heart of the Lakes Basin Recreational area. Today, it's expanded to include a vast range of businesses throughout Plumas and Sierra counties that benefit from recreational tourism and active residents. Knowledge is power and SBTS gets that. The stewardship has also created a trail-building curriculum to train staff, volunteers and government trail workers. "The maintenance and restoration of our local trails is an ongoing and vital undertaking," said Trail Programs Director Tara Stone. "Trail work that was historically accomplished kind, and loving and creating a community around you." Oreg Williams Executive Director Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship by Forest Service trail crews is now done by volunteers and a locally hired, professional trail crew." In addition to trail building and restoration skills, participants learn equipment maintenance, safety and risk management, project planning, leading volunteer crews and documenting project performance. A grant from outdoor retailer REI funds the training development. Special programs SBTS folks say they understand that children are our greatest resource. An all-time favorite within, and without, the organization is its award-winning and nationally acclaimed Trail Kids program. Children ages 5 and up are given opportunities to make positive, lasting memories in the outdoors while engaging in environmental education and enjoyable activities. Williams said that pretty much describes his childhood, and he wants to pass the torch to the upcoming generation of Mother Earth-loving, new-age hippies. "I grew up with my family driving jeeps through the woods," he recalled. "For the most part, we all have kids and we want to teach them how to take care of this special place where we live. We're, like, bringing up the next generation of stewards of the earth." Youngsters visit summit peaks, explore waterways, find native wildlife, participate in trail maintenance, learn about healthy tree identification and, most importantly, have fun in the Sierra. Trail Kids' adult leaders also pack a lot of praise and patience for the young ones, so each child comes away feeling like he or she truly accomplished something. "It's about having them out there on a project they can be proud of," said Williams, "so they can say, 'I live in Portola and it's rad!'" Because rugged mountain terrain can sometimes be just i! Santa Cruz Bicycles is Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship's Corporate Partner of the Year. that -- rugged.-- the program's staff is medically trained, CPR certified and has emergency radio access at all times. It doesn't stop with just the wee ones; the Student Trail Crew project hires local high school students for summer trail work as well. In partnership With the Feather River Land Trust and Plumas Unified School District, SBTS also hopes to design, install and maintain Learning Landscapes trails at every school located in Plumas County, including the communities of Portola, Quincy, Greenville, Chestbr and Almanor. There's also the Adopt-a-Trail campaign for businesses and individuals to get involved with both cash and in-kind contributions. Monetary sponsorships range from $500 to $2,500. Noncash contributions include donating products for giveaways, vacation rentals to house volunteers and more. "We believe, with an eye always toward staying in balance with nature, that this very special place can exist as a showcase for how to co-exist, humans to nature, and human to hufi an," according to the SBTS website. Trailfest Not only does SBTS take its work seriously, it takes its play seriously. See Stewardship, page 14B