In the summer of 2020, Elise Watts set off with her son and daughter, 6 year old twins, for 3.5 weeks navigating the windswept ridgetops of the Great Burn Proposed Wilderness. They covered nearly 80 miles, visited 16 lakes, had numerous wildlife encounters and made lasting memories. No small feat for an adult, but truly incredible for a family with small children.
Check out the presentation recording. If you're interested in their route, make sure to grab a Great Burn map by Carin Cartographics!
Chris Prange has worked on both the GBCA trails crew and the noxious weed crew. In this 'Voices of the Burn', Chris tells us why wilderness is important to him and his favorite memory from working in the Great Burn.
In our second installment of Voices of the Burn, we turn to GBCA's long time Backcountry Ranger. Rory walks hundreds of miles every summer patrolling the Great Burn backcountry. Learn what a backcountry ranger does and why he thinks wilderness is important.
We're starting a new series! Through Voices of the Burn, we hope to show why the Great Burn is worthy and deserving permanent protection, how we are working towards that goal, and some of the wonderful people that make this area so special.
First up is Liz Bradley. Liz works as a wildlife biologist for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, and is responsible for managing the wildlife in the Montana portion of the Great Burn.
In the summer of 1971, our director emeritus Dale Harris bought a school bus with ten friends and embarked on a three-week backpacking trip in the Great Burn. During that summer, Dale fell in love with the region’s open ridgelines, cedar creek bottoms and abundant alpine lakes.
He and the GBCA have been working to protect the Great Burn ever since.
This past weekend, we were honored to celebrate Dale's induction into the Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame. We are so proud of the work he has done, and continues to do, to keep the Great Burn wild.
To celebrate, we're sharing some photos from that fateful summer of '71 and from the GBCA's earliest days:
Giving season is here, and we have 2,866 reasons you should support the GBCA! (And, if that's not enough, we're also matching the first $5,000 we receive this month.) Why will you choose to donate this year?
Make a contribution today at www.greatburn.org/donate.
Questions or concerns -- or just want to chat? Email Skye at email@example.com to discuss your giving options.
It's hard to believe that 2020 is coming to a close. With a less than normal start to the field season due to Covid-19, Great Burn summer stewardship crews were able to complete a remarkable amount of work. Our field crews deserve an enormous round of applause- not only did they complete important stewardship work in the Great Burn and surrounding roadless areas, but they are all passionate conservationists who deeply care about wild places.
(Hard) Hats off to you, 2020 field crew!!
Sarah and Dan were part of the GBCA/Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest integrated trail crew. They logged and brushed 26 miles of trail, built 1477 cu ft of retaining wall (that's enough to fill a 20' shipping container plus some!) cleaned 144 drains, and completed 1620' of tread improvement throughout the North Fork Ranger District.
KELLY CREEK NOXIOUS WEED CREW
Every summer the weed crew is packed deep into the Great Burn backcountry to treat weeds throughout the Kelly Creek drainage. This year, Zack and Chris directly spot treated 13.5 acres, completed inventory on over 350 acres, released 1,000 knapweed biocontrols, and hand pulled over 100 pounds of weeds.
Backcountry ranger Rory O'Connor is in his 13th season with GBCA. Rory serves as the eyes and ears on the ground, and covered roughly 275 miles of backcountry trails this season. He also maintained 12 campsites, naturalized 20, checked for correct signage, and packed out 73 pounds of trash.
STATELINE CAMPSITE INVENTORY
Every summer GBCA crews visit backcountry lakes along the stateline trail, monitoring, maintaining, and naturalizing human impacts to the land. In 2020, GBCA stateline crew members Jory, Claire, Trevor, and Emily surveyed 15 lakes, maintained 58 backcountry campsites, naturalized 20, and packed out 21 pounds of trash.
Special thanks to the Liz Claiborne-Art Ortenberg Foundation, Cadeau Foundation, Cinnabar Foundation, National Forest Foundation, Yellowstone to Yukon Foundation, and others for supporting our stewardship work this year.
We can't wait to get back out there in 2021!
Summer is flying by, and the GBCA Stewardship team is already more than half way through the field season! Despite the challenges of COVID, GBCA was able to hire 10 seasonal employees who have been working diligently to keep the Great Burn wild.
To date we have:
And summer is not over yet!
Photo cred: (Clockwise) C Prange, R O'Connor, S Wood, B Lindler
Volunteer Stewardship Projects- Sign Up Today!
Every year, volunteers contribute hundreds of hours protecting, studying, and restoring resources in the Great Burn through activities such as:
View our full list of volunteer opportunities here.
GBCA is excited to announce Skye Borden as the new Development and Advocacy Director. Skye has over ten years of experience working in rural communities to promote land and water conservation.
She can be reached at Skye@greatburn.org.