‘Trailhead Ambassador’ program seeks volunteers

Lush vegetation is part of the draw at Latourell Falls, a popular trail in the Gorge. Volunteer Trailhead Ambassadors are needed throughout the gorge.

The 2019 season of the Trailhead Ambassador program, an initiative designed to equip visitors to the National Scenic Area in the Gorge and Mount Hood, will kick off on Earth Day, April 20, and the program organizers are currently looking for volunteers.

Volunteer Trailhead Ambassadors will answer hiking- and recreation-related questions, promote responsible hiker ethics like “Leave No Trace,” and steer people to useful resources like ReadySetGorge.com, an online guide to help visitors plan their hiking trips to the Gorge.

The ambassadors will be placed at some of the busiest trailheads in the Mt. Hood National Forest and the National Scenic Area, including Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, Dog Mountain, Cape Horn, Timberline Lodge, and Mirror Lake, on weekends during peak season.

Collaborating on the effort are Friends of the Columbia Gorge, the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge Regional Tourism Alliance, the U.S. Forest Service, and Oregon State Parks.

The program’s 2018 pilot season was highly successful; over the course of four and a half months, 94 volunteers donated 1,848 hours to engage with more than 23,700 visitors at some of the busiest trails in the region.

Jami Starr, a Park Ranger for Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), said of the 2018 volunteers, “Through their efforts, we saw an increase in visitor safety and a decrease in impact on our trail systems. We’re grateful to last year’s Ambassadors and look forward to the working with this year’s volunteers.”

Organizers are looking for friendly, professional, outgoing individuals who enjoy informing and helping others and possess knowledge of Gorge and Mt. Hood trails.

Volunteers are required to attend one four-hour volunteer training, which are planned for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on a series of Saturdays: April 6 (at Marine Park Pavilion, 395 SW Portage Road, Cascade Locks), April 13 (at KEEN Headquarters, 505 NW 13th Ave, Portland), and May 11 (at Community Church of Sandy, 39290 Scenic St., Sandy.)

Volunteers receive a “Trailhead Ambassador” T-shirt, and those who complete 24 hours of volunteer service earn a Northwest Forest Pass.

For details or to sign up to volunteer, go to gorgefriends.org/ambassador.

“Trailhead Ambassadors share their love for public lands by connecting visitors with this special place,” said Lynn Burditt, the Forest Service’s Area Manager for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

“The Forest Service is thrilled to be a partner in this shared stewardship program.”

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