MAI board member Mike Gundlach spearheads the Columbia Gorge Youth Explorers program, which promotes the development of life skills through community service, outdoor recreation and strong connections to the social and natural landscape of the area. Youth Explorer participants include the recently adjudicated, those in the foster care system and other young people that can benefit from interaction with positive role models like Mike. Read about Mike’s latest adventure.
Recently, I have been partnering with the Next Door Inc. and Friends of Columbia Gorge (FOCG) to connect youth with a visionary project launched by FOCG. The project is dubbed “Towns to Trails.” It’s a 20 year vision to connect towns throughout the Columbia River Gorge with trails between each of them.
This past week youth from the Next Door Inc. helped break new trail on part of this historic project located on a beautiful plateau rising above the town of Mosier. FOCG purchased this property due in part to its proximity with another local trail that connects downtown Mosier with the Mosier Falls swimming hole. Eventually this trail will connect the town of Mosier with The Dalles.
This was the youth’s first introduction to FOCG. The manager of the Towns to Trails project, Renee Tkach, provided them with an outstanding opportunity to learn about the local area, hear about conservation efforts of FOCG, gain trail building skills, connect with the natural environment and sip hot chocolate during their lunch time break. In addition, the youth were able to connect with a representative from Northwest Youth Corps (NYC) and learn about summer opportunities and careers in the outdoors.
The group finished the day exploring the lower trail and the Mosier falls. As they walked down the trail joking around and tell stories one might envision them coming back to this trail 20 years from now with their kids to take a swim in the cool waters of the creek and hike up to the plateau to share their story of how they helped build this trail to pass on to future generations…
A big thanks goes out to those that made this day possible. Renee (FOCG), Livia (NDI) and Brian (NYC) – you guys are awesome!