Tak­ing cleanup into their own hands

Wild­places re­acts to Fed­eral shut­down of Gi­ant Se­quoia Na­tional Mon­u­ment

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE -

This past week­end, vol­un­teers from Wild­places, a com­mu­nity ben­e­fits or­ga­ni­za­tion fo­cus­ing on land and wa­ter restora­tion and pro­tec­tion in the south­ern Sierra, took per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Tule River dur­ing the on­go­ing fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down.

By re­mov­ing trash and gang tag­ging along the river, vol­un­teers con­tinue a ten-year his­tory of stew­ard­ship projects that keep pub­lic lands healthy and open to the pub­lic and tourism. More events are planned.

Ac­tions such as these, con­ducted by vol­un­teers and led by Wild­places, have been oc­cur­ring well be­fore the cur­rent fi­nan­cial cri­sis. Since 2001, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s three pro­grams (Rio Lim­pio: River Stew­ard­ship, 100 Gi­ants, and Im­mersed in the Wild pro­grams) have hosted thou­sands of vol­un­teers on over 200 vol­un­teer-driven, place-based stew­ard­ship events on pub­lic lands. The clo­sure of parks and

na­tional forests through­out the coun­try doesn’t change much in the habits of Wild­places.

“While our small band of ded­i­cated vol­un­teers are im­por­tant in main­tain­ing the long-term pic­ture of a healthy Gi­ant Se­quoia Na­tional Mon­u­ment (GSNM), we are not the re­place­ment for a solid For­est Ser­vice bud­get that in­cludes recre­ation of­fi­cers, wilder­ness rangers, and in­ter­pre­tive staff,” says Mehmet Mcmil­lan, founder of Wild­places.

Con­sid­ered one of the world’s pre­miere tourist des­ti­na­tions, the Gi­ant Se­quoia Na­tional Mon­u­ment cel­e­brates the old­est and largest liv­ing things on earth – the Gi­ant Se­quoias. Mil­lions of dol­lars an­nu­ally are spent in Tu­lare, Kern, and Fresno Coun­ties on recre­ation and tourism. Travel and tourism are im­por­tant to com­mu­ni­ties in the Gi­ant Se­quoia re­gion, rep­re­sent­ing about 16% of to­tal pri­vate wage and salary em­ploy­ment, or 55,100 jobs, in 2015.

In Cal­i­for­nia, the Out­door In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion re­ported that recre­ation con­trib­utes more than $85 bil­lion an­nu­ally to the state’s econ­omy.

In­ter­ested vol­un­teers can reach Wild­places for up­com­ing dates on the river and at the trail of 100 Gi­ants this Spring by call­ing 559.539.5263 or [email protected] wild­places.net. More in­for­ma­tion about Wild­places can be found at www.wild­places.net. Wild­places is funded in part by CA Wild­lands Grass­roots Fund, Wildspaces, and the Rose Foun­da­tion.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHO­TOS

Above and Be­low: A group of vol­un­teers led by lo­cal con­ser­va­tion group Wild­places spent time last week­end pick­ing up trash and re­mov­ing gang tag­ging along the Tule River in­side the Gi­ant Se­quoia Na­tional Mon­u­ment east of Springville.

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