MARS partners with multiple agencies to conduct prescribed burns on the Mt. Adams Community Forest and neighboring lands. Photo: Jay McLaughlin/Mt. Adams Resource Stewards
The natural and economic history of south central Washington is as colorful, thought-provoking, and emotion-inducing as many other places throughout the west. Regardless of the lens you look through, it is a different place today compared to what it used to be. While communities have expanded and decreased in population and economic staples have varied over the years, some things never change: the demand for local jobs with a feedback loop that provides a level of financial stability for the geographic “neighborhood” south of Mt. Adams from Stevenson to Goldendale and just across the Columbia River in Oregon.
Hometown pride inspires many who find themselves living and playing under the peaks of the Cascades. In Mt. Adams country, it is apparent in every conversation if you listen long enough. What is also apparent is a need that Mt. Adams Resource Stewards (MARS) hopes to fulfill – providing a field crew to support the organization’s mission, help partners reach their goals, and assist land owners in managing their natural resources with multiple interests in mind.
Inspiration for the crew came from the community. Between a diverse group of partners from federal to nonprofit and engaged private landowners with ample acreage broaching the topic with MARS, it seemed there was no better time than the present to pull something together. The cross-trained team will be skilled in areas such as fuels management practices like pre-commercial thinning and prescribed burning, restoration techniques like planting and invasive weed eradication, and infrastructure support with wildlife friendly fences. It is a hope to not only have the crew staff be red carded for prescribed burning purposes, but to also provide support to the local fire districts, as well as state and federal entities when incidents occur in the area around the south Mt. Adams landscape.
There have been similar crews over the decades, but changing cultures and economic structures dismantled them. Since then, there are still like-crews available, but they often come from hours away and have larger hurdles to overcome because of it. There are more local options, Washington Youth Conservation Corps or inmate crews, that benefit multiple arenas as well. However, they are often restricted to lighter projects that do not require power tools or certain skills needed for larger projects and have limited working knowledge of key factors like terrain, climate, vegetation, access, and more. With this Stewardship Crew working under MARS, a goal is to have the MARS crew enhance the portfolio of options available to land owners in order to better manage the landscape.
MARS aims to promote sustainable connections between the land and local communities. With the help of its Stewardship Crew, a collaborative effort within the Mt. Adams neighborhood to care for the landscape and all that are in it will be more easily achieved. Your “neighborhood” is a community like your extended family. The south central portion of Mt. Adams country is where MARS feels connected with the land and the people. Where is your “neighborhood”?