PUBLIC LANDS NEED TRAIL GUARDIANS BY MICHAEL MURGUIA
Adventure is necessary. I say this all the time because, I know firsthand the power of nature to recenter, reset and reinvigorate even the most weary. There is nothing better than exploring public lands and finding an epic dispersed camping spot in the middle of nowhere to spend the night. It can truly be a life-changing experience and it is the core reason I created Overland Bound.
But here’s the thing about accessing these remote spaces, when we use public lands, we must become stewards of the land. One way Overland Bound encourages folks to make a positive impact on public spaces is through our Trail Guardian program. This is a volunteer-based initiative that focuses on trail cleanup, repairs and maintenance. We encourage people to take an active role to help keep public lands and trails open.
The types of projects that Trail Guardians work on vary depending on the needs of the area. Some projects may involve trash cleanup, removing debris and helping restore natural habitats. Other projects include repairing trails after wildfires, erasing illegal tracks and installing barriers, markers and signs.
The impact of trail cleanups and repairs cannot be overstated. When the Trail Guardian program helps coordinate the removal of trash and debris, volunteers are helping local land managers who might not have the budget and resources to clean up an impacted area. Maintaining the condition of trails not only helps ensure that they remain accessible to the public, but it also helps preserve the natural beauty and integrity of the surrounding environment.
Trail cleanups and repairs also have a positive impact on outdoor recreation. By maintaining trails in good condition, visitors can continue to access and enjoy the vastness and beauty of these natural places.
We are incredibly proud of the impact we have made; in particular, we are excited by our ongoing relationship with the Mojave National Preserve. We have partnered with the National Parks Service on multiple projects including the removal of 100+ tons of garbage, barrier installation and illegal track erasure within the preserve. Without this work, the park managers would have been forced to close sensitive areas. We want public lands to be protected for the people, not from the people.
How can you get involved? A quick scan of the internet can alert you to community cleanups and trail events near you. Anyone can sign up and participate in various Trail Guardian projects across the country. We provide training, resources and tools to help ensure that volunteers can work safely and effectively on the trails.
Tread Lightly is a non-profit organization with a fantastic amount of training resources and volunteer opportunities nationwide. I highly recommend becoming familiar with their principles and getting involved with projects organized by their team.
It is crucial to take care of public lands, not only for the present but also for future generations. By working together to maintain trails, we can help these spaces remain accessible and enjoyable for all.
Whether you’re an avid outdoor enthusiast or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, consider volunteering for a Trail Guardian event or any local cleanup. And always remember to pack out more than you pack in! Doing your part is where stewardship begins.