Citizen Science Trips

CITIZEN SCIENCE AND RESTORATION TRIPS 

Thank you for your interest in volunteering for a trip in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest!

In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we have cancelled the citizen science trips until July. We regret needing to cancel these trips, but we would still like to encourage you to enjoy being in the Cascades if you’re able! 

 

Here’s what you can expect:

As a volunteer citizen scientist, you’ll join experienced conservationists as we work together to preserve and restore the unique ecosystems in and around Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Come learn and explore while you make a positive impact that will last for years to come.

No prior experience is necessary to volunteer as a citizen scientist–you’ll learn everything you need to know once you arrive at the project site. Some sites are easier to reach than others. Use our 1 (easy) – 5 (demanding) difficulty rating scale to select the trip that’s the right fit for your outdoor experience and comfort.

A few things to remember when signing up:

  • Trips are free, but fill quickly, so reserve your spot ASAP!
  • Volunteers are responsible for supplying their own food, water, camping gear (as needed) and appropriate clothing for being in the field.
  • For overnight trips, volunteers and CFC staff will stay at reserved campsites within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. During colder months, we’ll reserve lodging at cabins or bunkhouses.
  • Before your trip, CFC staff will provide you with additional trip details, gear lists, meeting information, and carpool options.

Trip Descriptions

Cancelled: Earth Day Planting on the South Fork Toutle River | Saturday, April 25

CANCELLED

When: Saturday, April 25, 10:00am-3:00pm

Where: Harrington Flats, South Fork Toutle River (30 minutes past Toutle, WA)

Trip leader: Suzanne Whitney

Volunteers and CFC staff will work together to plant native trees along the South Fork Toutle River. Your work will help enable Chinook salmon to return to their traditional spawning streams and will improve the aquatic system for species already present, like coho salmon and steelhead. This project is a special collaboration with the Lower Columbia Fish Enhancement Group. You can learn more about their work to improve fish habitat across the region here.

Difficulty: 4 out of 5 || This trip will entail several hours of physical labor, including hiking through uneven terrain with heavy gear. Volunteers are encouraged to work at a pace that is most comfortable for them.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm layers of clothing
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Food and Water

We’ll provide:

  • Work gloves
  • Shovels
  • Trees!
Cancelled: Invasive Plant Removal in the Cowlitz Valley | Saturday and Sunday, May 30-31 (overnight)

CANCELLED

When: 11:00am May 30 – 2:00pm May 31

Where: Cowlitz Valley, near Packwood WA

Trip leader: Suzanne Whitney 

Help clear out invasive species and allow our native plants to thrive! Our U.S. Forest Service partners have identified locations where the removal and mapping of invasive species can help prevent their spread. Your group will camp along the Cowlitz River to visit and monitor locations where invasive species were cleared in previous years. We’ll asses the results of our earlier work and continue to remove scotchbroom and spotted knapweed.

Difficulty: 3 out of 5 || This trip will entail squatting or bending and off-trail hiking over uneven terrain. Volunteers are encouraged to work at a pace that is most comfortable for them.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm layers of clothing
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Food and water
  • Camping gear

We’ll provide:

  • Work gloves
  • Pruners
  • Hand shovels

Lodging: Campground on the Cowlitz River

Cancelled: Beaver Tracking | Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7 (overnight)

CANCELLED

When: 11:00am June 6 – 2:00pm June 7

Where: Upper Cispus River

Trip Leader: Amanda Keasberry 

Our group of CFC staff and volunteers will work to monitor the impacts that beavers reintroduced to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest are having on the forest. Beavers are an important part of a healthy forest and a safeguard against some of the dangers posed by climate change. The presence of beavers can improve the health of entire aquatic systems. Dams have been shown to cool streams, increase drought resilience, and provide habitat for diverse species from amphibians to fish to birds. The information you’ll gather will provide invaluable insights into successful beaver reintroduction efforts and the impact of this important keystone species.

Difficulty: 5 out of 5 || This trip will entail hiking for long distances over uneven terrain, through water, over downed logs, and through brush.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy waterproof boots
  • Waders (if you have them)
  • Warm layers
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food and water
  • Camping gear

We’ll provide:

  • Data collection equipment

Lodging: Campground on the Cispus River

Preparing Old-Growth for Fire | Friday Saturday and Sunday, July 10-12 (two-day option available, see below)

When: 11:00am July 10 – 2:00pm July 12

We’ll be camping Friday to Sunday near the project area. Volunteers are welcome, but not expected, to join us for all three days. However, because space is limited, we ask that volunteers commit to join us for at least two consecutive days out of the three project days.

Please use the additional comments field to tell us which days you’d like to volunteer with us.

Where: South of Mount Adams

Trip leader: Amanda Keasberry

Our team will head out to old-growth forests on the south side of Mount Adams to prepare areas for prescribed burning. This project is part of a long-term effort in collaboration with the Mount Adams Resource Stewards to protect the majestic, old-growth ponderosa pines and Douglas firs in this unique part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It’s estimated that only 6% of our original old-growth forests are left in the US. Trees in old-growth forests south of Mt. Adams are not only threatened by high-intensity fires but are also experiencing negative impacts from drought and disease due to competition for water and nutrients. You’ll be working to protect this important habitat by pulling back fuels that have built up over the past century due to fire suppression and creating relatively open spaces to help old ponderosa pines and Douglas firs thrive.

Difficulty: 4 out of 5 || This trip will entail the use of large hand tools, moving woody debris by hand, and off-trail hiking over uneven terrain and downed logs.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm layers
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food and water and other essentials
  • Camping gear

We’ll provide:

  • Gloves
  • Hand tools
  • Orange vests

Lodging: Campground near the Mt. Adams Wilderness.

Invasive Plant Removal on the Lewis River Trail | Saturday and Sunday, July 18-19 (one-day option available, see below)

When: 11:00am July 10 – 2:00pm July 12

Volunteers who choose not to backcountry camp are welcome to join for some Saturday weeding, then hike back to the trailhead in the afternoon. Your help is valuable either way!

Where: Lewis River Trail

Trip leader: Suzanne Whitney

U.S. Forest Service Botanists recently highlighted the Lewis River Trail as a priority for invasive plant mapping and removal. Shade-tolerant invasive pose a greater threat to old- growth forest than other non-native species. Small patches of shade-tolerant herb Robert have been found in old-growth forest stands along the Lewis River Trail. You’ll backpack along Lewis River Falls Trail and remove herb-Robert before it’s able to fully take hold. We will be accompanied by a botany expert from the U.S. Forest Service who will help direct our work and teach us about local flora. We’ll work along the 9-mile trail over the course of two days. There are known patches of herb Robert within the first two miles of the trail, so if you choose not to backcountry camp, you can still join us and make an important impact!

Difficulty: 3 out of 5 || This trip will entail squatting or bending over as we walk along a 9-mile segment of the Lewis River Trail. The trail is ranked as moderate.

Everyone will need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm layers
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food, water, and other essentials

Volunteers joining us for the two-day trip will also need:

  • Overnight backpack
  • Food, water
  • Camping gear

We’ll provide:

  • Gloves
  • Trash bags

Lodging: Dispersed Camping along the Lewis River Trail

Huckleberry Monitoring in the Sawtooth Berry Fields | Saturday and Sunday, July 25-26 (overnight)

When: 10:00am July 25 – 3:00pm July 26

Where: Sawtooth Berry Fields

Trip leader: Amanda Keasberry

Join us on this tasty and educational trip to learn all about the cultural and ecological importance of huckleberries! Wild huckleberries are an important part of the cultural and food traditions of indigenous peoples and nourish many animals including bears and deer.

Volunteers on this trip will help us understand the effects of forest thinning on huckleberry restoration. You’ll will be revisiting plots we established in 2017. We’ll collect our fourth year of data on the abundance and fruiting of huckleberry plants in this area. You will be trained on site, then split up into groups with other volunteers and CFC staff to cover a larger area. On the second day of this trip, we’ll head back to the huckleberry fields to revisit more plots, and end the day early to pick huckleberries*

*Participants must obtain free Forest Products Permit if they want to collect berries. The permit can be found here.

Difficulty: 4 out of 5 || This trip will entail hiking on uneven ground, through brush, and over downed logs. Trees are limited in this area, so there will be extended periods of sun exposure.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm layers
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food, water, and other essentials
  • Camping gear
  • Gallon-size container for berries
  • Huckleberry permit (https://apps.fs.usda.gov/gp/#mainSection)

We’ll provide:

  • Data collection equipment

Lodging: Campground near the Berry Fields

Remote Forest Wildlife Camera Surveys | Friday, Saturday and Sunday, August 7-9 (overnight, two-day option available)

 When: 10:00am August 7 – 3:00pm August 9

We will be setting up and staying at a basecamp near the project area. If you can only join for two of the three days, please let us know when you sign-up. Space on this trip is limited, so we are asking that volunteers commit to at least two consecutive days on the project.

Where: Remote forest areas around the Cispus River and Lewis River

Trip Leader: Shiloh Halsey

This is your chance to venture off the beaten path to remote areas while also participating in CFC’s biggest wildlife study ever! We’re working with Oregon State University and the Institute for Natural Resources to conduct an in-depth study of marten and fisher populations in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We’re using camera traps to better understand current population densities and the habitat needs of these important species. You’ll work in small groups to retrieve and redeploy cameras that have been out in the field since last year.

Difficulty: 5 out of 5 || The cameras we’re retrieving are in strategic locations that may not always be easy to reach. This trip requires hiking over uneven terrain, through brush, over downed logs, traversing slippery rocks, and potentially up to 3 miles of hiking a day.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm layers
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food, water, and other essentials
  • Camping gear

We’ll provide:

  • Data collection equipment

Lodging: Campground near the Cispus River

Trip into the Dark Divide | Saturday and Sunday, August 15-16 (overnight)

WAITLIST ONLY

When: 11:00am August 15 – 2:00pm August 16

Where: The Dark Divide

Trip leaders: Lucy Brookham & Shiloh Halsey

On this trip, we will explore the Dark Divide to collect photos, observations, and other information that will be helpful for future efforts to designate this area as a new Wilderness area. Part of this includes an investigation of the current impacts and spread of off-road vehicle trails (sanctioned and non-sanctioned). Also on this trip, we will be placing wildlife cameras as part of our marten and fisher survey effort (a partnership with Oregon State University).

Difficulty: 4 out of 5 || This trip requires hiking over uneven terrain, through brush, over downed logs, traversing slippery rocks, and potentially up to 3 miles of hiking a day.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm layers
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food, water, and other essentials
  • Camping gear

We’ll provide:

  • Data collection equipment

Lodging: Campground near the Lewis River

Native Seed Collection near Mt. Adams | Saturday, August 29th

When: 10:00am – 5:00pm August 29

Where: South of Mt. Adams

Trip leader: Suzanne Whitney

Help us gather seeds while you learn to identify over 20 native plants found in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest! We’ll be collecting seeds from native shrubs and wildflowers as part of a long-term effort to build ecosystem health and future habitat resilience around Mt. Adams. The seeds gathered on this trip will be used to help restore areas that were severely impacted by recent, uncharacteristically intense wildfires, or by unusually frequent fires. A U.S. Forest Service specialist will teach you how to identify native species in the forest, as well as their potential uses! Some of the seeds you collect will be sown directly in burned landscape this fall, and others will be sent to a Forest Service facility to be grown out for planting in the future.

Difficulty: 2 out of 5 || The trip requires walking along uneven ground and extended exposure to the sun.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm layers
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food, water, and other essentials

We’ll provide:

  • Gloves
  • Bags for seed collection
Aquatic Restoration Surveys on the Upper Lewis River | Saturday and Sunday, September 5-6 (overnight)

When: 10:00am September 5– 3:00pm September 6

Where: Upper Lewis River

Trip leader: Amanda Keasberry

Be a part of the critical survey phase of restoration work along important fish habitat and drinking water sources! On this two-day trip, you’ll help CFC staff conduct beaver dam analogue (BDA) surveys and road surveys at drinking water source streams. Beaver dam analogues are structures made of natural materials that mimic beaver dams. Like beaver dams, BDAs increase stream complexity, attenuate flows, and create the deep cool pools many fish species need to thrive. You’ll be identifying sites along the streams that could benefit from these structures, which will be installed in 2021.

We will also tour remote forest roads near the Upper Lewis River to collect important data on stream culverts, forest road conditions, erosion, and fish passages. This information will be used to help CFC and the Forest Service prioritize road restoration efforts, repaire blocked culverts, address erosion issues, minimize potentially harmful sediment in streams, or close at-risk roads.

Difficulty: 5 out of 5 || This trip will entail walking numerous miles on roads and traversing steep roadsides along with off-trail hiking over uneven terrain, through brush, over downed logs, and on slippery rocks.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy waterproof hiking boots
  • Waders (if you have them)
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food, water, and other essentials
  • Camping gear

We’ll provide:

  • Data collection equipment

Lodging: Campground on the Lewis River

No Place for a Mine! Hike on Mt. St. Helens | Saturday September 19

When: 11:00am – 3:00pm September 19

There are available options for overnight camping depending on participant interest.

Where: Green River Trail #213

Trip leader: Lucy Brookham

Join our Policy Manager on a one-day trip to hike part of the Green River Trail and hear the latest updates on our campaign to stop the creation of a dangerous open-pit mine! CFC is engaged in a fight to stop a Canadian mining company’s plans to destroy a beautiful river valley near Mount St. Helens in their search for gold and copper. During this hike, you’ll learn what’s at stake and what you can do to join our work to prevent this disaster from becoming a reality.

Learn more about our campaign to stop the mine here.

Difficulty: 2 out of 5 || The trip will entail hiking 8 miles on a trail that is ranked moderate.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food, water, and other essentials
  • Camping gear if you plan to stay Saturday night

Lodging: CFC will reserve nearby campsites if enough hike participants want to stay overnight.

Post Fire Planting on Mt. Adams | Saturday and Sunday, October 3-4

When: 10:00am October 3 – 3:00pm October 4

Where: South of Mt. Adams

Trip leader: Suzanne Whitney

We’ll be dispersing native seeds and planting native shrubs to rebuild ecosystems and habitats. You’ll be hiking and working in areas just south of Mt. Adams that were impacted by uncharacteristically intense fires and unusually frequent fire over the last 12 years. Volunteers will be joined by a USFS Botanist to get an expert perspective of fires in a forested landscape. Hike through this barren landscape to help accelerate recovery of the forest structure!

Difficulty: 4 out of 5 || The trip will entail carrying 20 lbs of seed/shrubs will traversing uneven ground. Some trekking will be done on trail. The pace will be slow and steady, but we will need all parties to be able to carry seed/shrubs to the planting site.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food, water, and other essentials
  • Camping gear

We’ll Provide:

  • Gloves
  • Shovels
  • Orange vests
  • Planting bags to carry seeds and shrubs

Lodging:  Camping in Trout Lake

Riparian Planting along Trout Creek | Saturday and Sunday, October 17-18 (overnight, one-day option available)

When: 10:00am October 17 – 3:00pm October 18

Where: Trout Creek, Hemlock Picnic Area

Trip leader: Suzanne Whitney

In partnership with the US Forest Service, CFC is helping restore riparian areas by planting trees, shrubs, and rushes along streams and rivers. For this two-day trip, we will return to Trout Creek where Hemlock Dam was removed 11 years ago. Since the removal of the dam, the Forest Service has worked to restore Trout Creek in efforts to protect and enhance habitat for steelhead and other fish species. Last year CFC staff and volunteers planted over 2,000 trees at this site, but the area is still in need of more trees to help increase stream shade, improve bank stability, and enhance biodiversity. Join us in our efforts to enhance this beautiful area by planting more trees and shrubs!

Difficulty: 3 out of 5 || This trip will entail two full days of physical labor. Volunteers are encouraged to work at a pace that is most comfortable for them. The site is mostly flat and is near the Hemlock Picnic Site.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food, water, and other essentials
  • Camping gear

We’ll Provide:

  • Gloves
  • Shovels
  • Orange vests
  • Planting bags to carry seeds and shrubs

Lodging: Forest Service bunkhouses near planting site.

If you prefer to help for one day instead of spending the night, please let us know when you sign up.

Riparian Planting in the Cowlitz Valley | Saturday and Sunday, October 24-25 (One-day option available)

When: 10:30am October 24 – 3:00pm October 25

Where: Upper Cispus River / Yellowjacket Creek

Trip leader: Suzanne Whitney

In partnership with the Cowlitz Tribe and the US Forest Service, CFC staff and volunteers will be planting native trees near in-stream restoration sites to promote quick recovery and revegetation. After our first day of planting, we’ll head back to Packwood for some food and fun! We’ll stay the night at a local lodging facility and will make our way out for more planting on Sunday.

Difficulty: 4 out of 5 || This trip entails full days of physical labor and hiking through uneven terrain with heavy gear. Volunteers are encouraged to work at a pace that is most comfortable for them.

You’ll need:

  • Sturdy waterproof hiking boots
  • Waders (if you have them)
  • Rain gear
  • Sun protection
  • Day pack with food, water, and other essentials
  • Camping gear

We’ll Provide:

  • Gloves
  • Shovels
  • Orange vests
  • Planting bags to carry seeds and shrubs

Lodging:  Bunkhouse near Packwood, WA

Trip Signup

2019 Photos from the Field

The work of volunteers is an essential part of our conservation and restoration efforts. Thank you the many volunteers that helped make a difference in the SW Washington Cascades!


INDEPENDENT VOLUNTEER ADVENTURES

Do you want to visit the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on a mission? There are a variety of survey needs that can be tackled independently by citizen stewards. You can head out for a survey trip with friends or family or tie it into a weekend camping trip. The projects this year that can benefit from independent volunteers include beaver habitat surveys and pika surveys. You’ll need a little training and information to get started, so get in touch and fill out the trip signup form (be sure to indicate that you’d like to learn more about the independent volunteer trips).


JOIN US IN THE OFFICE!

Are you interested in learning how the office is run at an environmental nonprofit? Look no further — We need computer-savvy individuals to help with data entry, Salesforce assistance, and other office maintenance. Have some IT expertise to share? We’d love to talk to you! This is a great learning (or teaching) opportunity for passionate environmentalists!

Send us an email at jordan@cascadeforest.org