Utah Backcountry Volunteers - Conservation of wild lands

June 19, 2008

One of the very coolest things about living in Salt Lake is being around tons of other people who moved here because there just isn't another place like it for accessibility to the outdoors. Yeah, Boulder is hip. Portland's got Hood and Hood River. And Seattle...well, it's got it's own world of cool. But if you want to get outdoors LOTS, then there's nothing like being 20-30 mins from Snowbird, Alta, Park City, Deer Valley, Brighton, etc, etc, etc, etc. And that's why lots of outdoorsy people congregate here in good old Utah. Folks like Bruce Tremper -- the guy who knows how to keep you safe in avalanche country. Or Kris Ostness, whose ski films are always the most innovative & immitated. Or the dudes from, bringing the deals to every gear junkie. I crossed paths with just that type of guy last weekend -- Dave Pacheco, keeper of the Utah canyons. I was at the Venture Outdoors Festival that's in its 3rd year at Canyon Rim Park in Salt Lake. Black Diamond Equipment, Smith Sunglasses, and lots of others had set up tents and huge climbing walls for families to come enjoy. As I was strolling the booths, I walked up to Dave sitting at his table. He is the Founder of Utah Backcountry Volunteers -- an organization whose mission is "to improve the natural state of public lands in Utah by recruiting, organizing, and leading volunteers on work service trips." Utah Backcountry Volunteers leads these work service trips throughout Utah --- making them into excellent getaways where you don't just feel like you're trying to be as low-impact as possible in the wilderness. He takes it further --- while you're out there, take the time and sweat and effort to fix some broken things. Case in point: his trip to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to remove non-native Russion olive trees. They are pretty decorative trees that people introduced into Utah, and you'll sometimes find them in yards. But down in Escalante they are crowding out all of the young native trees, such as Cottonwood and Box Elder. On this trip you'll get to enjoy Escalante, but you'll also be doing some good with your time -- not just relaxing. And nothing makes you feel more invigorated than accomplishing something that matters. Helping that land remain the prize that it is. And enjoy the outdoors with other outdoorsy people while you're at it. Dave speaks about the needs of the land as though its a prized race horse that has been a little mistreated and neglected, and it's his job to make it a champion again. Like the remote backpacking trip to Dark Canyon Wilderness for trail maintenance. Or the trip to Cedar Mesa/Grand Gulch Primitive Area in southeastern Utah to preserve some of the archealogical wonders in that area. The effort & labor required on the trips can vary from Moderate to Difficult or Vigorous. The cost is usually $100 bucks or so, includes food, and either covers a long weekend or can be extended to a full week. Adults only -- when you're scrambling around the wilderness you don't want to worry about entertaining kids (or keeping them out of trouble). Utah Backcountry Volunteers is associated with the Leave No Trace stewardship program, based out of Boulder. You can register for excursions and browse the trip schedule for Utah Backcountry Volunteers at: It's beautiful living in Utah and enjoying these outdoors, and Dave Pacheco is one of those types who is helping us keep it that way.

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