Current Issues and Opportunities in the Opal Creek Wilderness
The Role of Fire In Wilderness
Fire is a natural and important part of the wilderness ecosystem. The Opal Creek Wilderness has a Prescribed Natural Fire Plan which directs managers to allow lightning caused fires to burn when they mimic natural occurrences. In addition, managers will occasionally ignite a fire under special prescriptions to reduce unnatural full loads so that future lightning caused fires may be allowed to burn. The Wallowa Mountains Visitor Center has current information on fire situations.
Wilderness managers continue to monitor conditions and visitor use to ensure that Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) Standards are not being exceeded, as required by law. This monitoring is done through campsite inventory, visitor permits, water quality monitoring, range condition and trend, and other methods. As a result of past monitoring, it has been determined that visitor use exceeds capacity on some popular trails and in some areas during some times of the year. This primarily occurs on trails leading into the Lakes Basin area and in the Lakes Basin on weekends and holidays in July and August. Managers will now collect information on biophysical resources to determine if this level of use is causing a degradation of the biophysical resources beyond established limits.
During the summer and early fall, volunteers and wilderness rangers will continue to obliterate and revegetate abandoned trails and illegal campsites in the Lakes Basin Management Area and in other areas of the wilderness. The project will correct drainage problems, make illegal campsites unusable, fill eroded areas with soil and re-plant native grasses, shrubs, and trees.
You may observe temporary signs or possibly a rope barrier around some sites. Please stay out of these areas and give them time to recover.
Welcome and thank you for your interest in the volunteer programs and opportunities in the Opal Creek Ranger District. The word "volunteer" is a magical word to those who have utilized the power of a volunteer. The power is unleashed when you see what kind of service is graciously given for what the volunteer gets in return. It is not, however, the mighty dollar these volunteers are after, they are seeking far more. To many, it is the satisfaction of contributing to something they believe in and enjoy. To others volunteering provides a means to meet new people, and some seek challenge both of mind and body. At any rate, volunteers have for decades dedicated thousands of hours to Forest Service projects. Many of these projects would not have been completed without this strong force of people. When budgets have declined and districts are unsure how they will complete their work, volunteers have come out of the woodwork to fill this gap. They take an active role in the management of our public lands and are greatly appreciated for their incorrigible dedication to service.
The U.S. Forest Service continues to welcome those who are interested in challenging opportunities found in managing forest resources. There is a guarantee in this experience, you will see new country, meet new people, and share in a wealth of ideas. Join us in trail maintenance, wilderness ranger work, being campground hosts, interpreters, or visitor information assistants. The opportunities are endless for volunteers. Join us in the experience of a new adventure.
The Opal Creek Ranger District is currently seeking eager volunteers ready for adventure and challenge. Spring, summer, and fall projects are in the planning phase with hopes to kick off the work season by June. A variety of opportunities are available. Volunteer Wilderness Rangers work full-time for the summer season to assist with visitor information and education, campsite inventory and cleanup, and restoration projects in the backcountry. The volunteer Wilderness Stewards program provides the same opportunity for those willing to commit the equivalent of 3 weekends per season.