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STEPS AND INFORMATION FOR LEADING A BARK ABOUT:
Choose a project or a theme
Deciding which area to bring your hike to can include several factors:
Find a #2
Once you have an idea in mind, reach out to someone you think may be interested in helping to lead the hike with you. Preferably someone you know in the Bark community who is also a hike leader, but it could also be a close friend that you trust to support you. All Bark hikes need to have a #2 so you can feel supported, and in case anything unexpected happens you also have a backup.
Draft a hike blurb
Send a description of the hike and area to email@example.com for use on the website and in the Bark Alert. See current hike description for guidance, but along with the fundamentals (meetup location, driver expectations, etc.) the blurb should include the general location and theme, as well as any other relevant information regarding the hike’s difficulty or distance. Identify any particular challenges such as steep trails, rough terrain, or streams that are difficult to cross.
Research your hike
Use the resources in the Bark office and on the website to learn about the project or area you are visiting. http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/mthood/landmanagement/projects has a list of all current proposals in Mt. Hood. With each project, there are relevant documents that have information about the area. This includes NEPA documents and environmental analysis. You can also look up the area’s Watershed Analysis and the Land Resource Management Plan here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/mthood/landmanagement/planning
This will offer more depth into what is happening beyond the timber sale.
Try to find as many different sets of maps as you can for your project area. The agencies will have some sort of map, and there are various topo maps (Forest Service, USGS, etc.). Google-Earth is another great resource for aerial images of the area. Different types of maps will help the hike attendees understand where they are and why it’s significant, and will also allow folks to come back and show the area to others.
Draft an outline
Start an outline of discussion topics for the hike. Bark introduction, overview of the Forest Service or BLM and public lands, Purpose and Need for logging (as stated by the Forest Service, if applicable), forest ecology features, cumulative impacts, etc. This will help keep so much information organized as you get through the day. It’s usually good to have some planned stops on the hike with corresponding talking points. Be prepared for two commonly asked questions: Elevation of the sale, and nearest known public site (for example, one mile from Bagby Hot Springs, or two miles from Buck Lake, etc).
Consider including a list of a few possible information highlights. Bark-Abouts can be a good excuse to dig deeper on issues and ecology you have been meaning to read more about, but haven’t found the time. This is your hike, if you aren’t having fun then no one else will. Don’t cover a topic because you think you should; rather spend time covering the topics of real interest to you – enthusiasm is contagious and will flow from you to the group. For instance, look up specifics on a tree species, brush up on lichen names, or research something historical about the area. If you are using field guides, bring them along on the hike for others to peruse during lunch or downtime.
Scout for your hike
Often themes of a hike are determined once you have visited the area firsthand. Don’t forget to stage your stops on the hike so that they clearly convey your topic. For stops along the hike where you plan to talk to the whole group, consider spots that can accommodate a clustered or circular group discussion (i.e. not along steep, narrow trails).
Go out to the area and make good notes of markers along the way to share with drivers. Never assume they know an area. Multiple field checks are great, but most important is a final check within a week of the hike. Road conditions and weather changes. Be prepared. When you go out to the area make good notes and mark (Bark can provide flagging) important features (both on the road and in the forest) along the way for yourself and to share with drivers.
Depending on the size of the project and location of roads, try to hike a demonstrative route of the timber sale or other area. If an obvious route is not apparent, look back on the outline and begin to make a set of points in the area that may be a good place for talking points. Begin to connect those points and then walk the route you have chosen, including a good lunch stop. Getting people into and out of cars is difficult. Scope out the parking spots; look for pullouts that are big enough for multiple cars. Hikes with only one parking stop for the cars are easier to manage, but they are not always best if the area is large and good examples of your talking points lie far apart. Flagging your route ahead of time with some distinctive flagging is a great way to avoid getting off-track.
Plan a “gateway” meetup
We always invite folks in communities near Mt. Hood to meet us closer to the forest when the Bark About is in their backyard. The locations and time for meet ups can be flexible based on what your hike destination is. If you are confused about where a good meetup spot would be, just contact a Bark staff person.
After you choose a meet up site and time please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We like to know by Monday morning the week before your hike at the latest. Here are some suggestions for meetup locations:
The week before the hike
Contact people you know are interested in Bark-Abouts and may be more likely to go if they know you are leading. Be sure to understand and include a link to our expectations for drivers in any of your own outreach: http://bark-out.org/content/expectations-all-bark-drivers
Create a fact sheet: two-sided, highlight the timber sale/project/area facts (acreage, type of logging, watershed etc.) as well as talking points for writing letters. There may be a fact sheet already existing, so check with Bark staff. If space allows, include map of area on back side of factsheet.
Pick up at Bark:
For folks who will be driving the carpools, write or type a few copies of driving directions to the hike from the Hollywood Trader Joe’s at 4121 NE Halsey St.
Make sure to look inside Bark’s first aid kit, and be familiar with the items inside. If you feel like something might be missing, contact a Bark staff person right away.
If hike is in the winter, check weather day before hike for snow passage:
The day of: the Portland meet-up
Arrive at the Hollywood Trader Joe’s BEFORE 8:45am on Sunday. Once you have a critical mass, round everyone up and discuss:
On the hike
It’s a good idea to get names of folks and what they’re interested in learning during the day. This can help you recognize what things folks would appreciate more elaboration on. You can also then take the map back out and show folks where they are; this helps folks feel oriented and more connected to where they’ve come so far. Letting people know the itinerary for the day is also a good thing so folks know roughly what to expect (and look forward to!).
At the beginning of the hike, be sure to say a few words about safety depending on the type of hike you are leading. For instance I usually tell people to be certain a tree is still alive before leaning on it, who has the first aid kit, stay close to the group, know your physical limits, etc.
Follow your outline and plan. Try to be calm as distractions and changes occur. Most people are happy just to be out in the forest and are going to be forgiving of any fumbles. Don’t worry about having to carry the conversation at all times. But, keep the hike moving – spend between 7-15 minutes per stop; spending less time makes the hike start-and-stop too much and spending too much more time causes people to get bored. Have someone take pictures! We use these in our web outreach and mailings, and they’re important for demonstrating that we care about the forest and getting folks out to the places we’re trying to protect.
Don’t forget to occasionally count off to be sure everyone is with you.
Write letters to the appropriate agency or elected contact either at lunch or at the end of the hike (if you are confused about who to write to, just ask a Bark staff person). When you return to the cars to leave, make closing points:
After the hike
If you have time and a computer, thank you emails to the hike attendees can be very effective at keeping people engaged. If this is not possible, let staff know and they will try to get to an email follow-up.
If you have any photos of the hike, upload them to Bark’s volunteer Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/barkvolunteers
Arrange for the hike box to be returned to office, as soon as possible.
Give yourself a pat on the back for connecting people to a special place they otherwise wouldn’t have seen! You are fundamental to Bark’s work and the public’s attitude toward the forest! THANK YOU!