There are a million and one ways to get involved with Bark’s defense of Mt. Hood National Forest, and from volunteering time to supporting the work with a donation, YOU make the difference! Bark’s Winter Fundraising Campaign is in full swing and as a volunteer and fellow Bark community member, I’m calling on you to join me in donating to support their work.
My own journey with Bark started years ago with a knock at my door in southeast Portland. A smiling canvasser talked with me about Bark’s work and winsomely convinced me to sign up for monthly donations. It sounded like Bark did important work and the stories of a scrappy group combing the mountain for spotted owl nests and standing up to mismanaged timber industries compelled me. So for a while, I supported Bark through annual donations and genuinely enjoyed helping from a distance. However, at some point Bark started to fade out of my awareness. I no longer lived in an area frequented by Bark’s canvassers, and life went on. That is, until I received an unexpected phone call during a cold winter evening in early 2021.
A cheery Bark volunteer had found my number and reached out! It felt good to be remembered and contacted personally. I spoke of donating in the past and eagerly signed up to start giving again. The person I spoke to was so friendly, and the vision they presented was so important to our collective future, that I resolved to attend at least one in-person event that year.
That first campout with Bark deeply inspired me. Among a small group of passionate volunteers and staff, I felt instantly welcomed. As someone who had trouble telling a Doug Fir from a Ponderosa Pine, I also learned more plant lore in those few days of groundtruthing than I had in my previous 40 years! We explored a hidden lake, scaled scree slopes dotted with elderberry trees, identified countless incredible plant species, and collected invaluable information for the defense of the forest. It was exhilarating and restorative, not to mention the feeling I got from contributing to climate action.
This spring I was back for another campout, and I discovered even more reasons to stay involved. You can do a lot of good and learn a lot about plants and animals through a forest walk, but it’s also a great way to find community. Where else does one team up with a geologist, a teacher, a freelance writer, a former forest ranger, and a butterfly enthusiast to hike across hillsides and over streams to measure the canopy cover? Where else can you meet like-minded people who want to spend their Saturday knee-deep in wetlands searching for signs of beaver habitat? Bark is a fantastic group with a wealth of knowledge to share and an important mission to pursue. So many of my favorite summer weekends since that fateful winter phone call have involved gleeful treks through the woods, making food with new friends, staring up at the stars together, and telling stories in the crisp mountain air.
The time that I spend with Bark is always meaningful. I can work an entire week and forget most of what happened, but I never forget a Bark adventure. I hope to see you at an advocacy event this coming spring, and I also hope you’ll join me in making a contribution to the Bark Winter Campaign.
See you in the forest!
Scott Klees, Forest Watch Volunteer and Bark Donor