IMBA Chapters Greater Oakridge Area Trail Stewards (GOATS) and Disicples of Dirt (DOD) teamed up earlier this month (June 1st) to present the first annual Volunteer Trail Mix—a fundraiser benefit and auction event held at Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life. The event drew just under 100 folks in the doors of the local bike shop, located on 5th Avenue. Oakridge-local celebrity and Master of Ceremonies, Dan Nibblett provided a bit of entertainment on the mic, while participants enjoyed a slide show, silent auction, and socializing with beverages provided courtesy of Ninkasi Brewery. Several donors provided prizes ranging from adventure getaways in Oakridge featuring Oregon Adventures, Oakridge Hostel, Double Diamond Bed & Breakfast, Willamette Mountain Mercantile, and the Brewers Union Local 180 to a variety of local bike shop donations and sponsoring manufacturers of bike parts and bike accessories. Store Manager at Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life, Matthew Ritzow, largely drove the collection of items for auction, including some major pack donations courtesy of Dakine. Paul’s also helped staff the event. The event was largely promoted virally through online social media, and held in conjunction with the IMBA Trail Care Crew conference, and served as a kickoff for IMBA’s official educational stewardship tour to local trails sites.

The real story to this event, however, lies in the work volunteers do each year to preserve, protect and maintain trails for all users in the area.“There is approximately 350 miles of trails open for mountain bike recreation in the Oakridge/ Westfir area,” said Derrick Bell, GOATS Volunteer Trail Crew Coordinator. “Our volunteers take care of about 130 miles of those trails each year. A dwindling budget has forced the Forest Service to cut its Wilderness Rangers program, thinning out existing trail crews and creating an even more pressing need for volunteers. GOATS volunteers have stepped up to fill this gap, working tirelessly through weekends and even midday work parties. There is a lot of satisfaction of working on a trail and then riding it, it gives you a little piece of ownership.”

Paul Timm, Volunteer Trail Coordinator for Disciples of Dirt concurs. “The DOD has accepted responsibility for the trails on Patterson Ridge. The USFS has no plans to send a crew onto that network because they trust our ability to maintain these trails to a high standard. In addition, we care for North Shore, Whypass, O’Leary and other systems in the Lane County area. However, the problem is, we not only rely on volunteers, we rely on them having their own tools. My fervent hope is we can raise enough money this year to acquire our own chest of tools to better equip our workforce.”

The Volunteer Trail Mix benefit profited nearly $2,200 evenly split between both clubs. Proceeds will be used to support the Volunteer Rewards Program, new trail tools and volunteer needs during trailwork events, including food, water and campground fees for overnight projects.

Submitted by Michelle Emmons