• Rhonda Stallone

#ReGrowJO Campaign -- How You Can Help!

Updated: Oct 5

Update 9/17/21: Go Fund Me account established to allow supporters to easily get involved. Thank you! Wow!


The #FrenchFire started under suspicious conditions on August 18, 2021, and burned over 26,000 acres above the town of Wofford Heights, near Kernville, CA. Recreation enthusiasts including mountain bikers, hikers and off-roaders are still learning the sad news that our beloved Just Outstanding (JO) mtb trail, along with Unal Trail, Mud Hen and Sand Shed trails were all damaged (in different ways) in this fire.


On August 31st we reached out to the Kern River Ranger District's leader, Al Watson, asking how Mountain & River Adventures (MRA) can help restore these popular recreation trails, particularly Just Outstanding. John Stallone, owner and founder of MRA has spent the past 35 years enjoying this epic trail, introducing thousands of mtb riders to JO either through guided tours or shuttle rides up to the top of Alta Sierra and more recently, introducing JO to his son, Sebastian, who has also grown to love this trail. Now it's our family's goal to help restore JO to it's former glory! Please consider helping us.


Meeting with Community and US Forest Service on 9/15/21

Kern Valley community members met with Forest officials to learn about agency fire protocols, get a basic overview of what condition these trails are in, and most importantly learn what we can do to help.


Protocols

Fire protocol dictates that a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment be conducted before any rehab occurs. However, because of the number of active fires in California, local officials are having a hard time finding a qualified BAER team leader. They will keep us posted.


Overview of Trails

Forest officials provided a number of photos from the now burned out JO and reported a significant number of downed trees across the Trail -- at least 100 trees. Soil has been impacted as determined by the duff layer, and water bars are no longer functional. The BAER assessment will provide more in depth detail and recommendations.


Most of the undergrowth near the Unal Trail was burned. This area may be a good place to start rehab, once we learn recommendations from the BAER assessment.


The Sand Shed Trail was bulldozed over as a fire break and the Forest Service plans to re-do this trail and open for use.


A preliminary site visit shows that Mud Hen Trail is in similar condition to Just Outstanding. As we learn more, we will share.


In the Meantime, Here's How You Can Help!

As more information becomes available we will share opportunities to get involved and participate in collaborative efforts for seed collection and harvesting. Please wait for specific, scheduled, expert lead opportunities to be involved.


Find Seeds

We need to find community members who are good at identifying species of Oaks, Manzanita, Flannel, Elderberry, and other native plants or trees. These folks would need to be able to recommend locations to gather specific seed species in our forest, at similar elevations to the burned areas. In the interest of time, we might need to purchase established, native plants from growers who specialize in native plants and trees.


Collect Seeds

Once seed collections sites have been identified, we can start collecting seeds in paper bags (no plastic) or burlap bags for larger seeds and turn them in to Forrester, Brian Block, who oversees the Forest Service nursery.


Process Seeds

Seeds then need to be scarified and planted. We are working out whether all seeds need to be grown at the Forest Service nursery, or if off-site locations can work.


Volunteer @ USFS Nursery

Brian Block, Forrester shared that he could really use a rotation of volunteers to help him at the Forest Service nursery. Volunteers would help with planting, watering, organizing, weeding, etc. Brian requested that these volunteers would ideally be a long-term commitment.


Help with Social Media messaging

After a wildfire, burned sites are considered very fragile and sensitive. Getting the word out to stay off these trails and out of sensitive areas that have recently burned would be helpful to Forest officials. Folks with blogs or subscribers can help spread the word that getting on a burned trail, right now, might prolong the time it takes to rehab a burned area. As you share information, be sure to use the #ReGrowJO hashtag to help us track how far we spread the word!


For Mountain & River Adventures' shuttle guests who have current reservations for shuttling to ride JO, please contact us right away at info@mtnriver.com. We are happy to recommend another trail to ride, offer you a credit, or a refund.


#ReGrowJO

Some of you have already reached out and shared that you don't live close by, but love JO, and wish to help by donating money or purchasing plants.

How would you like to be involved in the #ReGrowJO campaign?

Reach out and let us know, we would love to hear from you at info@mtnriver.com.


Due to an overwhelming response from our mtb community, we have established a Go Fund Me account called ReGrowJO where you can donate funds to help us restore this wonderful trail. Wow! We are so grateful for your interest and love of this trail!


Thank you,

John, Rhonda & Sebastian Stallone

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