Cascade Volunteers, the nonprofit friends group of the Willamette National Forest, is  excited to announce a new project along the McKenzie River.

Throughout the spring and summer of 2021, the McKenzie Regenerative Travel Project will bring volunteers to the  McKenzie River Corridor, where they’ll spend a weekend volunteering and enjoying all the region has to offer, including  outdoor recreation like hiking and mountain biking. This project, funded by Travel Oregon’s Destination Ready Program,  combines tourism and stewardship by partnering volunteers with local nonprofits to engage in hands-on forest  restoration aimed to help public lands and communities affected by the catastrophic Holiday Farm Fire, which burned  nearly 175,000 acres along the McKenzie River in the summer and fall of 2020.

“We have seen an increase in forest use during the pandemic,” said District Ranger, Darren Cross. “Exploring the forest  and connecting with nature is important for community wellness and the recovery of the McKenzie River economy. The  forest will always be resilient and whether it is wildfire or increased visitation, the Forest Service continues to work with the community and our partners to steward the forest for everyone. The McKenzie Regenerative Travel Project is a great  example of partnerships working to boost the post-fire economy and connect people with their national forest.”

The Holiday Farm Fire began on September 7, 2020 just west of McKenzie Bridge, Oregon. Strong winds pushed the fire  through the communities of Blue River, Finn Rock, Nimrod, Vida, and Leaburg, burning a total of 173,439 acres in a  mosaic pattern.

(Photo Credit: InciWeb)

“The McKenzie Valley holds a special place in the hearts of its residents and visitors alike.” said Alyssa Brownlee of the  Horse Creek Lodge. “The Holiday Farm Fire, while devastating, also brought forth an unbelievable amount of support  from near and far. This project will be a wonderful opportunity to share and continue the long recovery process, while  supporting our local businesses. We’re excited to be a part of this!”

“The Willamette Valley Visitors Association believes travel has the power to positively develop both the destination and  those who visit,” said Dawnielle Tehama, Executive Director of the Willamette Valley Visitors Association. “In order for  travel to have its greatest power it must be conscious, equitable, forward thinking, and accessible to all. Willamette  Valley Visitors Association and its regenerative travel partners are committed to the future of travel. A future ripe with  sustainable and regenerative travel opportunities by connecting travelers to guiding principles, inspiration and ways to

protect our destinations. We are all stewards of this land, it is our responsibility to connect to the communities we  touch.”

The all-new project is a collaborative effort, partners include, First Nature Tours, Horse Creek Lodge, McKenzie General  Store, Belknap Hot Springs, Eugene, Cascades & Coast, Willamette Valley Visitors Association, Friends of the Central  Cascades Wilderness, Worthy Garden Club, and Disciples of Dirt.

Interested volunteers can book their three-day, two-night volunteer trip with First Nature Tours. If you’re not ready to  travel but want to support stewardship efforts on our fire-impacted public lands, donations can be made directly to  Cascade Volunteers.

About Cascade Volunteers 

Cascade Volunteers is the 501(c)(3) friends group partner of the Willamette National Forest. Our mission is to connect  individuals and communities to the Willamette National Forest and adjacent public lands through programs,  stewardship, and education. Visit our website at http://cascadevols.org/ or follow @cascadevolunteers on Facebook and  Instagram

About First Nature 

First Nature is a tour operator and outfitter based in Portland, Oregon that provides professional guide services and  custom itinerary design for the Pacific Northwest and several international destinations. We aim to educate and  entertain the intrepid traveler through sustainable explorations of the world by using our expert destination knowledge.  to create custom luxury tour experiences that combine professional guides with top-notch transportation, boutique  lodging, and naturally and culturally unique places that are off the beaten path. Our foundation is built on increasing  knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of the world around us while facilitating personal growth and  transformation through travel.

Travel Lane County/Eugene, Cascades & Coast 

Travel Lane County markets and promotes the Eugene, Cascades and Coast region as a destination for travel,  conventions, sports, meetings and events. It serves as a private, nonprofit association dedicated to economic  development through visitor spending, which pumped more than $783 million into Lane County, Oregon’s economy in  2019. www.EugeneCascadesCoast.org.

About the Willamette Valley Visitors Association 

The Willamette Valley, defined as the area between the crest of the Cascade Mountains and the crest of the Coast  Range, from Newberg south to Cottage Grove, is the largest river valley in the Pacific Northwest. Willamette Valley  Visitors Association (WVVA) is a private, nonprofit organization that supports travel and tourism in the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s Wine Country. Comprising six destination marketing organizations, WVVA works to maintain the  Willamette Valley as Oregon’s premier travel destination, while also highlighting the culture, heritage and natural  resources of the region. For more information, visit https://www.oregonwinecountry.org/

About Lesley Michelle

Lesley is the founder and editor of What's Up NW. Lesley does love her beer and writes about that A LOT, but she also loves to shine the light on local events, people and businesses that call the Pacific Northwest home!

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