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PUG Volunteers and Compassionate Leaders to Teach About ‘Malama’
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Lex Carey, a is now the development coordinator for the Pulaski Users Group after having gotten a degree in Environmental Studies from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore.
   
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

“Malama.”

It’s a Hawaiian word meaning to “take care of, tend, attend, care for, preserve, protect, save and maintain.”

Members of PUG—the Pulaski Users Group—and the Flourish Foundation experienced that when they spent two weeks clearing a trail on a rugged Kaua’i coast while learning about Hawaiians’ cultural practices.

 
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PUG Treasurer David Pinney and Greg Travelstead sit atop a sawhorse as they watch young’uns try their hand at using a crosscut saw.
 

They will show a video of their time there at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at The Community Library. And they will follow it up with a discussion of regenerative tourism and mindful environmental stewardship. Those who wish to attend in person may RSVP at https://thecommunitylibrary.libcal.com/event/9769749. The event will be livestreamed and available to watch later at https://vimeo.com/event/2567439.

While the Flourish Foundation has been around for a while teaching mindfulness and kindness, the Pulaski Users Group is much newer. The group recently introduced themselves to the community with a hoedown at the Hailey Grange that attracted dozens in plaid flannel shirts and denim.

Those present recounted how PUG was formed to help maintain trails in the face of dwindling Forest Service budgets.

“We’re all trail users. We’ve all walked by a huge cut log and wondered who did that?” said Board President Greg Travelstead. “Trails are being lost and taken off the map, particularly in the Frank Church wilderness area. We need to stop that from happening.”

 
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Retired Forest Service employees Jay Dorr, Carol Cole, Jim Rineholt and retired Craters of the Moon park ranger Ted Stout are among those supporting PUG.
 

Travelstead first backpacked into the White Clouds in 1981, the summer he graduated from Boise High School. He’s considered Central Idaho’s wild places his spiritual home ever since.

But, after receiving his MBA from the University of Colorado, he worked in public accounting and on Wall Street, going on to become CEO of a property investment and ranching company in Western Australia.

He finally returned to Idaho to be closer to his beloved mountains in 2003 and began volunteering for trail projects 10 years later. After learning about crosscut saws from retired Forest Service trail manager Jay Dorr, he became stewardship coordinator for the Sawtooth Society, expanding their program. And he began leading trail maintenance trips for the all-volunteer Idaho Trails Association.

He founded PUG to ensure that trails in logistically challenging areas like the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness get some love. He named the volunteer organization after the Pulaski, a combination ax-hoe that has often been credited to Ed Pulaski, a Forest Service ranger who saved his men during the Big Burn of 1910 in Northern Idaho.

 
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PUG is named for a hand tool that combines an axe and a hoe in one head. It is used to construct fire breaks and chop wood while fighting wildfires.
 

Travelstead recounts removing 900 downed trees on an 18-mile stretch of the popular Loon Creek Trail in the Frank Church and of trying to hike trails that were on the map but unnavigable because of downfall.

PUG takes groups of eight or nine on hitches, or five-day work details. It usually involves backpacking belongings and tools into the site, although some trips are supported by horses or mules. Mornings often begin with yoga and meditation, depending on the group, and there’s always camaraderie around a communal supper.

During the 2022 season, 91 volunteers for PUG put in 2,433 hours removing 1,620 logs on 64.4 miles of trail. Some were high school and college youth from the Flourish Foundation’s Compassionate Leaders Program. Some were students from the Sun Valley Community School, which tries to instill love for the environment and community service in its students.

“Youth groups learn the history of wilderness, cultivate a love for it,” said Travelstead. “Our long-term goal is not about trail work but developing young people who care about the forest and the wilderness.”

 
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Jay Dorr is a crosscut saw evaluator and an expert in the use of other traditional tools.
 

Between 60 and 70 percent of the trail work in Central Idaho is done by volunteers like PUG’s, said Lex Carey, PUG’s development director. “We learn a connection to one another and the land we share.”

“Trails are such a part of our life, and it’s our responsibility as a community to take care of them,” added Travelstead. “If you can’t get out there and do the work on the ground, support the groups who are doing the work, the volunteers who are slinging a Pulaski.”

WANT TO HELP?

$25 provides personal protective equipment for one volunteer.

$50 supports educational resources.

$100 pays for gas to get to-and-from a trailhead.

$500 purchases a new set of tools

$1,000 pays a crew leader for a five-day hitch.

$5,000 sponsors a five-day hitch in the Idaho wilderness.

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