News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Trail adopters and sawyers honored by Sisters Trails Alliance

Last Thursday, Sisters Trails Alliance (STA) took time to recognize the approximately 30 members who serve as trail adopters and the eight who are sawyers. The former adopt a section of the 200-plus miles of STA trails, committing to walk them every month or so as observers. They are looking for damaged trail beds, possibly washed out from rain or snow, downed trees, dangerous limbs, or any manner of obstacles that otherwise impede safe enjoyment of the popular hiking trail network.

Sawyers are those with skills and, as the name implies, saws. The STA has, as you might imagine, a large number of differing-sized saws for just about any size tree. They don’t just find the offending tree and cut and clear it, however. The STA must first obtain permission from the Deschutes National Forest Sisters Ranger District who manages the public lands through which the trails run.

Their work is largely unseen in action as they quietly and without fanfare go about their tasks. Marcy Oberman, who walks the trails daily and covers “pretty much the entire system,” said, “In almost 10 years of prowling around these woods I’ve never seen a work crew but I know they’ve been busy. I can see evidence of their work often,” she said with a gratifying voice. She tipped her cap in symbolic salute as she and her two hounds strode off for their daily trek.

Members of the STA board hosted the 5 p.m. event at Earthwood Timber Frame Homes with pizza and beer donated by Three Creeks Brewing. All in attendance, including Sisters District Ranger Ian Reid and District Recreation Team Leader Sara Baughman, received an STA embroidered baseball cap in recognition for their work and partnership in maintaining the lengthy trail system.

Rick Retzman, STA board president, explained the Adopt A Trail program.

“ Trail adopters are the superheroes of our trail system,” Retzman said. “And sometimes it’s a thankless job, like picking up stray dog poop bags.”

Adopters do minor chores such as can be done by one person without tools. Their main purpose is as spotters identifying areas of need for larger work parties or team action. The STA is encouraging all volunteers, of which there are over 180, and the adopters particularly to use geo mapping apps on their phones so the position in need can be marked with pinpoint precision.

Citizen users of the trails are encouraged to report hazards to the Alliance. The best way is to map the location and email the problem to [email protected] with a picture if possible.

“If it’s a downed tree put a hat or backpack on the tree to give it perspective so we know what size saw to carry,” sawyer Gary Guttormsen requested.


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