Ear to the Ground: February / March 2016

Outdoor News and Notes for the California Region


Photo courtesy United States Forest Service (USFS).

USFS to Plant Trees in Rim Fire Burn Area
The US Forest Service is enlisting the help of all available stakeholders and members of the public to help plant 90,000 trees in the Rim Fire burn area this spring. In partnership with Tuolumne River Trust, the Stanislaus National Forest hosted public meetings in January to inform and recruit volunteers for tree planting days scheduled to take place seven days per week throughout the spring.

2013’s Rim Fire burned over 257,000 acres on the Stanislaus National Forest. Forest scientists/specialists estimate that without reforestation it is highly unlikely the forest would grow back in our lifetimes. Anyone interested in helping to reforest the area is welcome – individuals, groups, families.

For more information, call the Stanislaus National Forest at (209) 532-3671 or the Tuolumne River Trust at (949) 533-2346.

Steven Hemphill

Steven Hemphill

Steven Hemphill Returns to Sierra-at-Tahoe
Sierra-at-Tahoe recently brought Steven Hemphill on board as director of marketing and sales. Hemphill was previously employed as the resort’s communication manager before taking a position at K2 Sports. While at K2, Hemphill helped grow its digital presence and executed a wide variety of global digital campaigns. Hemphill has also worked at Freeskier Magazine where he was an assistant editor. In 2014, Hemphill was recognized by Ski Area Management Magazine as a top individual in the snow sports industry under 30 years of age.

“Steve has a tremendous skill set that includes public relations, digital management, content production, customer service, athlete management and more. He also has a passion for people and getting them on snow. He’s going to make a great addition to the team and we’re excited to have him,” says John Rice, Sierra-at-Tahoe’s General Manager.

Hemphill is thrilled to be back at Sierra-at-Tahoe, enthusing “It’s an incredible mountain that embodies what the soul of skiing and snowboarding is all about. Whether it’s your first time or you are a local, Sierra-at-Tahoe has something for everyone. I couldn’t be more excited to continue pushing the mountain forward.”

Photo courtesy Big Sur International Marathon (BSIM).

Photo courtesy Big Sur International Marathon (BSIM).

BSIM Conducts Youth Running Survey
Thanks to sources like Running USA, a not-for-profit organization devoted to improving the status and experience of distance running and racing, there is plenty of data available about the number of adult runners who participate in organized events each year. However, when it comes to the nation’s youngest runners, quantifiable tracking is much harder to achieve. Last year, the Big Sur International Marathon (BSIM), a founding member of Running USA, set out to change that by conducting a Youth Running Program Survey.

BSIM oversees the JUST RUN program, a nationwide, school-based running program that was named the Running USA National Youth Program of the Year in 2015. Long time BSIM youth programming volunteer Mike Dove explains, “We’ve been involved in youth running for many years, and created our JUST RUN program 12 years ago. We had absolutely no idea what to expect as to how many children were involved in organized school-based programs.”

The survey, which individually targeted every school-based youth program the BSIM team could find, estimates that 3.7 million young Americans participate in organized youth running program activities annually. While that number may seem large at first glance, Dove believes it should be larger, and points to the total number of K through 12th grade school students– 54 million – as an indicator that “we have barely scratched the surface.”

BSIM continues to collect data, and youth running programs are encouraged to contact Dove at mnjdove@aol.com to share their information.

Photo of Marco Osborne courtesy Called To Creation.

Photo of Marco Osborne courtesy Called To Creation.

California Enduro Series Announces New Initiatives
The California Enduro Series (CES) has announced its 2016 race schedule and is on track to deliver another great year of enduro racing. A non-profit organization dedicated to promoting world-class enduro events that everyone from amateur to pro can enjoy, CES is renowned for fostering an exceptional sense of community, and encourages its participants to be involved in its planning.

Over the off season, the CES team met with several riders across all categories for feedback on how to further strengthen the series and races. To that end, several exciting initiatives are slated for the 2016 season including the all-new Golden Tour (pro series triple crown within CES featuring the toughest courses, a massive pro purse, and elevated media coverage), added support for teams, improved delivery of race information, and a Rider ID registration program that enables CES to track series results more effectively.

Visit californiaenduroseries.com for more information and complete race schedule.

Photo courtesy High Fives Foundation.

Photo courtesy High Fives Foundation.

High Fives Foundation Funds 100th Injured Athlete
Lake Tahoe-based High Fives Foundation has now officially helped 100 athletes in recovery from life-altering injuries since it was established in 2009. The 100th athlete will be part of a group of military veterans injured during tours of duties overseas, taking part in the Military to the Mountains program, a multifaceted partnership between Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, High Fives Foundation, Achieve Tahoe (formerly Disabled Sports USA Far West) and Adaptive Training Foundation from Dallas, Texas. Each organization provides specialized services to bring this group onto the snow.

“When we started the Foundation, we had a goal to give grant funding to one athlete per year,” said High Fives Foundation Executive Director and co founder Roy Tuscany. “In seven years, we’ve blown that goal out of the water, but it’s really special that our 100th athlete will be part of a group of military veterans.”

Photo by Melissa Wonders.

Photo by Melissa Wonders.

ASJ/Bontrager Photo Contest Winner Announced

Melissa Wonders of Santa Rosa was announced as the grand prize winner of ASJ’s social media photo contest.

Wonders won an overnight stay for two at Hotel Paradox in Santa Cruz, two rental bikes of choice from Epicenter Cycling, a guided MTB ride for two with The Ride Guides, AND dinner in Santa Cruz with the legendary Keith Bontrager.

A vast array of great shots were received, and nine additional contestants won the Flare R Tail Light courtesy of Bontrager.

Photo courtesy Beth Welliver.

Photo courtesy Beth Welliver.

Seek and Enjoy
There’s a corner of the internet dedicated to finding the adventure inherent in riding, a site dedicated to showcasing the sublime and subtle ways we connect to this world via bikes, from the simple act of sneaking out to sleep under the stars for a night before returning to the daily grind, to carefully planned and executed expeditions that travel deep into the back of beyond.

The site is called seekandenjoy.com, and it is where Specialized Bicycles is conducting an ongoing exploration into the possibilities that adventure presents.

Fatbikes in the dead of Michigan winter? Packrafting through Alaskan wilderness? Touring across the US off-road? Riding the northernmost beaches of Scotland? Yes, and more yes.

This is a site in search of something other than the classic arms raised crossing the finish line metaphor. Seekandenjoy.com is about that sense of limitless freedom that you felt the first time you rode a bike, and realized it could take you anywhere.

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