Krista Houghton
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The Reason for Giving this Holiday Season

The Reason for Giving main image by Anthony Cupaiuolo / First Tracks Productions

With the season of Christmas upon us, have you ever wondered why we give presents? Is the tradition of giving objects to each other possibly outdated?

Recently, I asked my son what Christmas means to him. What is the best way for an outdoor lover to give back? He thought for a minute and answered, “The gift of your time to help pick up trash on trails and beaches. Also, to volunteer for trail maintenance and workdays to help maintain our local parks, lakes, and beaches.” He added, “We should donate to organizations and charities that help the land and encourage people to go outside and have fun.” Pretty smart kid, I thought.

We all need to recognize that our world is struggling with climate change. The 2021 fire season in California included four blazes that ranked in the top 20 largest wildfires on record. They include the Dixie, Caldor, Monument and River Complex fires. These wiped out not only homes and communities, but miles upon miles of loved and established trails. We also saw vast devastation to Big Basin and the Santa Cruz Mountains with the CZU Lightning Complex fire in 2020. So why not this year focus on giving back to the places that have given you your best outdoor adventures and need donation money to help restore what was lost by fire?

In keeping with the wise recommendations of my nature and adventure loving 14-year-old son, here is a list of some local organizations that would greatly benefit from a gift of your time or money. This year let’s show our feelings of appreciation for the outdoor places that nourish our souls.

The Reason For Giving: SCMTS

Help Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship build brand new trails at Cotoni-Coast Diaries. Photo: Josh Becker

Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship

Established in 1997, Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship (SCMTS) is a 501c3 nonprofit that builds and maintains great trails for everyone and connects communities to nature through responsible outdoor recreation. Timeless Trails is their latest and largest endeavor. Timeless Trails is dedicated to transforming trail access in the Santa Cruz Mountains and has pledged to build, maintain, and restore more than 60 miles of trails over the next three years. This also included the opening of a the new Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument, with over 7,000 acres and 19 miles of new trails! “With $100,000 of matching funds available to us to unlock, now is the best time to give. Thanks to generous donors, your dollars will be doubled and so will the amount of trail we can build. We’re grateful for your support as we dig into this once-in-a-lifetime project.” – Matt De Young, SCMTS Executive Director.

Donate to Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship

Read other posts about SCMTS (formerly MBOSC) here. 

The Reason for Giving: TAMBA

TAMBA volunteer. Photo by Anthony Cupaiuolo / First Tracks Productions

Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association

Founded in 1988, TAMBA is dedicated to the stewardship of sustainable, multiple-use trails and to preserving access for mountain bikers through advocacy, education, and promotion of responsible riding. They are a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that works to maintain more than 100 miles of trail per year. The monumental devastation to the Tahoe trails area, due to the Caldor Fire, left dozens of popular trails inaccessible. These include the iconic Toads, Corral, Sidewinder, Connector, Cedar, Hawley Grade, Powerline, Cold Creek, Christmas Valley, and Railroad trails. TAMBA relies on donations and would not exist without public support. TAMBA volunteers helped to reopen most of the areas outside the burn scar this fall and donations made now will help to restore trails in 2022 that are within the fire scar. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, so please donate today and help restore some of Tahoe’s best mountain biking trails.

Ways to give to TAMBA

Read other posts about TAMBA here. 

The Reason for Giving: SBTS volunteers working on a trail

Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship Volunteers, Photo: SBTSThe Reason for Giving:

Sierra Buttes Trails Stewardship

Formed in 2003, the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) is a volunteer driven 501c3 non-profit, with the mission of building sustainable recreation-based communities through stewardship, job creation and world class events. SBTS provides quality outdoor experiences through trail construction and maintenance in the Lost Sierra. The Dixie fire devastated the Lost Sierra area and SBTS is dedicated to reviving it with the Connected Communities Project, a visionary effort led in partnership with the US Forest Service, SBTS, and community partners to connect 15 mountain towns for economic prosperity through outdoor recreation. The end goal is to build the proposed Lost Sierra Route, which will link over 600 miles of multi-use trails and will benefit the economically disadvantaged communities in California’s Plumas, Sierra Butte, and Lassen Counties. This new trail will allow for all dirt travelers, including hikers, mountain bikers, moto riders, equestrians, trail runners, hunters, fishermen, and wildlife, creating a trail for everyone.

Ways to give to SBTS.

Read other posts about SBTS here. 


The Reason for Giving: The Tahoe Fund photo of burned forest

Tahoe Fund’s The Caldor Trails Restoration Fund will be partnering with the Tahoe Rim Trail, TAMBA and the US Forest Service, so one day we can cross paths again on our favorite South Lake trails. Photo by Anthony Cupaiuolo / First Tracks Productions

Tahoe Fund

Founded in 2010, the Tahoe Fund’s mission statement is clear: “To use the power of philanthropy to improve the Lake Tahoe environment for all to enjoy.” The organization has specific strategic goals, such as forest health, lake clarity/quality and health, aquatic invasive species control, sustainable recreation, and stewardship. The Tahoe Fund is the first and only nonprofit dedicated to supporting environmental projects in the Tahoe Basin. The Caldor Trails Restoration Fund was created to help rebuild the damaged trails, bridges, and infrastructure, and well as mitigate the potential for increased runoff by installing erosion control measures. With a broader eye on the overall environmental health of Tahoe Basin’s Forest, lake and trails; Tahoe Fund is an excellent organization to donate to as they are dedicated to improving the Lake Tahoe environment for the next generation, which my 14-year-old son will certainly appreciate.

Ways to give to the Tahoe Fund

Read other posts about Tahoe Fund here