Wilderness International

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oooh, orphan Template:Infobox non-profit Wilderness International is a Christian non-profit conservation organization based in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Formed in January 2005, the 501(c)(3) has expanded its operations in 2011 from Central and Western Oregon to include Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington. Wilderness was formed "to encourage everyone to care for, experience and enjoy God's amazing creation."[1]

The organization's tagline is Conservation through Active Participation.[2] It is funded through a mixture of member donations, organizational sponsorships, and governmental grants.

Project Types

There are five types of projects the organization participates in: Community Conservation, At-Risk Youth Development, Outdoor Adventures, Church and Community Partnerships, and Community Environmental Education. Ultimately, its goal is to "give everyone the chance to connect with the Creator through His creation."[3]

Community Conservation

Wilderness International has performed a wide array of community conservation projects.

A sampling of projects includes:

Cross Park (Gladstone, Oregon)

During the summers of 2009 and 2010, Wilderness International has conducted summer work programs for at-risk youth at Cross Park. Tasks have included: clearing invasive plants, building hundreds of feet of fencing, installing a sprinkler system, building trails, and planting native plants.

Meldrum Bar Park (Gladstone, Oregon)

This park, bordering both the Willamette and Clackamas Rivers, is located in the city of Gladstone, Oregon. It contains several wetland areas and offers a very important area of refuge for fish, birds, small mammals and reptiles within the Portland Metro area urban growth boundary. It also offers many activities and options of outdoor enjoyment for community members. While the city actively manages many parts of the park, a high percentage of the property has been left fallow to allow for natural settings in an urban environment. Unfortunately, many non-native, invasive plant species have invaded these areas, choking out the native vegetation. The city does not have the manpower or financial resources to restore the native habitat of this park.

Since 2009, Wilderness International has served the community by building a Native Habitat Demonstration Garden and restoring the habitat in an 11-acre tract that the city has declared a natural area. This has been the organization's primary project and will continue to be a focus in the coming years. Work has been done to restore native habitat and improve public access to the large natural area. Working alongside a variety of community partners, Wilderness International has focused on improving the watershed, while increasing opportunities for public access, awareness and involvement with the restoration efforts.

Molalla River-Table Rock Recreation Area (Molalla, Oregon)

Located 10 miles southeast of Molalla, Oregon, the 27,000 acre tract of land attracts approximately 50,000 annual recreational enthusiasts.[4] As a part of BLM's management plan for this area, Wilderness International has begun assisting restoration of this area through site-specific invasive species removal and native species seeding. Future plans for projects include: tree planting, fire fuel removal, campground construction, trail building and maintenance.

Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife - Northwest Regional Office (Clackamas, Oregon)

The office of ODFW had a hillside on their campus in Clackamas that was overgrown with invasive plants. In order to establish healthy habitat and set a good example they invited Wilderness International crews to come on site, remove invasives and replace them with native plants.

Rinearson Creek Watershed (Gladstone, Oregon)

In conjunction with Friends of Rinearson Creek and the City of Gladstone, Wilderness International has worked to encourage wood duck nesting to this tributary of the Willamette River. Youth have helped construct nesting boxes, place them along the creek, and maintain the boxes in preparation for the spring nesting season.

White River Wildlife Area (Tygh Valley, Oregon)

Wilderness International has helped construct several deer feeding corrals in the White River Wildlife Area. This project has been in conjunction with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). The project seeks to keep a healthy wild deer herd while reducing damage to local ranches and farms. In addition to constructing the corrals, Wilderness International has been involved with the actual feeding operation during the winter.

Conservation Goals

Conservation Project Goals include:

  • Increasing community involvement in conservation projects and local awareness of the benefits of a healthy ecosystem
  • Improving native habitat and watershed health through invasive plant removal and restoration of native vegetation
  • Constructing trails, educational kiosks, protective fencing, and campground facilities
  • Reducing wildfire risk through reduction of fuels
  • Enhancing shelter and food opportunities for native wildlife populations

At-Risk Youth Development

While not originally the focus of the group, at-risk youth work crews have been the primary source of projects. Wilderness International focuses on combining outdoor conservation with at-risk youth skill enhancement.

Currently, Wilderness International works with the Clackamas County Juvenile Department and Oregon Youth Authority, facilitating opportunities for young offenders to work-off community service hours, pay back restitution expenses, earn college credit, and make money. Youth are led by a mixture of staff and volunteer mentors. While performing much-needed conservation work for the community, youth have opportunities to develop job skills, community connections, and interpersonal relationships.

Projects seek to enable youth to overcome barriers to employment by improving their basic work readiness, providing structure and accountability, and helping them develop practical job skills. Job skills range from construction to horticulture, invasive weed control to native habitat restoration.

Project List

Project Payback

Throughout the school year, Wilderness International assists Community Solutions for Clackamas County (CSCC) with weekend crews in a program called Project Payback. The program seeks to develop "work opportunities throughout the county by contracting with local government entities to provide blackberry removal, roadside cleanup and general beautification of property. The revenue from these contracts goes directly to the victim, once the youth has successfully completed her/his community service time."[5] The majority of these projects have been at Meldrum Bar and Cross Parks in Gladstone, Oregon.

Summer Work Crews

Since 2006, Wilderness International has led summer youth work crews. These projects are a bigger commitment than the weekly Project Payback and expand beyond conservation work to include: environmental education, job shadowing, and public outreach. These crews have ranged from 4 to 10 weeks in length and have been primarily been involved in restoration projects through Clackamas County (see Conservation Projects above for examples).

Youth Internships

Starting in 2008, Wilderness International has been providing youth with opportunities to take on more responsibility through youth internships. Students work in 6-12 week restoration crews, 3 days a week for 5 hours each. These paid internships are facilitated through Clackamas Community College and provide opportunities for youth to gain college credit, develop new skills, receive job search and career training, and improve community connections.

Outdoor Adventures

Wilderness International has helped facilitate several outdoor adventures for local community groups, churches, and youth organizations. Adventures have ranged from hiking and backpacking to hunting and rafting.

Church and Community Partnerships

Another facet of Wilderness International's program is church and community partnerships. They have been working to create these partnership by:

  • Planning and Conducting Outdoor Activities
  • Assisting with Community Gardens
  • Arranging Volunteer Opportunities
  • Encouraging Recycling Programs
  • Strengthening Community Partnerships
  • Opening New Ministry Opportunities

Community Environmental Education

Wilderness International has been actively expanding its community outreach programs. Some areas that they have sought to reach out the public:

  • Seminars
  • Trade Shows and Job Fairs
  • Newsletters
  • Multimedia Presentations to Community Groups
  • Native Garden Demonstrations and Tours
  • Community Volunteer and Educational Events

Community Connections

Project Partners

Current project partners at Meldrum Bar Park Natural Area include:

  • Clackamas County Juvenile Department
  • Scholls Native Nursery
  • City of Gladstone
  • Knapp Construction Company
  • Friends of Rinearson Creek
  • Oregon Dept of Fish & Wildlife
  • Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership
  • SOLV
  • Canby Grove Conference Center
  • Gladstone Garden Association
  • CTEC Youth Services
  • Oregon Conference of Seventh Day Adventists
  • Clackamas County Community Solutions
  • Starbucks

Project Affiliates

Current project affiliates at Meldrum Bar Park Natural Area include:

  • Friends of Rinearson Creek
  • SOLV
  • Willamette River Keeper
  • City of Gladstone
  • Local Homeowner Associations

References

  1. "Home". Wilderness International, Inc.. http://wildernessintl.com/default.asp. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  2. "Tagline". Wilderness International, Inc. http://wildernessintl.com/mission.asp. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  3. "Home". Wilderness International, Inc.. http://www.wildernessintl.com/default.asp. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  4. Jarrett, Zachary. "Frequently Asked Questions". Molalla River-Table Rock Recreation Area Management Plan Environmental Assessment. Bureau of Land Management - Salem District. http://www.blm.gov/or/districts/salem/plans/files/molalla/sdo_proposedmolallaplanfaq.pdf. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  5. Mack, Bruce. "Project Payback". Youth Services. Community Solutions for Clackamas County. http://www.co.clackamas.or.us/cscc/youth.jsp. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 

Press on Wilderness International

External links