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 News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 455 

Ukiah Fire Department Explorers work on North Cow Mountain project

On Sunday, Oct 3, 2010, the Ukiah Fire Department Explorers and an Engine crew from Cal Fire's Ukiah Station cleared a section of trail, rehabilitated a section of creek bed and picked up trash in the BLM's North Cow Mountain Recreation Area. 

Fire Explorers are young men and women ages 14-18 with an interest in the fire and emergency service fields. Explorers train to the same level as firefighters. They also ride along on fire engines and ambulances performing duties under the supervision of fire department staff. Fire Explorers also perform community service and raise money to attend an Explorer Academy once a year. (text continues below)

young workers load dirt into a wheelbarrow

Man in yellow outfit chainsaws some brush

The Explorers focused on an area of the Willow Creek Recreation Area, where someone had installed a foot bridge. This foot bridge allowed access from the parking area across Willow Creek to both the Valley View Trail and the Mayacmas Trail. The Valley View Trail, as the name implies, has great views of the Ukiah Valley.  The Mayacmas Trail has a seasonal waterfall on Willow Creek. Over the years, vegetation has encroached on the bridge, allowing silt to accumulate around it. The bridge effectively became a dam causing the seasonal creek to flood the trailhead -- making the area impassable. Also, people had been using the parking area as a target range, and the area had become littered with trash, shotgun shells, and TV’s and other appliances. 

To help alleviate these problems, the Fire Explorers organized a work project with the BLM's Ukiah Field Office. Because the Explorers were under 18, Cal Fire-Ukiah Station Engine 1165 also took part and also contributed chain saw work for the project.  The Crew of 14 people rehabbed about 300 feet of heavily over grown and silted creek bed, cleared another 300 feet of trail, and picked up two pickup truck beds worth of trash.

The crew put in 56 man hours worth of work.  In addition to benefiting the public by making the area accessible during wet months, Explorers got to train in the use of hand tools similar to the way they are used in wildland firefighting, and experienced working together and physical activity. Cal Fire was able to get chain saw training hours for their seasonal firefighters. Explorers intend to keep an eye on this location and perform additional repairs as needed.

Explorers are 100% volunteer.  One Ukiah Fire Department full-time and one volunteer firefighter also volunteered their time. The Cal Fire Crew was able to participate as part of their on-duty time.

Participants included:

  • UFD Explorers: Miley Merritt, Marcus Ramirez, Auturo Gonzalez, Isidro Rodriguez, Max Van Patten, Hailey Gupta, Fabian Moreno, Brandon Hernandez, Cielo Alavezos
  • UFD Staff: Volunteer Engineer Bruce Smith, Firefighter/Explorer Advisor Patrick Garrett
  • Cal Fire Crew: Engineer Chad Smith, Firefighter Fernando Hernandez, Firefighter Joe Darr

young people in yellow rain outfits dig a line in the dirt
workers in yellow outfits pause for a group portrait

- Patrick Garrett, Firefighter/Explorer Advisor, 10/20/10

Last updated: 11-04-2010