Building a coalition

By: Greg Brown, Blues Crew founder and volunteer, and BMLT Board Member

The song of a crosscut saw is a marvelous sound when cutting a log that has blocked a mountain trail.  Add to it the click and snap of other tools clearing brush and you hear the work of the Blue Mountain Land Trust (BMLT) Blues Crew volunteers working on the forest trails in our region.  

The BMLT created the Blues Crew this spring as a contribution to the future success of the Blue Mountain Regional Trails Plan that was released in February.  This year BMLT partnered with the Umatilla and Malheur National Forests staff.  Forest Service leaders identified trails for maintenance, provided training and safety orientation, and tools to support the Blues Crew.  

Crew members learned how to use various tools such as the Pulaski and the McLeod to repair the slope of the trails.  Many experienced the push and pull of the crosscut saw as they cleared logs from the trail.  

The first work party headed to Buck Creek in the Umatilla Wilderness in April.  Twelve more work parties over the summer expanded the impact of the team’s efforts.  Trails in Tiger Canyon, South Fork of the Walla Walla River and the North Fork of the Umatilla were cleared of brush, logs and mud.  Most work parties were single day efforts, but several involved backpacking to a basecamp.  At the end of the summer, a group of enthusiastic crew members backpacked into the forest for three days of work in the Umatilla and Strawberry Wildernesses.   

Members of the Blues Crew are community volunteers committed to improving access to trails.  Ages ranged from 6 to 70+ years.  It is our goal to expand opportunities to clear trails in 2019.  If you are interested in being a member of the Blues Crew, let us know via our volunteer page at  We will be planning a number of trail projects and expect to post them on our website by April.