10 questions for Kevin Rowell

Through our trail work on the Oregon Timber Trail, we've had the pleasure to get to know Kevin, who is the trail manager with a focus on mountain bike trails at the USFS in the Middle Fork Ranger District. The MFRD includes the Oakridge area as well as McKenzie River Trail. Kevin works hard to share his love for the environment and help us build up our trail skills, so we can become better stewards. (See the bottom of this profile for more links to upcoming OTT classes and trail stewardship events)

Can you give us a brief description of your current job

1.       I manage the non-motorized trail system on the Middle Fork Ranger District and assist other Forest Service units with Mountain Bike manage-ment. I design, build and maintain trails and help the public find trail experiences on the MFRD. I also work closely with commercial operators that use trails for their businesses (MTB shuttles and guides, mostly).

2.       Manage two OHV areas.  One on MFRD and one on MRRD. Manage all OHV opportunities on the Middle Fork RD and maintain those trails systems.

3.       Manage the Saw Program on the MFRD.

4.       Volunteer coordinator on the MFRD. This includes lining out volunteer work, recruitment and training.

5.       I am the Snow Ranger for MRRD. I monitor ski area operations and care for 7 ski shelters.

6.      Trails Planning duties. Future opportunities, working with partners like IMBA, trail building contractors, etc. 

How did you come to do Trail work?

I joined the MFRD trail crew in 2004 and have climbed through the ranks to get where I am now-Trail Manager with a focus on MTB trails and use. 

What drives you to do what you do?

Passion for the environment/outdoors and the desire to inspire and encourage outdoor enthusiasts.

What is the importance of volunteers in your work?

They are the legs of the whole trails operation and a big part of the answer to the previous question.

Do you get good support from mountain bike trail groups?

Oh yes. Undying and enthusiastic support.

Do you get a good mix of ages in your volunteer crew?

Yes, kids who come with their parents to trail work events, Eagle Scouts, all the way up to the venerable “Scorpions” a crew of mostly older, retired folks that work every Thursday, year round, rain or shine. They are who I want to be when I grow old.

Is there a single tool you can’t live without?

 My bike! My favorite trail tool is a Terra hoe though.

What suggestions do you have for people that want to get involved in trail work?

Find a local club or trail work crew and go work with them. If you would rather work independently, survey a trail, contact the trail local manager and do the work.  Take before and after photos, be willing to learn and share your own skills. Do work on trails you use and try to become an expert in trail work. You will be respected by the land manager if you do good work and follow the rules.

Is the Forest Service looking to expand trail networks in Oregon or just maintain what we have?

Most FS units in Oregon are having trouble maintaining what they have. Generally speaking we are doing fine on the Middle Fork and McKenzie RDs in that regard. Maintenance of existing inventory is an unspoken prerequisite to trail system expansion, but even so we are moving cautiously with trail development and working on the most important projects that appear to benefit the largest number of users first. All of the development we are doing is in response to a demonstrated need to increase capacity, improve experiences, or to promote safety and resource protection.

Any suggestions for mountain bikers concerned with losing trail access?

Find a way to keep abreast of project proposals on FS units you are interested in and comment on those projects during the comment period. At the least, make sure your club or group is commenting on projects on behalf of their membership that might affect trail access. You can look at the Schedule of Proposed Actions list for every Forest on their website. This is hard work, but very important.

We're grateful for what you do and for sharing the trail skills,

It is a joy and a pleasure!

Kevin will be leading the “Sawyer Certification” and the “Technical Skills for Backcountry Maintenance” for Oregon Timber Trail in 2018. These are all great opportunities to learn from a master. The Willamette Tier Stewardship Campout would then be a great chance to try out your newly honed trail skills! Come join us on the gorgeous Bunchgrass Ridge! There will also be Stewardship campouts in the other tiers in May and June. More details can be found here.

Sawyer Certification & First Aid

March 9-11 at Horse Creek Lodge, McKenzie Bridge, OR


Technical Skills for Backcountry Maintenance

April 28-29 Oakridge, OR


Willamette Tier Stewardship Campout

June 22-24 Oakridge, OR (Bunchgrass Ridge)