- Associated Press - Saturday, April 9, 2016

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) - Every Thursday of the year, the Motley Crew saws through fallen timber, cuts back overgrown plants and rebuilds blowouts along the North Umpqua Trail, clearing the way for hikers, bikers and horseback riders.

The crew of retired U.S. Forest Service workers recently gathered together for coffee and breakfast at Munchies in Glide before heading out to the woods with their hard hats and equipment, the News-Review reported (https://bit.ly/208ayem).

“Most of us spent our careers working in the forest,” said crew leader Jim Talburt, owner of Jim’s Crosscut Saws in Roseburg. “I love going out there in the forest, working on trails and seeing what’s going on.”

The crew works a full day every week, rain or shine. Snowfall and the hunting season are the only things that keep them from their work.

Graced with sunny weather on a recent Thursday, 11 of the 17 members went out to the Bradley Trail in the Boulder Creek Wilderness Area, which also happens to be one of the first segments they worked on in their first year of volunteering.

Damaged by the Spring Fire of 1996, they rebuilt about 5 miles of trail back then. Now, they maintain it.

“The only reason I’m going out today is peer pressure,” joked Ned Davis, mentioning how it’s uphill both ways and they can’t use chainsaws in wilderness areas. “I hate this trail, but I can’t let these guys down.”

Davis said he enjoys the camaraderie working with the other crew members.

“We have a lot of laughs,” added John Rosenberger.

With ages ranging from 50s to 70s, the group’s oldest member is Ken Jensen at 79.

“One of the problems on the crew is that we’re aging,” Talburt laughed. He said they’re looking for fresh blood to join.

After retiring, Talburt formed the crew in January 1998.

“I knew there was a lot of work that was not getting done on the trails,” he said. The crew’s name came to be when they used to have breakfast at the North Country Store in Glide and the owner would see them coming and say, “there goes that motley bunch.”

Talburt coordinates with the U.S. Forest Service, which provides all the materials and tools the members use on projects.

“The Forest Service has just been great to work with,” he said.

“They’re really a living legacy,” Forest Service Ranger Micah Miller said of the group. “If it weren’t for them we’d really be pushing to reach our targets. They pretty much make it possible.”

Miller added that Talburt is one of the few people in Oregon with the skills to sharpen crosscut saws, and that the members have a vast knowledge of what goes into maintaining the land, including ecology, hydrology and the understanding of soil types and wildlife behavior.

“If you want to maintain a trail well, you’ve got to understand what’s good and sustainable as far as trail design goes,” Miller said.

He hopes younger generations will continue their legacy in the future.

“Volunteers are always welcome to help us,” Miller said. “There’s a wide range of needs.”


Information from: The News-Review, https://www.nrtoday.com

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