DOINews: BLM-NIFC: Smokejumpers Construct Trail to Honor Fellow 'Jumper'

Last edited 09/05/2019

About 50 smokejumpers — from Idaho's Boise and McCall smokejumper bases — turned out on May 16 to build a one-mile segment of trail in the Boise foothills in honor of Mark Urban, a veteran Bureau of Land Management smokejumper who died last year on a jump near Prairie, Idaho, northeast of Boise.

"We thought this would be a great way to honor Mark's memory," said Jim Raudenbush, base manager for the BLM's Great Basin Smokejumper base in Boise, where Urban worked. "Mark loved the outdoor lifestyle, especially mountain biking and hiking. This trail will exist as a permanent tribute to him."

Some 50 BLM and USFS smokejumpers hiking down down the completed Urban Connection Trail.

The job completed, some 50 BLM and USFS smokejumpers hike down the Urban Connection Trail. Photo by Eric Walker, BLM.

The new trail, dubbed the Urban Connection Trail, links two other trails in the Ridge to Rivers trail system. The smokejumpers rerouted some existing trails, constructed several long switchbacks, and installed some erosion control features. The new trail has sweeping views of the verdant Boise River and the tree-filled east side of Boise.

Erosion control trench in the existing trail in foreground; smokejumpers working on trail in background.

Part of the smokejumpers' work on the project involved digging erosion control trenches in existing trail. Photo by Eric Walker, BLM.

BLM smokejumpers Kurt Atkins and Shaylor Sorenson holding shovels as they work on a section of the new trail.

BLM smokejumpers Kurt Atkins and Shaylor Sorenson working on a section of the new trail. Photo by Eric Walker, BLM.

Smokejumpers placing barriers and fabric matting on part of the trail.
The Smokejumpers also rehabilitated unusable trail segments using barriers and fabric matting. Photo by Eric Walker, BLM.

"The effort was great," said David Gordon, Ridge to Rivers division manager for the Boise Parks and Recreation department. "The smokejumpers accomplished in a few hours what would have taken my crew two days to do."

Smokejumpers Joe Wyatt and Todd Johnson -- with tools in hand -- standing on the the trail.
Smokejumpers Joe Wyatt and Todd Johnson take a breather on the upper section of the Urban Connection Trail near Boise, Idaho. Wyatt organized the BLM's participation in the project. Photo by Eric Walker, BLM.

Ridge to Rivers began as a partnership between the City of Boise, Ada County and the Bureau of Land Management in the early 1990s with a vision of linking neighborhoods in the valley to public lands in the hills above, and connecting people to the natural environment. It has since grown to include more than 150 miles of trails that draw users of all ages and abilities to the outdoors.
Smokejumpers hiking along a portion of the completed trail
Smokejumpers doing what's familiar: hiking across a section of ground they've just worked. Photo by Eric Walker, BLM.

Given his strong connection to both the outdoors and his friends, the Urban Connection Trail linking other trails in the system is a fitting tribute to Mark Urban.

An 11-year veteran smokejumper, Urban, 40, died in a parachuting accident last September. He left behind a wife and an extensive network of friends and colleagues. Nearly 800 people attended a memorial service last fall for Mark Urban at the National Interagency Fire Center. Urban was described by friends and colleagues as a man of many passions and talents — an avid bicyclist, river runner, world traveler, skier, surfer, musician, and devoted husband, who was well-liked and highly respected by other smokejumpers. He was also remembered as a quiet leader who "simply got things done," said Phil Lind, a fellow smokejumper.

By: National Interagency Fire Center

June 3, 2014

Related Link:

National Interagency Fire Center

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