Carrie Wostal, center, speaks with attendees at National Trails Day. Wostal is a field staff law enforcement ranger for the Bureau of Land Management. (Photo: Charles Black/MCR)
KINGMAN — The primary focus of National Trails Day was education, safety and awareness.
The event took place Saturday at Hualapai Mountain Park and was hosted by Mohave County Parks.
The iconic Smokey Bear provided photo opportunities and helped spread awareness about preventing wildfires. He is the spokesbear for fire safety in America’s forests.
According to his website, Smokey Bear’s story began in 1950 when a small cub was found clinging to a tree during a wildfire in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico. The cub was badly burned and received immediate treatment. He lived in a zoo for 26 years, until his death in 1976.
Other departments dedicated to saving Arizona’s land included the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It’s booth displayed several snakes and reptiles. Some were rattlesnakes, a king snake and a Gila monster.
“A lot of our purpose is outreach,” said Matthew Driscoll, outdoor recreation planner for the BLM. “We have a lot of programs, and we want to tell people about them.”
Zach Stover, a community health education specialist for the Mohave County Public Health Department, stood behind a booth filled with literature and information about physical activity and nutrition. Stover said he enjoys going to events to spread the good word about being healthy.
“We’re here because we’ve partnered with the environmental works and the Dolan Springs Trail System,” said Stover. “The Mohave County Public Health Department has been doing this event for about three years now, and we’re just out here to promote nutrition and physical activity.”
Mike Browning, Homeland Security/emergency management coordinator for the BLM, displayed pieces of bark on his table. He wanted to educate people about the importance of being mindful of trees.
Browning said that the 15-year-old drought is showing negative impacts on the Hualapai Mountain Park. Just this year, 150 trees near the cabins have died.
“You can walk through and see the dead trees,” explained Browning. “First, little insects such as the bark beetle make their home in the bark of the tree. They make galleries, which are indents in the bark. Then, worms such as flatheaded borers consume what’s left in the indents and make it difficult for trees to get the water they need.”
Browning suggested that if someone sees a beetle-infested tree that they remove it. He said it prevents beetles from multiplying and causing damage to other nearby trees.
Gregg Cummins, an aquatic wildlife specialist for Arizona Game and Fish, said he wanted to encourage people to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
“Outdoor activity is one of Arizona Game and Fish’s main purposes,” said Cummins. “We promote wildlife watching, hunting and fishing. One of our biggest goals is to get families outside and to encourage them to enjoy nature.”