National Trails Day 2018

  • Published
  • By Maj. Erin Salinas
  • 20th Space Control Squadron Detachment 1
June 2, 2018 was National Trails Day, sponsored by the American Hiking Society in honor of the 50th anniversary of the National Trail System. The event was a nationwide effort to improve trails and clean up trash along them. The American Hiking Society goal this year was to improve 2,802 miles of trail in one day!

Organizations from all over the country set up events for trail improvement. Volunteers worked on projects in national parks as well as other public land areas. At geographically separated units, it can be hard to find community, especially if your unit isn’t located in a populated area. Volunteering can be a great way to get out and do something for a good cause and meet new people.

20th Space Control Squadron Detachment 1 is located on the northern end of White Sands Missile Range. It is a great location for an electro-optical telescope away from city lights and with good sky viewing at around 4,600 feet above sea level.

I’m the military leader of a 12-person contract team and the only active duty member who is permanent party on this side of base. Main base is two and a half hours from the site. While I regularly attend meetings and coordinate with 20 SPCS and the other detachments every day, I’m not able to hang out with the squadron off duty.

I live in the town of Socorro about 30 minutes from the site which has population of about 9,000 and is home to New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Socorro’s a small town, but when my husband and I moved here about two years ago we didn’t know anyone. We started volunteering with New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors to meet people in the area who enjoyed being outside. Working with this organization, we got to meet people from the area and work on trails in places we never even knew existed.

This year for National Trails Day, NMVFO sponsored a project at Mora National Fish Hatchery located in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The hatchery stocks fish for the Gila region and is specialized to breed threatened and endangered fish, especially Gila trout. The 15-member volunteer team extended a trail a half of a mile around the hatchery.
My husband and I love hiking and camping, so working on trails seemed like fun to us. It is really satisfying to look back or walk on a trail you helped build. But if trail work doesn’t interest you, look for a volunteer opportunity that does.

Volunteering has helped me create balance in my life and make friends on this assignment. While I love my job, I really look forward to working on projects and feel I’m better rested and more relaxed than if I just spent that time by myself. So if your moving this summer or just looking for a way to get involved, think about volunteering. You might get back more than you could ever give.