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Tourism meets volunteerism with new McKenzie River Corridor project

A Portland company is blending work and play to help out the McKenzie area following last September’s devastating wildfires.

Posted: Apr 20, 2021 10:36 AM
Updated: Apr 21, 2021 7:48 AM

MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Ore. – A Portland company is blending work and play to help out the McKenzie area following last September’s devastating wildfires.

First Nature Tours has a new project that brings volunteers to do restoration work from the Holiday Farm Fire while also leaving time for adventures and exploration.

According to company founder Kieron Weidner, attendees on the three-day excursion will spend some time on activities like planting trees, maintaining hiking and biking trails or doing wilderness restoration. When that’s done, they’ll also get to do some hiking, biking and rafting of their own. It’s a category of travel known as regenerative tourism.

“Regenerative tourism is really about going to a destination and giving back and leaving it better than you found it,” Weidner said. “You're going into a place and you're not just taking photos and buying things and leaving. You're actually going there. You're engaging in the local community. You're engaging in actual projects.”

The project is a collaboration between First Nature, the non-profit Cascade Volunteers, and a handful of other local organizations and businesses who want to bring in visitors to the community who will also be good stewards of the land. ​

Weidner said ‘voluntourism’ has been given a bad name in the past, but this project is different because they listened to the needs of the community first.

“We've had full engagement with the community partners that we're working with. We're really listening to find out what they need, and provide that for them,” Weidner said.

There are several more tours coming up this year. The trip costs $775 per person, which includes transportation, lodging, meals and activities.

For more information, click here.

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