WILMINGTON – U.S. military veterans have been recording data during the past week about trails at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington as part of a project in partnership with the nonprofit Veterans Trek and the U.S. Forest Service, according to a Forest Service news release.
The veterans recorded information such as locations of bridges, culverts, interpretive signs and gates. They also took photos of the trails. When the project is complete, the public will be able to access the photos and information to tailor their experience using an interactive visitor map of the trails at Midewin.
Veterans Trek leadership saw the trails project as healing in many ways.
“There is great healing potential in nature, and in being outside and not isolating yourself,” said Veterans Trek co-founder Anthony Anderson in the news release. “It’s helpful just being outside and being in the sun, hearing birds, and seeing colors. For me in my own recovery, getting out and forcing myself back into the world woke me back up.”
Anderson and Veterans Trek co-founder Tom Voss are featured in “Almost Sunrise,” an independent film about their 2,700-mile walk in 2014 from Milwaukee, where they both live, to Santa Monica, California. The film has screened at festivals throughout the U.S., and will screen at the 2016 Milwaukee Film Festival, which will run Sept. 22 to Oct. 6.
Anderson said involvement with Veterans Trek is also a way for military veterans to stay connected with other veterans while continuing to serve the public. He would like to see projects conducted more regularly like the work at Midewin.
The veterans worked with Electronic Trail Assessment and Condition Survey to record the information about the trails. The Forest Service introduced e-TRACS last year as a means of streamlining the process for recording data and keeping it updated. The work at Midewin was the first time Veterans Trek has used e-TRACS and the first time the system has been applied at Midewin.
“I believe this could be a start of a great partnership between Veterans Trek and the Forest Service,” Acting Prairie Supervisor Kurt Steele said in the news release.
For information about Veterans Trek, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 262-220-7690 or visit www.VeteransTrek.org.