Dave Peters is fascinated by volunteering and by his favorite place to visit, southern Utah. Like most participants on Wilderness Volunteers service projects, he spends a lot of time deciding where he’s going to go on his next journey and he gets the most out of “giving something back.” Unlike most though, Dave has a unique voice and acumen for the written word — he’s a former staff writer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and currently writes web content for Minnesota Public Radio.

After recently participating in the Wilderness Volunteers Beef Basin service project in southeastern Utah, Dave wrote some choice commentary for MPR about his adventure, some of which is posted below. Click here to read the entire piece at MPR.

It wasn’t the broiling desert scene I had envisioned when I headed to the Southwest after a long Minnesota winter…. My group was on a break from trail maintenance in a remote place called Beef Basin in southeast Utah, south of Canyonlands National Park. The nearest pavement was 50 miles of high-clearance dirt, sand and rock roads away. In the words of Wilderness Volunteers, the group that had organized us, we were there to “give something back.” And we were working at it. Under the guidance of a Bureau of Land Management ranger, we cleared trails, blocked paths cut by cattle and hikers, tore down illegal fire rings (sometimes built with the hand-hewn rock of former ruins), hauled out old beer cans (in itself an interesting archeological study), fixed barbed-wire gates to keep out cows, and more….I find the place fascinating so I go there as often as I can. You can find your own way to give back, all over the country. Wilderness Volunteers, a nonprofit based in Flagstaff, Ariz., runs trips from Mount Rainier to Maine to the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. It’s pretty cheap, it gets you into the wilderness and it lets you become part of a constituency of quiet, something the land desperately needs.