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Smokejumpers Construct Trail To Honor Mark Urban

by Burning Issues NIFC |

About 50 smokejumpers — from Idaho’s Boise and McCall smokejumper bases — turned out on May 16 to build a one-mile
segment of trail in the Boise foothills in honor of Mark Urban, a veteran Bureau of Land Management smokejumper who died
last year on a jump near Prairie, Idaho, northeast of Boise.

“We thought this would be a great way to honor Mark’s memory,” said Jim Raudenbush, base manager for the BLM’s Great Basin Smokejumper base in Boise, where Urban worked. “Mark loved the outdoor lifestyle, especially mountain biking and hiking. This trail will exist as a permanent tribute to him.”

The new trail, dubbed the Urban Connection Trail, links
two other trails in the Ridge to Rivers trail system. The
smokejumpers rerouted some existing trails, constructed several long switchbacks, and installed some erosion control features.
The new trail has sweeping views of the verdant Boise River and the tree-filled east side of Boise.

“The effort was great,” said David Gordon, Ridge to Rivers division manager for the Boise Parks and Recreation department. “The smokejumpers accomplished in a few hours
what would have taken my crew two days to do.”

Ridge to Rivers began as a partnership between the City of Boise, Ada County and the Bureau of Land Management in the
early 1990s with a vision of linking neighborhoods in the valley to public lands in the hills above, and connecting people to the natural environment. It has since grown to include more than 150 miles of trails that draw users of all ages and abilities to the outdoors.

Given his strong connection to both the outdoors and his friends, the Urban Connection Trail linking other trails in the
system is a fitting tribute to Mark Urban.

An 11-year veteran smokejumper, Urban, 40, died in a parachuting accident last September. He left behind a wife and
an extensive network of friends and colleagues. Nearly 800 people attended a memorial service last fall for Mark Urban at
the National Interagency Fire Center.

Urban was described by friends and colleagues as a man of many passions and talents — an avid bicyclist, river runner, world traveler, skier, surfer, musician, and devoted husband, who was well-liked and highly respected by other smokejumpers. He was also remembered as a quiet leader who “simply got things done,” said Phil Lind, a
fellow smokejumper.