Category Archives: trail stewards

Volunteers in the Wilderness

IMG_0847_1(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

Environmental volunteers do their work in every kind of natural setting. Some are on boats out on the open seas. Others are in canoes on tiny lakes and ponds. Some are in wide open fields and meadows. While still others are deep in the heart of dense wilderness, like the volunteers who participated in this effort to clear trails in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. This enormous area of wilderness, 1.3 million acres of land, spans parts of Idaho and Montana, with roughly 1,800 miles of trails winding through it. Two different groups of volunteers were brought in for the trail work, one led by the American Hiking Society and the other by the Sierra Club, both hosted by the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation. The article quotes the Foundation’s program director, Coby Gierke, who says, in part, “The issues that we face here are not that much different from other wilderness areas. After experiencing it for themselves, they [the volunteers] become great stewards and help tell this story nationally.” Hopefully, they will do just that and continue to do this kind of work in whatever wilderness surrounds them, no matter where they live.

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A Growing Need

P1010138(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

As the posts on this blog have demonstrated, volunteers are an essential and integral part of environmental work. The importance of their role cannot be overstated. In many places, they are becoming even more important and are more needed than ever. In this example out of Denver, more and more people are using local areas for backcountry trips. That is putting more stress on the wilderness areas and the wilderness trails, which are maintained by dedicated volunteers. As more and more of the public treks out into the forest, there’s an even greater need for trail stewards who will educate the public about proper trail usage and make sure the trails remain accessible and intact. This type of need for more volunteers is likely to happen in many places as more and more people return to or rediscover nature and the outdoors.

Friends of Mount Evans and Lost Creek Wilderness is just one of the Denver area groups dealing with this issue.