Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Wilderness!

President Obama signed the defense spending act into law on Friday, and with it, a bill that adds 245,000 acres of newly designated wilderness in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington.

Included are:
-- the Hermosa Creek Watershed, San Juan National Forest,  near Durango, CO, includes 38,000 acres of new wilderness and 70,000 acres of special management area where the roads will be left as is and motorcycles, snowmobiles and bicycles will be allowed. 
--  the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, WA, adds 22,100 acres to the existing wilderness and parts of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt rivers have been designated as Wild and Scenic.

-- the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness, Carson National Forest, NM, permanently protects 45,000 acres of new wilderness, but also adjusted a current wilderness boundary to allow access to mountain bikers to link popular single track trails, and get them onboard with supporting the new wilderness designation.

-- the Wovoka Wilderness and Pine Forest Range Wilderness, NV, with 48,000 acres and 26,000 acres respectively. The Wovoka Wilderness is named in honor of the Native American spiritual leader who lived in the area.

-- the Rocky Mountain Front, MT, adds 50,500 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and 16,700 acres to the Scapegoat Wilderness. The legislation also sets aside 208,000 acres as Conservation Management Areas which limits road building but allows current motorized recreation and access for hunting, biking, grazing and logging.

This Congressional gift was the result of many compromises and sacrificed many wilderness study areas that are as deserving of protection, but we must celebrate the victory of preserving America's wild lands however it's achieved. This is a gift to our children and future generations -- they will need wilderness as much as we do. Please take the time to thank your Congressmen and Senators so they will know that we appreciate their leadership in preserving our national heritage.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Celebrate Wilderness Photo Essay

Oregon Field Guide video essay reflects on the 50th year of the Wilderness Act in the northwest.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Another Year in the Books!

Wilderness Volunteers wrapped up the 2014 season just before Thanksgiving with the Saguaro National Park service trip in southern Arizona. This was the latest trip that we've fielded, but it was a perfect time with great weather and we plan to do it again in 2015.

Thanks to everyone who participated in a project this year. We collectively maintained and repaired more than 106 miles of trail, built 3 miles of new trail, created more than 490 waterbars, cleaned 219 existing waterbars, placed 105 checkdams, removed 652 trees from trails, moved 97 tons of rocks, removed two and one/half miles of trail, 60 illegal fire rings, and 235 illegal campsites. We also maintained/improved 68 campsites, created 8 new campsites, took out 1/4 mile of closed road, removed 99,000 invasive weeds and planted 621 native plants. This list of work done in 2014 isn't complete - reports are still being collected for the last few projects.

We did all of this on public land in cooperation with some wonderful agency personnel who supervised and supported our groups across the country. We're especially thankful for our great volunteer leaders who give so much time to planning and making sure that the projects are successful, to mentor new leaders, to keep everyone safe in the field, to cook all those meals, and to be the face of Wilderness Volunteers to the world -- they are truly the heart of our organization.

We are thankful for our partners and sponsors who make the program possible, especially the National Forest Foundation who supports our work in national forests with matching grants, and to Keen for awarding us a Keen Effect grant. They make much of this work happen!

While we love to take stock of what we've accomplished, there isn't much time to look back as it's time to leap ahead into next year's projects. We are finishing the planning for 2015 and will post the summer and fall projects later this week. Stay tuned! Let's do it again!