If you’re an agency staffer who wants to start a stewardship group, we may be able to help.
National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance sometimes hears from land agency staffers who have critical stewardship needs but don’t know how to get a local group started.
“It’s essential to have the District Ranger make stewardship a priority, “states Kristy Wumkes, Partnership Coordinator for the Canyon Lakes and Pawnee Ranger Districts on the Arapahoe Roosevelt National Forests in Colorado.
Wumkes should know. Her fulltime position coordinating volunteers and partners is the only one like it in the country. She credits the commitment of a former district ranger for her position. “She made a conscious decision fifteen years ago to foster partnerships on the forest, recognizing their economic, resource and social benefits,” she says.
Wumkes works closely with Recreation Forester Kevin Cannon. The two have grown the partnership and volunteer programs exponentially.
“We now host from 600-1000 volunteers annually. They typically provide over 40,000 hours of stewardship service each year. With volunteers as leaders, our overhead time is greatly reduced. Volunteers do a lot of the logistics and training, relieving us of having to continuously train new volunteers,” Wumkes notes. “And returning volunteers are our greatest recruitment tool.”
The work being done on the forest is prodigious. Forty percent of the Districts’ 360 miles of trails are maintained by volunteers; remote visitors’ centers are totally staffed by volunteers; roads are patrolled by 4X4 clubs and non-motorized patrols take place on foot, horse, bike, ski and snowshoe. There are even volunteer river rangers. Volunteers also provide administrative support and work in the Districts’ woodshop.