The Boot on the Ground Grant Program was started by an anonymous donor who presented a fundraising goal and challenge to the NWSA board of directors as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Wilderness Act.
The challenge was for the NWSA board to raise $5,000 in 2014 through dedicated, individual fundraising by all board members and that the donor would match this funding with a $5,000 donation to NWSA to be used for grants for on-the-ground stewardship work in wilderness.
Grant projects were to to be within designated wilderness areas across the country on lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The grants supported engaging volunteers in boots-on-the-ground stewardship projects such as trail work, plant restoration/invasive removal, fire rehab, debris removal, entrance signage, etc.
At the end of 2015 we were able to launch this program and awarded the grants in early 2016.
If funding allows, in the future the NWSA hopes to have more Boots on the Ground grants.
Boots on the Ground Grant Recipients for 2016
Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation (Bitterroot, Nez Perce-Clearwater, Salmon-Challis and Payette National Forests, MT, ID)
Project: Volunteers will be trained to use traditional tools to clear trees and brush from trail in two multi-day projects, including opening the trail to St. Mary’s Peak Fire Lookout. Volunteers will also restore erosion-damaged alpine slopes that are adjacent to the trail.
Okefenokee Wildlife League (Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge, GA)
Project: Rebuild the current plastic overnight shelter on the 120-mile Canoe Trail System in the Okefenokee Wilderness using native lumber and primitive tools and skillsets.
Kaiser Wilderness Foundation (Sierra National Forest, CA)
Project: Repair of the trail puncheon (elevated walkway) over sensitive habitat in Mary’s Meadow, and signage to indicate trail and no camping areas
High Country Conservancy (BLM Beauty Mountain Wilderness, CA) Requested: $1,500
Project: Improving habitat along the Anza Trail for Quino butterfly by removing invasive grasses and installing educational signage for visitors about the endangered Quino.
Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation (Spotted Bear Ranger District, Flathead National Forest, MT)
Project: Volunteer trail work to reopen Picture Ridge/Sarah Peak Trail # 107 and Chipmunk Trail #99 in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.
Idaho Trails Association (Sawtooth Wilderness, ID)
Project: Open the Mattingly Creek Trail in the Sawtooth Wilderness, closed due to downfall for several years after a fire. The project would entail opening the trail with crosscut saws, cleaning and rebuilding drainage structures, brushing and reestablishing trail tread with six volunteers and a trail specialist.
Condor Trails Association (Los Padres National Forest, CA)
Project: Surveying and flagging 7 miles of the Condor Trail in the Sespe Wilderness for restoration, and flagging re-routes in sensitive areas, with volunteers and an archaeologist and biologist.
Northwoods Volunteer Connection (Superior National Forest)
Project: Restore canoe portage at entry point to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, with installation of log and rock bars and check dams.
Poudre Wilderness Volunteers (Roosevelt National Forest, CO)
Project: Final phase of North Fork Trail rehabilitation after 2013 floods in the Comanche Peak Wilderness.
Idaho Conservation League (Sawtooth National Forest, ID)
Project: Establishing “Adopt A Trail” program, with volunteer stewards maintaining trails, with a focus in the newly established Boulder-White Cloud Wilderness.
Friends of Nevada Wilderness (Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, NV)
Project: Volunteer trail stewards and Doggie Ambassador program in the Mt. Rose Wilderness to clean-up and monitor heavily-used dog-friendly trails.
Ventana Wilderness Alliance (Los Padres National Forest, CA)
Project: Outfit 15 Volunteer Wilderness Rangers with lightweight and dependable radios so they may safely patrol and repair trails in the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness areas.
Friends of the Inyo (Inyo National Forest, CA)
Project: Two volunteer projects, including trail maintenance and campsite clean-up in the John Muir Wilderness.
Partners of Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness (Cherokee National Forest, NC)
Project: Rehabilitating primary access site to the Joyce Kilmer Wilderness, including picnic site reconstructions and work along the Memorial Loop Trail to remove invasive plants.
Stanislaus Wilderness Volunteers (Stanislaus National Forest, CA)
Project: Wilderness volunteer internship for college/recent grads to spend a summer working with volunteers and Forest Service staff in the Emigrant, Carson-Iceberg, and Mokolumne Wilderness areas.
Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter (Tonto National Forest, AZ)
Project: Support for volunteer program in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness that engages disadvantaged youth in trail work and invasive removal. Include van rentals for 2 trips, tools, and volunteer food for 6 trips.
Friends of Mt. Evans and Lost Creek Wilderness (Pike National Forest, CO)
Project: Volunteer spring training plus two all-hands on trails volunteer days, one in Mt. Evans Wilderness and one in Lost Creek Wilderness.
San Juan Back Country Horsemen (San Juan National Forest, CO)
Project: All boots and hooves on the ground to construct a turnpike and overlay with gravel in a boggy area of trail in Weminuche Wilderness, a priority Forest Service Wilderness project.
West Cascades Back Country Horsemen of Oregon (Willamette National Forest, OR)
Project: Overall stewardship program, including trail maintenance along the Big Meadows Turpentine Trail and maintaining the Big Meadows Horse Camp that lead into the Mount Jefferson Wilderness.