The Beginning of a Great Idea – NWSA is Born!
In 2008 at a Wilderness Volunteer Workshop Colorado, Elaine Dermody of Friends of Wilderness in Steamboat Springs, and Chris Brown, the Forest Service Director for Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers, got to talking: Could we find ways for volunteer wilderness stewards to connect, support each other, and help foster new groups? Ralph Swain, Region 2 Wilderness Program Manager, was enthusiastic about the idea -- the workshop where Elaine and Chris talked was one example of Ralph's efforts to increase awareness and cooperation among volunteer-based groups across many years.
In October, 2008, Chris gathered Forest Service leaders, wilderness advocates and experts, and representatives from stewardship groups for a meeting in Washington, DC. Shaaron Netherton from Friends of Nevada Wilderness, and Dave Cantrell from Poudre Wilderness Volunteers were part of a contingent representing boots-on-the-ground stewardship organizations. Everyone at the meeting agreed on the need. But how to make something happen?
At the Region 2 Wilderness Volunteer Workshop a few months later, the group got to work. With support from Chris and FS managers and rangers in every region, Elaine, Dave, and Shaaron located outstanding volunteer organizations and explained the idea. Everywhere they went, they found interest and enthusiasm for the idea that volunteer groups across the nation could support each other and help new groups form.
"Let's get together!" A few thousand emails later, we were all set: Poudre Wilderness Volunteers offered to host a gathering, organizations from every corner found ways to send someone, national experts offered their support, and a new organization was born in Fort Collins in 2010.
NWSA Goes to Washington DC in October 2010!
During the last week of October, NWSA’s new board members had three full days of fabulous meetings with all four of the wilderness land management agencies: the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
We talked about the importance of a strong boots-on-the ground partnership to better care for our wilderness areas. We talked about the power of people coming together at our March 2010 meeting to build an alliance of people who cared about Wilderness Stewardship.
We realized how important it is to have a collective way to tell the success stories of what wilderness stewardship groups are already doing across the land as well as a way to share constructive ways to improve our partnerships.
Chief of the Forest Service – Tom Tidwell; Steve Shakelton from the NPS; Carl Rountree head of BLM’’s National Landscape Conservation System It was great meeting with the Interagency Wilderness Steering committee.
Left to right front row: Hawk Metheny, NWSA Board Member, Dave Cantrell, NWSA Board Member, Chief Tidwell, USFS, Elaine Dermody, NWSA Board Member, Shaaron Netherton, NWSA Board Member, Ralph Swain, USFS, Greg Miller, American Hiking Society and NWSA fiscal sponser, and in very back Chris Brown, USFS.