When Jose Witt, Southern Nevada Manager of Friends of Nevada Wilderness (FNW) hosts a party, he draws quite a crowd.  And could there be a better reason to party than to celebrate wilderness?

Witt estimates that some 58 people, 17 of them youth from the Spring Mountain Youth Camp and Future Farmers of America, joined in activities this summer designed to celebrate and promote wilderness protection and stewardship.

The summer-long effort began on June 6th with a 50th anniversary celebration & stewardship project.  Volunteers from Spring Mountain Youth Camp, Go Mt. Charleston and MGM Grand Resorts worked for four hours on the Mt. Charleston National Recreational Trail which had been closed to the public because of a fire.

Volunteers improved trail conditions by installing drainage structures, removing berms and improving tread. Others spent their time removing switchback cuts, removing decommissioned trail sections and installing signage.

The next day, in honor of National Trails Day, volunteers from FNW and Backcountry Horsemen joined with Future Farmers of America and Spring Mountain youth to tackle a mile of trail on the Humboldt Toiyabe.  The group installed drainage structures, removed berms, maintained and reinforced switchbacks, and improved trail tread. They even cleared a tree from the trail. The maintenance prolonged longevity of the trail and allows visitors to experience the wilderness.

Jose_Witt_Friends_of_Nevada_Wilderness.jpgCelebrations culminated Aug 20th with the installation of a kiosk on the Mud Spring Trail.  The signage informs visitors of proper uses of the wilderness trail. Youth also naturalized 100 feet of illegal vehicle trespass using vertical and horizontal mulching techniques.

“Afterward, Smokey the Bear joined us for a potluck and a cake to celebrate,” notes the Friends of Nevada Wilderness’ Witt.  “Local wilderness historian John Hiatt talked about the ‘Birth of Wilderness’ and we had a great time.”

Witt is pleased with the work and the exposure that youth got to wilderness.  He’s excited about prospects of future work with Spring Mountain Youth, an established partner, and with Future Farmers of America, a new one.  

“I think those who participated got a deeper awareness of wilderness and the importance of stewardship to maintaining wilderness characteristics,” Witt concludes.