For Immediate Release: Friday, April 22, 2022
Abby Urbanek, Communications Manager, (208) 345-6933 x 214
Stevie Gawryluk, Central Idaho Community Engagement Assistant, (208) 345-6933 x 302
Randy Fox, West Central Idaho Conservation Associate, (208) 345-6933 x 510
Applications open for volunteers in Idaho Conservation League’s Wilderness Stewards Program
Recreate with purpose as a 2022 Wilderness Steward
BOISE, ID – The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) is excited to be accepting applications for another round of its volunteer Wilderness Stewards Program, which provides great opportunities for passionate outdoor recreationists to give back to Idaho’s public lands.
Since 2016, the Wilderness Stewards Program has helped restore, protect and enhance wilderness character throughout some of central Idaho’s designated and recommended wilderness areas. The program trains volunteers to head out on independent patrols, acting as extra sets of hands, eyes, and ears for land management agencies. During patrols, stewards perform many tasks–including naturalizing backcountry campsites, removing illegal fire rings, removing waste, and collecting data about trail use for our land management partners.
“When I get to a lake, it’s easy to see if it has been cleaned by a steward. With limited budgets and staffing, it’s not possible to accomplish everything that needs to be done to ensure our public lands are safe, clean and accessible,” said Caitlin Frawley, Sawtooth NRA Wilderness Ranger. “With only three full-time wilderness rangers covering hundreds of miles of trails, having an additional 50 volunteers on our trails makes a world of difference.”
Historically, the program focused on clean-up, monitoring and education efforts in central Idaho’s designated and recommended wilderness areas. This year, the program is expanding to include the Payette National Forest as well.
“Collecting data in remote areas such as these recommended wilderness areas on the Payette National Forest will not only allow the Forest Service to better understand the current use of these areas, but provide us with a more robust data set in determining whether or not we are meeting the overarching goals, objectives and various standards laid out in the Payette National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan,” said Josh Simpson, the Recreation, Wilderness and Trails Program Manager with Krassel District Recreation.
Stewards can select their preferred region and will receive their final region assignment once accepted to the program. Once assigned a region, stewards will choose their patrol areas. Some popular patrol areas include the Sawtooth Wilderness, Craters of the Moon National Monument, recommended wilderness in the Sawtooth and Salmon-Challis, and recommended wilderness in the Payette National Forest.
Ideal candidates have strong wilderness and backcountry experience, are in good physical condition to hike long distances at high elevation, and are first-aid/CPR certified. Strong communication skills are also helpful in interacting with other recreationists. Ideal candidates are at least 18 years old, but children may be accepted with a guardian in some instances.
ICL provides training, uniforms and other tools for stewards. Each steward is responsible for their own transportation to and from trailheads and personal gear. Stewards are also required to complete one full-day of in-person training, followed by four independent patrols in their designated region from June through November.
“The Wilderness Stewards Program provides public lands enthusiasts with the chance to recreate with purpose and dedicate some of their adventures to giving back,” said Stevie Gawryluk, Community Engagement Assistant with ICL. “Our public lands give us so much. Good stewardship is essential in ensuring we and future generations can continue to enjoy our public lands.”
Apply to be an ICL Wilderness Steward by submitting an application online. Applications will be accepted through May 20, 2022. You can also learn more about the program here.