Do you love to explore and embrace the wonders of Idaho’s public land? ICL’s Wilderness Stewards Program’s application process has kicked off, and we are searching for outgoing and dedicated public lands-loving recreationists to volunteer this summer. The Wilderness Stewards Program began in 2016 with the overarching goal to restore, protect and enhance wilderness character throughout some of central Idaho’s designated and recommended wilderness areas

Photo by Molly Meyers.

Through the program, volunteers hit the trail on their own time to complete independent patrols and act as extra sets of hands, eyes, and ears for land management agencies. During independent patrols, stewards complete tasks such as naturalize backcountry campsites, remove illegal fire rings, remove waste, and collect data about trail use for our land management partners. Since its inception, a total of 233 stewards and their trail companions have:

  • Completed 858 patrols
  • Naturalized 489 backcountry campfire rings
  • Engaged with 13,767 other trail users about Leave No Trace principles
  • Completed over 30 certifications in Wilderness First Aid training
Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness. Photo by Bob Wick.

Where do Wilderness Stewards patrol?

Historically, the program has been solely based in central Idaho’s designated and recommended wilderness areas. This year, ICL is excited to announce that in addition to our central Idaho locations, we will be launching a pilot program in the Payette National Forest. Stewards can select their preferred region and will receive their final region assignment when accepted to the program. Once assigned to a region, stewards have the opportunity to select areas to patrol within that region. Areas include, but are not limited to:

Central Idaho Wilderness Steward Program:
  • Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument
  • Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness
  • Jim McClure-Jerry Peak Wilderness
  • Sawtooth Wilderness
  • Recommended wilderness in the Sawtooth and Salmon-Challis 
West-central Idaho Wilderness Steward Pilot Program:
  • Recommended wilderness in the Payette National Forest in and around the Needles and Secesh Inventoried Roadless Areas
Photo by Jim Findley.

Who is an ideal candidate? 

  • Has solid wilderness and backcountry travel and decision-making skills
  • Over the age of 18 (in some instances, children may be accepted with a parent)
  • Is in good physical condition to travel long distances at high elevation
  • Possesses excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Is first aid/CPR certified (If your certifications are out of date, we have options for you to renew certifications.)
  • Has knowledge of Leave No Trace (LNT) principles

What do Wilderness Stewards do and what is the time commitment?

From June through November, ICL Wilderness Stewards complete one full-day in-person training and four independent patrols in their designated region. Patrols entail:

White Clouds Preserve. Photo by Don Weber.
  • Removing illegal, unsafe, or high impact campfire rings
  • Naturalizing backcountry campsites
  • Collecting trail user data for land management agencies
  • Removing waste
  • Engaging with trail users about wilderness etiquette
  • Removing invasive plants
  • Participating in citizen science projects
  • Monitoring dark sky levels
  • Having fun!

In addition to independent patrols, we are excited to introduce innovating and inspiring group work this summer in the central Idaho program. Through these projects, stewards will have additional opportunities to engage with trail users, complete special assignments for campfire sweeps after peak holiday periods, learn from experts in the field, connect with other like-minded hikers, and make a bigger impact on the condition of this region! 

What does ICL provide for stewards?

  • In-depth wilderness stewardship training
  • Uniform pieces
  • Work gloves
  • Trash collection kit
  • Swag

What are ICL Wilderness Stewards responsible for?

  • Transportation to and from trailheads
  • Personal gear
  • First aid kit
  • Camera/cell phone
  • Satellite messenger (i.e. SPOT or InReach) optional
White Cloud Mountains. Photo by Ed Cannady.

How do you get involved?

Recreate with purpose this summer and dedicate some of your adventures to giving back while you make memories! 

  • Learn more here!
  • Join ICL, Leave No Trace, Payette National Forest and Sawtooth National Forest for an informational Zoom workshop on April 26th from 6 – 7 pm.
  • Submit the application below by June 5, 2022 to be considered for the 2022 Wilderness Steward Program.

Our public lands give us so much. Good stewardship is essential in ensuring we and future generations can continue to enjoy our public lands. Join ICL’s Wilderness Steward Program and recreate with purpose this summer – our public lands need you!

Apply to be an ICL Wilderness Steward!