From helping in a science lab to patrolling trails by bike, these awardees show the value of working together to preserve the agency’s public lands legacy. In 2013, the Forest Service honored these individuals for the contribution to public lands:
Volunteer Coordinator of Volunteers:
Allen Pape - National Forests in Texas
Allen Pape is an extremely resourceful volunteer leader who made a personal commitment to maintain, monitor and improve the Lone Star Hiking Trail on the Sam Houston Ranger District. He has led numerous senior citizen and Houston Trail Coalition group service days to remove invasive species, brush and downed trees from the tread and its adjacent locations along the trail. He is also building the future generations of Lone Star Trail stewards by reaching out to a variety of youth groups and coordinating their safe involvement in caring for the trail. He began his volunteer service to the trail in 1992 by giving 16 hours per week. Over the past 21 years Allen has volunteered more than 16,128 hours and engaged with more than 300 individuals who might not have otherwise volunteered.
C. Michael “Mike” Heard - Los Padres National Forest
Mike Heard has been a valuable asset for his extensive on-the-ground trail work in the Cone Peak area of the Ventana Wilderness(link is external) on the Monterey Ranger District and has contributed logistical support to the Monterey Ranger District. By volunteering more than 3,663 hours over the past two years, Mike took the lead in completing necessary paperwork to finalize the National Environmental Protection Act process for a critical trail reroute project. By recruiting professional botanists to conduct a volunteer survey of the trail project area, Mike was able to gather pertinent wildlife data to help ensure that the project was completed on time. Mike was also able to assist with capturing critical data accomplishments for volunteer reporting, Recreation Site Inventory and the 10 Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge.
Poudre Wilderness Volunteers - Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests
Poudre Wilderness Volunteers is a dedicated group of some 273 individuals first organized in 1996 to manage and protect the wilderness and backcountry areas on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District. To achieve its mission, Poudre Wilderness Volunteers recruits, trains, equips and deploys citizen volunteers to serve as wilderness rangers and hosts to educate the public and provide other invaluable support to these wild areas. Since 2005, the group has donated more than 174,243 volunteer hours through trail patrols, educational programs and trail maintenance on some 150 miles of trail.
Karen and Bernie Hooper - Coronado National Forest
Karen and Bernie Hooper have served as campground hosts on the Coronado National Forest since 2007 and for the past several years at Lakeview Campground on the Sierra Vista Ranger District. Karen brings professionalism, expertise, and high standards in the management of the campground; Bernie is a retired veteran and brings an innovative and can-do spirit to the campground. They adapt to situations well and are invaluable in the level of safety they provide for campers. Karen and Bernie contributed 4,985 hours in fiscal year 2013 and continued to maintain a high standard of cleanliness and safety in the campgrounds. For example they installed small inexpensive fence solar lights on the fee kiosk which increased safety at the fee station and made it easier for campers to pay their fees. Karen and Bernie’s presence in the campground has increased fee compliance by 38 percent over a one-year period. When the Hoopers are serving as site hosts the District receives rave reviews on the standards to which the facilities and campgrounds are maintained.
Ben Beamer - Willamette National Forest
Ben Beamer, chair for the Greater Area Trails Stewards, leads the group that performs thousands of volunteer hours of trail work for the Middle Fork Ranger District each year. During the past four years, he has served as the liaison to the Forest Service by developing trust and a mutual understanding with a group of individuals that formerly consisted of rogue trail builders. Ben is clearly one of the “movers and shakers” in the rural town and through his physical labors, long-term vision and team building skills he has had a positive impact in the local area. His work not only saves the Forest Service money by maintaining public trails, it has also augmented the limited budget through grants that he has written to help assist the Forest Service with completing critical National Environmental Protection Act work prior to implementation of work on the ground. Ben is a visionary and has promoted the volunteer program through increased participation, sponsorships and strategic marketing of the program.
Ozark Trail Association - Mark Twain National Forest
The 350-mile Ozark Trail in Missouri serves as a beautiful recreation resource of hikers, equestrians, and biker riders thanks to the dedicated contributions of the Ozark Trail Association. During the 10 years since its inception, the association has been the most active and valuable volunteer group on the Mark Twain National Forest. Hosting some two dozen trail construction and maintenance events each year, they inspire current and potential trail enthusiasts to connect with trails and their public lands. While sharing their extensive knowledge and passion for the land, the trail volunteers continue to provide a quality trail experience to the public. They have inspired hundreds of new volunteers to be committed ambassadors of the forest and the trail, as they share their personal connection to the land with others.
Forest Service Employee:
Elizabeth Burke - Helena National Forest
Liz Burke has been instrumental in delivering high quality conservation education for over 14 years through the Youth Forest Monitoring Program along with other unique programs which promote conservation education. The intensive Youth Forest Monitoring Program is a seven-week summer internship program for high school students that provides experiential stewardship of forest lands, forest ecology and monitoring forest health. The program then provides recommendations to Forest Service professionals based on its scientific findings. Liz manages the program by hiring and supervising four field instructors and overseeing 16 high school students both in the field and in the computer lab. Liz is instrumental in leading other partnerships which help increase student understanding of the need for stewardship of the land and provide an appreciation of public lands through the use of research, essay, and art. Liz creatively manages multiple projects and continues to suggest innovative ideas for new projects in the field of environmental education.
Forest Service Unit:
By consistently providing opportunities for over 7,500 volunteers each year on this large urban Forest, employees of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest exemplify support and appreciation of the volunteer program. In FY13 they engaged more than 2,000 students in school field trips, contacted more than 7,361 people through the Tour with a Ranger program, hosted more than 1,000 participants at a local wildflower festival and reached out to various other groups throughout the year. The volunteer program is integrated into all programs and districts throughout the forest and has accomplished work that couldn’t have been completed with existing staff and limited budgets. The forest has been able to increase presence in the field through volunteers serving in visitor contact positions. Relationships with local communities have been strengthened through the planning, coordination and implementation of stewardship projects through engagement of volunteers.