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The Magazine of the National Forest Foundation



Aldo Leopold in the Gila Wilderness THE STORY OF A WILDERNESS VISIONARY.

Summer – Fall 2014

Board of Directors Executive Committee John Hendricks, Hendricks Investment Holdings, LLC (MD), Chairman Craig R. Barrett, Retired CEO/Chairman of the Board, Intel Corporation (AZ), Vice Chairman Max Chapman, Chairman, Gardner Capital Management Corp. (TX), Vice Chairman Lee Fromson, President and COO, Goal Zero (UT), Treasurer Timothy P. Schieffelin, Senior Director, BNY Mellon Wealth Management (CT), Secretary Caroline Choi, Vice President, Integrated Planning & Environmental Affairs, Southern California Edison (CA), Member Peter Foreman, Sirius LP (IL), Member

Board of Directors David Bell, Chairman, Gyro, LLC (NY) Mike Brown, Jr., General Partner, Bowery Capital (NY) Coleman Burke, President, Waterfront Properties (NY) Blaise Carrig, President–Mountain Division, Vail Resorts, Inc. (CO)


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welcome letter

Transformative Experiences By Bill Possiel, NFF President


eflecting on wilderness as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the landmark Wilderness Act causes a rush of memories to come to mind: In Alaska

fourteen Dall sheep rams marched toward my wife and me on the top of Mount Wright after a severe storm. Several adventures in the Marble Mountain Wilderness in Northern California and the Three Sisters Wilderness in Oregon were both humbling and exciting. My first winter wilderness camping trip in Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness and a more recent father-son backpacking trip into Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness with a group of my son’s friends and their dads helped build new bonds and reinforce old ones. Each of these wilderness outings stands out as a transformative experience that left me with memories etched indelibly in my mind.

The National Wilderness Preservation System is truly remarkable, nearly 110 million acres of truly wild landscapes spread across 758 areas from Alaska to Florida. Just as remarkable are the people who fostered the wilderness movement, and while you may recognize several of their names—Aldo Leopold, Bob Marshall, and Arthur Carhart—you may not know that beyond their passion for wilderness, they all worked as U.S. Forest Service employees. That passion still exists; the Forest Service cares for more Wilderness areas in the lower 48 states than any other federal agency, managing 33 percent of the acreage within the National Wilderness Preservation System. In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the Forest Service issued a Stewardship Challenge, calling for all Wilderness areas in the National

Forest System to meet baseline management standards by 2014. Ten years ago the National Forest Foundation launched the Wilderness Stewardship Challenge grant program to support these efforts. In 2005 only 11 percent of Forest Service Wilderness areas met management standards, today almost 85 percent meet those standards. The NFF is proud to have worked with many partners to improve the condition of our nation’s Wilderness areas (see the article on pages 25-27). We hope you enjoy this special wilderness issue of Your National Forests produced to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of a uniquely American concept. If you haven’t visited a Wilderness area recently, or maybe have never visited a Wilderness area, I would encourage you to have a transformative experience that you will cherish for the rest of your life.

Summer – Fall 2014


inside this edition



Transformative Experiences

departments 3

Where in the Woods


What is Wilderness


Eastern Wilderness


How well can you identify your National Forests? A Wilderness Primer

The Eastern Foundations of Wilderness


Wilderness Timeline


Wilderness Management


Exploring the historic ways of the Ninemile Remount Depot and Ranger Station in Western Montana

A brief history of Wilderness policy and preservation What Future for Wilderness


Kids in Nature


Wilderness Conservation


Featured Forest


The Greater Challenge

Hiking and Backpacking with Kids An Olympian Search for Martens


Faces and Places of Wilderness

Stunning photographs from our photo contest

An American Original: Aldo Leopold in the Gila Wilderness The difficult challenge of retaining wilderness character for tomorrow


on the cover Backpacking in the Gila Wilderness Photo Š by Richard Steinberger


The Old Way is the Best Way

Your National Forests

My Wilderness

A collection of quotes and short essays from Wilderness champions

Photo Š Cathrine L. Walters; Ed Bernik; Cheryl Himmelstein /


where in the woods This National Forest is home to the largest herd of bighorn sheep in the country. Photo © Louis Kamler

See page 27 for the answer.

National Forest Foundation

Your National Forests

Building 27, Suite 3 Fort Missoula Road Missoula, Montana 59804 406.542.2805

The Magazine of the National Forest Foundation Editor-in-Chief Greg M. Peters Contributors Tristan Baurick, Hannah Ettema, Tim Gibbins, Bill Hodge, Zia Maumenee, Marlee Ostheimer, Greg M. Peters, William J. Possiel, Marcus Selig Graphic Artist David Downing, Old Town Creative Communications, LLC

®2014 National Forest Foundation and Old Town Creative Communications, LLC. No unauthorized reproduction of this material is allowed. Your National Forests magazine is printed on recycled paper with 30% postconsumer content. This magazine’s use of FSC certified paper ensures the highest environmental and social standards have been followed in the wood sourcing, paper manufacturing, and print production of this magazine. To learn more log on to

National Forest Foundation President William J. Possiel Executive Vice President Mary Mitsos Executive Vice President Ray A. Foote Edward Belden Southern California Program Associate Sheree Bombard Director, Administration Karen DiBari Director, Conservation Connect Hannah Ettema Communications and Development Associate Robin Hill Controller Lisa Leonard Oregon Program Manager Adam Liljeblad Director, Conservation Awards Zia Maumenee Conservation Awards Associate Luba Mullen Associate Director, Development Marlee Ostheimer Development Associate Greg M. Peters Director, Communications Vance Russell Director, California Program Emily Schembra Conservation Connect Associate Marcus Selig Director, Colorado Program Michelle Singer Accountant Deborah Snyder Development Associate, Data and Membership Emily Struss Conservation Associate Wes Swaffar Ecosystem Services Program Manager Dayle Wallien Pacific Northwest Development Manager

Summer – Fall 2014


what is wilderness Photo © Louis Kamler


oday the National Wilderness Preservation System contains nearly 110 million acres of lands enjoyed by all Americans. These wilderness

lands all exist within our National Parks, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, and Bureau of Land Management lands.

The 1964 Wilderness Act created the National Wilderness Preservation System and immediately protected 54 areas. The Act designated 9.1 million acres in 13 states as Wilderness. Included were some of our most iconic Wilderness areas: • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota • Bridger Wilderness, Wyoming

General Wilderness Prohibitions Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited on all federal lands designated as Wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft, including helicopters, unless provided for in specific legislation.

• Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana • Ansel Adams Wilderness, California Today, the National Wilderness Preservation System includes: • 758 Wilderness areas from coast-to-coast • 109,511,966 million acres of protected Wilderness • Wilderness areas in all but six U.S. states

The U.S. Forest Service, of all the agencies, manages the most Wilderness areas—439 separate areas.


Wilderness Facts • The Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness area is the largest contiguous Wilderness in the lower 48 states at approximately 2.3 million acres. • The Wrangell–Saint Elias Wilderness area is the largest Wilderness area in the U.S. covering more than nine million acres of rugged Alaskan mountains and forests. • The U.S. Forest Service, of all the agencies, manages the most Wilderness areas—439 separate areas covering 36,160,078 acres. • The Appalachian Trail passes through 25 Wilderness areas. • The Continental Divide Trail passes through 26 Wilderness areas. • The Gila Wilderness was the world’s first Wilderness area, established on June 3, 1924.

CORPORATE PARTNER Coca-Cola understands the value of water. That's why we've partnered with the NFF, the USDA, and the Forest Service to replenish more than a billion liters of water on our National Forests and Grasslands.


Your National Forests

• The Forest Service manages 33 percent of the acreage within the National Wilderness Preservation System.

eastern wilderness

The Eastern Foundations of Wilderness By Bill Hodge


he scope and grandeur of the National Wilderness Preservation System is often captured in stunning western vistas and soaring snow-capped peaks. But despite this iconic imagery, the roots of the wilderness idea have a decidedly eastern backdrop.

While the West provides the stereotype, the forests In the East, programs supporting wilderness protecof the East have profoundly influenced the wilderness tions and wilderness stewardship are engaging a new construct, and greatly inspired those that fostered the America, an America filled with a more diverse and dybirth of the wilderness movement. namic population. For example, the Southern Appalachian Bob Marshall found his love of wild places scrambling Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) program of The Wilderness to the top of New York’s Adirondacks. Howard Zahniser, Society promotes stewardship and engagement through author of the Wilderness Act, also found inspiration early in trail maintenance. Volunteers help maintain important his life through those same ridges. Other early champions Wilderness area trails while also learning leadership of wilderness, like Harvey Broome and Benton MacKaye, skills, Leave No Trace and Wilderness First Aid skills, and prowled around the Appalachian range from Georgia to measuring and mitigating the negative impacts that close New England. Broome was instrumental in protecting what proximity to major urban areas can have on wild places. is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while This immersion in wilderness fosters a life-long apMacKaye provided the vision and inspiration for the Appapreciation of these incredible places and underlines how lachian Trail. In 1935, these four visionaries and four other accessible they are to residents of the East. By working like-minded individuals founded The Wilderness Society. in wilderness, the volunteer stewards join the line of Despite providing inspiration to many of the early protection that inspired Broome, Mackaye, Marshall, and pioneers of the wilderness ethic, the eastern United States Frank—experiencing leading to loving, and loving leading was not front-and-center when the Wilderness Act passed to protecting. Many participants take their passion to the 50 years ago. Only three areas east of the Great Lakes were next level and train to become Wilderness Rangers— protected through 1964’s landmark legislation; the Shining patrolling eastern Wilderness areas, helping hikers, Rock and Linville Gorge Wildernesses of North Carolina coordinating maintenance, and working with trail crews. and the Great Gulf Wilderness of New Hampshire. In 2014, the National Wilderness Preservation System Since the passage of the Wilderness Act, the East’s place reaches from Puerto Rico to the Hawaiian Islands. In the in wilderness legislation has grown and evolved. Eastern East, the roots of wilderness stretch back across time to Wilderness areas now play a major role in the entire system those that first envisioned wilderness as a concept and of protected public lands. Millions of Americans have Wila special designation. Those same roots today give rise to derness areas just beyond their urban homes, up and down programs like SAWS, so that tomorrow we will have new the Eastern Seaboard. The relative ease of access to these champions to follow. lands, and the wilderness ideals they introduce, will continue to inspire the next generation of conservation Bill Hodge leaders. The ecological challenges Bill is the Director of Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. He faced in the East expand American serves on the board of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, understanding of where clean water is a recipient of the Bob Marshall Award, and was recognized by the originates and where threatened White House as Champion of Change in building the Next Generation species can seek refuge from a rapidly of Conservation Leaders. Reach him at changing planet.

Summer – Fall 2014


wilderness timeline





Aldo Leopold, Arthur Carhart and Robert Sterling Yard begin writing about a national wilderness preservation policy.


The first Wilderness in the U.S., the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico, is established by the U.S. Forest Service.


National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) passes, requiring public involvement in land management planning and systematic evaluation of the environmental impacts of proposed projects.

Eastern Wilderness Areas Act passes, expanding Congress’ ability to designate Wilderness areas in the East and establishes 16 new Wilderness areas east of the Mississippi.


Forest Service establishes “Primitive areas” within National Forests, “to maintain primitive conditions of transportation, subsistence, habitation, and environment…”


Endangered American Wilderness Act signed by President Jimmy Carter adding 1.3 million acres of Wilderness to the system.


Bob Marshall stated “Areas…should be set aside by an act of Congress. This would give them as close an approximation to permanence as could be realized in a world of shifting desires.”

More than 14 million acres of “Primitive areas” are established.


Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act is signed by President Jimmy Carter, adding over 56 million acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System. This was the largest acreage addition in a single year.

Frank ChurchRiver of No Return Wilderness in Idaho becomes the largest Wilderness area in the contiguous United States.

A total of 758 Wilderness areas are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.


Your National Forests

Photos © USDA Forest Service; CratersoftheMoonNPS /; The Carter Center /

Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona and Craters of the Moon Monument in Idaho are the first Wilderness areas designated within National Park boundaries.


wilderness timeline






The Wilderness Society’s Howard Zahniser and the Sierra Club’s David Brower, along with others, advocate for wilderness protection by building public support.

First draft of the bill preserving wilderness was written by Howard Zahniser. Sixtyfive rewrites and eighteen public hearings follow!

The Wilderness Act formally acknowledges the benefits of wild places to the human spirit and the nation in a nearly unanimous vote by Congress. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Act into law on September 3, 1964.





Bear Trap Canyon becomes first Wilderness area managed by Bureau of Land Management.

President Ronald Reagan’s administration oversees the most Wilderness areas designated in a single year—175.

40th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation establish the ten-year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge to improve the health of Wilderness areas by 2014.

September is declared National Wilderness Month by President Barack Obama. “I invite all Americans to visit and enjoy our Wilderness areas, to learn about their vast history, and to aid in the protection of our precious national treasures.”




Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and National Trails System Act pass. Great Swamp Wilderness in New Jersey is established as the first Wilderness area managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

San Rafael Wilderness in California is the first “Primitive area” designated as Wilderness following the passage of the Wilderness Act.


Photo © National Park Service /


Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness area in Michigan is the most recent addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System and one of 129 areas designated since 2000.




Zia Maumenee Zia is the Conservation Awards Associate at the NFF. When not in the office, Zia enjoys hiking and playing on local National Forests with her husband, two young sons, and dog. Reach her at

Summer – Fall 2014


wilderness management

What Future for Wilderness By Marcus Selig


ldo Leopold once said “the richest values of wilderness lie not in the days of Daniel Boone, nor even in the present, but rather in the future.” When Congress passed the Wilderness Act in 1964, it sought to protect diminishing undeveloped public

lands in the country for future generations. The Act initially designated just over nine million acres as Wilderness, making those public lands forever “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Yet, looking to the future, Wilderness areas are destined to face evermore perplexing management challenges. An explosion of recreation in Wilderness and limited management options for addressing overuse are threatening the existing values of Wilderness and maybe even their future.

Today, more than 100 million acres of our public lands enjoy Wilderness designation and the protection it extends. While this may seem like a lot, in the lower 48 states, Wilderness represents just over two percent of the land base. The federal agencies that oversee these pristine areas are tasked with preserving their “wilderness character.” To do this, they manage Wilderness areas for their unique qualities like naturalness and solitude, ensuring that these special places retain a primitive, remote, and unrestricted feel. Management agencies such as the Forest Service, Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management must ensure that Wilderness areas remain undeveloped and untrammeled, restricting the establishment of permanent structures or landscape alterations. They also are required by law to prevent the use of motorized or mechanized equipment, though there are a few very limited exceptions. These rigid management guidelines often clash with the wants and actions of the growing population of adventure-seeking recreationists. Over the last 40 years, recreational Wilderness use has increased ten-fold, with more than 12 million people visiting Wilderness areas each year. The impacts from this increased recreational use and the popularity of relatively new recreation


Your National Forests

activities like geo-caching, mountain biking, base jumping, and paragliding are necessitating changes in Wilderness management now, and are heightening tensions for future Wilderness designations. This is especially true for the Wilderness areas managed by the Forest Service, which manages more Wilderness areas than any other agency: 439 areas totaling 36 million acres. In many Wilderness areas across the country, recreationists are loving their Wilderness to death. The most significant detrimental impacts of overuse occur when visitation is concentrated in a specific area. This is acute among Colorado’s 14ers (Colorado has 54 peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation—14ers—many of which are in Wilderness areas). “We really see the effects of ‘peak-baggers’ in our Wilderness areas—degraded trails, human waste, campsite scars,” says Ben Lara, Recreation and Lands Program Manager on the Salida District of the San Isabel National Forest. Lara has three Wilderness areas on his ranger district—the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Buffalo Peaks Wilderness, and Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. “We actually have had to designate some portions of our Wilderness areas as ‘high-use areas’,” continues Lara. Such a designation seems oxymoronic to most: high-use Wilderness? When an area is designated as “high use”

wilderness management Photo © Rovers Dream /

on the Forest Service’s Recreation Opportunity Spectrum, the agency is able to enhance recreation infrastructure to support larger crowds. However, when “high-use” areas coincide with Wilderness, the only infrastructure developments allowed are the construction of more durable trails and better signage. This leads to continued environmental degradation because the agency is still unable to build the restrooms or established campsites that the crowds require. The mismatch of high recreational use and limited infrastructure is leading the Forest Service to consider alternative Wilderness management scenarios. A fee system has already been tried in some areas. However, fees haven’t reduced visitation, and the agency often receives substantial feedback from interest groups opposed to fee structures on public lands. A permit system for extremely popular areas, like Colorado’s 14ers, would certainly enhance the experience of the few lucky permit holders, but it is also likely to receive pushback from a public accustomed to unencumbered access. A simple but concerted “Leave No Trace” education campaign could mitigate some of the damage visitors cause, but won’t solve all of the problems. Although none of these management scenarios are a silver bullet for managing existing Wilderness areas, a growing consensus recognizes that protecting wilderness character will require changes in Wilderness management. These issues and other stressors also weigh heavily as the Forest Service and other land management agencies consider recommending new Wilderness areas to Congress, which has the sole authority to designate Wilderness areas. The Forest Service is under constant pressure to provide increased opportunities for all recreation users, but in particular, non-motorized, mechanized recreation users (e.g., mountain bikers). Such uses, however, are clearly inconsistent with the Wilderness Act. Thus, land management agencies are understandably reticent to run afoul of increasingly organized and engaged constituencies by supporting new Wilderness area designations. Instead, agencies are now considering the establishment of “special recreation areas,” which can be created by statute or Secretarial order, in areas that are otherwise suitable for Wilderness protection. Many argue that the creation of new special recreation areas in Wilderness -eligible lands is a slippery slope. Could such lesser land protection mechanisms eventually be applied to the 100 million acres of existing Wilderness via legislation or Secretarial order? Such a result might be appealing to the masses of today, but what will future generations value? Will future generations have the opportunities, or even the desire, to experience the values of Wilderness that Aldo Leopold envisioned? Or, will Wilderness become something of the past, a concept that can only be explained through books or the Internet?



Marcus Selig Marcus is the NFF’s Colorado Program Director. An avid skier, mountain biker, and angler, Marcus lives in Salida, CO with his wife Windy and daughter Avie. Reach him at

The Exelon Foundation is proud to support the NFF’s efforts at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Our focus on youth engagement ensures that a new generation of Americans value and support our National Forests and Grasslands.

Summer – Fall 2014


Ruthie, ready to go.


Your National Forests

unforgettable experiences Photo © Cathrine L. Walters

The Old Way Is the Best Way By Greg M. Peters


asey Burns is a modern cowboy. A straw Stetson perches on his head as we rattle across the dirt roads dividing the pastures we pass. A beaded

necklace floats high on his thick neck, moving in rhythm with his deep booming voice. Dark blue Wranglers and cowboy boots caked in spring mud contrast a freshly ironed button up shirt.

My colleague Hannah and I are on Casey’s home turf, a 40-minute drive from our offices in Missoula, Montana. Brown stubbled grass and leafless cottonwoods stretch out under a pale blue sky on this cool April morning as we bounce up to the “Donkey Pasture.” We’d driven up to learn more about the Ninemile Remount Depot and Ranger Station where Casey works for the U.S. Forest Service as the Manager of the Wildlands Training Center and the Ninemile Pack Train.

Feeding Time The “Ninemile’s” historic collection of buildings is part typical Forest Service ranger district, part tourist destination, and part working ranch. A standard complement of Forest Service employees works at the station—a silviculturist, District Ranger, trail crews, and others who ensure the District resources are maintained and the public is safe. But Casey and the other cowboys we see milling about have a very different role, one that exists only in this corner of western Montana. More than 200 government-owned mules and horses board here each winter. These mules, and the horses that help wrangle them, make up the Northern Region pack train—a collection of pack animals used to maintain the vast Wilderness areas that stretch across Montana and North Idaho. Each summer, these mules are loaded with food, lumber, water, crosscut saws, and myriad other tools and packed into the Bob Marshall, the Scapegoat, the Great Bear, the Selway Bitterroot, and the other sprawling Wilderness areas managed by Region One of the Forest Service. “That’s Big Mike,” Casey points to a huge brown mule. “Prozac, Hiram, Rudy, Bones, Preacher, Red, Ben,” he continues as we bounce across the pasture. Ranch hand Marc Pengali, stands on the back of a flatbed pickup truck slicing orange twine from rectangular bales of hay and chunking off bits of the green yellow alfalfa onto the ground. The line of animals stretches to the far end of the pasture. It’s feeding time and Marc and his young partner, Eli Indreland, are doling out rations in a tight choreography. The animals munch contentedly or

Summer – Fall 2014


unforgettable experiences

Sharpening a crosscut saw.

nose up to our SUV to check out the strangers. Casey tells us it takes 400 tons of hay to feed the animals all winter. They raise about 320 tons on site during the summer, cutting, bailing, and storing it under an immense shed. The rest they buy.

The Mule Era In the 1910s and 1920s, the Forest Service relied on horses and mules for nearly all aspects of managing its vast territory. Roads were few and far between, and the Great Burn of 1910 was still fresh in the young agency’s mind. Rangers rode horses across their huge districts and mules packed in fire-fighting tools, supplies, and rations for the growing wildland fire-fighting efforts that had become a primary focus of the Forest Service. In those early years, the agency relied on hiring the pack animals it needed from local farmers and ranchers, but by the late 1920s, tractors and trucks did most of the farm’s hauling, plowing, and haying, and quality animals were scarce. Recognizing a need for self-provision, the Region One office of the Forest Service leased a one-square mile, run-down ranch in the Ninemile Valley, and the Ninemile Remount Depot was born. Its primary goal: supplying the agency with a reliable supply of sturdy, mountain-ready mules and horses for fighting fires.


Your National Forests

Three years later, the Forest Service purchased the ranch, and with help from the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal program, the Remount Depot was transformed from a run-down work-in-progress into a shiny white-washed showpiece. The “CCC boys” worked hard and fast. Bunk houses, Ranger offices, tack sheds and a huge barn appeared almost overnight. Irrigation lines were dug, fences were built and whitewashed, and mules and horses were bred, housed, and trained for fire-fighting and other backcountry duties. While mules and horses proved invaluable to the Forest Service during the 1920s and 30s, by the mid-1940s, the agency was ready to fight fires with more modern technology. A decade or so of successful experimentation and a sudden surplus of planes capable of hauling men and gear into remote mountainous terrain following World War II ushered in the era of smokejumpers. Mules still played an important role in wildland firefighting, they hauled out the gear smokejumpers used to extinguish fires, but on July 1, 1953, twenty-three years to the day after the Forest Service first leased the shabby ranch that became the Ninemile Remount Depot, Region One issued a press release that began: “Services formerly rendered by the Forest Service Remount Depot at Ninemile will be considerably reduced commencing in July…in line with a program of economy aimed at reducing government expenditures.”

unforgettable experiences Photos © Cathrine L. Walters

While smokejumpers and aviation-based firefighting played a large role in the Remount’s loss of purpose, the post-war building boom helped too: houses required timber and timber required roads. By the mid-1950s, areas that were accessible only by mules and horses were now criss-crossed with miles and miles of roads. By the 1970s, pretty much the only areas on National Forests that didn’t have roads were Wilderness areas. Today, land managers still need access to Wilderness for trail maintenance, bridge building, and fighting small wildfires, so the horses and mules that spend their winters at Ninemile are used almost exclusively for maintaining these remote, roadless spaces. Were it not for Wilderness, these animals, and perhaps more importantly, the skills needed to string a pack train and march into some of the most remote and rugged terrain in the U.S. would have likely vanished decades ago.

Sharpening, Setting, and Sawing The sound of hammer striking metal ripples through the room. The air smells like WD-40 and metal shavings. A half-dozen folks stand upright behind long wooden racks, intent on the shiny metal saws affixed firmly to the tops of the handmade racks. We’ve discovered the crosscut saw sharpening class and are getting an introduction to another unique service that Ninemile offers. In addition to wintering more than 200 mules and horses, Ninemile runs the Wildlands Training Center. The Center offers a series of Traditional Skills classes to agency professionals and hobbyists from across the country. The six students in this session—one of the weeklong crosscut saw sharpening classes throughout April—are a mix of Forest Service employees or contractors and everyday Americans. They’re here to learn how to maintain crosscut saws so they can clear Wilderness trails or cut firewood for their homes without the noise, stench, and danger of a chainsaw. We get a quick lesson from Arden Corey, the class instructor. The saw’s large, jagged teeth cut across the wood’s grain, hence the “crosscut” name. Depending on the saw design, a group of sharp teeth alternate with the raker, a half-inch wide spout of metal notched in a v that chisels out the wood cut by the teeth. Each component needs to be skin-slicing sharp to operate as efficiently as possible. The tips of the raker are hammered and filed so that they’re five one-thousandths of an inch shorter than the teeth. The teeth, in turn, are “set” eight one-thousandths of inch outside of the plane of the saw. This keeps the saw from binding in the log but also maintain efficiency and ease of cutting. Too much set and the saw cuts too large a swath through the tree, wasting energy. Too little set and the saw binds in the log, disrupting the smooth rhythm of the sawyers.

While it’s Arden’s first year teaching the class, he’s definitely not new to crosscut sharpening. Wearing a waxed canvas apron, he moves about the class, helping the students with their saws. He learned how to sharpen crosscut saws from Warren Miller who literally wrote the book. Casey hands me a copy as we mill about, chatting with the students. Miller passed away suddenly this winter, a sad reminder of how important these classes, and their instructors, are for the agencies that manage Wilderness. Without the skills to properly sharpen a crosscut saw or string a pack mule—Ninemile offers both introductory and advanced packing classes—the Forest Service, the Park Service, and other public land agencies wouldn’t be able to clear trails, build bridges, and efficiently fight small fires in remote areas. There are a handful of old timers like Arden who have this knowledge, and the Forest Service sends many of its saws to them to sharpen during winter’s cold, dark months. But as they age and as recreational Wilderness use increases, there is a real need to teach a new generation of sharpeners and sawyers the intricacies of maintaining and operating these simple but effective tools. “Without Wilderness, we wouldn’t be here,” Casey tells me on the phone prior to our first meeting. “You can’t use a chainsaw in the Wilderness, and you can’t drive there either, so the mules and the crosscut saws are integral to our ability to maintain these areas.” Casey Burns tying up a pack box.

Summer – Fall 2014


unforgettable experiences Hannah and I get a turn bucking a log when the class heads outside to see how their saws perform. Tim Fetterer, a friendly Midwesterner from Indiana, lends us his. “That was my grandfather’s saw. He was a logger in Washington in the 1930s.” He grins, “It took me about 20 hours to clean the rust off of it, and it’s taken the better part of the week for me to sharpen it.” Other students nod in appreciation. There’s more than one grandfather’s saw in the class, shined and sharpened by a new generation of homesteaders who purposefully eschew more modern technologies. Tim’s grandfather’s saw works amazingly. The first pull slices through the reddish brown bark, and with each subsequent pass, we send small slivers of pale tan wood drifting through the air. In less than thirty seconds, a round disk of wood thunks to the ground. It’s a small tree—only about ten inches in diameter—but the saw’s efficiency and cutting power is impressive. I smile at memories of spending an hour swearing at a sputtering chainsaw, cleaning spark plugs, spilling chain lubricant, and dealing with last year’s water-fouled gasoline. A big part of me sees the appeal of the old way. We accept the “nice job” and “there you go” accolades with a flush of mild embarrassment. We shake hands with the class members we’ve met—Sam Andrews, a quiet, steady Coloradan woman who works as a Forest Service contractor clearing trails; Bill Hardin, the Intel engineer from Oregon; Michael Raney, a gregarious Canadian from Saskatchewan; Jeremy Watkins, a young Forest Service trail boss based out of tiny Elk City, ID, and Corey Crone, who maintains a Youtube channel devoted to modern homesteading called “Wrangler Star” and from whom many of the attendees learned about the class. With this final exchange, we’re off to watch Casey “pack” a mule name Ruthie.

Mule Era Redux It’s abundantly clear Casey has both packed a mule and taught scores of others how countless times before. Before he lifts a piece of gear or touches a saddle, he loads some grain into a green mesh sack and places it over Ruthie’s head. In an instant, she’s contentedly munching

GREG M. PETERS Greg is the NFF’s Communication Director. When he’s not lost in a mountain of paperwork at his desk, Greg enjoys skiing, hiking, canoeing, and getting home after dark. Reach him at


Your National Forests

away on the oats and corn. With Ruthie occupied, Casey begins. First he brushes her flanks and then a fleece blanket free of dirt, pine needles, and other bits that could rub raw on a long pack into the Wilderness. The fleece blanket goes on first and then with a practiced expertise, he gently sets a forty pound “Decker” saddle on Ruthie, explaining not only how it works, but who invented it, when it became the standard mule packing saddle, and why. Half-hitch knots appear magically from the coils of rope he handles; leather straps pass through shining metal buckles, are cinched and cinched again. To the uninitiated, it might seem arbitrary and unpolished, but every movement and piece of equipment has a purpose—often more than one. Boxes full of gear are wrapped with a “manny,” a canvas sheet that Casey deftly folds into place creating a self-binding wrap that’s virtually waterproof. He ties it up in a series of binding hitches with 35 feet of rope, which can be used in camp to tie horses, set up an impromptu corral, or hang food from a tree. The canvas sheet becomes a ground cloth, a rain tarp, or a sun shade once the mule is unloaded for the night. In sixty short seconds, he’s hoisted the bundle onto the saddle and with a couple more magical half-hitches, the load is secure and ready, perched vertically along Ruthie’s right side, waiting for its mirror image to appear a few minutes later on her left. Almost every knot is quick release in the event of a spill—these mules travel through some of the most unforgiving country in the U.S. Casey finishes the lesson with a short definitive declaration, “In horsemanship, the old way is the best way.” Based on what else we’ve learned at Ninemile, it seems this is true in more than just horsemanship. From dutch oven cooking, to axemanship and crosscut saw maintenance, to packing mules deep into the backcountry, the old ways are not only the best, they’re becoming hip again. The Wildlands Training Center’s classes are becoming more and more popular every year as a new generation of Wilderness rangers, rural and urban homesteaders, and niche Internet video producers connect the past to the present. As we pile back into my car to drive back to the future— Missoula, the office, emails, and phone messages—Hannah wonders if they need someone to spend the summer at Ninemile, posting to Facebook, sending daily tweets, and starting a blog. I wonder if they need another Wilderness Ranger and how my wife will feel about my latest career fantasy. Visit to see additional photos from this story

kids in nature Photo © Lisa Nesic

Hiking and Backpacking with Kids By Marlee Ostheimer


t the point in parenthood when a “walk” consists of wandering in several large circles—off to the left to inspect a rock, over to the right

to follow an ant, punctuated by a diaper that TH FLA

needs changing—the thought of a hike, let alone a


backpacking trip, may feel daunting. Don’t despair!


With some extra planning, an outdoor adventure with your child is easier than you think.

A front carrier can be a great way to pack the youngest children. You can wear clothing or a jacket over the carrier, keeping your child toasty warm and freeing up shoulder space for a backpack. Remember a hat for your little one, especially if he or she will be perched up high in a pack on your shoulders. For longer trips, some parents enlist a "sherpa" to help carry gear—a friend or furry companion who can carry extra food, water, diapers, or other essentials. Be sure to have older kids carry some very light gear in their own backpack too. It will help them feel like they’re part of the adventure. It’s always good to start with small trips. A car-camping (or backyard overnight) adventure to get your tykes used to sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag is a great first step. Bring some toys and books and a few changes of clothes—kids are experts at finding water and dirt. Special “camping” treats like marshmallows, chocolate bars, or other sweets will help kids remember camping fondly. Once you’ve mastered the overnight, you can expand to longer day trips or hike-in camping trips. Children are more sensitive than adults to altitude, sunburns, windburn, and bee stings. Whether you are a mile from the trailhead or two days out in the backcountry, be prepared with a small bag of “just in case” items including: baby or junior Tylenol, sunscreen, teething ointment, lots of wipes and tissue, diaper rash treatment, Benadryl, and plastic bags for trash. Treats, sketchbooks, and a field guide or two can also help get kids excited about hiking and camping as well. Whatever your destination, be safe, have fun and be prepared! Visit to find additional resources for safely and enjoyably hiking and backpacking with your kids.

Marlee Ostheimer Marlee is the NFF’s Development Associate. Her young son, Ellis, keeps her pretty busy whether he’s checking out rocks, leaves, planes, or dirt. Reach her at

Summer – Fall 2014


wilderness special

Faces and Places of Wilderness


ur National Forests feature serene and breathtaking Wilderness areas. To help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the National Forest Foundation hosted the “Faces and Places of Wilderness” Photo Contest featuring stunning

images of Wilderness areas on our National Forests. We thank all who entered and look forward to hosting another photo contest soon! Follow the NFF on Facebook at

Landscape Winner “Tidioute Island” by Ed Bernik of Pennsylvania. Taken on the Allegheny National Forest, Allegheny Islands Wilderness area.

Photo Tips “Pop.” That’s what we photographers strive for in our images, but how do you get it? First, know your subject. In most cases, simplifying your composition will strengthen the image. Second, use focus carefully but aggressively: a plant or animal in sharp focus against a soft background gives tremendous punch.


Your National Forests

Third, “paint with the light.” Use bright areas to draw attention, and dark areas to create mood and context. Fourth, pay very close attention to edges so you can eliminate distracting clutter. Finally, experiment! Electrons are cheap, and lots of trial and error will sharpen your eye. Happy shooting!

People Winner “Robert Marek, Camp 3” by Ehren Epperson of Oklahoma. Taken on the Tongass National Forest, Kootnzoowoo Wilderness.

Wildlife Winner “What are you looking at?” by Carol McCallion of Wyoming. Taken on the Sequoia National Forest, Monarch Wilderness.

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Photo Š Dan Font / National Park Service

A Pacific Marten.


Your National Forests

wilderness conservation

An Olympian Search for Martens By Tristan Baurick


n a chilly January morning, a group of hikers set off into Olympic National Forest in search of a furry little carnivore that gets fewer reported sightings than even Bigfoot. The Pacific marten hasn't been seen in this wild and wet

corner of Washington State since 2008. "Are there any left? We just don’t know,” noted Olympic National Forest biologist Betsy Howell.

Helping Howell find some answers is Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), a Bozeman, Montana-based nonprofit that puts volunteer climbers, divers, paddlers, and other outdoor athletes to work gathering data for scientists in far-flung areas around the world. ASC's recent expeditions had mountaineers plucking microbes from rocks in the Himalayas and sailboaters scooping water samples off the Chilean coast. On the Olympic National Forest, ASC trained volunteers to set up and maintain monitoring stations in the remote, high-elevation habitats martens prefer. Eight out of twenty camera stations are in Wilderness areas on the Olympic, including four cameras in the Mount Skokomish and four in the Brothers Wilderness areas. The stations have two basic components: bait—usually chicken—and a motion-triggered camera that snaps photos of anything that moves within its view. Last year, the project generated thousands of photos of bobcat, skunk, coyotes, and mountain lions—but no martens. ASC returned this year with a bigger team and more cameras thanks to $15,000 grant from the National Forest Foundation. Twenty-four volunteers were selected. Selection criteria included screening for backcountry experience—a critical component of this project—because so many of the sites are far from trailheads and require significant distances that must be covered on foot. Their first weekend of training had them waking early at a crowded Forest Service bunkhouse. They packed in an odd assortment of gear—hammers, saws, chicken wire, and raw chicken. “Who’s packing the lure?” someone asked during the dark morning.  “Don’t pick the lure; it’s nasty,” another volunteer said.

Stored in an amber-colored bottle, the lure is a pungent mixture of skunk, castor, and muskrat musk. Apparently, martens can’t resist it. “My cat gets very excited when he smells it on me— rolls around, attacks me,” Howell said. Jace Barkley from Vancouver, Washington, volunteers to take the lure, just as he did the day before. “My olfactory senses might be blown out now anyway,” he adds. After checking and rechecking their backcountry maps, they broke up into groups and piled into trucks and vans. Howell thanked several of them as they left. “This wouldn’t happen without them,” she said. “With the Forest Service’s declining budget and personnel, we just don’t have the people to do wildlife surveys like we used to.” The Forest Service and ASC pairing happened when ASC founder Gregg Treinish began calling around asking what his organization could do on the Olympic Peninsula. Howell jumped at the chance to have ASC round up a crew of "extremely fit and extremely motivated" volunteers help her with the monitoring project. Along with the NFF grant, ASC’s involvement is covered by a $15,000 matching donation from a private funder and $5,000 from the Forest Service, along with a few gear sponsorships from companies like Osprey and Kahtoola. The volunteer labor comes at a value of about $150,000, according to Treinish. Howell emphasized the significance of this research. While marten populations appear stable in the Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington, they’ve plummeted on the Olympic Peninsula and other coastal areas. Consequently, populations of coastal martens have recently been listed with NatureServe, a nonprofit organization that provides conservation status rankings, as “critically

Summer – Fall 2014


wilderness conservation imperiled” in Oregon and Washington. This designation may help the species gain status as a Forest Service sensitive species, a change that could lead to future funds directed toward their conservation. “Where martens exist, they readily come to camera stations, so the lack of them during these many (Olympic Peninsula) survey efforts would seem to be a cause for concern,” Howell wrote in a report last year. On the trail, Treinish, who worked as a tracker in Montana, kept his eyes open for signs of martens as he led one of the volunteer groups. He poked into rocky nooks and peered at scratch marks on trees, but found only signs of mice, squirrels and bobcat. It’s this sort of thing—enjoying the outdoors but having a purpose beyond his own enjoyment—that led him to found ASC in 2011. “I was hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail, somewhere in Pennsylvania, when I thought ‘what the hell am I walking six months for?’” he said. “It was an awful moment. I was in tears. Who am I doing this for? It felt so selfish.” He realized that “tens of thousands of people were playing” in remote areas every day. Why not team them up with scientists who can’t—for lack of time, funding, or skills— get there to take a water sample or set up a camera. ASC grew faster than Treinish could have imagined. “Right now, we have 847 volunteer athletes on all seven continents,” he said. Treinish led the group above 3,800 feet before he started looking for the right pair of trees. A marten monitoring station must be beyond earshot of the trail and have two thin trees that are no more than twenty feet apart. On one tree goes the camera, which must face north to reduce glare, and on the other goes the bait. Volunteer April Ann Fong, a community college instructor, pulled the chicken wire and chicken from her pack. “This is how we make chicken burritos,” she said while folding three drumsticks into a sheet of wire. Mason White, who works in technology marketing, nailed the burrito to a tree and then dropped to the ground to do his best marten impression while a few test photos were shot. Barkley logged all the details and marked the station’s coordinates on a GPS.

Doing Science in Wilderness The 1964 Wilderness Act ensures that Wilderness areas remain free of almost all modern technologies. The Act prohibits wheeled conveyances like bicycles, ATVs and motorcycles, machines and mechanical technologies like chainsaws and motor boats. It prohibits hang gliders, helicopters, airplanes (except where expressly allowed), and other such intrusions on natural, wild places. So how do scientists conduct their studies in Wilderness areas, where the typical assortment of machines and devices that aid scientific study are either expressly prohibited or too heavy, cumbersome, or expensive to transport via foot or mule? First, you find the right partners. The ASC-trained volunteers who helped Betsy Howell with her marten monitoring were fit, athletic and ready to cross-country ski for miles, then snowshoe more miles, and then camp for the night to access the spots where Howell wanted to monitor. They were willing, and able, to carry large loads with cameras, raw chicken, beaver carcasses, chicken wire, hammers, and other assorted gear. And they were willing to do it for several weekends over the winter, skiing, showshoeing, and scrambling back to the stations to retrieve images and refresh batteries, lure, and bait. Second, you cross your t’s and dot your i’s. In 2010, when Howell began marten surveys with other volunteer groups, she completed a “Minimum Tools Analysis” to ensure that the monitoring would not permanently impact the Wilderness areas on which they set up stations. This formal analysis of required tools and methodology details not only how the stations would be set up, but how they’d be dismantled and packed out as well. Once completed and approved, Howell’s band of volunteers could set up the camera stations without running afoul of Wilderness rules and add valuable insight to the management of wild animals throughout the Olympic National Forest.

…we don’t know if we’ll come back with anything to show. But I’m excited to see if we do.


Your National Forests

wilderness conservation Photo © Tristan Baurick

ASC Volunteers setting up a camera.

CORPORATE PARTNER Southern California Edison proudly supports the NFF’s work on the Angeles National Forest. From creating sustainable recreation opportunities to restoring watersheds, SCE recognizes the critical role National Forests play in our country today and in the future.

At the last possible moment, Allison Osterberg, a county planner from Olympia, Washington, slipped on surgical gloves and set the lure. The team packed up quickly as the musky odor caught hold of the breeze. White and his hiking partner, Bill Agnew, a retired homebuilder, will return to this station four more times during the winter and spring to check the bait and download the camera’s images. Treinish expects that the next trip will require snowshoes and cold-weather camping gear. “Having people give up two weekends for training and then four more weekends to hike up here—it’s a big commitment,” he said. “It’s also a huge workforce that can accomplish a lot.” Agnew is looking forward to his return trips. “There’s a lot of sweat in the execution,” he said. “But I like that it’s about going into the unknown. You don’t know what the conditions will be, and we don’t know if we’ll come back with anything to show. But I’m excited to see if we do.” Visit to see additional photos and watch a great video from ASC about this project.

Tristan Baurick Tristan works as a reporter for the Kitsap Sun in Bremerton, WA. A Ted Scripps Environmental Journalism Fellow, Tristan’s writing can be found at his blog, Trails & Tides. Find him online at

Summer – Fall 2014


featured forest

Aldo Leopold in the Gila Wilderness By Tim Gibbins


ears before the Gila Wilderness existed on a map, Aldo Leopold shot a wolf from atop a rimrock canyon in New Mexico. He reached the still breathing wolf and saw something that forever changed him. In his classic text, A Sand County

Almanac, Leopold describes the experience, “We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes.”

Aldo Leopold sitting on rimrock with quiver and bow.


Your National Forests

Photo © Courtesy of the Aldo Leopold Foundation

An American Original:

featured forest

I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no

wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

The year was 1912—the same year New Mexico was annexed from Territory to statehood—and Leopold was only 24-years old. With his round-frame glasses and tobacco pipe, he looked more like a naturalist professor than a trigger-happy hunter. He grew up sketching fawns and flowers along the banks of the Mississippi River in his boyhood home of Burlington, Iowa. He had earned a degree from the Yale School of Forestry before the U.S. Forest Service appointed him Supervisor of the Carson National Forest in New Mexico. “In those days,” Leopold said, “we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf.” Leopold’s boss, Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the nascent Forest Service, instructed his agency to manage its vast natural resources for the betterment of mankind. Leopold shared this opinion at first, but as he traveled by horseback through his nearly 500,000-acre jurisdiction, the conservationist began to have ideas of his own. The wolf-killing policy, for instance, he likened to sharpening the pruning shears of God, because plants in wolf-less regions were grazed to the ground by deer and cattle. It dawned on him that healthy ecosystems required biodiversity, wolves and all. He called the concept “thinking like a mountain.” And after watching the fire fade in the dying wolf’s eyes, he believed that sometimes the natural world would be most wisely managed if mankind simply left it alone.

Leopold thought the Gila (Hee-la) River landscape in southwestern New Mexico made a prime candidate for wilderness preservation. His tenure at the Carson National Forest had provided him ample opportunity to know the area intimately. He liked how the Mogollon Mountains, the peaks of the Black Range, and the San Francisco Mountains all converged with the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts to create a topographic fortress against the pioneers’ axe or plow.

Like winds and sunsets, wild things

were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher 'standard of living' is worth its cost in

things natural, wild and free. 

~Foreword to A Sand County Almanac (1949) A place where ecological worlds collide, the Gila captivated Leopold. The pinyon-juniper woodlands of the Mexican desert mingle with the spruce-fir forests of the Rocky Mountains. Aspen trees and prickly pear cacti, herds of elk and elusive Gila monsters, rattlesnakes and white-nosed coatis, wolf packs and javalinas all haunt the Gila as they did in Leopold’s day. In a single river bend, you can hook a catfish on one cast and the endemic Gila trout on another.

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featured forest When cattle ranchers proposed a road to improve grazing access into the undeveloped core of the headwaters in 1921, Leopold penned an article to the Journal of Forestry asserting America’s need for wilderness. He argued for “a continuous stretch of country preserved in its natural state.” He also wrote a wilderness proposal and mailed it to his superiors in Washington, D.C. On June 3rd, 1924, the Forest Service accepted Leopold’s proposal and set aside more than 500,000-acres of mountains, rivers, and desert surrounding the Gila River. It became the first federally-recognized Wilderness area in the country, and it would serve as a model for wilderness preservation to come.

The Wilderness Act Forty years later, on September 3rd 1964, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, Idaho Senator Frank Church, and other dignitaries gathered around President Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House Rose Garden as he signed the Wilderness Act into law. The Wilderness Act immediately placed 54 areas within the National Wilderness Preservation System, including some of America’s most iconic Wilderness areas: the Bob Marshall in Montana, the Boundary Waters in Minnesota, the Ansel Adams in California, and, of course, the Gila Wilderness. Congress later protected 202,016 acres adjacent to the Gila Wilderness, naming it the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. Together, these two areas form an uninterrupted wilderness the size of Rhode Island. It’s a continuous sweep of country that stretches for 27 miles north to south and 39 miles east to west. Hunters stalk bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain elk in the highlands each fall. History buffs flock to the numerous cliff dwellings that Mogollon people built around 1300 AD. Hikers can follow the 800 miles of trail to the 10,895-foot summit of Whitewater Baldy, the area’s tallest peak, or along a rushing creek in a canyon only ten feet wide. Most importantly, the Gila Wilderness protects the relative abundance of what the region lacks—water. The West Fork, Middle Fork, and East Fork of the Gila River elbow through twisting canyons as they tumble down the west slope of the Continental Divide. Each fork is over 30 miles long, and they are the longest free-flowing rivers in New Mexico. Sycamore, walnut, cottonwood, and willows grow along their banks offering luxurious shade to native grasses and habitat to over 300 species of birds. The Gila Wilderness today is as healthy as it was in Leopold’s time. After decades of absence, four healthy packs of Mexican wolves again prowl the Gila through successful reintroduction efforts. To celebrate the Wilderness Act’s 50th Anniversary this year, you can still disappear into the Gila Wilderness and hear the wolf’s howl at a quiet, moonlit camp and contemplate, as Leopold did, “the hidden meaning within the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.”

Plan Your Visit The Gila Wilderness is located in the Gila National Forest, with road access from the historic Silver City, New Mexico. From town, it’s 44 miles on Highway 15 until it dead-ends at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, and the many trailheads that access the Wilderness. Soak in Jordan Hot Springs, an eight-mile hike. Walk the Catwalk Trail up the canyon used as a hideout by Geronimo and Butch Cassidy. Hike along the Continental Divide. Or visit the eerie ghost town of Cooney. Call the Gila National Forest for more info to plan your visit: 575-388-8201.


He argued for ‘a continuous stretch of country preserved in its natural state.’ On June 3rd, 1924, the Forest Service accepted Leopold’s proposal and set aside more than 500,000-acres of mountains, rivers, and desert surrounding the Gila River.

Tim Gibbins Tim works as a copywriter for The Clymb in Portland, Oregon. In his spare time he runs his 20-year old raft down the Pacific Northwest’s rivers, looks at birds, and tries to catch trout on a fly. His articles have appeared in Outside Magazine and The Oregonian.


Your National Forests

wilderness special

The Greater Challenge By Hannah Ettema


esignating a Wilderness area is often a long and complex legislative process that when successful, deserves celebration. But after the votes are counted and the reporters leave, the landscape is forever protected—at least on paper. Despite the

political wrangling required to designate a Wilderness area, the greater challenge becomes retaining the wilderness character that makes these places special for today and tomorrow.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 declared Wilderness necessary “for the American people of present and future generations” and mandated that Wilderness “retain its primeval character and influence.” But Wilderness areas do not always remain “primeval.” Human impacts, even when well-intended, frequently threaten the health and character of Wilderness areas.

A Call for Action Fast forward nearly forty years: many Wilderness areas were overrun with invasive species. Visitors created trails that degraded habitat. Management agencies struggled to devote the necessary resources to these special places. Something had to be done. In 2002, a group of National Forest managers and academics took action. They formed the Wilderness Information Management Steering Group to streamline methods used to measure the ecological health of Wilderness areas, reducing the 200 tasks that had been in use for decades to ten distinct elements (page 26). They established a new definition of determining Wilderness health by imposing a scoring system for Wilderness areas based on the ten new elements. Under this new protocol, only eleven percent of the 406 Wilderness areas on National Forests passed. The Steering Group’s efforts eventually made it across the desk of the 15th Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Dale Bosworth, who recognized that Wilderness areas needed help. Humbly, the Chief couldn’t claim that the idea for the Wilderness Stewardship Challenge was his own. “I knew there were a lot of Wilderness areas that weren’t up to snuff so I thought it was a great idea. It was simply recognizing a good idea when you hear it.”

Under Bosworth’s leadership, the Forest Service resolved to make the 40th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act a pivot point for its Wilderness areas, launching a decade-long stewardship challenge for all National Forest System Wilderness areas designated on or prior to 2004. With the celebration of the Act came a challenge: National Forest managers were to ensure areas under their care met baseline management standards by 2014, the 50th Anniversary of the Act. While some wished the challenge would increase Wilderness budgets, Bosworth knew it wasn’t all about the money. “We can do more than what we’re doing if we focus with the dollars we have,” he said. Looking back on the beginning of the Challenge Bosworth notes, “I think [the Wilderness Stewardship Challenge] just helped people focus on getting this done.” As the Congressionally-chartered partner of the Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation played a key role in helping to meet the Challenge. By providing grants and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, the NFF helped the Forest Service make measurable progress toward the Challenge. At the end of 2013, nearly 85 percent of the 406 qualifying Wilderness areas met the standards of the Challenge. The Forest Service, nonprofit partners, and the NFF have made an even more concerted push this last year of the Challenge to help meet the standard.

CORPORATE PARTNER Vail Resorts, Inc. salutes the NFF. From California to Colorado, we work with the NFF and local partners to improve the National Forests that provide our guests with a lifetime of memories.

Summer – Fall 2014


wilderness special

Success of the ten-year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge means: • Fire managers consider a full range of responses with the goal of restoring natural fire • Invasive plants are successfully treated JOHN MUIR WILDERNESS, INYO NATIONAL FOREST

• Air quality trends are measured • Recreation site inventory is completed

Coming Together Since the beginning of the Challenge, the NFF has distributed 189 grants to 74 organizations, investing nearly $3.8 million in federal and private funds. For example, the Arizona Wilderness Coalition (AWC) has received six grants through the Wilderness Stewardship Challenge. Such NFF funding helped AWC establish their Wilderness Stewardship Program, Wild Stew. “The NFF has been the primary funder of Wild Stew and allowed it to start,” said Sam Frank, AWC Central Arizona Director. Wild Stew hosts group volunteer days on Wilderness areas and provides training for individual wilderness stewards. Citizens volunteered more than 7,500 hours for Arizona’s Wilderness areas, translating to $166,000 of donated time. Recently, AWC has taken on not just monitoring non-native species but removing them. On the Prescott National Forest, the Apache Creek Wilderness area is now almost completely rid of tamarix plants, a priority species of Forest Service Region 3. Frank explained, “We had to get to some really, really tough places. And then one by one, we cut and sprayed individual plants.” Despite the Wilderness Stewardship Challenge ending, AWC will continue to support the health of Wilderness areas through the state, including those managed by the Bureau of Land Management. AWC also plans to expand their work with veteran groups. Another partner with immense on-the-ground results is Friends of Nevada Wilderness (FNW). Nevada’s only National Forest, the Humboldt-Toiyabe, is the largest National Forest in the lower 48 and has 1.2 million acres of Wilderness. To boost the efforts of FNW, the NFF has awarded eight grants for Nevada’s Wilderness areas. FNW has significantly leveraged those grants with cash and in-kind contributions exceeding $1.1 million in conservation impacts. From 2006 to 2013, FNW has stepped up to help the state’s Wilderness areas meet standards. They have engaged more than 1,100 volunteers in on-the-ground restoration, donating more than 12,900 hours back to the Humboldt-Toiyabe. Among the organization’s many accomplishments, FNW worked with the Forest Service to develop a noxious weed management plan for the Mount Rose Wilderness, and their diligent work continues in 2014. Looking ahead, the official Challenge will end, but the greater challenge remains. Wilderness is “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain,” as stated in the Wilderness Act. We do not remain, but that doesn’t mean we don’t lend a hand to keep these places wild.


Your National Forests

• Opportunities for solitude or primitive unconfined recreation are protected • Priority actions identified in a wilderness education plan are implemented • Outfitter/guides model wilderness practices and incorporate appreciation for wilderness values to clients • Adequate direction exists to protect wilderness character • Information needs are met • Baseline workforce is in place

Hannah Ettema Hannah is the Communications and Development Associate at the NFF. When she’s not running the NFF’s Social Media program or lending her design skills to fellow staff, she’s out exploring Montana’s National Forests. Reach her at:

Photo © Damara Mullens

The Ten Elements

wilderness special

Celebrating America’s

3 Questions with Dale Bosworth, Chief of the U.S Forest Service Dale Bosworth served as the 15th Chief of the U.S. Forest Service from 2001-2007. He was instrumental in implementing the Wilderness Stewardship Challenge in 2004, which has improved the health of dozens of Wilderness areas across the country in just ten years. The NFF’s Hannah Ettema caught up with Chief Bosworth for a short Q&A about his long-standing love for Wilderness. NFF: Where did your connection and passion for Wilderness develop? Bosworth: When I became a ranger on the Powell District of the Clearwater National Forest, we had about 200,000 acres of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and that’s what really got me caring about Wilderness. Having that Wilderness on my district, going out into the Wilderness, and understanding and learning more about the Wilderness Act just started making a big difference to me. NFF: What are some things visitors can do when they’re in Wilderness areas to help steward these places to make sure they stay healthy? Bosworth: Well I think the things they need to do are ‘Leave No Trace.’ People that go into Wilderness areas need to make sure when they leave, it’s as if they were never there. And that means when you’re building a fire that you put a rock ring around, and that you put it back when you’re done so it doesn’t look like someone was there building a campfire. People need to educate themselves by reading and understanding ways to Leave No Trace. Some like to cut the trail at the switchback and pretty soon you’ve got a new trail, which is a problem. Obviously leaving any kind of trash and paper is a problem. But I think people that want to use Wildernesses should try to educate themselves and make it a personal challenge, “I’m going into this Wilderness, but when I leave, I’m not going to leave any trace that I was there. Now how can I do that?” NFF: Do you have a favorite Wilderness area? Bosworth: I guess I’d have to say my favorite is the Selway-Bitterroot because that’s the first Wilderness area I had the opportunity to manage part of. It’s a beautiful Wilderness. Big. Wild. Every Wilderness, every place I’ve been is really special. But if I had to pick one, I’d say Selway-Bitterroot.

Wilderness legacy Our Common Heritage & Responsibility Join us for the

National Wilderness Conference October 15–19, 2014 Albuquerque, NM

The Forest Service’s first wilderness, the Gila, was designated in 1964


Answer from page 3 This National Forest is home to the largest herd of bighorn sheep in the country. Wyoming’s Shoshone National Forest was originally protected as part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve in 1891. Bordering Yellowstone National Park, the Shoshone is home to a variety of wildlife including bighorn sheep, gray wolves, and grizzly bears to name a few. More than half of the forest is designated Wilderness, including the Popo Agie (pictured on page 3). The area features several mountains exceeding 12,000 feet, including the famed Cirque of the Towers. The landscape hasn’t changed much since explorers first laid eyes on the majestic peaks, valleys, and canyons.

Summer – Fall 2014


voices from the forest


he following excerpts from authors, politicians, scientists, and historic figures speak to what Wilderness means to them. We hope you enjoy

them and find inspiration to discover your own Wilderness.

Estella B. Leopold is the daughter of famed conservationist Aldo Leopold. A noted conservationist and botanist, Dr. Leopold is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington, Seattle. She has served on the board of a number of conservation organizations including the National Forest Foundation from 2003-2005.

Estella B. Leopold

Back in 1924 it must have been difficult to foresee or imagine the possible loss of our wild lands in America. How fortunate we are that Aldo Leopold did consider that. Such a loss was indeed developing in the ensuing decades, and the threat became a real danger. We need to be grateful to all those stalwart giants who gathered together in 1935 to start The Wilderness Society; this group paved the way for the work of Howard Zahniser, and the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. My colleagues and I testified at the Denver hearing on the Wilderness Act and both Mother and I handed in testimony. I remember that it was this experience that moved me toward activism in conservation, and I am aware this was also the experience of many others. How proud we all were when the bill became law. This national act became the very first major conservation legislation in our entire history. We are aware that the Wilderness Act set the stage for the environmental movement that developed in the 1970’s. I think the Act really did inspire humanity and gave us an “ethical rudder” for the protection and treatment of our wild areas. Dr. Leopold graciously provided this recollection for this issue of Your National Forests.


Your National Forests

Photo © Univeristy of Washington Photo

My Wilderness

voices from the forest Photo © Cheryl Himmelstein /


erry Tempest Williams is an author, activist, and conservationist based in Southwest Utah. Known for her lyrical and impassioned prose, Mrs. Williams’

books include Leap, Red: Patience and Passion in the Desert, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, When Women Were Birds, Desert Quartet, and others. In 2006, Williams received the Robert Marshall

Terry Tempest Williams “

As we step over the threshold of the twenty-first century, let us acknowledge that the preservation of wilderness is not so much a political process as a spiritual one.

Award from The Wilderness Society.

I believe we need wilderness in order to be more complete human beings, to not be fearful of the animals that we are, an animal who bows to the incomparable power of natural forces when standing on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, an animal who understands a sense of humility when watching a grizzly overturn a stump with its front paw to forage for grubs in the lodgepole pines of the northern Rockies, an animal who weeps over the sheer beauty of migrating cranes above the Bosque del Apache in November, an animal who is not afraid to cry with delight in the middle of a midnight swim in a phosphorescent tide, an animal who has not forgotten what it means to pray before the unfurled blossom of the sacred datura, remembering the source of all true visions. As we step over the threshold of the twenty-first century, let us acknowledge that the preservation of wilderness is not so much a political process as a spiritual one, that the language of law and science used so successfully to define and defend what wilderness has been in the past century must now be fully joined with the language of the heart to illuminate what these lands mean to the future. From “A Prayer for a Wild Millennium,” copyright © 2000 by Terry Tempest Williams. Appears in her book Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert, published by Pantheon Books in 2001. Used by permission of Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents, Inc. Any copying or distribution of this text is expressly forbidden. All rights reserved.

Summer – Fall 2014


voices from the forest Photo © Courtesy of; National Archives Photos


ob Marshall is a lion of the wilderness movement. He founded The Wilderness Society in 1935 with several other like-minded activists and

worked as the head of recreational management for the Forest Service in the late 1930s before his death in 1939. The Bob Marshall Wilderness area in Montana bears his name as does Mount Marshall in the Adirondacks where he spent much of his youth.

Robert “Bob” Marshall

There is just one hope of repulsing the tyrannical ambition of civilization to conquer every niche on the whole earth. That hope is the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom of the wilderness. In a civilization which requires most lives to be passed amid inordinate dissonance, pressure and intrusion, the chance of retiring now and then to the quietude and privacy of sylvan haunts becomes for some people a psychic necessity. The preservation of a few samples of undeveloped territory is one of the most clamant issues before us today. Just a few more years of hesitation and the only trace of that wilderness which has exerted such a fundamental influence in molding American character will lie in the musty pages of pioneer books…To avoid this catastrophe demands immediate action.


rank Forrester Church III represented Idaho as a

Senator Frank Church

Senator from 1957-1981. Senator Church was the floor sponsor

of the Wilderness Act in 1964, and in 1968, he sponsored the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. In 1980, he played a key role in establishing the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness area, the largest Wilderness in the nation outside of Alaska. The great purpose is to set aside a reasonable part of the vanishing wilderness, to make certain that generations of Americans yet unborn will know what it is to experience life on undeveloped, unoccupied land in the same form and character as the Creator fashioned it. It is a great spiritual experience. I never knew a man who took a bedroll into an


This quote is widely available on the Internet. It is generally uncited. Most of the lines are from Marshall’s seminal essay, “The Problem of the Wilderness” published in Scientific Monthly (30) 2, February 1930.

Your National Forests

Idaho mountainside and slept there under a star-studded summer sky who felt self-important that next morning. Unless we preserve some opportunity for future generations to have the same experience, we shall have dishonored our trust. Senator Frank Church during a 1961 Senate debate on the Wilderness Act.

voices from the forest Photo © Courtesy of

It is this civilization, this culture, this way of living that will be sacrificed if our wilderness is lost. What sacrifice!


oward Zahniser served as the executive secretary of The Wilderness Society and editor of The Living Wilderness from 1945

through 1964. Widely recognized as an eloquent and persuasive writer, Zahniser authored the Wilderness Act beginning with a first draft in 1956. Eight years and more than sixty drafts later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill into law. Tragically, Zahniser died a few months before The Wilderness Act became law. We are a part of the wildness of the universe. That is our nature. Our noblest, happiest character develops with the influence of wildness. Away from it we degenerate into the squalor of slums or the frustration of clinical couches. With the wilderness we are at home. Some of us think we see this so clearly that for ourselves, for our children, our continuing posterity, and our fellow men we covet with a consuming intensity the fullness of the human development that keeps its contact with wildness. Out of the wilderness, we realize, has come the substance of our culture, and with a living wilderness—it is our faith—we shall have also a vibrant vital culture—an enduring civilization of healthful, happy people who, like Antaeus, perpetually renew themselves in contact with the earth. This is not a disparagement of our civilization—no disparagement at all— but rather an admiration of it to the point of perpetuating it. We like the beef from the cattle grazed on the public domain. We relish the vegetables from the lands irrigated by virtue of the Bureau of Reclamation. We carry in our packs aluminum manufactured with the help of hydroelectric power from great reservoirs. We motor happily on paved highways to the approaches of our wilderness. We journey in streamlined trains and in transcontinental airplanes to conferences on wilderness preservation. We nourish and refresh our minds from books manufactured out of the pulp of our forests. We enjoy the convenience and comfort of our way of living—urban, village, and rural. And we want this civilization to endure and to be enjoyed on and on by healthy, happy citizens. Our only hope to avert this loss is in our deliberate effort to preserve the wilderness we have. The ramifications of our developing mechanical enterprises are such that only those areas which are set aside for preservation will persist as wilderness.

Howard Zahniser From “The Need for Wilderness Areas,” The Living Wilderness, Number 59, Winter-Spring, 1956-57.

Summer – Fall 2014



Your National Forests

National Forest System Wilderness Areas


he Forest Service manages 33 percent of the acreage within the National Wilderness

Preservation System. Spread out across the country, these wild landscapes offer solitude, beauty, and respite from the modern world.

This map shows National Forests and Wilderness acreage managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Managing 439 Wilderness areas, the Forest Service is responsible for more Wilderness areas than any other federal agency. Alaska contains more Wilderness acreage than any other state—more than 57 million acres—but much of it is managed by the National Park Service. In the entire country, Wilderness areas represent about five percent of the total landscape. In the lower 48 states, Wilderness areas make up only 2.7 percent of the landscape.

Wilderness Areas on National Forests

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Your National Forests Summer/Fall 2014  

The official magazine of the National Forest Forest, this special Wilderness edition of Your National Forests features the Gila Wilderness,...

Your National Forests Summer/Fall 2014  

The official magazine of the National Forest Forest, this special Wilderness edition of Your National Forests features the Gila Wilderness,...