While we regularly work in the eight states above, we also respond to needs across the eastern US on a case-by-case basis. Two examples of this work are the Great Rivers WSI and our most recent disaster relief efforts in Louisiana.
In 2018, we helped plan and execute the first annual Great Rivers Wilderness Skills Institute in partnership with another wilderness stewardship organization—AIM for Wilderness Stewardship, the Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests in Arkansas, the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois, and the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri. It was held over the course of a week at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center in Makanda, Illinois. Like WSI, students from federal land management agencies, partner organizations and volunteers collectively learned the necessary skills to steward wilderness areas. Course offerings included two main tracks: Crosscut Saw A/B certification with tool re-handling, map and compass; and Foundations of Wilderness Stewardship including crew management and leadership, backcountry preparation and travel, Forest Service Wilderness Stewardship Performance; and Wilderness First Aid certification.
During September and October of 2020, Louisiana was hit by five named storms. Two of them, Laura and Delta, did significant damage to the Kisatchie National Forest and shut down trails across the Forest, including the trails in Kisatchie Hills Wilderness. With the support of the region, Kisatchie National Forest, and the Kisatchie Ranger District, we mobilized three small strike teams to clear over 275 blowdowns from 10 miles of trail in the wilderness. The trails were completely passable within a week of our crews working there.
Through several natural disasters in Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and now Louisiana, we have shown up and provided timely and efficient expertise and assistance to make wilderness trails safe and accessible to the public and will continue to do so into the future, supporting wilderness inside and outside our bootprint.