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Awards & Recognition

SAWS has been recognized as a leading wilderness stewardship organization by our partners and peers. We are so proud to have earned their trust. Each of these awards is a reflection the resilience, passion and professionalism of our team, as well as the importance of our many supporters and partners over the past 10 years.


These awards highlight not only the efforts of our organization, but also exemplify the excellent work being accomplished by our partners throughout the Southern Appalachian region.


2020 Bob Marshall Award for Group Champion of Wilderness Stewardship (USFS)

The Forest Service’s Bob Marshall Award for Group Champion of Wilderness Stewardship is given to groups of employees who have “demonstrated dedication and active involvement in wilderness stewardship.” Groups who are recognized with this award have gone the “extra mile” to preserve the wilderness resource.

“2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the formation of SAWS. Over the past decade they have reinvigorated the wilderness community in the Southeast by unifying a network of wilderness stewards across 68 wilderness areas in southern Appalachia. Initially, they rose to meet the Chief’s 10-Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge by forming wilderness ranger programs and trail crews. Now they work to meet Wilderness Character Monitoring goals by hiring and training Wilderness Specialists to work closely with agency staff. In addition to their monitoring work they also enable others to become wilderness stewards by helping to host an annual Wilderness Skills Institute that provides training opportunities for staff, partners, and volunteers. Overall, they have contributed 124,000 hours of stewardship service in the region over the past decade and continue to expand their reach and prepare the next generation to engage in wilderness stewardship.”


2020 Wilderness Stewardship Organization of the Year (NWSA & SWS)

“My professional training exercise with SAWS was one of the most rewarding and valuable experiences of my life thus far. Loved every second of it.” 


- Robyn Roper - Wilderness Field Crew 2018

The Wilderness Stewardship Organization of the Year Award  recognizes a wilderness stewardship organization that has “demonstrated outstanding ability to steward their wilderness areas, be a valuable partner with the Federal agencies, and complete many needed accomplishments." This inaugural award was presented to SAWS by the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and Society for Wilderness Stewardship.

“The Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, commonly referred to as SAWS, has become a force for wilderness stewardship in the Southern Region and beyond. Currently, they are active partners for 68 wilderness areas across nine (9) National Forests. These wilderness areas and their stewardship provide many critical functions and roles in the Southern Appalachians.”

“The SAWS – Forest Service partnership is often described as transformational, rather than transactional. They have helped to reinvigorate the Wilderness community in the southeast by inspiring new wilderness stewards, raising wilderness awareness and forging lasting connections across the southern Appalachian landscape.”


2020 Potomac Appalachian Trail Club Appreciation Award (PATC)

This award is primarily for non-members, and is given to those individuals or groups who have made some special contribution to the Club and its objectives. Recipients can include federal, state, and local government officials who have assisted the Club in its activities, individuals who have donated land or facilities to the Club, retired PATC employees, or anyone else who has helped the Club in a significant way.

"The Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards have collaborated with the Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter over the past five years to organize multiple work-trips. The SAWS staff possesses the necessary expertise and leadership skills to lead groups in removing large blowdowns using traditional tools. It is thanks to their involvement with SSVC and the North River District that PATC has been able to generate interest in the club’s wilderness trail work and successfully recruit more volunteers."


2017 Regional Forester's Honor Award for Partners/Community Engagement (USFS)

(Group Award) Wilderness Skills Institute Creation Team, Southern Region​

“This year's theme "Building a Legacy -- Commitment to Excellence" acknowledges Forest Service employees, work units, partnerships, and groups who have demonstrated a commitment restoring, sustaining, and/or enhancing forestlands and natural resources in the Southern Region. The Regional Forester’s Honor Awards is an opportunity to recognize groups and individuals who go over and beyond their duties demonstrating their commitment to excellence and teamwork.”