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SAWS in the News

SAWS has been featured in multiple news and media outlets that showcase and celebrate our dedication to stewarding wild places. We are proud to be featured in everything from blog posts written by former staff and Board of Directors to podcasts and news articles. Follow along on our media adventure below.

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Mountain Xpress

Call of the Wild

Written by Jessica Wakeman         Volume 30 No 39         April 24-30, 2024

"... de Varona is particularly proud of the Wilderness Skill Institute, a free two-week training held annually in May at the Cradle of Forestry near Brevard. The program is a collaborative effort involving SAWS, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Forest Service. Classes in previous years have ranged from trail design, rock splitting and shaping to crosscut saw certification and crosscut saw sharpening, horse packing, advanced stonework, and even wilderness character monitoring 101.


Unlike some professions, obtaining an academic degree for a career in the outdoors is not a prerequisite for success, continues de Varona..."

Podcast | Trail EAffect

Women in Trail Building at the 2024 Professional Trail Builders Association Sustainable Trail Conference 167

April 2, 2024

At the end of day one during the 2024 Professional Trail Builders Association Sustainable Trails Conference Martha Becton took over as host of the Trail EAffect Podcast. Martha brought Erin Amadon, Rebekah Morrisson, and Addie Clayton onto the show to have an open conversation about Women in Trail Building. A Huge Thank You goes out to these four Women for recording this conversation, and a special Thank You goes out to Martha for being the host!

The Laurel of Ashveille

Outdoors with SAWS: Addressing the Need for Wilderness Stewardship

Written by: Emma Castleberry                                    May 2024

"Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) was founded in 2010 to address the need for stewardship across the southeast. Wilderness maintenance is a unique challenge­—the areas are remote and difficult to access, and often the use of motorized tools like chainsaws is prohibited. Sometimes local trail clubs are reluctant to support the designation of new wilderness because they don’t have the capacity to maintain it. “SAWS was born from this need for stewardship, particularly from young adults and the next generation of conservation stewards,” says SAWS executive director Kaitlin de Varona. “We provide capacity and care for wild public lands in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.”

Smoky Mountain News

Working for play: Trail groups pass forest stewardship to the next generation

Written by: Holly Kays                        April 23, 2014

"The woods are quiet on a cool Saturday morning in late March. There’s no wind swaying the still-bare trees or the rhododendrons clustered along streambeds. In this, one of the most remote trails of the Shining Rock Wilderness of Pisgah National Forest, the only sound comes from the occasional squirrel plowing through the bed of fallen leaves or bird sounding its call through the woods."

A shared space, a shared responsibility

Written by: Casey Quartman | Guest Columnist                     July 7, 2021

For six years I have been working as a Wilderness Ranger in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. I devote my time, blood, sweat and energy into keeping wild places as wild and natural as possible. 

My daily duties often differ, but the objective always stays the same: keep the wilderness wild. I do trail work, pick up trash, pack out abandoned camps, break down fire pits, collect data, monitor invasive species and interact with and educate visitors. 


Family Trees: How Our Relationship with the Forest is Advancing

A Wilderness ranger's perspective on our evolving relationship with public lands and revisits the roots of our forest

Written by: Mason Boring               

"As a 27-year-old, former business development manager turned Wilderness Ranger, I’ve seen changes. I began studying Forestry and Wildlife Biology while playing soccer for Hiwassee College, but completed my undergraduate studies after transferring to Carson-Newman in Social Entrepreneurship and Psychology. Upon graduation, I found myself on the other side of the world on a few mountain tops working at an orphanage in Pokhara, Nepal. The Himalayans solidified my love for social empowerment, sustainable conservation and community. I became hungry to learn more about my own story, my own community and how I got here. The shade of my East Tennessee family tree was drawing me home to my familiar mountains."

Kenan Fellows for Teacher Leadership | NC State University 

Kenan Fellows lead inclusion efforts in K-12 education thanks to Burroughs Wellcome Fund grant

Written by: Beverly Owens, 2021-22 Kenan Fellow                  September 26, 2023

RALEIGH, N.C.⸺For the past five years, the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership at N.C. State University has partnered with the Burroughs Wellcome Fund to support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in K-12 education.

There are eight Burroughs Wellcome Fund Diversity in Leadership Fellows who all have impacted their local communities in many positive ways. Fellows developed diversity audit resources used by school districts and nonprofit organizations and helped make STEM education and diversity, equity, and inclusion resources more accessible for students in rural communities.


Perspective | STEMwork empowers teachers to bridge industry gap helping students become future-ready

Written by: Amneris Solano                            April 10, 2023

"They get behind-the-scenes experience in various industries like textile plants, construction companies, and cold storage warehouses. Last year, educators in the west toured Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel & Casino Resort and hiked through the Pisgah National Forest with the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. In the eastern part of the state, educators observed the manufacturing of military and police apparel at Spiritus Systems in Aberdeen and toured a worksite with Barnhill Contracting Company in Fayetteville."


Miles From the Ocean, Naval Officers Gain Critical Training in Southeast Wilderness Areas

Written by: Graham Averill                            December 31, 2019

"The crosscut saw is an impressive tool. At six feet long, with sharp teeth and smooth wooden handles on either end, it takes two people moving perfectly in unison to rip through the belly of a fallen tree. To watch one in action is mesmerizing, “It’s the gateway drug to wilderness maintenance,” said Eric Giebelstein, a project manager for Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS), a nonprofit that maintains wilderness areas in the South. The crosscut is essential to that maintenance, since chainsaws are forbidden in wilderness. “Once people learn to use this saw, they’re hooked.”

Citizen Times

Celebrating 50 Years of Wilderness

Written by: Karen Chavez                                   May 26, 2014 | Updated July 22, 2015

"It's still not easy to get to Cold Mountain.

Much as it was for fictional hero Inman in the Civil War days in the novel "Cold Mountain," reaching the iconic mountain still requires a strong backpack and sturdy boots, many miles of arduous hiking, and map reading skills. There are no signs, few trail blazes if any, and no campfires allowed.

And that's just the way it will remain.

Reaching the summit of the 6,030-foot-high peak, made extra famous by the Charles Frazier novel and Hollywood movie, will forever be elusively looming, enveloped by a fortress of thick forest and accessible only by foot, safely secured in the heart of Shining Rock Wilderness."

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