What We Do
Founded in 2010, the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) is a conservation non-profit organization dedicated to educating, cultivating, and empowering an engaged public and the next generation in the stewardship of public lands in our backyard. At SAWS, we believe that taking care of our public lands and connecting them to the next generation matters. We also believe that it is our shared responsibility to care for these lands; to advance justice, equity, diversity and inclusivity in the outdoors; and to educate, train, and develop a skilled workforce to be the next conservation stewards and conservation leaders.
Headquartered in Asheville, NC and with an office in Roanoke, VA, we focus our efforts on wilderness areas and public lands throughout the southern Appalachian region. We regularly work in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, and respond on a case-by-case basis to requests for assistance in other locations. Our work in those states primarily occurs on ten national forests, including the George Washington-Jefferson, Monongahela, Nantahala, Pisgah, Francis Marion, Sumpter, Cherokee, Chattahoochee-Oconee, Daniel Boone and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests. We work with communities and partners across that landscape, including stewardship groups, trail clubs and conservation organizations; partners who work on the Appalachian Trail; Tribal Nations and BIPOC-led organizations; and community leaders, colleges and universities, and businesses in rural towns and urban areas within our footprint.
We are passionate and knowledgeable about wilderness and taking care of the special places in our backyard. Through stewardship jobs and volunteerism, workforce development, education, partnerships and community engagement, we are working to build wilderness relevancy; connect more people with meaningful, transformational experiences on public lands; and increase equitable access to the outdoors and jobs in conservation.
Learn more about our program areas below