Fall colors brighten up a mountain side while a low cloud sits at the top of the picture   SAWS

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 and advance justice, equity, diversity and inclusivity in the outdoors and 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 eight national forests, including National Forests in North Carolina, Francis Marion and Sumter, Chattahoochee-Oconee, Cherokee, Ozark-St. Francis, Daniel Boone, George Washington-Jefferson, and Monongahela 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, 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 while also connecting people to meaningful, transformational experiences on public lands. We work to find ways to increase equitable access to the outdoors as well as connect traditionally marginalized communities to jobs in the conservation and outdoor world.

Learn more about our program areas below



Delivering boots-on-the-ground and wilderness expertise



Sharing knowledge, appreciation and skills for wild public lands and stewardship


By sharing knowledge, increasing  capacity, & combining resources we can do more together



Building relevance for wilderness and public lands, engaging the next generation of public lands enthusiasts

Workforce Development

Creating equitable job and career opportunities for young conservation  professionals 

Community Engagement

Connecting with communities to find the overlap of their priorities and our work

hazy blue mountains dappled with low fog   SAWS