Ian Muirden, a volunteer with the Mt. Adams Ranger District's Wilderness Stewardship program, was honored last week with the U.S. Forest Service chief's National Volunteer Award.
The award was presented to Muirden, a Trout Lake resident, last Thursday, Aug. 18, by Mt. Adams District Ranger Nancy Ryke at a meeting of district employees in Trout Lake.
"The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is extremely fortunate to have an individual the caliber of Ian," Claire Lavendel, supervisor of the forest, said. "His dedication has led to the success of the Wilderness Steward program."
Muirden has volunteered 1,080 hours within wilderness areas in service to the public and the Forest Service. He initiated the volunteer Wilderness Steward program on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and remains its most ardent leader.
He has worked additional hours recruiting like-minded individuals with a similar capacity to volunteer. On the Mt. Adams Ranger District, Wilderness Stewards average more than 800 hours of service a year, and double staff presence within wilderness areas.
Success of the Wilderness Steward program at the Mt. Adams Ranger District led to expansion of the program on the entire forest.
As a Wilderness Steward volunteer, Muirden has made thousands of direct contacts with Wilderness visitors.
Wilderness Stewards make public contacts, check permit compliance, and make practical suggestions for minimizing impacts. The work of Wilderness Stewards has also contributed to a decline in search and rescue incidents, according to Forest Service officials.
The development of the Wilderness Steward program has involved volunteers with membership in several recreational groups, including the Washington Trails Association, Mazamas, and Cascades Packgoat Club. This has strengthened partnerships between the Forest Service and these users and advocates of wilderness areas.
For more information about this program, contact Jon Nakae, Mt. Adams Ranger District, at (509) 395-3480.