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Forest Stewards Begin Monitoring Arizona Wilderness
The U.S. Forest Service is getting more volunteer help in monitoring more than 1 million acres of wilderness, in Arizona. Another 30 volunteers were trained over the weekend, for the Arizona Wilderness Coalition’s stewardship program. They will begin monitoring ecological and recreational conditions in the state’s more remote areas.
Sam Frank of the Wilderness Coalition said it is a chance for people to give back while enjoying something they already love, being outdoors.
"It’s a great thing for families, it’s a great way to get exercise and it’s a great way to get to know the lands better in your backyard. It’s really beneficial, and also they have a sense of stewardship in helping take care of these areas that technically belong to them," Frank said.
The volunteers gather data, while hiking, that helps the Forest Service preserve the wilderness areas, while maintaining recreational opportunities. Karl Malcolm of the Southwest Region of the Forest Service said their assistance is crucial.
"We simply do not have the manpower to do that, in Arizona or elsewhere. We need the support from partners like the Arizona Wilderness Coalition and their volunteers," Malcolm said.
Malcolm said his agency is charged with managing 36 of the 90 designated wilderness areas in the state. Frank said in the three years the program has been in existence, volunteers have put in more than 4000 hours on various projects. He hopes to eventually involve several hundred people.