Saturday, November 14, 2020

Wilderness Stewardship Performance elements- "Wilderness Character Baseline"

"Everybody lives downstream"
-Robin Wall Kimmerer

In May instead of my normal wilderness ranger duties I began work on a big project for my forest and two others in Washington in partnership with the non-profit Society for Wilderness Stewardship. This project will fulfill the 2-8 point requirements of the "wilderness character baseline" element of the Forest Service's "wilderness stewardship performance" (WSP) framework which I reviewed in a previous post. The end result will be a 100+ page report for each of the 10 wilderness areas in our project. These reports will establish measures to be used for monitoring wilderness character. The reports will describe the measures selected along with analysis of the data we will use for them. After the reports are done, every 5 years the forests will input the data we agree on to monitor and track change in wilderness character moving forward (this 5 year reporting cycle is the 10 point requirement of the WSP "wilderness character baseline" element). These measures and the data collection that supports them are collectively referred to as "wilderness character monitoring."

The storymap embedded below goes over what wilderness character is, what the measures we can select from are, and an idea of some of the needs the project has for the different departments. You can also view it by clicking here  (the blog formats some of the photos a little oddly when embedding it). 

Friday, May 1, 2020

Wilderness Stewardship Performance elements- "Education"

it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
-Mary Oliver

Last year I got to help with the first step in the "education" element of Wilderness Stewardship Performance which is writing the Wilderness Education Plan. The Education plan is a summary of what the main issues that we have in our wilderness are, how we want to deliver our messages about those problems, and who we want to target for those messages. Some messages will be reoccurring over many Wilderness Education plans... example: many wilderness will want to talk about campsite location selection in proximity to water as this is an issue for any environment....riparian areas are sensitive in the mountains and the desert. Other messages are very specific... example: we have mountain goats in our Wilderness which not all Wildernesses have and their presence demands unique requests of our visitors like urinating away from where humans are congregating, not on sensitive alpine plants (so they don't get pawed up by the goats) and ideally urinating in ways that the goats can't even get to those salt deposits (like in between rocks).

The Wilderness Education Plan acts as a good reference guide that can be referred to so all employees and volunteers understand the issues and communicate consistent messages. The plan also inventories our different education methods so things like how many paid/ intern/ volunteer staff we have, where we have signage up, what information our visitor centers have etc. It took a long time to write and ended about being about 30 pages but I was lucky to have had another ranger from an adjoining district start the project the season prior so a huge portion of the work was already done. It's a dynamic document that can be updated and edited through the years to stay relevant as new issue and resources arise. It was at times tedious but I mostly found it very enjoyable as I love researching and doing anything relating to Wilderness Policy.