Story last updated at 10/24/2012 - 5:54 pm
Forest Service employees, along with employees from Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, were recognized for their efforts to improve the quality of Southeast Alaska's Wilderness areas. Regional Forester Beth Pendleton presented group Wilderness Champion, Wilderness Partner of the Year, and Line Officer Wilderness Leadership awards in Juneau recently.
The group Wilderness Champion award was earned by Forest Service staff from Admiralty Island National Monument and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for their work at the Brown Bear Viewing Area and Stan Price Wildlife Sanctuary at Pack Creek. ADF&G staff included Chad Rice, Carl Kock and Jane Pascoe. Monument staff included Harry Tullis, Don MacDougall, Dori Brogliano, Daven Hafey and John Neary.
These wilderness guides instituted a student internship program, hosted a Bears of Admiralty teacher's expedition, balanced research needs with using minimum tools needed within the Wilderness, completed extensive trail repairs, and trained commercial operators guiding in the area. They also presented educational and interpretive programs to a broad audience to include Angoon and Juneau youth, visitors, volunteers, teachers and naturalists.
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council Executive Director Lindsey Ketchel and Project Leader Dan Lesh won the Wilderness Partner of the Year award for initiating a volunteer Wilderness monitoring program. SEACC completed monitoring trips to Lemusuirer Island, Endicott River, Chuck River and Kootznoowoo wilderness areas. In conjunction with Forest Service Wilderness staff they monitored invasive plants, solitude, air quality, visitor use, and illegal activities. They also conducted invasive plant control and cleaned up trash.
A group of volunteers worked over a week to pull over 40 pounds of black bindweed plants and 20 pounds of other invasive plants from Whitewater Bay on Admiralty Island.
The Region's Line Officer Wilderness Leadership Award went to Yakutat Direct Ranger Lee Benson for his work on the Russell Fiord Wilderness to raise the area's Wilderness Stewardship Challenge scores. Benson was personally involved in completing a plan for preserving outstanding solitude opportunities and a Wilderness Information Needs Assessment for the wilderness. Due to his personal engagement and leadership, the Russell Fiord Wilderness stewardship challenge scores rose 33 percent in one year to 74 points, putting the Wilderness area well above the 60 points needed to meet the Wilderness Stewardship Challenge.