Wilderness and Backcountry Stewardship Efforts Recognized

WEST GLACIER, MT. – The Glacier National Park Volunteer Associates (GNPVA) received the 2016 National Park Service Wes Henry Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship Award during a ceremony this week in Washington D.C.

Photo: Mike Reynolds, Acting Director of the National Park Service, with Cheryl Klein, Glacier National Park Volunteer Associates (GNPVA) president. (Photo Credit NPS)

Cheryl Klein, GNPVA president, accepted the award on August 1 on behalf of the group, who was recognized for outstanding contributions to wilderness stewardship by a non-governmental partner. The GNPVA’s dedication to wilderness preservation and patrol and the Backcountry Ranger Intern program are two of the many programs the volunteers support in Glacier National Park.

2016 marks the 27th year of service for the GNPVA. With a membership of more than 100 volunteers, GNPVA has accomplished many projects to support backcountry operations and preservation, including approximately 7,000 hours of service to Glacier National Park annually.

“The Volunteer Associates play an essential role in the park’s backcountry and wilderness areas,” said Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow. “Collectively they hike almost 5,000 miles each summer and reach out to nearly 12,000 visitors along the trail. Without them, our ability to provide routine visitor safety information and wilderness management in our park’s most remote places would be significantly diminished.”

Backcountry river volunteers remove aging culverts and other debris along the Flathead River corridor. (Photo Credit NPS)

The volunteers contribute to every function of backcountry patrol, including monitoring compliance with backcountry regulations, assisting with emergency functions, providing minor maintenance at backcountry campsites, and sharing information about Leave No Trace principles.

Additionally, the organization supports the GNPVA Backcountry Ranger Intern program, which provides one college student with a backcountry ranger internship for the summer, stationed at the Walton Ranger Station. This program is supported by the Taggart Schubert Memorial Fund.

Though the award specifically recognizes GNPVA’s contributions to the park’s wilderness and backcountry program, the organization also supports a number of other critical park functions including working in park visitor centers, the Apgar Nature Center, the native plant nursery, the backcountry permit office, frontcountry campgrounds, citizen science, trails, and historic preservation and general maintenance.

To learn more about the GNPVA projects or to get involved, visit gnpva.org.