Forest Service honors Glenwood Springs activist

A Glenwood Springs environmental activist is one of three Coloradans to win national-level U.S. Forest Service awards for wilderness stewardship.

Steve Smith, assistant regional director of the Wilderness Society, received a 2009 Bob Marshall Award for Individual Champion of Wilderness Stewardship.

Altogether, the Forest Service gave out nine wilderness stewardship awards this year. Several address efforts connected to its 10-year effort to bring all of its wilderness areas to an agency-developed standard for management and maintenance by 2014.

The Forest Service gave John Anarella, wilderness program manager on the Routt National Forest, an Aldo Leopold Award for Overall Wilderness Stewardship Program, for work on the 10-year challenge. His efforts included authoring an invasive-weed plan, developing a template for a wilderness education plan and outlining wilderness-management objectives in a forest fire plan.

Mark Stiles, supervisor for the San Juan National Forest and the San Juan Public Lands Center, won a Line Officer Wilderness Leadership Award, partly for “making difficult decisions related to managing fire in the wilderness,” the Forest Service said.

Smith was honored for his advocacy for wilderness management and wilderness legislation.

Smith said he’s “overwhelmed” by the recognition.

“When it comes from, in this case, an agency that we push hard on sometimes, then that’s even better, that we can agree sometimes, disagree sometimes, and still appreciate each other,” he said.

Smith has helped work on management and rehabilitation of heavily used wilderness areas. He said the challenge has been figuring out how to preserve wilderness values in such areas without creating so many rules that they ruin the wilderness experience.

Emphasis has included education programs, temporary closures of areas for revegetation and pushing for more backcountry wilderness staff, Smith said.

He said he first became interested in wilderness when he was attending Colorado State University in 1970 and decided to attend a “teach-in” on the topic during the first Earth Day.

“I didn’t really know what it was, but there was something about that idea that intrigued me,” he said.

Smith also has worked for the Sierra Club, managed the Environmental Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder, been a staff member for former Colorado congressman David Skaggs and helped start the community recycling program in Fort Collins.

He recently helped negotiate a groundbreaking model for water protection in the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness. The model could help ease passage of future wilderness legislation for mid- and downstream areas.


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