President Abraham Lincoln once said “The land, the earth God gave to man for his home … should never be the possession of any man, corporation, (or) society … any more than the air or water.” Over two centuries later, his eloquent words could not be more relevant. “Laws change; people die; the land remains.” Wild South believes that protecting our wild places goes beyond seeing them designated for preservation.
The National Wilderness Preservation System was created by Passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Mississippi has three federally protected Wilderness Areas: Black Creek, Gulf Islands, and Leaf – totalling just over 10,000 acres. Wild South first expanded it’s successful Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Program in June of 2012, deploying two Wilderness Rangers in De Soto National Forest. During the next two years Wild South rangers and volunteers worked with the United States Forest Service to meet the baseline management standards by 2014. Wilderness Rangers ensured that the Leaf and Black Creek Wilderness Areas benefited from the successful treatment of invasive plants, protection of solitude and primitive recreation, recreational site inventory, and updates on resource conditions and priority information for managers.
Our volunteer wilderness rangers are trained in Leave No Trace, CPR and First Aid, crosscut saw, GPS and radio protocol, and Wilderness law. All volunteer activities support USFS management goals and are covered under the USDA Volunteers in National Forests program, protecting volunteers from costs associated with personal injury. Volunteer rangers always patrol in pairs and provided with all equipment needed to perform their duties as a ranger.
Black Creek is Mississippi’s only Nationally designated Wild and Scenic River, and nearly 5 miles of river bisect the 5,052 acres of the beautifully unique coastal plain ecosystem where one can find plenty of sandy bottomed streams and oxbow lakes.
Rangers schedule their field days ahead of time and complete reports detailing their time and activities in the Wilderness, i.e. number of
visitors encountered, miles of trail inspected, trash removal or trail maintenance work conducted, etc. These reports are regularly submitted to the Forest Service. A commitment of one day per month (average over the course of a year) is desired. Rangers need to be in good physical condition, as this a physically demanding activity. Enjoyment of hiking, love of nature, good social skills and an abiding sense of the fundamental value of our wild places are necessary qualities.
Being a volunteer wilderness ranger is an opportunity to do what you already enjoy (hiking, kayaking), meet other Wilderness enthusiasts and at the same time give back a little something to help protect the wild places we all cherish. If you think you might be interested in joining our ranger team, email Nkrumah Frazier at Nkrumah@wildsouth.org or call 601-307-7521. Our Wilderness Areas need YOU!