How many people does a wild place need? “But,” you say, “wild places are places without people, right?” True enough, but this planet is full of people. A wild place doesn’t stand a chance if it doesn’t have people that care about it.

I’m always interested in the way people come together for wild places. It’s like a torch, passing from one person to the next. Everybody gets their chance to contribute or shirk responsibility. Nobody gets the last word. We just get our moment of opportunity, and we leave our mark for better or worse.

For a wild place to stay untouched, it has to pass through a lot of hands. First there are a few people who love the place. They find others who love it too. Together they lobby lawmakers and land managers, who wade through the mud of political and practical compromise. Then field personnel perform a thousand thankless tasks. Now more people visit — some to help preserve the wild, but most just to experience it. Their growing numbers attract the attention of an outdoor recreation industry, whose gadgets guide people’s perceptions…. All these folks touch the wild in some way.

There’s a place for us all in Nature, but finding that place may not come naturally. More often than not, it has seemed to me that conservation is about helping each other find a home. It’s like saying, “Welcome to the wild. You have a place here. Here are some ways that can work.” The welcoming feels as important as the ways.

Wild South has helped protect the South’s wild places for decades. Those wild places always depend on the communities that care about them. When people are inspired to enjoy, appreciate, and care for the place they love, it is a beautiful thing. Sometimes it feels like the wild is beautiful, but becomes even more beautiful when seen through the eyes of others.

Thank YOU for such a great 2023. Looking forward to your support and seeing you on the trail in 2024!!!

Always grateful for the South’s wild places and the people that love them,
Kevin

 

Pullin’ tires out of the Nolichucky River.

 

Moving BIG rocks to halt erosion at Table Rock.

 

Camp Judea clearing brush on the sides of Forest Road 99.

 

Gorge Rats repairing campsite fire rings and picking up trash along Old 105.

 

Annual Forest Road 99 maintenance day with TAASC.

 

Arch corporate volunteer day.

 

Hauling trash and tires up Pinch-In Trail.

 

Another successful Noli cleanup.

 

Recovering the historical Lost Cove Loop together with Outward Bound.

 

Elk River Falls streamside graffiti removal training.

 

Unaka Mountain Overlook cleanup.

 

Building steps on Spence Ridge Trail.

 

Halting trail erosion at the Dellinger Creek crossing.

 

Using huge rocks to protect tiny endangered plants at The Chimneys.

 

Restoring the Shinbone hitching post with the 423 Trail Riders.

 

Working with the Outward Bound Semester Course to repair the trail at Bee Mountain.

 

Wilson Creek cleanup day with A Clean Wilson Creek, Foothills Conservancy, and Latinos Aventureros en las Carolinas.

 

Scouting trail repairs at Hickory Fork Falls.

 

Building the new Table Rock Climbing Access Trail.

 

Armoring streambanks to prevent erosion at the Rock Creek trail crossing.

 

More tires coming out of the Noli.

 

Crosscut sawing on Spence Ridge Trail.

 

Building rock steps with Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and US Forest Service.

 

Trail recovery together with Outward Bound in Lost Cove Wilderness Study Area.

 

Hundreds of tires cleaned up on the Wilson Creek Wild & Scenic River.

 

Pulling car parts out of the Nolichucky Proposed Wild & Scenic River.

 

“What if we just move the tree?”  Trail maintenance on Lost Cove Loop.

 

Crosscut saw day with USFS and the 423 Trail Riders in Unaka Mountain Wilderness.

 

Wild South winter interns reroute the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in Chimney Gap.

 

Wild South trains a Forest Service crew in use of small explosives for trail construction.

 

Winter river cleanup at Chestoa on the Noli.

 

Partnering with Carolina Climbers Coalition for trail construction.

 

Keeping sediment out of the water at a Lost Cove Loop stream crossing.

 

More stream crossing repairs, this time on the Linville Gorge Trail.

 

Wild South’s Community Conservation Corps is a network of Southern National Forest communities working together to care for the wild places they love!