Wild South Receives Grant from National Forest Foundation for Stewardship Work

 

Wild South received a grant from the National Forest Foundation to support volunteer stewardship of public lands in North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. Since 2006, the foundation has supported Wild South in its conservation work in our national forests, which has expanded to engage hundreds of volunteers in caring for their shared natural resource, the forest.

The $48,500 grant must be matched 1 to 1 with non-federal donated funds, so Wild South calls on supporters to help match the fund by making a contribution to the organization. Donations can be made online at www.wildsouth.org/donate or mailed to 13 ½ West Walnut Street, Asheville, NC 28801

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Wild South works in the Linville Gorge Wilderness in western North Carolina, in the Sipsey, Cheaha and Dugger Mountain Wildernesses of Alabama, and in the Black Creek Wilderness in Mississippi. The organization recruits, trains and deploys volunteers to work in national forests through their Volunteer Wilderness Ranger program, Wilderness Stewardship Volunteers program, and Bankhead Helping Hands Work Days. Wild South’s model of volunteer stewardship work began in the Bankhead National Forest in Alabama in 2007 and expanded to include trail work in the Sipsey Wilderness in 2009. In light of the program’s early demonstrated success, it was expanded to the Linville Gorge Wilderness in 2012.

“Support from the National Forest Foundation allows our volunteer crews to have the necessary training, tools and resources to be stewards of the Linville Gorge,” says Kevin Massey, Wild South’s Linville Gorge Stewardship Coordinator. “In the first quarter of 2016 alone, our volunteers have given 1,300 hours to trail maintenance, non-native invasive plant species removal, and trash pick up in the Gorge. This is a shared resource we all love and must help protect.”

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In the last 12 months, with the support of the National Forest Foundation grant from the previous year, over 190 individual volunteers contributed a total of almost 5,000 hours of service in the three states. Volunteers remove non-native invasive plant species, maintain trails, reduce the impact of recreation activity, and educate wilderness visitors about Leave No Trace principles and the need to preserve wilderness character.  All work is performed with the full support and partnership of the respective Forest Service Ranger Districts.

“Thanks to the National Forest Foundation, Wild South is able to inspire volunteers to maintain and improve recreational resources and steward wilderness areas by engaging with wilderness visitors and encouraging them to help us reduce their avoidable recreation impacts,” says Mark Kolinski, Wild South Alabama Program Manager. “NFF has been a steadfast partner in all this work and we are grateful for their continued support.”

To learn more about Wild South and to get involved in volunteer stewardship work, please visit www.wildsouth.org or contact the following staff:

Alabama: Janice Barrett, Alabama Outreach Coordinator at janice@wildsouth.org or 256-974-6166

North Carolina: Kevin Massey, Linville Gorge Stewardship Coordinator at kevin@wildsouth.org or 828-355-4455

Mississippi: Nkrumah Frazier, Mississippi Outreach Coordinator at nkrumah@wildsouth.org or 601-307-7521