NWSA grant benefits region’s hikers

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(Photo courtesy Ben Bernall, USFS) Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness volunteers Larry Siegrest, Howard Shay, Marjolein Groot Nibbelink, Matt Davidson and David Vosen carve new tread for Spar Lake Trail No. 142-A on the Three Rivers District of Kootenai National Forest in Montana.

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness recently received just over $6,000 from the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance to aid the FSPW trail program for the 2017 summer stewardship season. The funds were made available through the new NWSA National Forest System Trail Stewardship Grants program. In its inaugural year, 23 grants were awarded nationwide to fund projects utilizing private donations, volunteer resources, and a generous Forest Service agreement.

“FSPW is honored to have received one of the NWSA grants,” said FSPW executive director Phil Hough. “The process was highly competitive, but Britta Mireley (FSPW assistant program coordinator) wrote a great application and we got all that we asked for.”

This is good news for local trail users who like to hike in the proposed Scotchman Peaks Wilderness. FSPW crews, along with their Forest Service partners, work each summer improving and maintaining trails in the proposal, starting with a single day in 2010 and expanding the program each year to a total of 10 days this year, plus 4 training days for trail workers and crew leaders.

NWSA-funded projects are taking place in all USFS Regions, covering over 20 National Forests in 13 different states. The FSPW grant accounts for two of the states and two of the National Forests, facilitating trail projects in the Kootenai National Forest of Montana and Panhandle National Forests in Idaho. Trails worked on include Scotchman Peak Trail #65, Morris Creek Trail #132 and Regal Creek Trail #556 on the Panhandle; and Star Peak Historic Trail #999, Napoleon Gulch Trail #1019, Hamilton Gulch Trail #1016 and the new Spar Lake Trail #143-A on the Kootenai.

“The National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance is excited to support volunteers, nonprofit organizations, and agency partners who are stewarding their local public lands, including Friends of Scotchman Peaks,” Randy Welsh, NWSA executive director said. “These National Forest System Trail Stewardship Grants will accomplish much needed work to improve the National Forest trail system while engaging local volunteers to get out and enjoy the National Forests.”

FSPW program coordinator Sandy Compton recently joined the NWSA board. While FSPW is concentrating on one chunk of wild country in Montana and Idaho, NWSA is building a nationwide network of volunteer organizations that provide stewardship for America’s enduring resource of wilderness. The NWSA vision is to see each wilderness area within the National Wilderness Preservation System adopted by a wilderness stewardship organization dedicated to protecting, restoring and nurturing the area’s wilderness.

Information: wildernessalliance.org and scotchmanpeaks.org

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