Call of the Wild - Quarterly News from the Arizona Wilderness Coalition
Issue 1, Winter 2003

In Depth: Adopt a Wilderness, Save a Treasure

by Jason Williams

Millions of acres of potential wilderness lands in Arizona are at risk of off-road vehicle use, energy development projects, and land exchanges. The Arizona Wilderness Coalition has developed the Wilderness Adopter Program to fulfill our mission to coordinate and conduct land inventories, educate citizens about wilderness areas, enlist continuing support, and advocate for lasting resource protection.

The most effective action we can take as wilderness advocates is to become educated stewards for Arizona’s public lands and to share our knowledge with others. The Wilderness Adopter Program will enable the AWC to collect the most accurate wilderness data available, complete statewide wilderness inventories, and use that information to advocate for wilderness protection in Congress.

Girl with barbed wire fence photo Girl with tire photo

Many wilderness inventory projects involve the removal of man-made leftovers and restoring the natural landscape.

So, what does it take to become a Wilderness Adopter? Adopters possess a hardy dedication and will to protect the land: all share a belief in the value of wilderness and roadless areas, not only for the benefit of humans, but also for the countless numbers of organisms that have evolved unhindered by the modern pressures of progress. Wilderness adoption also takes a water bottle, a compass, a camera, and a GPS unit, if possible. The AWC provides the rest of the gear. Anyone can be a Wilderness Adopter, especially if they want to go that extra mile to be a steward for their favorite wilderness area.

Girl with cactus photo
Adopting a wilderness is a fun way to learn more about the
magnificent public resources in our own backyards.

Volunteers may find themselves understanding the landscape in deeper ways after they walk the paths and trails that lead to our delicate deserts, lush mountains, and dramatic canyons.

Guy at forested campsite photo
Part of inventorying a wilderness is the chance to take in the
tranquility and beauty found there.

How do you become a Wilderness Adopter? The first step is to select a place that is important to you or that intrigues you. We can also help you select an area that needs special attention and an immediate inventory. The AWC has given extensive study to regional topography maps and has prioritized specific places to inventory based on land management planning processes. After an adopter picks a place to study and catalog, an AWC regional coordinator will provide you with essential adopter tools:

  • Maps with all pertinent information from land ownership to the most recent aerial photography data.
  • An adopter packet, which contains road inventory forms, hints and reminders on the best methods for doing wilderness inventories, and specific answers to questions about your unit. The packet also contains specific historical information about the unit’s prior condition and/or human uses, if any.
  • Other supplies that you may need, including writing utensils and paper, compasses, clipboards, and any other helpful implements for an effective adopter.
  • General assistance. Regional coordinators are familiar with the AWC inventory methods and have a relatively clear idea for wilderness plans in Arizona. We will work with you to ensure you have the best information available for each selected area so that you can help us better conserve our public lands.

Wilderness Adopters will have the opportunity to attend one of two training sessions this spring that the AWC will be hosting in March and April. These training sessions are open to anyone interested and there is no commitment to adopting an area if you come to the training. The sessions will focus on how to complete routine inventories and the basics of wilderness adoption. It is an excellent opportunity to meet other individuals interested in wilderness protection, and learn more about Arizona’s magnificent public lands.

Group at barbed wire fence photo
Teamwork is an integral part of the wilderness adopter program.

The AWC envisions training several different levels of adopters. Some adopters who are interested in doing inventories may only get out to visit their adopted wilderness area once or twice a year, so there could be instances where numerous people adopt one area and work together on its inventory. Others may participate more regularly in data collecting in their chosen area. They can also work with AWC staff to develop and support legislation to establish or further protect wilderness areas.

Group at ponderosa pine photo
You will find friends and shared
environmental passions when you
join the Wilderness Adopter Program.

However you choose to participate with us, the Wilderness Adopter program will strengthen our mission to play an integral role in advocating for these special wild places throughout Arizona. The reward for your efforts is priceless. We need your help!

Tentative Adopter Trainings will be held for the South Central Region on Saturday, March 29th, and Saturday, April 26th.


For more information about this great hands-on experience in your area, contact your nearest AWC regional representative below:

Jason Williams, South Central Region,
Kim Crumbo, Grand Canyon Region,
Jay Krienitz, Western Deserts Region,
Matt Scroch, Sky Islands Region,

All photos courtesy of Jay Krienitz