|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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org