Stanislaus Wilderness Volunteers (SWV) sponsored two interns this season using private funds and support from the National Forest Foundation’s Matching Awards Program. One of the interns, Alicia Halpern, graduated this year from University of California at Davis with a degree in Environmental Planning & Policy. The other, Jackson Vanfleet Brown, graduated from Carleton College with a major in Geology.
The two interns began in the spring and received training and experience with other Wilderness Rangers in Stanislaus National Forest’s Wilderness Areas. In early August they teamed up with 10 SWV volunteers and the Lead Wilderness Ranger for a weeklong work trip in the Emigrant Wilderness. The Forest Service provided a wrangler and pack mules which allowed the team to get tools, supplies and camping equipment 20 miles deep into the Wilderness.
“I am passionate about serving in a way that affects the change I want to see through stewarding natural resources and connecting the public with protected lands.”
The crew performed extensive cleanup and site restoration work at three lakes: Rosasco, Lertora and Huckleberry. They also removed fire rings located too close to water and naturalized overused lakeshore areas in order to allow vegetation and habitat to return to pristine wilderness conditions. The team removed 300 pounds of trash from an illegal garbage cache at Huckleberry Lake. Even with all of these accomplishments the crew had time for camaraderie and sharing wilderness lore at mealtimes.
This is the fifth year that SWV has sponsored at least one Wilderness Ranger internship for the Stanislaus National Forest. Grants from NFF have helped fund the program in four of the five years. A primary focus of the program is to give college students or recent graduates training, experience, and inspiration for a career in natural resource management.
One of this year’s interns, Alicia, has already accepted a position in open space planning for the Midpenisula Regional Open Space District located in Los Altos, California. The other intern, Jackson, took the internship saying, “I am passionate about serving in a way that affects the change I want to see through stewarding natural resources and connecting the public with protected lands.” Midway through his internship Jackson had this to say, “I have really improved my outreach and teaching abilities through making frequent (wilderness) visitor contacts…” The Forest Service and SWV are both committed to keeping this very effective and successful program going in future years.