Public Lands Stewards: The PNW is Where I Belong

by | Land Stewards

I was motivated to apply for the Mt. Adams Institute Public Lands Stewards program after seeing that they had a position available in the Methow Valley Ranger District of the Okanogan- Wenatchee National Forest. I was specifically looking for work in this area because I had previously completed half a season on the Methow district as a National Visitor Use Monitoring Program intern in 2015. For two years I bounced around different parts of the Pacific Northwest but returned home to Maryland for little less than a year. I quickly realized once in Maryland that the Pacific Northwest is where I belong and yearned to return to where I was happiest.

The Public Lands Stewards program provides me the opportunity to work directly with the Forest Service to manage wilderness resources and recreation opportunities within one of the largest National Forests in the country. I’ve known that I had wanted to work in the public sector to manage natural resources for many many years and I’m so excited to finally have this opportunity. My hope is that this will lead me into a position working for the Forest Service.

In the past month and a half I have gotten more valuable training and experience than I could have anticipated. I knew there was some light talk of maybe working with horses but I had no idea I would spend a week in horsemanship training learning to effectively ride and control a horse in preparation to lead a line of packed mules down a wilderness trail. I’ve also learned how to pack a mule and do fairly complex leather working in order to make repairs to saddles.

Next week I head out on my first 8 day wilderness patrol where I will be backpacking through parts of an old wildfire burn, up a 7,500 foot mountain and into one of the most remote valleys of the Pasayten wilderness. While backpacking I’ll be making contact with visitors to ensure they are following Leave No Trace principals, maintaining back country camping sites and completing some trail maintenance.

When I haven’t been working I’ve been camping, hiking, snowshoeing and photographing various different spots on other districts throughout the forest.