WSI aka Adult Summer Camp

Every year, the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards hosts a 2 weeklong conference called the Wilderness Skills Institute (WSI) at the Cradle of Forestry in the Pisgah National Forest. For those two weeks, you camp out in the forests and spend the days attending courses.  There’s a multitude of courses to choose from and all are related to Wilderness stewardship. The ones I participated in included Trail Maintenance, Wilderness Monitoring, Leave No Trace Principles, and Southern Appalachian Ecosystems. 

Here are the coolest things I’ve learned:

  • When areas are congressionally designated as Wilderness they are then required to be as wild if not more wild than when they are first designated as stated by the Wilderness Act of 1964. That’s great and all but what does Wilderness mean and how are National Forests monitoring “wildness” of an area?
    • Over the two weeks, I was able to answer that question.  We are doing so through the help of Wilderness Rangers. These individuals evaluate human impact on camp areas and trails that are located within Wilderness Areas. By doing so, forest managers can see how we need to maintain these areas to preserve the wilderness for future generations.
  • When learning the plants of an area, it’s important to understand the ecosystem community in which these plants typically are found. This helps understand the impacts invasive species are having on not just a native species, but also to the entire ecosystem.

That’s just two of the many things I learned from that training.  It was absolutely so cool to be out in the woods for two weeks learning how both the Forest Service and Partners are working to preserve the Wilderness for outdoor recreation and the natural world. Anyways, here are some photos!

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