Part 3 USFS appreciates all the help it can get
Nature reminded us again this week, with torrential rains, flooding, and mudslides in the listening area, that she’s still in charge. In this final piece, of a welcome and introductory interview with new Warm Springs and James River District Ranger, Elizabeth McCutcheon, we talked about communities who depend on the forest, or nature for many lines of work, and how those “resources” need our communities too. She described some of the similarities between this mountain district and the area in Michigan where she worked on the Huron-Manastee National Forest. One of the first things we have in common was not a surprise at all.
“All of the national forests that I’ve been on, as far as recreation, the funding has gradually gone down, the number of personnel has gone down. So we have been more and more dependent on volunteers, and partners to help us especially our recreation areas. And I think that’s going to be a future building in this area, finding more friends, more partners, more groups that will assist us in maintaining our recreation areas.”
I asked her what her first impression was of our Lake Moomaw, a magnet to this part of Virginia for rest and relaxation.
“It’s a beautiful, clear, cool water lake, and it’s amazing. It reminds me of one of our freshwater lakes, natural lakes in Michigan. It’s just a beautiful place here on the Warm Springs District. And just the facilities available for people; it’s really amazing to have a beach and camping, and places to take your boat, and the marina. There’s beautiful facilities there on Lake Moomaw.
So what are some of the ways that an Allegheny Highlander can help out, if they don’t happen to be a member of a Trail Club, or fishing group that plans seasonally to do their part? Again, Elizabeth McCutcheon:
“Some are actually preformed; some just come in individually and say ‘Hey, I’d like to take care of this trail. They sign up on a volunteer form. We actually have retired Forest Service employees that come back and volunteer because they have so much expertise. And they’ll do trail walks. Sometimes they do tours, and things like that.
We have the YCC program for youth, and those are actually paid. They’re not volunteer positions. We have a wonderful program in the Forest Service called Public Land Corps, and it’s a volunteer program for 18 to 25 year olds to come in and get experience with the Forest Service.”
Elizabeth mentioned some of those Public Land Corps volunteers she worked with over the years in Michigan, later went on to full careers in the Forest Service.
And her general comments to any and everyone who wants to learn more?
“You know my door is open. Contact me, if you have any questions about Forest Service Management, or if you’re interested in volunteering, we’re always looking for volunteers and partners to help with maintaining and keeping the Forest Service mission going.”
When I asked Elizabeth what she feels she is bringing to the Warm Springs and James River districts, she responded again with enthusiasm.
“Every day I feel so fortunate that I have had this opportunity throughout my career. It’s been very rewarding. Now that I have this position here, I feel like it’s a great opportunity to be out there and be able to talk to people about what a wonderful agency this is, and the people that work for it are all so committed and passionate about the Forest.”
Welcome again to the new district ranger, and we’ll look forward to hearing more from her as the seasons move on.