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June 6, 2013
In Reply Refer To:
1786, 6300 (400) P
Information Bulletin No. 2013-075
To:                   All Field Office Officials
From:               Assistant Director, National Landscape Conservation System and
                        Community Partnerships
Subject:            Partnership with the Society for Wilderness Stewardship
On March 13, 2013, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Society for Wilderness Stewardship (SWS) to provide leadership and support for the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act; and to provide technical assistance with wilderness stewardship trainings. The SWS is a non-governmental 501(c) 3 membership organization whose mission is to advance the profession of wilderness stewardship, science, and education to ensure the life-sustaining benefits of wilderness. This Information Bulletin provides some background information about the MOU (attachment 1) as well as two programs the BLM is currently working toward initiating under the MOU.
Background: The BLM and SWS have common interest in fostering professional stewardship of the wilderness resource to ensure that the benefits of wilderness are available to present and future Americans. This is accomplished by assuring that wilderness stewards have the best knowledge and resources available. This includes identifying and utilizing state-of-the-art science to inform wilderness policy and management decisions, collaboration among agency and public entities to strengthen more effective wilderness stewardship, and fostering honest and forthright communication of issues, needs, and information among wilderness stewards and the society as a whole. 
The SWS holds a distinct role among the 50th Anniversary National Wilderness Planning Team (Wilderness50) partner organizations and serves as the official fiscal sponsor for 50th anniversary efforts. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964. In cooperation with our sister agencies and non-profit partners, the BLM is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act by sponsoring or participating in a variety of programs, activities, and events, with the goal to raise public awareness about wilderness and the National Wilderness Preservation System, as well as the ecological and social benefits of an enduring wilderness resource.
The purpose of the MOU is to develop a framework between BLM and SWS for the advancement and stewardship of wilderness resources on public lands. SWS will provide technical assistance and administrative support for two programs on behalf of the BLM. The BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships Directorate will be responsible for providing leadership in fulfilling this MOU.  The first program is to provide leadership, direction, and facilitation of programs, activities, and events associated with the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, in collaboration with other Federal land management agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and other groups. Five key areas of involvement with SWS have been identified that include the following:  
1.      Provide leadership in planning, scheduling, and implementing national-level 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act programs, activities, events, and products. Examples of national events planned include:
o   Wilderness Week planned for September, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
o   National Wilderness Conference planned for October 15-19, 2014 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This conference will be a four-day event that includes presentations, panels, exhibits, field trips, skill-development workshops, and information sharing sessions highlighting recent advances and emerging issues in wilderness stewardship.
o   A nationwide public photography contest and wilderness photography exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. 
2.      Plan, develop, and implement state, regional, and local programs, activities, events, and products in coordination with Wilderness50 and other partners;
3.      Collaborate and encourage SWS members, non-governmental organizations, and other groups to plan, develop, and participate in 50th anniversary programs, activities, and events;
4.      Develop national, state, regional, and local programs specifically designed to educate, engage, and employ young people with the primary goal to train the next generation of wilderness stewards; and
5.      Facilitate the expansion of education, experiential, and professional development for wilderness stewardship in partnership with Federal land management agencies, wilderness advocacy groups, and other partners. 
The second program is to operate and manage an intensive field-based Wilderness Ranger Academy. The Academy curriculum will serve to provide skills and technical expertise for individuals seeking entry level work in wilderness management and stewardship at the field level. Participants who successfully complete the Academy may be offered internships for three to six month positions working on projects in Wilderness or Wilderness Study Areas on public lands at BLM district or field offices. Further guidance about this program will be provided next fiscal year.
Both of the above programs are intended to foster professional stewardship of wilderness resources by creating career development and networking opportunities for BLM staff and its partner organizations, develop a pool of qualified candidates for possible placement into future wilderness positions with the BLM, and advance public awareness and support for wilderness. SWS will develop programs and work closely with wilderness and environmental organizations to educate, engage, and employ young people as the next generation of wilderness stewards.
Invitation to Participate: BLM managers and employees are encouraged to consider joining SWS as a part of their professional career development. SWS staff are available to provide assistance with stewardship trainings and other programs to strengthen our management of wilderness resources on public lands. Specifically, District and Field Offices are encouraged to sponsor and participate in Wilderness50 national, regional, and local events. SWS will also sponsor a Wilderness Ranger Academy that will be available for BLM Wilderness Specialists. Your participation is essential to the success of these programs. 
If you have any questions, please contact Joe Ashor, WO Senior Wilderness Specialist at jashor@blm.gov, (202) 912-7179; or Mark Conley, California Wilderness Program Lead at mconley@blm.gov, (916) 978-4641; or James Sippel, New Mexico Wilderness Program Lead at jsippel@blm.gov, (505) 954-2176.
Signed by:                                                                     Authenticated by:
Carl Rountree                                                                Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director, National Landscape                           Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Conservation System and Community
1 Attachment

Last updated: 06-06-2013