Service Program


  • February 16th, 2021
    Our 2021 Stewardship Season begins mid-March and registration is now open for all posted projects. Whether you’ve joined us before or this is the first you’ve heard of our program, visit our Stewardship Program online to learn more and to apply!

    Transform Your Recreation into Stewardship
    We have several opportunities for Utahns and nearby residents of the Colorado Plateau this spring, summer, and fall—from hands-on ORV restoration work near Moab, to archaeological surveys in Bears Ears National Monument, to monitoring excursions in the wilderness study areas west of the Wasatch. Check out our “Upcoming Projects” schedule for the latest information. Then, check back regularly for new project postings throughout the season. Submit a general application to receive monthly updates on new opportunities.

    Become a Wilderness Steward
    In addition to recruiting volunteers for our traditional stewardship projects, we are seeking Utah residents to join county-based volunteer crews. Our regional Wilderness Stewardship groups monitor on-the-ground conditions of protected public lands. We identify, document, and report on a range of impacts, including those caused by ORV travel, dispersed camping, and other forms of frontcountry and backcountry travel. Stewards receive trainings in wilderness study area (WSA) monitoring and drylands restoration from SUWA staff. Periodic group monitoring excursions are hosted by SUWA on public lands across the state. Work with us as we broaden our reach and cover more ground protecting wild Utah. For more information, and to sign up, contact volunteer@suwa.org. Open to Utah residents only.

    Pandemic Protocols
    As was the case in 2020, we will continue to limit project participation to volunteers from a local or relatively nearby point of origin through early 2021. Each project posting will specify recruitment parameters. This—along with our custom pandemic protocols—aims to create the safest environment possible for our volunteers. We appreciate your understanding as we all continue to navigate stewardship safely.

    Get inspired by our 2021 “You Are a Steward” video:

    StewardshipVideoScreenshot(2).jpg

    If you have any questions for us, please do not hesitate to write (volunteer@suwa.org) or call (435) 259-9151.

  • 2020 volunteers - masked
    November 30th, 2020

    The coronavirus pandemic entered the American psyche the same week our 2020 stewardship season was slated to begin, forcing us redefine how we work on the landscape.

    Today, as we plan for the 2021 season and beyond, adaptation remains critical in protecting the health of people and the integrity of Utah’s wild places. Working on Utah’s public lands going forward will require all of us to pause and reevaluate how we encounter, experience, and enjoy our public lands.

    Key to our understanding of how best to approach stewardship in the coming years will be your input and reflection on how our individual impacts – how the choices we make and those we do not make – affect the places we love. This means considering how we recreate, how we tell public lands stories via social media, and how we build inclusivity and resilience into the outdoors.

    As much as anything else in a persistent pandemic environment, this ought to be the year’s primary lesson: the protection of public lands is fortified with an equal measure of care and justice for people. The true crossroads of wild and built environments are people – those who maintain, endure and experience both. 

    For many in 2020, our only seeming glimpse into the natural world was the patch of green or flash of color spied through a window. In a moment of clarity, the glint of the windowpane became a mirror through which we recognized as much wild within ourselves as in all the redrock. No matter where we live or what forces are at work on us, we are all poised to know and care for the wild. But if we are to protect wilderness, we must protect one another first.

    This year, we accomplished a great deal more than seemed likely or even possible given the context. In all, we tackled 14 projects on Utah public lands. We monitored and reclaimed over (50) unauthorized vehicular routes, removed over 1,200 square feet of graffiti from sandstone walls in wilderness, and installed thousands of feet of defensive barriers along protected land boundaries. Our volunteers installed dozens more wilderness and wilderness study area boundary signs, reclaimed extensive undesignated campsites, and removed countless bags of refuse. We would not have accomplished any of this without you. 

    This winter, we will work to redefine how we work with you on the landscape. As a start, we plan to hone our regional Wilderness Steward chapters across Utah. If you are interested now in becoming part of our program, complete a 2021 General Application and select “Wilderness Steward” under the Volunteer Position question. Learn more about our 2019 Class of Stewards here – or contact volunteer@suwa.org to speak directly with our staff. And keep an ear to the ground for a mid-winter update on our program as we carry forward into the new paradigm.

    Thank you once again for the hard work this season.

    Stay safe – and we will see you in 2021.

  • September 22nd, 2020

    The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) is excited to announce our Fall 2020 Stewardship Scholarship Essay Contest. Please review the guidelines below:


    Students are invited to write a 750-1250 word essay on the topics of Land Stewardship or Trust in the More-Than-Human world for a chance to win a cash scholarship toward your education. There will be one grand prize scholarship of $1000 and two semi-finalist scholarships of $500 awarded. Complete essays or excerpts may be printed in SUWA’s Redrock Newsletter.

    SUWA’s mission is to protect the outstanding wilderness at the heart of the Colorado Plateau in its natural state for all Americans. Recognizing that people of color have historically been left out of the U.S. public land conservation movement, we are committed to our goal of raising diverse voices across the West – those who take the lead protecting public lands in Utah.

    Eligible students are those who 1) are self-identified as Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Color, 2) live in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, or a Tribal Nation in the region, and 3) are enrolled at least half-time as an undergraduate at a college, university, technical school, or vocational institution in the Spring 2021 academic year.

    The scholarship application period opens Tuesday, September 22, 2020 and closes on Sunday, November 29, 2020 at midnight MST.


    Essay Topics

    Essays should draw from your personal experience to connect the dots between fundamental social issues and the need for broadscale land protection. Write as if to an external audience whom you feel may not understand your experience at the outset. In this way, write as a teacher from your own place of learning. Please choose one of the following topics to respond to in your essay submission.


    Topic 1: Trust in the More-Than-Human World

    Public lands are held in trust for all Americans. No matter where you are from, or how long you’ve been an American, they are for you, and for the generations to come. While all of the natural world held in public trust has a  legal definition, we want to know how you’ve come to gain a sense of trust – in your self, in your community, or in your surrounding natural environment – through your relationship with the more-than-human world. 

    Briefly define what trust means, or looks like, to you. Tell the reader where a feeling of trust in yourself or in relationship with others comes naturally. Then, answer the question: What does trust look like beyond your human relationships? Tell a story about a specific relationship with a natural element (place, plant, animal, fungi, or other element of nature) that you learned to trust. What impact has this trust between you and the more-than-human world had on your life? How does this inform your activism?


    Topic 2: Land Stewardship Today

    Stewardship takes on numerous forms according to our values and traditions. Each of these personal aspects are shaped by your culture.

    Write from your personal experience. This may incorporate wilderness encounters, or include your personal experience of wild things within a context not conventionally defined by the “wilderness” term. Describe how your connection to the natural systems (landscapes; creatures; broader ecosystems) at the heart of the wilderness concept, have propelled your activism.


    Submission Process

    All submissions should be sent as a Word Doc to scholar@suwa.org. Please include “Scholarship Submission” as the title of your email. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis through November 29th.

    At the top of the Word document containing your essay, please include the following:

    • Your Full Name
    • Your School/Student ID#
    • Your Contact Phone #
    • Statement of Need [3-5 sentences outlining your personal need and interest in the scholarship. This will NOT be shared publicly.]

    Questions? Write to us at: scholar@suwa.org

  • July 15th, 2020

    The Land

    Between Price, Utah and Grand Junction, Colorado, Highway 6 and Interstate 70 cross 170 miles of barren and windswept terrain. The drive would be lonely but for a constant companion: the thousand-foot-high wall of the Book Cliffs that parallels the highway just to the north. Winding for 250 miles across Utah and Colorado, it is the longest continuous escarpment in the world.

    Near the town of Green River, Utah, a second escarpment, the Roan Cliffs, rises above the Book Cliffs, and together the two climb a vertical mile above the desert. From a distance the double rampart appears to be a smooth, unbroken wall, but on closer inspection it resolves into a complicated network of spurs, ridgelines, and canyons.

    The Book Cliffs-Desolation Canyon wilderness is a merging of three different worlds: the great rampart of the Roan and Book cliffs, the high alpine forests and meadows of the Tavaputs Plateau, and the inner world of Desolation Canyon.

    It is all marvelous wilderness. Abundant wildlife and rugged beauty have made the Book Cliffs wilderness one of Utah’s most popular backcountry destinations. Each year the region draws more than 6,000 hunters, and an equal number of river runners make the float trip through Desolation Canyon annually.


    The Work

    We are headed to the remote reaches of Washington County’s Canaan Mountain Wilderness to monitor, manage and restore wilderness boundary signage. Destroyed or damaged signs and fencing have led to motorized incursions into the wilderness. Our crew will work to define and demarcate protected areas to prevent future impacts of ORV travel in Short Creek and Squirrel Canyon. 8 spaces available.

    Work tasks will vary by need, and are slated to include:

    • monitoring hikes of wilderness boundary
    • installation of WSA boundary signs
    • remediation of additional travel and camping impacts

    Our Objective: To appropriately manage and improve existing wilderness boundaries with the intent to prevent all future non-permitted motorized travel in the Canaan Mountain Wilderness.


    Itinerary
    A comprehensive itinerary will be provided to registered volunteers.

    • Friday, Aug 28th: [Optional] Pre-Project Campout
    • Saturday, Aug 29th: Orientation + Workday
    • Sunday, Aug 30th: Free Day!

    Project Rating 

    Level 2 – Our most common trip incorporates mid- to heavy-lifting, work in remote landscapes at varying elevations, an increased diversity of tool use, and an emphasis on physical fitness.


    Camping & Meals

    Volunteers will camp on site. Specific location will be indicated in the Welcome Letter provided to registered volunteers.

    Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, SUWA has suspended our provision of food during projects. Volunteers are responsible for all of their water and meal needs through the duration of the project. SUWA will provide a water reserve for contingency use. (Please note: Potable water is not available on site.)


    Volunteer Responsibilities

    Participants are responsible for their own food, water and camping gear as well as transportation to and from the project site(s). Volunteers should plan to be away from camp all day each of the work days. A recommended pack list will be sent along with the project Welcome Letter two weeks prior to the start date.


    Registration

    A Volunteer Agreement is required for this project. 

    When we have received your form, you will receive a confirmation e-mail within 5 working days of submission. The confirmation e-mail will indicate whether you have been placed on the “project roster” or a “waiting list.”

    Three weeks before the start of the trip, you will receive an RSVP to confirm your participation. Individuals on the Waitlist will be contacted if spaces open due to cancellation.

    Two weeks before the project start date, registered and confirmed participants will receive a Welcome Letter, with a comprehensive itinerary, including: driving instructions, a Project Map (for mobile devices), a notification about carpools and/or caravans, and additional information in a Pre-Departure email.

    If you have any questions at any point throughout the process, please don’t hesitate to contact our program coordinator: volunteer@suwa.org  or  (435) 259-9151.

    APPLY NOW