Service Program


  • 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

  • November 26th, 2019

    What a year! As we push onward under a deeply problematic administration, we take time to revisit those encouraging stewardship moments and milestones of the past year to buoy us through these trying times. Join us as we recap the year now nearly past, covering our Stewardship Program’s initiatives, progress, and on-the-ground project work in 2019.


    A note on our volunteers:

    “From the seasoned canyon country savant to the first generation college student camping her first night in wilderness, our volunteers are true stewards of Utah’s wild places. With a passion for learning through experience, a willingness to go where the work is – no matter how far from the familiar, and a commitment to carry the cause from canyon country to community centers, our volunteers (as one BLM ranger put it) “set the bar” for conservation volunteering in Utah.

    At the heart of wilderness protection in Utah have always been the wilderness protectors. We all have an obligation not merely to raise the issues, but to raise the voices that weigh wilderness as a fundamental right of the many. These voices – young and old, alike and unalike –  reflect back the worldviews that will define our movement through the 21st century. So long as there are willing hands and minds, we will guide them into the wilderness.”

    Jeremy Lynch
    Stewardship Director


    First Generation College Students from the University of Utah work on travel compliance issues near the newly designated Mexican Mountain Wilderness.

    Wilderness Stewardship Trainings
    In 2019, we hosted the 2nd annual Wilderness Stewardship Training in Washington County as well as the inaugural Salt Lake City Wilderness Stewardship Training. These trainings equip volunteers to collect critical data about on-the-ground conditions in designated wilderness and wilderness study areas. Over the past two years, our Stewards have dedicated hundreds of hours hiking over 500 miles of wilderness boundaries and interiors. The community created around monthly meetings of Stewards have led to improved, targeted management of issues that arise on wilderness-quality lands. This data guides development of best management strategies for protecting these wild places from the impacts of off-road vehicle travel. We could not do any of this work without the perennial commitment of our Stewards!

    The inaugural class of SLC Wilderness Stewards at our training in August.

    Trainees review America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act proposal maps before visiting actual parcels as part of the two-day training.

    Field Service Scholarship
    Working with our Grassroots Team, we rolled out the Stewardship Scholars Program to support more inclusive volunteer engagement with underserved communities in Utah. In 2019, (3) scholars joined projects in Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, the Deep Creek Mountains, and the La Sal Mountains. The reciprocity of these efforts will grow in 2020 as we continue to foster new voices through providing equitable opportunities to get involved on-the-ground.

    2019 Stewardship Scholars in the La Sal Mountains, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the Deep Creek Mountains.

    Service Projects
    With the addition of our Stewardship Coordinator, we conducted more projects and worked with a wider range of volunteer groups in 2019 than in years past. The list includes our steadfast members, a slew of Utah students, our Field Service Scholars, and members of the public from all ages and backgrounds. Combined, our 250 volunteers put in 46 project days and nearly 3,500 hours during 21 service projects on public lands across Utah in 2019. For all that we could say, the pictures speak loudest. Enjoy the “slideshow” – we hope it inspires you to join us again (or for the first time) in 2020!

    Students from Salt Lake Community College work on travel compliance in wilderness study areas in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    Volunteers joined three projects over seven months installing primary wilderness study area signage across seven West Desert WSAs.

    Our Bears Ears volunteers worked with the Forest Service on travel compliance in the Dark Canyon Wilderness.

    Two projects addressed wilderness boundary violations in the Cedar Mountain Wilderness. Our small and hearty crews traveled from Salt Lake City in the middle of the week to accomplish the work.

    Our second season of work in the Deep Creek Mountains saw volunteers install boundary-delineating buck and rail fence to ensure travel compliance in the Scott’s Basin wilderness study area.

    A hearty crew of 20 volunteers backpacked into the High Uintas Wilderness to address camping compliance along lake shorelines above 10,000′. For some, it was their first backpacking experience!

    For National Public Lands Day, we took to the river, rafting Westwater Canyon to a site in the wilderness study area in need of native vegetation restoration.

    For every long day’s work is a meal with a view in good company. Beat that!

  • August 19th, 2019

    Over the weekend, SUWA’s Service Program organized a Wilderness Stewardship Training in Salt Lake City. Forty trainees attended the Saturday session, twenty-four of whom then took part in a training hike on Sunday to practice their monitoring skills on a portion of Stansbury Island (Great Salt Lake) that’s proposed for wilderness protection under America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. Volunteers committed a total of 429 hours of their time over two days.

    Born of a partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Washington County, SUWA’s recently-expanded Stewardship Training recruits individuals to monitor for impacts to wilderness-quality public lands during their time hiking and exploring Utah’s great outdoors. Stewards report back to SUWA with photo-tagged geospatial data and written reports assessing on-the-ground conditions. The training equips Stewards with the tools, technology, and training to perform these monitoring tasks while fostering a growing, hands-on stewardship community in Utah. Cumulatively, the Stewards’ work informs SUWA’s approach to proposing and executing service work on public lands across the state.


    Our SLC-based initiative was co-sponsored by the BLM state office, who provided staff to present on the need for volunteers and public partnerships on Utah’s public lands. Future trainings will engage agency field offices across the state in the effort to collect and provide data to better manage Utah’s many and diverse wilderness lands.

    To become involved with SUWA’s Service Program as a Wilderness Steward or Project Crewmember, apply today or contact volunteer@suwa.org.
     
  • January 8th, 2019

    A new season is upon us and there is work to be done! Visit our Upcoming Projects listing to preview the year’s first round of service trips. Then check back regularly for new project listings. Planning a visit to Utah in 2019? Join as a crew member and serve with SUWA in the field!

    Wilderness Steward Initiative
    In February, we will host the second annual Wilderness Steward Training in Washington County. In 2019, we will expand the Wilderness Steward Initiative statewide. Join our team of dedicated volunteers monitoring protected lands in communities across southern Utah. Take recreation to the next level — reconnaissance — and work with us to ensure our wild and public lands are in keen and watchful hands. View the flyer below for an overview of 2019 volunteer positions, then visit our Service Program website to learn more and submit your application.

    To discuss scheduling a Wilderness Steward training in your county or community, contact volunteer@suwa.org or call (435) 259-9151.