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Stewardship is for all. A small gesture can go a long way.

SJMA Forest Ambassador removing trash and debris from a popular campsite. One person can make a difference. (Courtesy SJMA)

Looking back, the last few weeks were a blur. I am not sure where the month of May went, but June was quick to take its place. Starting the season off strong, SJMA welcomed our seasonal stewardship crews with two weeks of training and prepping for the busy summer ahead.

Both the Forest Ambassadors and our Alpine Loop ambassadors made their debuts on Memorial Day weekend, hitting the popular hot spots on both the San Juan National Forest and the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests greeting visitors and relaying important information to the public. Our Ice Lake trailhead tent is up and running and our base camp at Blue Lakes trailhead will be constructed this weekend. As an exciting addition to our foot patrol cadre this year, we have two Alpine Loop Ambassadors joining us. These Ambassadors will spend time patrolling the popular Alpine Loop and working in conjunction with our Bureau of Land Management partners both on the landscape and in the BLM office on Greene St in Silverton. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to provide this service to the public and couldn’t have done it without the support of our partners at the BLM.

Our SJMA Wilderness Crew has successfully completed its first hitch of the season, clearing downed trees along Vallecito creek. In collaboration with our partners at SJNF, this hardworking backcountry crew is tasked with clearing trees with crosscut saws as well as collecting critical data on social trails and campsites in the Weminuche Wilderness. With grit and determination this close knit crew clears the trails one tree at a time. By season’s end, you do not want to challenge anyone from this team to an arm wrestling match!

Summer is upon us, and the uptick in temperatures and recreationists on our public lands is noticeable. People and wildlife are leaving their winter desert oases and migrating toward the cooler forests and alpine regions. As stewards of this land it is important to realize we all play a crucial role in doing our part to care for the public lands we relish. It never needs to be a grand gesture. Even picking up a piece of trash when you are out makes a difference to those coming behind you and the wildlife that calls this place home. There is no stewardship “season.” It is a year round responsibility shared by us all, and we at SJMA are excited to see you out there by our side doing your part. It's going to be a great summer, especially if we’re working together!

Meg Burke, SJMA’s Stewardship Director, lives in Mancos and spends most of her spare time hiking with her dogs and exploring the area.