Mike Heard, National Volunteer of the Year


Los Padres National Forest
For Immediate Release
Contact: Andrew Madsen (805) 961-5759
Twitter: @LosPadresNF

Longtime Ventana Wilderness Volunteer Wins National Honor

GOLETA, CA, April 22, 2014….Los Padres National Forest officials announced that the U.S. Forest Service has selected longtime Monterey Ranger District and Ventana Wilderness Alliance (VWA) volunteer Mike Heard as the national Volunteer of the Year. This recognition is especially noteworthy as it coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

For many years, Mike has been instrumental in repairing and maintaining remote wilderness trails overgrown by brush or damaged by fires, erosion, and debris slides. He played a valuable role coordinating and leading extensive on-the-ground trail work in the Cone Peak area of the Ventana Wilderness. Over the last two years, Mike volunteered nearly 3,700 hours of his time to project work in the wilderness.

“Mike exemplifies what it means to be a dedicated volunteer,” said Los Padres Interim Forest Supervisor Ken Heffner. “Mike’s had an enormous impact on our wilderness trail system, and this national recognition validates the importance of his work to the U.S. Forest Service.”

Mike took the lead in completing the necessary paperwork to finalize the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for a critical trail reroute project. By recruiting professional botanists to conduct a volunteer survey of the trail project area, Mike gathered pertinent wildlife data and ensured the project was completed on schedule. Mike was also able to assist with capturing critical data accomplishments for volunteer reporting, Recreation Site Inventory, and the 10 Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge.

“The district is deeply indebted to Mike for the enormous contributions he’s made,” said Monterey District Ranger Tim Short. “We’re extremely proud of Mike, and congratulate him on this prestigious award.”

The VWA will hold its Annual Gathering Saturday, June 14 from 11 am to 4 pm at Toro Park in Salinas to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Mike’s award will be presented to him during this event.

Upcoming fire season

From Cheryl Goetz, Fire Chief, Mid-Coast Fire Brigade

Last week I attended the Annual Pre-Fire Season meeting and it was enlightening on how serious of a threat the United States Forest Service and Cal Fire are anticipating. Both agencies related that the conditions of this year have set us up for a repeat of the 2008 fire year (Basin Fire) with multiple large fire burning across the state and competing for limited resources. Cal Fire has already staffed engines and brought air tankers on contract which is unprecedented.

Fire Danger: 1,040 fires have been reported across the state since January 1, burning 2,393 acres.
This year’s fire activity is well above the year-to-date average of 428 wildfires, burning 1,179 acres.
87 new wildfires were reported over the past week, most of which were kept small due to additional firefighters, fire engines and firefighting aircraft added during this dry winter.


As you will note from the above graph (the Rim fire was still in progress, and eventually ended up in the number one spot for largest fire in CA history) three of the largest fires were started by lightning in June of 2008, including our own Basin Fire.