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