For Immediate Release
May 9, 2022
Media Contact: Andrew Madsen
Ventana Wilderness Alliance volunteer honored
with prestigious Enduring Service Award
SOLVANG, Calif.— Los Padres National Forest officials today announced that the recipients of the 2021 Volunteers & Service Awards include Betsy MacGowan, a longtime volunteer with the Ventana Wilderness Alliance (VWA). This prestigious annual award is bestowed on a select group of U.S. Forest Service volunteers across the nation who have made selfless contributions to improving National Forest System lands.
A total of eight award winners were announced in categories including Leadership, Cultural Diversity, Citizen Stewardship & Partnerships, Restoration and Enduring Service. MacGowan was one of two Enduring Service awardees and the third VWA volunteer to receive national recognition from the U.S. Forest Service in the last nine years, joining Mike Heard (2013 National Volunteer of the Year) and Steve Benoit (2017 Enduring Service award).
MacGowan is the Trail Crew Chief and a member of the VWA Board of the Directors. She has been a VWA volunteer for more than 30 years working to improve the trails used by hikers from around the world to navigate the Ventana Wilderness along the Big Sur Coast on Los Padres’ Monterey Ranger District.
“I am humbled to receive this honor from the Forest Service,” MacGowan said. “Along with the hundreds of VWA volunteers who have worked tirelessly to maintain our trails, I treasure the wild lands in the Monterey Ranger District. I am proud that we continue to maintain access on many trails and that we have restored several trails that had become completely impassible.”
In 2021, more than 66,000 volunteers contributed 3,632,100 hours for an estimated value of more than $100 million. Maintaining and restoring trail access in the Ventana Wilderness is an arduous and never-ending labor of love. This work requires a variety of skills along with commitment, resolve, and passion.
“Betsy is an inspiration to everyone who’s met and worked with her,” said Monterey District Ranger Tim Short. “We are extremely proud of her accomplishments and appreciative of her three decades of volunteerism. This is a well-deserved honor for her incredible contributions to improving the Forest.”