Wild Arizona’s award-winning Wilderness Stewardship Program—affectionately dubbed ‘Wild Stew’— is a volunteer-based program, formed in 2010, to assist land management agencies with activities to maintain, protect, and restore the character of wilderness areas on Arizona’s federal public lands. The program began guiding groups of volunteers into some of Arizona’s most spectacular wilderness areas—Cedar Bench, Pine Mountain, Castle Creek, and Sycamore Canyon to name a few—to initiate monitoring the ecological and recreational conditions of these wild areas. Initially launched on the Prescott National Forest, the popularity and success of the program has allowed us to expand into a wide range of public lands across the state of Arizona.
The goal of the Wild Stew program is to empower Arizona’s communities and volunteers with in-depth training, resources, and logistical support in order to protect and restore Arizona’s public lands; through providing positive experiences in the natural world, we also aim to cultivate land stewardship, appreciation for wild places, deeper ecological understanding, and advocacy.
We engage volunteers on a weekend basis and train long-term volunteers through our Adopt-a-Wilderness Program. Adopt-a-Wilderness stewards are specially-trained and empowered to trek into and monitor Arizona’s 90 wilderness areas on their own time—collecting invaluable data and completing maintenance tasks that the federal land agencies have limited staff and fiscal resources to accomplish. Training includes invasive plant identification, recreation site monitoring protocols, trail and trailhead maintenance, backcountry preparedness, and more.
Education is an important component of our field programs. Volunteers learn about the natural and human history of the place they visit. The Wild Stew program fosters deeper understandings of public lands management and personal connections to wild places, while empowering volunteers with the tools necessary to advocate for their protection.
featured project: Arnett Creek
Arnett Creek runs through central Arizona in a part of the Gila watershed that sees year-round flows—a rare find in this arid state. Since 2015, Wild Arizona has been working with partners, internal crews and volunteers to remove non-native invasive plants, including tamarisk and oleander, allowing the waterway to better support healthy riparian function. Click the button below to view our visual story of the progress so far and the continuing work in Arnett Creek.
Wild Stew has a wide range of volunteer opportunities, from group events that can involve camping or backpacking at a project area, to monitoring and documentation projects across the state that allow participants to go out on their own schedule and collect data. Our events are a chance to get out and meet new people and enjoy great food in an outdoor, socially distanced setting. If you prefer venturing out on your own, check out our individual opportunities instead.
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