The last decade has seen an exponential rise in public land use. There are many factors involved. General population growth, social media popularity, and outdoor recreation for fitness have all contributed. Over the last year, when you factor in COVID, the increase has been even greater. With this increase comes recreation impact. The science of recreation ecology has emerged as a way to track and document the impact and has proven that not only landscapes have been degraded but opportunities for solitude and spiritual renewal have been degraded as well. Wild Alabama's imminent solution is to put Forest Ambassadors at popular wilderness trailheads on busy days such as weekends, holidays and spring and fall breaks.
Forest Ambassadors interface with visitors as they enter and leave the forest. Duties include the following:
Speak to visitors about Leave No Trace ethics.
Inform visitors about capital “W” wilderness and how it differs from other areas in the National Forest.
Help guide visitors to make the best decisions according to their group.
Inform visitors about standard ordinances such as group size limits, wheeled conveyances and other restrictions applicable to the area.
Where applicable, they empty the Forest Service trash cans, replace toilet paper in the vault toilet and pick up trash in the parking lot.
Encourage and remind visitors to pay their day use fee if applicable.
Record visitor contact information on a form.
Ambassadors work in pairs.
Possess a Forest Service radio while on duty and be properly trained on usage.
With support from the Alabama chapter of the Sierra Club and NEEF, National Environmental Education Foundation, Wild Alabama is hosting a Forest Ambassador program to last from Labor Day until Memorial Day.
Wild Alabama has committed to matching a majority of the funds received to host this program. This means we need support through financial donations. Please consider donating to this program. Donate what you can but consider that $200 sponsors one day of forest ambassadors at a trailhead.