Forest Service honors our own Steve Smith with Bob Marshall Award

Whether tucked away in his office in Denver or out exploring the forests, mountains, and canyons of Colorado, our Central Rockies Assistant Regional Director Steve Smith is immersed in the process of protecting the wilderness he loves. Now even the Forest Service has taken note, selecting him as this year’s recipient of one of their most prestigious honors: the Bob Marshall Award for Individual Champion of Wilderness Stewardship.

The U.S. Forest Service recently honored Steve and eight other wilderness champions at the 2009 National Wilderness Awards Ceremony in Washington D.C., presided over by Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

The Bob Marshall Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated, “dedicated advocacy for new wilderness legislation and for quality wilderness management.”

Smith was nominated for his conscientious involvement over the last two years in wilderness stewardship projects initiated by the Forest Service in Colorado. As part of these stewardship projects, “Wilderness Teams” engaged the public in developing innovative strategies for protecting the state’s most popular wilderness areas. They were also involved in educating the public on the value of these wild lands.

“Steve’s expertise and collaborative efforts have helped us improve wilderness stewardship of the thirty-five wilderness areas in Colorado,” said Ralph Swain the Forest Service’s wilderness manager for the Rocky Mountain region.

Swain praised Smith for being instrumental in the drafting, developing, and refining of numerous Colorado wilderness bills to ensure they included roadless and agency-recommended wilderness areas; working with the Forest Service and other stakeholders to collectively protect some of Colorado’s most treasured public lands.

Smith joined The Wilderness Society in the spring of 2004, with decades of experience as a wilderness activist under his belt. Most recently, Smith helped negotiate a ground-breaking new model for water protection in the Dominguez Canyons Wilderness — a model that will hopefully ease the passage of wilderness legislation for other mid- and down-stream areas in the future.

With this award, the Forest Service is honoring what the conservation community has known for years — Smith’s energy and determination is a vital part of what keeps Colorado wild.