I have served on the Board of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance since its inception. Beginning with the successful passage of the Big Sur Wilderness and Conservation Act of 2002, which added 50,000 acres of unprotected public wildlands to the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas along California’s spectacular Big Sur Coast, the VWA has grown into the key organization that fights to keep the Ventana Region public wildlands wild. In addition, the VWA performs thousands of hours of public trail maintenance each year with both volunteers and professional crews; staffs Volunteer Wilderness Rangers in the Ventana backcountry to assist visitors and monitor human impacts; and guides disadvantaged area youth into the backcountry for their, often life changing, first wilderness experience.
This organization has been instrumental in organizing volunteer trail work trips to the Ventana. Without this work over the past 10 years, many of the longer Ventana trails would be impassible. Many of the trails ARE impassible even with the best efforts of the VWA. This is a critical need in these times of reduced Forest Service budgets. Many times, VWA trail crews are the only people maintaining the trails at all. Plus, the organization maintains a trail conditions forum where hikers can check conditions before heading out, and they can report conditions when they return.
Los Padres National Forest has a MAJESTIC BEAUTY for us to use as: social outings, for therapy, depression, for love, gathering of friends, family outings, education, exercise and for the use of future generations.
MY GREATEST APPRECIATION AND ADMIRATION GOES TO THE VENTANA WILDERNESS ALLIANCE AND ALL THEIR WONDERFUL VOLUNTEERS THAT HELP IN ANY WAY THEY CAN TO MAINTAIN THE TRAILS AND PROTECT THE FOREST FOR THE CONTINUATION OF THE ENJOYMENT OF THE HUMAN RACE!
I stepped forward and joined the VWA, and subsequently their board, because of their awesome mission: to protect and to be stewards of the Ventana Wilderness. I am a grandfather and I want that Wilderness to be as available and pristine to my grandchildren when they are old enough to join me hiking the Ventana. I urge anybody who has a love of our beautiful Central Coast to join the VWA.
Through its advocacy and stewardship, the VWA has ensured the protection of the northern Santa Lucia Mountains and the Big Sur Coast. Projects which include protection of cultural resources, maintenance of historic structures on public lands, restoration of wilderness areas impacted by mining and illegal marijuana production and historic trail maintenance help ensure the enjoyment of wilderness for future generations.
I've been impressed with everything the VWA does right from my first contact with them five years ago. They focus on specific wilderness issues, like ensuring access to backcountry through maintenance of remote trail-systems and helping to broker the designation of more lands as wilderness. They also have the Youth in Wilderness program to introduce the next generation of potential conservationists to the beauty of the Ventanas. I believe that they are so successful at what they do because the staff and volunteers are remarkably knowledgeable and dedicated. Although, I have had to cut back on the number of organizations to which I donate (the recession has set me back a bit), I still give to the VWA, because they manage to accomplish so much with so little and their work is always first rate.
Fighting for wilderness is one of the most important things we can do for future generations. Maintaining the wilderness characteristics of a place is difficult work. The Ventana Wilderness Alliance has the wisdom, passion and organization necessary to ensure that the spectacular public lands of the Big Sur backcountry remain wild and untrammelled by man. These people have read the Wilderness Act of 1964. They get it. They know how important public lands are ... especially a chunk of wilderness surrounded by millions of Californians. The VWA rallies volunteers to restore and maintain the trail network. And let me tell you ... this is some rough country. Lord I've seen fire and I've seen rain. And so has the Santa Lucia range. This is as tough a place to hike as there is in the lower 48. But the VWA volunteers help ensure access to the backcountry so that people can recreate, enjoy solitude and the wonders of nature. The VWA also has a program to get volunteer stewards into the backcountry where they can inform and educate the visiting public about fire safety and Leave-No-Trace ethics. They lead groups of kids from places like Salinas and Monterey and San Luis Obispo into the wilderness so that the kids can value public lands and learn to become protectors of the place as well. I could go on and on about the good things this nonprofit does. But I'd like to get to the point ... please donate to the VWA. Your gift or membership will keep the good fight moving forward. Maybe some day it won't be a fight. Maybe some day the people will get it ... like the VWA does today. Please give generously to this organization.
The Ventana Wilderness Alliance has an amazing track record of success in everything they do -- from organizing trail crews, to getting kids into the great outdoors, to organizing work projects out in the field, and to advocating for the protection of wilderness lands throughout the Santa Lucia Range. They do it all with grace, finesse, and an eye towards getting the biggest bang for the buck. If you care about Big Sur, the Ventana Wilderness, and the Santa Lucia Mountains, the bottom line is that you should support this group in any way that you can. Donate money, volunteer, and get involved. You'll be glad you did, and this little corner of the wild California landscape will be better for it.
Due to budget restraints within the US Forest Service, the northern section of Los Padres National Forest is severely undermanaged. Were it not for the fleets of VWA-coordinated volunteers, most trails would be nonexisitent. The VWA introduces young people to the outdoors (many of whom might otherwise never leave nearby city limits), maintains a vibrant website with interactive trail conditions reports, sends volunteer stewards out to inventory and clean up camps and teach visitors about Leave No Trace principles, and has even been known to clean up abandoned marijuana growsites and squatter encampments. VWA's wilderness advocacy programs have resulted in thousands of additional acres of federally designated Wilderness additions. For those of us who wish to experience the wild Big Sur backcountry behind the thin veneer of State Parks along highway 1, we could have no greater ally than the Ventana Wilderness Alliance.