The 2023 National Wilderness Skills Institute will have 6 “streams”:
- Combined – shared sessions for all participants
- Wilderness – learn more about wilderness character and minimum requirement analysis
- Wild & Scenic Rivers – sessions focus on history, river rangering, and restoration
- Cohort Creation – teamwork makes the dream work!
- Climate Change – learn about the RAD Framework, Leave No Trace updates, and prescribed fire
View recorded session from all years (2021-2023): https://wildernessskillsinstitute.org/nwsi/recordings/
- Recording: https://youtu.be/ULxQZxH5dJ4
NWSI Core Team welcome message to kick off this year’s event
- Recording: https://youtu.be/OFpIZhrCEpc
Finding Creativity in Public Lands Management – an overview of our/you role in managing wilderness and wild & scenic rivers now and into the future.
- Nada Wolff Culver, Deputy Director of Policy and Programs, Bureau of Land Management
- Federal Agency Leadership Breakouts:
- Not recorded
Hear from your agency leadership on current priorities, challenges, and opportunities at the national level. Some will be available for an open discussion to collect feedback and listening to learn.
- Bureau of Land Management:
- Peter Keller, Wilderness Program Lead, Bureau of Land Management, Division of National Conservation Lands
- Britta Nelson, Acting Wild and Scenic Program Lead, Bureau of Land Management, Division of National Conservation Lands
- National Park Service:
- Corita Waters, Wild and Scenic Rivers and River Partnerships
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service:
- Nancy Roeper, National Wilderness Coordinator
- U.S. Forest Service:
- Steve Chesterton, National Wild & Scenic Rivers Program Manager
- Peter Mali, National Wilderness Program Manager
- Christina Boston, National Wilderness Character Monitoring Program Manager
- Eric Sandeno, National Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Information Manager
- Bureau of Land Management:
- Leave No Trace Skills & Ethics – Refresher, Updates, Resources
- Recording: https://youtu.be/OCtlNqvpuxg
Rivers and wilderness areas are dynamic. Join this interactive session to stay abreast of changes in practices and new research related to Leave No Trace Skills & Ethics. These updates will help keep your LNT knowledge sharp and prepare you for a summer in the field, whether as a land manager, volunteer, or outdoor educator.
- Leave No Trace: Take Action to Protect the Outdoors (self-paced course)
- Leave No Trace: Take Action to Protect the Outdoors (self-paced course)
- The Wilderness Tool
- Link to Podcast: https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-wilderness-tool/
Join us as we listen to 99% Invisible Podcast episode #529, “The Wilderness Tool” which tells the story of crosscut saws and the Wilderness Act of 1964. We recommend downloading the podcast and going for a hike during this time, or feel to join us as we stream it. Comments are welcome!
- Lasha Madan, Producer
- What Would You Do If You Were In Charge of America’s Wilderness?
- Game Board
You’ve been appointed steward of a large, popular wilderness not far from a major city. Every choice you make will effect the land’s four wilderness qualities (undeveloped, solitude, untrammeled , and natural), which derive directly from the Wilderness Act. Each choice is based on a real-world scenario. Just as in real life, you’ll face growing tension between the qualities the Act protects, due to the increasing effects of climate change and other human pressures. Grab a pencil, tally your score, and see what kind of manager you’d be—and how your choices affect hikers, ecosystems, and the very idea of wilderness itself.
- Originally developed in partnership with Backpacker Magazine by Dr. Peter Landres, Retired, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute
- Illustration by Nigel Sussman
- Facilitated by Dusty Vaughn, National Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Specialist, USDA Forest Service
- Simulcast Session from Southern Appalachian Wilderness Skills Institute & Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute
- Recording: https://youtu.be/I3QM2bar5zg
Join us as we close out the 2023 NWSI with an opportunity to connect with the in-person training occurring at the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Skills Institute at the Cradle of Forestry on the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina and the Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute at the Powell Ranger Station on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. We’ll get a chance to listen in on a session around rock work by Artie Hidalgo, Jolly Rovers Trail Crew at SAWSI and get a glimpse of what’s happening at NRWSI.
- National Wilderness Skills Artificial Intelligence
- Southern Appalachian Wilderness Skills Institute -Artie Hidalgo, Jolly Rovers Trail Crew
- Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute Slideshow
- End Credits: https://youtu.be/Y651uT4JrM4
- Wilderness Character and Wilderness Character Monitoring
- Recording: https://youtu.be/-Hig4iJESXg
This session will define wilderness character using the 5-quality framework and 1964 Wilderness Act. Attendees will also receive an overview of how wilderness character is monitored by all four land management agencies: Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and Forest Service. Additional information will be provided about the Forest Service’s approach to wilderness character monitoring (WCM), including an introduction to the 2020 Wilderness Character Monitoring Technical Guide and how it’s used. This session will be useful for folks who will be conducting WCM or are curious about how land management agencies track changes to wilderness resources.
- A baseline understanding of the Wilderness Act – see NWSI 2021 Wilderness Act 101 recording
- Michelle Tanz, Wilderness Dayen, Society for Wilderness Stewardship (link)
- Minimum Requirements Analysis and the Minimum Requirements Analysis Framework (MRAF)
- Recording: https://youtu.be/oTGBKPaWCjg
This session explains the minimum requirements edict and guides users through the Minimum Requirements Analysis Framework (MRAF). Participants will learn to define a minimum requirements analysis (MRA), identify the applications and benefits of an MRA, describe the MRA process, and complete a defensible MRAF.
- Wilderness Act prerequisites: complete one of the following –
- Wilderness Character prerequisites: complete one of the following –
- Attend 2023 NWSI Wilderness Character and Wilderness Character Monitoring (Michelle Tanz) session
- 2022 NWSI recording: Understanding Wilderness Character
- Eppley e course – Wilderness Character
- Ken Straley, Recreation, Wilderness, & Trails Program Manager, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, & Gunnison National Forests (link)
- History of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act: A Photographic Journey
- Recording: https://youtu.be/UjfHzEgc3DU
Join Tim Palmer as he chronicles the lively history of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act involving citizen activists, scientists, dedicated public officials, and enlightened political leaders. The fast-paced and highly informative slideshow will introduce the essential policies outlined in the WSR Act and equips participants to have more informed conversations about wild and scenic rivers.
- Tim Palmer, author and photographer (link)
- The Art of Being a River Ranger
- Recording: https://youtu.be/3ffcWZ6dC_0
In addition to running the river, rangers perform various duties simultaneously and often with limited resources. Save time and accomplish more in the field by learning what strategies are being used by river rangers throughout the country. Presenters will share tips and tricks for smoother public interactions, painless river check-in procedures, constructive visitor use surveys, and thorough patrol reporting.
- Tony Mancuso, Colorado & Green River Management, Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands, Utah Department of Natural Resources (link)
- Patrick Kollodge, Commercial Permit Administrator, Medford District, Grants Pass Field Office, Bureau of Land Management (link)
- Echo Miller-Barnes, Lead River Ranger, Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District, Flathead National Forest (link)
- Chad Niehaus, San Juan River Ranger, Monticello Field Office, Bureau of Land Management (link)
- Restoration on Wild and Scenic Rivers – Fossil Creek
- Recording: https://youtu.be/Q0Y6w1s0GXY
This session will focus on Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River on which a fish barrier, installed to protect a native fish species from invasive species, preceded the Wild and Scenic River designation whose requirement for eligibility is its free-flowing condition. This contradiction in management requirements has not been highlighted in the past and is today due to the increasing awareness of national legislative mandates that conflict directly with one another.
- Matthew O’Neil, Fish Biologist, Coconino National Forest (link)
- Building Successful Wilderness Teams – An Alternative Approach
- Recording: https://youtu.be/ynOn3y-w0Pw
Leaders and field workers are invited to join instructors on a walk through a model for designing and maintaining successful Wilderness teams
- Dylan McCoy, Lead Wilderness Ranger, McKenzie River Ranger District, Willamette National Forest (link)
- Audacious, Inclusive Team-Building and the Big Water Salmon Jump Expedition
- Recording: https://youtu.be/UpIzf6mEUpg
Meet the leaders of the 2023 Big Water Salmon Jump Expedition, a 350 mile-long celebration of the importance of salmon health in the Columbia River by a traditional canoes that will take place mid-June through the end of July 2023.
Paddlers from multiple tribes, primarily from eastern Washington, will paddle from Revelstoke, BC to the Snake River confluence, engaged through the unimaginably engaging, outstretched arms of the organizers. How might their strategy, approach and demeanor relate to you and your seasonal crew’s success or planning team’s effectiveness? You may gain an insight or two while listening to their story.
- Peter “PT” Bruno, Expedition Lead, Big Water Salmon Jump: Columbia River Journey
- Ben-Alex Dupris, Colville Confederated Tribes (link)
- The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of High Functioning Groups
- Recording: https://youtu.be/Z1SqtkoWkqo
Seasonal employment offers unique challenges in building a productive work team with good communication practices in a short amount of time. The limited time to train the group and a designated end date can make it difficult for everyone to get on the same page quickly at the beginning of the season. Based on a study investigating what is important to seasonal employees and the organizational communication theory of socialization, this workshop with give an overview of concepts of socialization that will help seasonal managers and practitioners understand the challenges of building a team quickly AND some communicative practices and skills so that you will be prepared to build a terrific team this season.How do people build identity to an organization and group in a short time? We will talk about the stages of socialization pre-employment; throughout and post-season. We’ll also discuss findings on what seasonal employees find important:
- Creating friendships as a support system and a sense of team
- Personal growth
- Important to feel competently trained
- Feeling respected and supported by supervisor
These four things can be addressed through building skills that we’ll apply in breakouts:
- Giving and receiving (hard) feedback
- Short training time requires ongoing coaching through the season.
- Agree to a culture of ongoing learning.
- Intention for growth.
- Invitation to problem solving.
- Bystander intervention
- Proven method for stopping unwelcome behaviors.
- 4 D’s of Bystander Intervention
- Breakout and discussion
- Giving and receiving (hard) feedback
- Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments: What they are and How they Help Stewardship
- Recording: https://youtu.be/_faYrshf1Cc
In this session, participants will learn about resources available to support considerations of climate change in stewardship. The session will highlight climate change vulnerability assessments developed for national forests in the western United States and how they can be used. Participants will also develop a better understanding of potential impacts of climate change on wilderness areas and have the opportunity to discuss strategies for responding to these impacts.
Participants would benefit from having some familiarity with climate change vulnerability assessments relevant to the places where they work:
- Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments Across the Nation
- For additional background on vulnerability assessments in the Forest Service, participants may find this article useful: “Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Forest Management: The Case of the U.S. Forest Service”
- Dr. Thomas Timberlake, Climate Change and Science Coordinator, Pacific Northwest Research Station and Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center (link)
- The Resist-Adapt-Direct (RAD) Model
- Recording: https://youtu.be/dcp-mvOTq5I
Climate change is challenging land managers to develop and use new strategies to address current and expected ecological change. Multiple agencies are now using the Resist-Accept-Direct (RAD) Model to help determine the effectiveness of conservation decisions over time. This session will be an introduction and orientation to the RAD Model.
Visit and become familiar with links:
- Dr. Kira Hefty, Wildlife Biologist, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute (link)
- Working with the Resist-Accept-Direct Model
- Recording: https://youtu.be/Iuqy3grrQXs
The Resist-Accept-Direct Framework (RAD) was designed to help land managers with the development of climate adaptation strategies to assist natural resource management planning. RAD is focused on the management response to climate change and ecosystem transformation. This workshop provides an opportunity for participants to use the RAD model in real world scenarios.
Attend RAD Session and or become familiar with these links:
- Dr. Kira Hefty, wildlife biologist, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute (link)
- Prescribed Fire and Wilderness: Research Findings
- Recording: https://youtu.be/AOLgtyav3zY
This session will focus on the research and findings of the Wilderness and Fire Management Workshop hosted by the Center for Public Lands at Western Colorado University in December 2022. Workshop participants represented multiple agencies, organizations, geographic regions, and professional roles, each bringing unique experiences and perspectives to a discussion about the future of wilderness and fire management. Research conducted by the Center for Public Lands regarding challenges and opportunities associated with prescribed fire in wilderness, along with case studies from around the country, provided a foundation for conversation and deliberation.
- Prescribed Fire and Wilderness Workshop: The Process
- Recording: https://youtu.be/-IG75Ofkzos
This session will provide insight behind the process used by graduate students Alyssa Worsham and Dagny Signorelli to encourage discussion among wilderness professionals during the Wilderness and Fire Management Workshop. Workshop participants prepared a white paper to summarize the topics discussed, synthesizing key opportunities to enact change in current fire/wilderness management practices, with the goal to prepare land managers for shifting baselines, changing climate conditions, and future policy environments.