Sponsored Volunteer Signing Recap!!
The USFS Pisgah Ranger District and Pisgah Area SORBA celebrated a historic occasion on Monday evening, Sept. 10, when District Ranger Derek Ibarguen and PAS President Chris Strout signed a Sponsored Volunteer Agreement governing PAS trail crew work on the District. Marking the start of a new, streamlined volunteer structure, the SVA was introduced by the District and developed in partnership over a very compressed timeline, and will serve as a model for other trail crews on the District and in the USFS Southern Region.
In his presentation outlining the benefits of volunteering to the PAS supporters and SORBA region leadership who were on hand at REI-Asheville for the event, Ranger Ibarguen emphasized the importance of the work that volunteer groups do on the District. In 2011, the District mobilized approximately 350 volunteers who put in 47,000 hours – working on District needs as diverse as event coordination (“Kid’s Fish Day”) to mowing the lawn at the Ranger Station to the trail work in which PAS participates.
“I am excited about this agreement,” he said. “It’s great that we are moving this partnership forward in such a positive manner.”
Ranger Ibarguen also shared a letter with the group. Although she was unable to attend in person, Regional Forester Liz Agpaoa outlined the importance of volunteers to the Forest Service and expressed her support for the agreement. “Volunteer Agreements form the cornerstone of our relationship with the millions of people who mobilize themselves, both individually and in groups, to help the Forest Service care for the land and serve the people,” she said in her letter. “We appreciate the professionalism and diligence with which both PAS and the Pisgah Ranger District approached this project and are very much looking forward to hearing about the good work PAS volunteers will be contributing towards our mutual goals as the volunteer agreement is implemented. We expect it will be used across southern forests as a model for development of productive volunteer relationships within the context of our newly defined regional partnership.”
In the question-and-answer period that followed, discussion focused on some of the specifics of implementing the volunteer agreement, and SORBA Executive Director Tom Sauret addressed the positive impact it will have in the region.