Death Valley National Park, in California and Kyle Johnson, Wilderness Specialist at Glacier National Park, in Montana were awarded Wes Henry awards for wilderness stewardship. The National Park Service directors have recognized excellence in wilderness each year since 1993.
In 2004, the award was named in honor of Wes Henry, who led the National Park Service's Wilderness Program from the early 1990s until his death in 2003. Like Henry, this year's recipients embody the importance of wilderness stewardship and preservation.
Death Valley National Park contains the largest designated wilderness area - 3.1 million acres - within a national park outside of Alaska. The wilderness is 91 percent of the park's total land base.
"The park's wilderness stewardship accomplishments are truly a team effort," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "The park's wilderness resources are well supported with a wilderness coordinator and an interdisciplinary wilderness planning team."
That Death Valley National Park wilderness team is responsible for the park's comprehensive wilderness stewardship plan and a GIS technique to model effects of wilderness character. Both are important to the wilderness planning process and foster a sound decision-making platform. The proactive and comprehensive strategy for the park's wilderness resources have also established Death Valley National Park as a national leader in wilderness stewardship.
Kyle Johnson, wilderness specialist at Glacier National Park, has served as a stalwart protector of the park's wilderness values for more than 25 years. He works side-by-side with staff from every park discipline, thoughtfully contributing to management decisions involving facility management, trails, backcountry campgrounds, concessions management, interpretation, emergency services, and resources management.
Jarvis said, "With an extensive understanding of wilderness policies and laws, Kyle has been invaluable to the planning and execution of several projects and programs that serve to protect wilderness character in Glacier National Park."
Johnson works cooperatively with interagency partners on river management plans and actively collaborates with Glacier's International Peace Park partner, Parks Canada, to protect cross-border wilderness.
"Kyle clearly has a positive impact on present and future wilderness leaders, managers, and the public," Jarvis said.