Forest Service interns keeping your Wilderness wild, by conducting surveys and trail work

Contact(s): Cody Norris 573-341-7405

From left to right, Matt Davis, Kristyn Stauber, and Hannah Inderieden.

AVA, Mo. (December 14, 2017) – Three interns have been working on the Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs (ACW) Ranger District to improve the Wilderness recreation experience.. Hannah Inderieden (from Minnesota) and Matt Davis (from Norwood, MO) mapped existing campsites and non-native, invasive-species populations in four Wilderness areas on the ACW and Houston/Rolla/Cedar Creek Districts over a period of ten weeks. Kristyn Stauber, who came to the Forest Service with a diverse background and is specializing in recreation, is the third intern and hails from St. Louis. Stauber hiked and camped in Wilderness and non-motorized areas of the Forest all the way through December to conduct the assessments assigned to her. The data these three interns collected will assist the Forest Service in maintaining Wilderness areas in the future.

Inderieden and Davis were hired through a program called Conservation Legacy Environmental Stewards, headquartered in Colorado; while Kristyn came to the Forest Service through a program called Greening Youth Foundation.

The interns’ duties required them to hike into, and camp out in, the Wilderness. A stewardship group for Wilderness areas, known as AIM came to the ACW District to teach two of the interns how to pack a backpack for camping and how to wilderness camp—essential skills for the tasks they needed to perform. Stauber already possessed backpacking and wilderness-camping experience, and shared cooking and other tips to keep spirits high while out in the woods.

The work assigned to these three interns focused heavily on monitoring and inventorying to establish a baseline condition of the four Wilderness Areas in which they worked and explored. Knowing the status of these areas will allow the Mark Twain National Forest to design and implement improvement projects in the future. The training and expertise that AIM provided showed how important this group can be in preparing interns to perform Wilderness stewardship efforts; and the Forest expects to partner with them more in the future.

AIM is a new partnership for the Forest Service. This non-profit organization is focusing on conducting volunteer programs in Wilderness areas in Arkansas, Illinois, and Missouri (AIM). AIM’s board of directors has four members from Arkansas, two from Illinois, and three from the state of Missouri. AIM is preparing to help with the conservation work in upcoming years based on the data interns, like the three highlighted here, have collected. The partnership with the group may lead to seasonal, paid staff to go out to 28 Wildernesses to build a tracking system for tracking work.

“Keeping Wilderness wild” is very important to protect the natural condition of the ecosystems within the designated boundaries and to provide “outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive unconfined type of recreation,” per the 1964 Wilderness Act. Mechanized equipment, even bicycles, are prohibited in wilderness areas. Hiking and horseback riding are the only modes of transportation allowed.

Fall and winter is an excellent time of year to get outside. There are no bugs and all the leaves are off the trees, which can open up vistas in many places. If you choose to explore Wilderness areas this time of year, though, please be prepared and check the weather. Freezing temperatures, icy rain, and snow can occur unexpectedly—which is very dangerous if you don’t have the right equipment. It’s also always best to leave a plan with someone, so they know where you are going and when you are planning to return.

The Avenza app is a great way to have a digital map on your smartphone as you explore the Forest. You can get the app and search for maps by going to Also, please remember to “Leave No Trace” when you explore the outdoors. Visit to learn more!