New Wilderness Stewardship group created for Arkansas, Illinois, and Missouri

(KFVS) - At a meeting this past week in Doniphan, MO, a group of volunteers voted to establish Arkansas/Illinois/Missouri for Wilderness Stewardship, Inc., using the name AIM for Wilderness Stewardship.

The new regional organization has been created to help conserve the 29 federally designated Wilderness Areas in Arkansas, Illinois, and Missouri.

It was incorporated September 28th in Missouri as a non-profit organization.

According to Charles Bell, the newly-elected chair of AIM for Wilderness Stewardship, "Our tristate area has an incredible natural resource in its Wilderness Areas which have been protected for all time by the Congress of the United States."

While Congress protected these lands, Bell said, "they have not appropriated the money federal land agencies need to adequately manage them. Citizen volunteers can help fill the gap."

"Because of the lack of resources," Bell said, "there's a lot our new organization can do." Over the decades since these Wilderness Areas were created, he said, here has been no systematic way of keeping track of how well they are being conserved. "All you have to do is step into many of our Wilderness Areas to find invasive species, illegal trails, insect infestations, trash deposits and noise pollution, to mention just a few of the problems," he said.

The new organization will recruit, train , and field volunteers and eventually some paid seasonal staff to go out into our 28 wilderness areas and establish a baseline for their current health.

Using this information, federal land managers can then determine what needs to be done to assure their conservation in the future.

Bell says that under its bylaws, AIM for Wilderness Stewardship will be prepared to help with the eventual conservation work.

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