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World Trails Network – Americas Intern Wins Emerging Alpine Steward Award

WORDS & IMAGE NAT SCRIMSHAW – World Trails Network – Americas

Myles Sornborger has won the Waterman Fund Emerging Alpine Steward Award. A third year Plymouth State College student, he volunteered for June-August 2020 despite the World Trails Network – Hub for the Americas initial plan to cancel the Franconia Ridge Trail internship due to the pandemic.

WTN Americas intern Myles Sornborger has won the Waterman Fund Emerging Alpine Steward Award. He received his award at an outdoor ceremony at the WTN Americas White Mountain Field School site in Thornton, New Hampshire, USA. Waterman Fund board members Laura Waterman (founder of the fund) and Ryan Harvey (President) and WTN Americas board members Lisa Doner and Nat Scrimshaw attended, as did representatives from the United States Forest Service (USFS).

Franconia Ridge.

Myles Sornborger is a third year Plymouth State College (PSU) student who was the WTN Americas 2019 and 2020 Franconia Ridge Trail Steward intern. WTN Americas had planned to cancel the internship in 2020 due to the pandemic, but Myles offered to volunteer for June-August and after reviewing safety protocols, WTN Americas accepted his offer. Myles’ work in 2020 proved to be vital for the Franconia Ridge Trail that traverses the fragile Northeast alpine zone in the White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire, USA and is part of the 3,500 km Appalachian Trail (a WTN member trail). The Franconia Ridge Trail internship is coordinated and supervised by the WTN Americas in collaboration with the White Mountain National Forest, the Appalachian Trails Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Waterman Fund
Most other stewardship efforts by the USFS and its NGO partners had been canceled, leaving Myles the only regular weekly presence on Franconia Ridge. This proved to be especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic as more people sought outdoor recreation. The Franconia Ridge alpine ecology was already suffering from large crowds — it is not uncommon to have 1000 hikers surging across a 1.8 mile section of trail on weekends. Pandemic behavior such as social distancing pushed people off of the trail when passing, resulting in damage to fragile alpine vegetation. Myles built on his experience 2019 experience, blocking off trampled areas, rebuilding sections of trail, and educating hikers on the Leave No Trace hiking practices and alpine ecology. Without Myles, Franconia Ridge would have been largely unattended during this critical time for the Northeast USA alpine zone. Thank you, Myles! It is important to note that the AMC also played an important role by making the Liberty Springs Campsite available to Myles for his overnight stays. 
WTN Americas will be accepting applications for 2021 White Mountain Field School internships, fellowships, workshops and trainings after January 2021. 
Photos of the award ceremony are available at the WTN Americas facebook page. 

Myles Sornborger on Franconia Ridge.

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