Death Valley National Park is Honored with the Director’s Wes Henry Award
Death Valley National Park is the recipient of the National Park Service’s
Director’s Wes Henry National Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship for
“significant and long-term contributions to wilderness, in the park, in the
community, and in the nation” according to Peggy O’Dell, Deputy Director
for the National Park Service (NPS).
The Wes Henry National Wilderness Stewardship Award recognizes outstanding
contributions to wilderness stewardship by an individual or group. Wes
Henry dedicated his life to the preservation of wild lands. The former
National Park Service Wilderness Program Manager was committed to finding
innovative ways to educate others about the value of these special places.
Death Valley National Park contains the largest National Park designated
wilderness area in the lower 48 states with 3.1 million acres, or 91% of
its entire land base. The park was recognized for developing a sustainable
wilderness management program to promote the stewardship of its wilderness
resources through initiation and promotion of new wilderness management
concepts, committee representation, and developmental opportunities. As a
result, the park has developed several innovative wilderness products
including a comprehensive wilderness stewardship plan, led by Sandee
Dingman from Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
In addition, in collaboration with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Institute,
the park developed a GIS model to indicate wilderness character which was
used to inform the wilderness planning effort.
The park contributes to wilderness leadership efforts at the national level
as well. Superintendent Sarah Craighead is a representative on the NPS
Wilderness Character Integration Team, assisting in the development of new
standards for understanding wilderness character, and also is an invited
speaker at the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center. Kelly
Fuhrmann, the park’s Chief of Resources Management, is a member of the NPS
Wilderness Leadership Council, which provides guidance to the national
wilderness stewardship program.
Congress has the sole authority to designate wilderness under the 1964
Wilderness Act. According to the Act, “A wilderness, in contrast with those
areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized
as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by
man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
Death Valley Wilderness was designated as part of the California Desert
Protection Act in 1995.