Hello blog readers! Since I am now in the trenches of my fellowship, I have found that I have a new grasp and understanding not only on my projects, but on the program as a whole. I am currently the projects and communications fellow for the Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers program based out of Springfield, MA at the Springfield Armory.
I have come to learn, though, that my title should probably be switched to “cooperation/consolidation/uniting” fellow. A major aspect of my work is to build community across a program that is so different amongst its peers and so geographically distanced.
The Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers (PWSR) Program is a branch (pun intended) of designated rivers that are managed through collaboration between the National Park Service and local, regional, and state stakeholders. Many of these rivers (15/16) are in the Northeastern United States where there are few Federally owned lands. The rivers protected via the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, that run through the Northeast, mostly flow through private land – which provides a unique experience for all involved. Collaboration between many groups, with local leadership and management, is necessary to the success of the PWSR program.
The Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers stretch across 9 States (Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Florida). Visit their website to learn more about the program and the individual rivers here: Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers - Wild and Scenic Rivers Program (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov). Each river has a local council that manages the river in partnership – but it is rare for them to learn from each other and work together. Leaving the NPS staff to be the middleman to all these separate entities. I’ve been working on creating a Speaker Series where all council members are invited to attend and learn from each other. The first iteration of this is coming up at the end of June and it will highlight river steward programs on three separate rivers! Also, in the early stages of development, is an in-person gathering for all partners (council members). This will be the first time in ~3 years that people who essentially do very similar work will have the opportunity to come together to learn from each other and cross-collaborate. Lastly, a coworker and I, are spearheading implementation of the VIP program for all council members. In most cases, all council members are volunteers – they manage the rivers with funds allocated from Congress, while not getting paid themselves. Enrolling all members into the VIP program will enforce how strong the network of PWSR volunteers is – some having been active council members for decades. I’m excited to see my projects continue to unravel!
Agency: National Park Service
Program: Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Program (COR)
Location: Rivers, Trails Conservation Assistance Program - Boston Field Office