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Wilderness Excellence

George Zink: A Wilderness Champion

George Zink, who has long and wisely served WODC and its mission, has been honored by the U.S. Forest Service with its Wilderness Excellence Award. Recognized as "An Individual Champion of Wilderness Management," George received the award in a ceremony at the regional headquarters of the USFS in Milwaukee on November 30, 2000.

That ceremony coincided with George’s 82nd birthday and recognized a lifetime of active and productive work on behalf of wilderness protection and effective management in the White Mountain National Forest.

George first came to the Whites as a 12-year-old Boy Scout in 1931. Both during and following his career as a science teacher at Groton School, he has been a devoted and effective leader in a remarkable array of wilderness initiatives for more than 40 years. He served as president of WODC, and with the able collaboration of his wife Sally, he was editor of – and a frequent writer for – this newsletter for nearly 20 years.

He played a major role in the addition of the Sandwich Range to Congressionally designated status as a Wilderness management area in 1984, and went on to assist the Forest Service in developing its forest management plan for the WMNF in the years immediately following. That plan, approved in 1986, still serves, and George continues as an active participant in its current process of revision.

George’s work, and that of others like him in national forests throughout the country, has been critical in establishing the goal of a healthy ecosystem as preeminent in USFS management of our forests. Whatever the forest’s multiple human uses, policy that George has been instrumental in defining and defending demands that such uses maintain – or at least not endanger or degrade – the diverse well being of the forest’s natural life. As Aldo Leopold taught us more than a half-century ago, that is the keystone of a living wilderness ethic.

WODC joins the Forest Service in celebrating George Zink’s life and work. Two young members of the USFS staff here recently wrote: "Above all, George has been a mentor on wilderness issues to people within and outside of the Forest Service. His writings, his involvement in management issues and his love for the land all work to preserve wilderness for many generations to come."

John Boettiger
Spring, 2001

 

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