New Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance chairman hopes to bring more visibility to the organization
FRISCO — A new chair of the Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance has been selected for 2020. Michael Browning, a Vail local, will be filling the shoes of former chair Bill Betz, who served for 2019. While a past alliance chairperson, Currie Craven, served for 22 years, the group has decided more recently that chairs should only serve one term.
Betz explained that this term limit is meant to build up a cadre of people who are on the board or who are members of the alliance who have experience serving in the lead position.
Browning has served on the board of the alliance for the last two years volunteering mainly with the volunteer wilderness ranger program. Betz said Browning’s background as a lawyer was also very helpful during the organization’s name change.
As an active outdoorsman and a retired lawyer, when Browning learned about the organization, he was inspired to help out.
“I’ve been enjoying the Eagles Nest Wilderness for 40 years. After I retired, I thought, ‘what good things can I do to fill my time?’” Browning said.
After volunteering with the organization, he decided to volunteer to be chairman of the board and was then nominated into the position.
“I hope to increase the number of volunteers in the VWR (volunteer wilderness ranger) and weed programs and get our name out to the public through additional news articles, flyers and other means. I also have formed a committee to explore re-establishing ESWA as a member-based organization, and increasing the tangible benefits to our members, including new swag and member social functions, in addition to our outstanding publications,” Browning said in the association’s January newsletter.
Browning is stepping into a good place within the alliance as Betz reported that the unrestricted cash balance for 2019 increased by 50%. Browning explained that in the upcoming year, the alliance plans to fund a new boardwalk on the Mesa Cortina Trail in honor of the recently passed Beau Schuette.
Betz said that while the alliance is mainly based in Summit County, the group wants to make their presence known in Eagle County. With Browning living in Eagle County, alliance leadership is spread more evenly across the counties.
“We haven’t been real active on the Vail side so I want to increase our visibility on the Vail side of things and increase our visibility in the public,” Browning said.
Browning added that instead of adding many new programs, he wants to expand on the programs the alliance currently has with the volunteer ranger program, weed pulling program and the educational component of the alliance.
“There’s a lot of education we have to do about what wilderness is,” Browning said, referencing his shock at the lack of awareness he has seen.
Browning hopes to educate people on how they can respectfully use and protect the wilderness. In addition, Browning hopes to diversify the membership base of the alliance.
“I also want to get more young members and more women involved into the organization,” Browning said.
Those interested can learn more about volunteer opportunities with the organization at eaglesummitwilderness.org.
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