Backpacking Light Packing Systems Section Editor Will Rietveld and his wife Janet Reichl backpack nearly every week in the summertime. They combine testing gear for BPL with serving as volunteer Wilderness Information Specialists for the Forest Service.
Will and Janet were recently honored with a national award from the USDA Forest Service for “their exemplary service and efforts as Forest Service volunteers.” The award acknowledges the estimated 2000 hours they have put in on the trails, talking with wilderness users about Leave No Trace ethics, and the many special projects they have completed over the past seven years.
One project, funded by a research grant, was a research study to determine the effectiveness of Leave No Trace messages given to backpackers regarding proper disposal of human waste, and building campfires above timberline. The study found that backpackers as a group are very responsive to an appropriately delivered LNT message — compliance jumped from 21% to 70%!
In another project, Will and Janet developed a web-based “Chicago Basin Trip Planning Guide” to help visitors plan their trip and reduce their impact in a beautiful (but heavily used) area of the Weminuche Wilderness in Southern Colorado. Check it out at http://sjma.org/ (click on “Area Info”).
Will and Janet are passionate about educating inexperienced backpackers about Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. As volunteers, they talk with backpackers they meet on the trail, and Will has written several articles on the subject. An archive of Will’s articles can be found on their personal website called Southwest Ultralight Backpacking, click on “Backcountry Safety and Ethics”.
The staff at Backpacking Light would like to congratulate Will and Janet for all their efforts to help protect the wilderness areas we all love, and for all the good work they do for BPL. We can’t help but envy their choice of retirement lifestyle!