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Marshall Award comes as 'surprise'

The Pacific Crest Trail Association's regional representative for Southern Oregon and Northern California has won the U.S. Forest Service's Bob Marshall Award for the group's work on wilderness stewardship in the Cascades.

Ian Nelson of Ashland won the Group Champion for Wilderness Stewardship division of the Bob Marshall Award for his nine years of work organizing community trail work and helping forge public policy along the trail, which spans the Cascades as it snakes from Mexico to Canada.

The division is one of four awards the Forest Service issues annually in the name of Marshall, who was an early wilderness advocate on federal lands and one of the founding members of The Wilderness Society.

"It was a complete surprise," says Nelson, who did not know he was even nominated for the national award. "It's as much an award for the organization as it is for me."

Nelson and the PCTA were recognized by the Forest Service for their ability to mobilize volunteers for trail maintenance in the Sky Lakes and Red Butte wilderness areas. The work led to improved trail conditions as well as more public contact points along the trail.

Nelson also organizes an annual Trail Skills College that trains a host of volunteers on topics such as basic trail maintenance, drainage techniques, new trail construction and trail decommissions. They also get certified for use of chainsaws and crosscut saws.

More than half of the trail across public lands is within federally designated wilderness areas, and the entire trail is managed for wilderness character.

Christmas tree-cutting permits are now available for those who want to cut their own trees on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.

The $5 permit is required for anyone cutting a tree, which the federal government calls "holiday trees," from federal land during the holiday season.

There is a limit of five tree permits per person.

The permits cover a large area that includes the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and the Coos Bay and Medford Districts of the BLM, where lands are open to personal-use tree cutting. Maps with directions to cutting areas will be provided at time of purchase.

Christmas tree harvest is not allowed in wilderness areas, campgrounds, developed recreation areas, national monuments, research/natural areas or within posted tree plantations. Trees also cannot be cut in the Wild and Scenic Rogue River corridor.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.