SFNF presents Craig Martin of Los Alamos with the Golden Pulaski Award. Courtesy photo
SANTA FE – Volunteers who collectively donated more than 12,000 hours of time this year to help improve more than 290 miles of trail on the Espanola and Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger Districts of the Santa Fe National Forest were honored this month at the forest’s Volunteer Fiesta.
More than 40 volunteers attended the Fiesta to celebrate the dedication and accomplishments of all who donate time and energy to benefit the SFNF.
It was an historic year for trail work on the SFNF – almost 30 percent of the forest’s 987 miles of trail were cleared and improved, primarily by volunteers whose donated labor represents about $282,000 in saved costs.
“Thanks to volunteers and partnerships with the public, we are able to maintain the quality recreation experience visitors to the Santa Fe have come to expect,” SFNF Forest Supervisor Maria T. Garcia said.
Singled out for special recognition was Craig Martin, the former open space specialist for Los Alamos County, who received the Golden Pulaski Award for outstanding volunteer service over several decades.
“If you don’t think one person can make a difference, look no further than what Craig Martin has done for the trails in the community of Los Alamos,” fellow volunteer Pete Prince said.
Martin turned his passion for trails and the outdoors into a career, sharing that passion with the Los Alamos community through leadership, education and the books he writes. After the devastation of the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000, the non-profit Volunteer Task Force was created in partnership with Los Alamos County, the Department of Energy and the SFNF. As a volunteer project manager, Martin led the effort to rebuild and restore trails throughout the Los Alamos viewshed.
Work on the trails system was almost complete in 2011 when the Las Conchas Fire tore through the area and erased most of the work. Undaunted, Martin stepped up again to lead the rebuilding effort with grant funding and assistance from the Youth Conservation Corps and Southwest Nordic Ski Club. A 2013 flood event again wiped out much of the work.
“I led the rebuilding of two major trails three separate times,” Martin said. And each time, he made improvements in the design for sustainable trails.
Volunteers may come and go, but Martin’s dedication and energy never falter. In retirement, he puts in a lot of volunteer hours, coordinating with the Forest Service and SFNF volunteer coordinator Jennifer Sublett to work on trails. Martin also logs an impressive number of hours teaching, writing, planning, leading hikes, and sharing his passion for the environment and the trail systems that give people access to it.
His years of trail building experience make him an invaluable asset to the SFNF. Again in coordination with the SFNF, Martin donates time to the planning, design and redesign of the trails in the Los Alamos area. One of his recent projects in coordination with the forest was the redesign of the Guaje Ridge Trail.
“Craig spent many an hour weaving through dense thickets of locusts and laying out a more sustainable trail that was turned into reality with the help of a youth crew from the American Conservation Experience and a Forest Service grant,” Sublett said.
Accepting his award, Martin said, “I just do what I love to do,” which includes being a steward and caretaker of the public land that we all cherish. “This love of the land is what lies at the heart of all of our wonderful, dedicated volunteers,” Sublett said. “We want to send a special note of thanks to Craig and all the volunteers who dedicate time and energy to the Santa Fe National Forest.”