What is a Mountain Steward | Choosing to protect the Great Outdoors

December 28, 2018

What is a Mountain Steward | Choosing to protect the Great Outdoors

What is it?

Have you heard the statement Mountain Steward, Mountain Stewards, or Mountain Stewardship? Ever wondered what this means and intrigued how your love and appreciation for nature could be manifested through a new way of thinking and practical application?

This is the premise of how Mountain Stewards are formed. It’s not through long earned hours in a class room, it’s through endless hours treading lightly through forests, being conscious of your environmental footprint when adventuring, and respecting the outdoor places we call home. The lifeblood of being a Mountain Steward is developed, cultivated, and forged when we all take the time to slow down, be present, and protect the grandeur of nature.


What to expect:

The premise of ‘What is a Mountain Steward | Choosing to protect the Great Outdoors’, is about clarifying what the current culture of Mountain Stewardship looks like, what they do, and why it matters. We have 4 ‘steward points’ that outline the fundamentals to practical applications of being a Mountain Steward. With the strain that society puts on nature, we are all called to protect and provide a better and more beautiful environment for the generations to follow. Keep reading to learn more.


Mountain Stewardship - Mountain Method Blog Post

Steward Point 1: What is a Mountain Steward?

The concept of Mountain Stewardship is defined loosely based on geography, scope of programs and focus areas. You are likely to hear Mountain Stewardship references as they pertain to individuals aiding in restoration and protection of hiking trails, mountain vistas, and wildlife preservation. Areas spanning from Mount Baker, to hikes through the Appalachian Trail, each have an associated band of individuals focused on preservation and Mountain Steward practices. Some programs are affiliated with national forests such as Snoqualmie National Forest, while others like Mountain SOL School are Nonprofit organizations offering hands-on stewardship training and self-led exploration.

Mountain Stewards don’t have to be affiliated with an organization, preservation project, or local wildlife initiative. There are hosts of self-motivated individuals showcasing stewardship through simple acts of cleaning trash at their local climbing crags, treading lightly when hiking off trail, or minimizing wildfires through proper firepit management. Whether they are organized sustainability actions, or one’s self-lead, the concept of being cognizant of our impact on nature is the stepping stone to be an everyday Mountain Steward.


Steward Point 2: What sort of things do Mountain Stewards do?

While there’s no definitive guide to be a Mountain Steward, there are re-occurring themes that Stewards concentrate their time and effort towards.

Mountain Steward Activities:

  • Trail restoration
  • Stream and forest ecology
  • Trash pick-up
  • Seasonal awareness of local plants and animals
  • Trail etiquette advocacy
  • Forest conservation
  • Species preservation
  • General advocacy for land preservation and situational awareness when outdoors and around wildlife

Practical application of one or all these Stewardship activities can be manifested continuously each time we step outdoors. It’s a mindset as much as it’s a practical application. By applying these principles and practices, you are actively embodying the spirit and culture of a Mountain Steward.


Mountain Stewardship - Mountain Method Blog Post

Steward Point 3: Why does Mountain Stewardship matter?

All of us at times sit on the sidelines admiring those who give their time and resources tirelessly to a cause. There are those who proudly and loudly advocate for their personal mission, while others quietly dedicate themselves to simple acts that create local and global change. It doesn’t matter so much about your approach to advocating for stewardship, but rather your active commitment to preserving our outdoor spaces.

Mountain Stewardship is vital if we want to preserve the wildness of nature, the beauty of our local waterways, and an abundance of healthy wildlife. These simple acts of outdoor awareness have a vast impact on an array of environmental stressors such as…

Human Stressors on Nature:

  • Habitat modification (we move and break things – we impact ecological growth)
  • Nutrient loading (horse, dog, human deposits erode and destroy plants/fungi)
  • Pollution (food waste, littering, plastics, harm and kill natures ecosystem)
  • Trampling (Impacts growing flora)
  • Fire (unattended can devastate generations of local habitat)


Steward Point 4: Benefits of becoming a Mountain Steward

Besides the positive ecological impact, you are having on nature, there are a host of scientific studies proving the positive psychological impact being outdoors and giving back benefits one’s personal and mental health.

The Journal of Environmental Psychology to Psychological Science have provided studies that showcase how being outdoors positively impacts areas such as….

Psychological Impacts of being outdoors

  • Restored Mental Energy – Restorative environments develop energy bounce back
  • Stress Relief – Studies have shown decrease in both heart rate and levels of cortisol in subjects interacting with nature
  • Better Vision – Increasing time spent outdoors may have a protective effect on eyes, reducing the risk of nearsightedness (myopia)
  • Improved Concentration – Walking to interacting with nature can restore waning attention


Final Thoughts:

Whether you want to set charge and join a local community of like-minded outdoor advocates or promote a sustainable lifestyle through small everyday actions, it comes down to ACTION.

(-) Don’t wait for someone else to pick up that piece of trash on your next hike.

(-) Don’t be silent when individuals are polluting or destroying nature.

(-) Don’t wait for someday to arrive for you to take ACTION.

(+) Do tread lightly when planning your next adventure.

(+) Do take time to learn about your surroundings and ways you can be a protector of nature.

(+) Do share your experiences and love of nature with others.

(+) Do take time to slow down and think about your actions when outdoors.


We are all called to be protectors of nature, providers of a better tomorrow, and Mountain Stewards in a culture that is more focused on consumption over preservation.

Step Out – Take Action – Be a Mountain Steward Today!


Mountain Stewardship - Mountain Method Blog Post


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