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JUNEAU - Two Tongass National Forest employees are recipients of the 2009 Alaska Region Wilderness Awards.
Kevin Hood, of the Juneau Ranger District, received the 2009 Wilderness Champion award. Hood is a wilderness ranger who has advanced the Juneau Ranger District wilderness program by delivering professional presentations aboard cruise ships. He is the "leave no trace" coordinator for the Alaska Region, and leads the special training of outfitters and guides. He has contributed to the Tongass solitude monitoring protocol and is currently working on the wilderness character monitoring effort on the district. He is the region's representative to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell's Wilderness Advisory Group, where his passion for wild places is an influence on national perspectives.
The Wrangell Ranger District's David Rak was selected to receive the 2009 Wilderness Stewardship award. Rak has worked in the wilderness program on the Tongass for more than 25 years. He earned his honor for his efforts in improving the stewardship levels of the Stikine-LeConte and South Etolin Wilderness Areas to meet the Chief's Ten Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge. Through Rak's leadership, South Etolin now meets the required score for meeting the stewardship challenge, and the Stikine-LeConte is only one point away from doing so. His work has been instrumental to the progress achieved in meeting the Chief's challenge.