The NSDAR Sequoyah Chapter will present the distinguished National Conservation Medal to resident Don Wells on March 5. This award recognizes individuals with a “distinguished volunteer conservation record” who demonstrate outstanding efforts in wildlife and nature centers, in resource management and park establishment, in youth leadership and education and in the field of conservation related media. The Pickens County resident will be honored at the Clubhouse on Lake Sconti in Big Canoe. Wells’ major conservation activities include:
- Researched and documented Indian Trail Trees across the nation, a project commissioned by the Cherokee Nation. As a result of his research, he co-authored a book, “Mystery of the Trees” and later produced a documentary film.
- Championed the formation of a non-profit organization, which focused on outdoor recreation in North Georgia. Together with four others, he formed Mountain Stewards and worked to fulfill its critical mission: “Advocate and contribute to the preservation, development, maintenance, enjoyment and appropriate use of trails and open spaces in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, contribute to the preservation and awareness of regional cultural and historical features and enhance educational opportunities to those who wish to know more about our natural resources.” The Mountain Stewards are recognized for their commitment to building parks for the public, creating major hiking trails, viewing decks (one functions as an outdoor classroom for school groups) and picnic pavilions.
- Completed, under his leadership, over 30 miles of well-marked hiking trails (two built to the American Disabilities Act standards to accommodate wheel chairs).
- Recognized the need to protect our nation’s river heritage. He and his team constructed Blue River Trails across North Georgia including canoe launch and take-out facilities.
- Supported the Angels on Horseback therapeutic riding program for handicapped children by building a trail and bridge safe for the rider and horse.
- Credited by Pickens County and Gilmer County schools for completing many miles of walking trails with signage for the school children and the public to enjoy.
- Helped “Save the Hemlocks.” The Mountain Stewards supported this program by raising $20,000 to purchase the chemicals to treat Hemlocks. They treated 20,000 Hemlocks in North Georgia in very difficult, and rough terrain.