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Boundary Waters trail organization to honor ranger for 15-year partnership

U.S. Forest Service Ranger Jon Benson at a Boundary Waters Advisory Committee event.
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Boundary Waters Advisory Committee event page
U.S. Forest Service Ranger Jon Benson at a Boundary Waters Advisory Committee event.

While the trails are maintained by volunteers with the organization, an integral contact for the organization is the Forest Service’s assistant district ranger. Since 2008, Jon Benson has filled this role at the Tofte Ranger District.

DULUTH — U.S. Forest Service Ranger Jon Benson is the recipient of a first-time award by a nonprofit organization that maintains trails in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The Boundary Waters Advisory Committee will present the Mike Manlove Memorial Award to Benson in an Oct. 23 ceremony at the U.S. Forest Service office in Duluth.

While the trails are maintained by volunteers with the organization, an integral contact for the organization is the Forest Service’s assistant district ranger. Since 2008, Benson has filled this role at the Tofte Ranger District.

“With his partnership, guidance, and enthusiasm for maintaining the BWCAW, BWAC has contributed tens of thousands of hours of volunteer work towards maintaining BWCAW trails under Ranger Benson’s purview,” a news release stated. “This, in turn, furthers the public’s recreational enjoyment of the wilderness while also providing substantial cost savings to the public.”

Now-retired U.S. Forest Service Ranger Jerry Jussila, left; Boundary Waters Advisory Committee founder Martin Kubik; and Mike Manlove, former ranger and the namesake of a memorial award by the committee, pose together at a National Trails Day event in 2005.
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Boundary Waters Advisory Committee
Now-retired U.S. Forest Service Ranger Jerry Jussila, left; Boundary Waters Advisory Committee founder Martin Kubik; and Mike Manlove, former ranger and the namesake of a memorial award by the committee, pose together at a National Trails Day event in 2005.

In 2022 alone, Boundary Waters Advisory Committee volunteers collectively spent 9,475 hours performing volunteer service on trails, according to the group — equivalent to over $300,000 in wilderness stewardship value to the public good.

The award is named after Mike Manlove, a former ranger who was a partner of Boundary Waters trail maintenance volunteer organizations in the 1990s and 2000s before his death in 2007.

“In his time with the USFS Mike provided constant devotion to and expertise for establishing wilderness trails in the BWCAW — assessing trail layouts, performing back-country rescues, and training trail volunteers,” the release stated. “Mike readily partnered with trail clearing and maintaining volunteer organizations to lessen the burden on taxpayers.”

The award will be presented to Benson by Manlove’s spouse, Rebecca Manlove.

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