On October 22, 2016, Waterman Fund President Charlie Jacobi and founder Laura Waterman presented Julia Goren of Saranac Lake, New York with the 2016 Guy Waterman Alpine Steward Award at the Fund’s annual dinner at Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center. The Alpine Steward Award honors Guy Waterman, noted explorer, climber, trail maintainer, writer, and philosopher whose death in February 2000 sparked his friends and admirers to create a memorial fund to further his work and spirit on behalf of the wilderness values he championed and the stewardship ethic he embodied.
Goren currently serves as the Education Director and Summit Steward Coordinator for the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). Charlie Jacobi, Waterman Fund’s President, describes Julia as, “an amazing, energetic, and deeply committed alpine enthusiast who has raised the bar for summit steward programs throughout the northeast through her leadership of the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program. She is an educator, motivator, manager, scientist, and botanist all rolled into one.”
In 2006, Julia first became involved in the High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, a partnership between ADK, the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. She spent her first two summers surveying the alpine zone for New York’s rarest plants and took over management of the program in 2008. She continues in that role today, and also serves as Education Director for ADK. In her short tenure, Goren’s leadership has significantly expanded the professional summit steward program and instilled a high standard for the roles served by stewards, both in informal education, research and trail work.
She led a qualitative evaluation on the effectiveness of the stewardship program by using a repeat photography study to measure if alpine vegetation was recovering on steward-staffed summits. This evaluation was the first of its kind in the northeast, and the program is now a model for evaluating the effectiveness of other stewardship programs. Under Goren’s leadership, an endowment for the summit stewardship program has also been started, the #507 Fund.
“Julia’s passion for the environment and innate ability to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds and impart the critical information needed to protect the alpine ecosystem has reached literally thousands of hikers and visitors to the High Peaks. The Adirondacks are a better place because of her dedication and hard work. We can think of no one more deserving of this prestigious honor,” says ADK Deputy Executive Director, John Million.
Brendan Wiltse, landscape photographer and co-founder of Adirondack Wilderness Advocates, who worked with Julia for years describes Goren as “as doing more to protect New York’s alpine ecosystem than anyone in recent memory. She deserves to be recognized along side Dr. Ed Ketchledge, Kathy Reagan, and the many other Guy Waterman Alpine Steward Award recipients. Perhaps there are others that have been working longer to protect the northeast’s alpine ecosystems, although I doubt you will find anyone else that has done so much in so little time.”
The Waterman Fund fosters the spirit of wildness and conserves the alpine areas of northeastern North America. Its programs include the alpine steward award, grants for alpine research, education, and trails, an essay contest focusing on stewardship and wildness, and the Northeast Alpine Stewardship Gathering.