SCA veteran Bob Birkby will give the keynote address at the annual Wilderness Risk Management Conference (Register Now!), to be held October 14-16 in Durham, North Carolina.
Author of Lightly on the Land, SCA's manual of backcountry work skills, Birkby led high school
Work crews for fourteen summers in locations ranging from Arkansas to Alaska, and the Grand Canyon to the Soviet Union. He has also instructed at sixty SCA work skills programs on public lands across the nation.
His other books include three editions of The Boy Scout Handbook (1990, 1998, 2009), the Scout Fieldbook (2004), and Mountain Madness, a personal biography of his late friend and Everest mountaineer Scott Fischer.
Birkby's trails expertise began during his college summers as a trail crew foreman at Philmont, a national high adventure base of the Boy Scouts of America in northern New Mexico.
After teaching literature and writing at Missouri State University, he solo-hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail, then migrated to Seattle just before Mt. St. Helens erupted. A newspaper ad seeking a typist led him to the tiny northwest office of the Student Conservation Association. Typing would have to wait, though, as he was soon headed for the field with his first SCA trail crew.
Birkby's current efforts take him to Siberia's Lake Baikal to assist in the design and construction of hiking trails. Much of the work is being done by the Great Baikal Trail Association, composed of dedicated young people volunteering to make a difference for the land they love. The skills and environmental ethics of Lightly on the Land - and of Birkby himself - fit perfectly with the needs and ideals of the GBT.
Drawing upon recent Siberian experiences and his deep understanding of organizations as diverse as the Boy Scouts of America, the Student Conservation Association, and Mountain Madness, Birkby's speech for the Wilderness Risk Managers' Conference will explore the hundred year evolution of risk management and suggest effective ways for the outdoor industry to move forward.