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Hugh Irwin, a Black Mountain resident and landscape conservation planner of The Wilderness Society, recently received the Southeastern Stewardship Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center for his more than three decades of dedication to protecting southern forests.

Without Irwin, the national forests of the Southern Appalachians would have fewer wilderness and roadless areas, fewer old growth forests and pristine trout streams, and fewer beautiful scenic hikes and protected natural areas, the organization said in a press release.

Throughout his career, Irwin partnered with SELC and local organizations to prevent inappropriate logging, road-building, and other development on national forest lands in the Southern Appalachians and to propose better solutions.

Irwin has helped protect the watersheds of Citico Creek in southeastern Tennessee, Beaverdam Creek in northeastern Tennessee, and Fire’s Creek in Western North Carolina. He contributed to the inventories of wilderness areas that are untouched by roads and the development of management plans for forests across the region, the organization stated. He has shared his expertise and mentored a new generation of wilderness advocates in the South.

Irwin is the first recipient of SELC’s Southeastern Stewardship Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes people who have been instrumental in protecting special places in the Southeast.

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