This award recognizes an individual that has made outstanding contributions and provided consistent support for trail planning, development, or maintenance. It is intended to recognize the efforts of a private or public sector individual working for enhanced trail recreation on either the local, state, or national level.
Since joining the staff at Fairy Stone State Park in 2005, Sam Jensen has worked diligently to maintain and improve the two trail systems in the park.
One of his most outstanding accomplishments has been the transformation of the park’s Oak Hickory Trail into a self-guided interpretive nature trail. Through Sam’s collaboration with the Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists, this 1.1-mile loop trail has become an enhancement to the park, with signage that effectively interprets the natural environment.
Fairy Stone State Park has two separate trail systems: Stuart’s Knob, for pedestrians only, and Little Mountain, which consists of approximately 9 miles of multi-use trails. The Oak Hickory Trail is part of the Little Mountain system, and provides a gentle hike through mixed hardwood forest. The recent trail upgrades were the result of more than a year of planning, culminating with the installation of new signage in November 2009.
Guided by Park Ranger Sam Jensen, the Master Naturalists of the Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter planned and researched content for the new trail signs. Then, it was up to Ranger Jensen to secure approvals and insure that the signage met all standards as required by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, managing agency for Virginia State Parks.
On the day of installation, Ranger Jensen provided final instruction to the volunteers and appropriate placement for signposts. The new signs describe various aspects of the ecosystem, including trees, streams, and animals, as well as the relationship of the forest to humans, with photographs that make it easy for users to identify the variety of flora and fauna.
Although Park Ranger Jensen has varied responsibilities, both as a law enforcement officer in the park, and as supervisor of interpretive programs, his dedication to trail work stands out. His leadership as a trail worker has enhanced opportunities for visitors to Fairy Stone State Park to learn from and to enjoy the natural environment.