Andrew “Andy” Smith (left) received the Agency Partner Employee Award from PCTA Regional Representative Anitra Kass (right) in thanks for his tireless work, collaboration and expertise following the Mountain and Cranston fires. 
Photo courtesy of the San Bernardino National Forest Staff

Idyllwild local Andrew “Andy” Smith has been working for the U.S. Forest Service for 20 years and was honored this last November with the agency’s Agency Partner Employee Award. This award is given to an agency employee who has been very helpful to the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) and an advocate for the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

His career has led him through multiple forests and many positions. For the last 12 years, Smith has been in Idyllwild working at the San Bernardino National Forest (SBNF). Currently, he serves as the public service staff officer for the San Jacinto Ranger District.

Smith was grateful and honored to be given such an award saying, “I was blown away. The Agency Partner Employee Award is the Holy Grail of trail awards.” 

“Andy was recognized for his exceptional dedication to the trail and his commitment to providing an outstanding trail experience following the Mountain and Cranston fires,” said Antria Kass, Southern California regional representative for the PCTA. “His tireless work, collaboration and expertise resulted in a successful phased recovery of the trail in the burn areas.”

Both the 2013 Mountain Fire and the Cranston Fire in 2018 destroyed a portion of the PCT that runs through our mountain, but as a whole, stretches from Mexico to Canada. The popular trail brings hiking enthusiasts from all over the world.

The U.S. Forest Service works closely with the PCTA to maintain and repair the trail. For the PCT, Smith coordinates multiple volunteer groups including the PCTA, Backcountry Horsemen and the Forest Service Volunteer Association. He is the driving force for getting work done on the SBNF portion of the PCT. 

Smith did significant advanced scouting, met with the AmeriCorps crews, arranged for helicopter support and pursued additional forest service funding to ensure there was adequate funding to complete the work.

“We work really well together after being here for 12 years I’ve got a good lay of the land and an understanding of the trail systems,” Smith said. “I’m grateful for the PCTA. Without them, there’s so much we wouldn’t be able to accomplish.” 

Kass presented Smith with the award in November 2019 at the Forest Supervisors Office in San Bernardino.