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Labor Days: A Rucksack, Hiking Boots And 40 Hours A Week Volunteering

The U.S. Forest Service is honoring a Thornton man as its national volunteer of the year.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen joined him on the job.

Giff Kriebel of Thornton spends so much time volunteering with crews in the White Mountain National Forest that sometimes forest service employees think he’s getting paid, too.

Like earlier this year when there was a huge search near Rumney for a missing man.

“So, I got this phone call while we were doing a search for that man in Rumney that said ‘Oh, Tom Wagner has authorized overtime so if you come in this weekend you can get overtime, which I thought was sort of funny.”

So, perhaps it is not too surprising that Kriebel is the US Forest Service’s top volunteer nationwide.

He was chosen over 17 other nominees.

Sound of a helicopter….

On a recent day Kriebel is waiting for a helicopter to deliver 10,000 pounds of lumber so the crew he’s working with can build a new bridge on the Zealand Trail in the White Mountain National Forest in Bethlehem.

Kreibel’s 65. After he retired from BAE Systems in 2006 he started out with small, volunteer projects. He adopted a trail which basically means making sure it is passable and not eroding.

Then, he started working more and more with trail crews such as the one at Zealand waiting for the lumber to arrive…

Sound of a briefing by Erin Lane…

Between May and the end of September – when the trail crews are on the job  - Kriebel puts on his hiking boots, fills his rucksack and heads out into the woods.

H figures he works about 30 to 40 hours a week with the crews doing some serious physical labor such as rebuilding trails, moving huge rocks.

“Being out here is obviously wonderful. I like the people I work with. It is something completely different than what I did as a job. And one nice thing is you typically get immediate satisfaction. You brush trail, you clean water bars, you build a bridge. It is very concrete. You can see that you’ve done something.”

Helicopter sounds…

Towards the end of the day the helicopter brings the last of the lumber.

And Kriebel and the rest of the team – all paid employees - are ready to start building that bridge.

For NHPR this is Chris Jensen

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