Jim Mellen — Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness uber-volunteer — was recognized as Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce’s volunteer of the month at the Chamber luncheon held March 7. Jim, an outdoorsman of the first order, can’t say “no” to a good cause, especially if it’s tied somehow to the outdoors. When he’s not voluntarily “grooming” snow with his board at Schweitzer or hiking in to one of our area’s spectacular back country lakes, he might be found packing whitebark pine seeds up Scotchman Peak; or a remote camera — and a dead beaver — to a wildlife study site; or a chainsaw and a pulaksi along one of many bike and hiking trails he works on.
Jim is past president, board member and trail worker for Pend Oreille Pedalers. He was an alternate rider and support crew for local Ride Across America teams and a strong supporter of Team Autism efforts. He has been a member of the Bonner County Search and Rescue and continues to work on the Festival at Sandpoint’s Green team, picking up garbage after everyone else has gone home.
As an FSPW volunteer, Jim has spent days working on trails and habitat restoration projects undertaken by the Friends with the Forest Service. When FSPW partnered with Idaho Department of Fish and Game on a rare forest carnivore study concentrating on wolverines (2009 – 13), Jim proved to be much like a wolverine himself, setting some of the most challenging stations with team members sometimes half his age. One station involved a 2am start from a January trailhead camp, and a 28-mile roundtrip back country ski trip with 4,500 ft. vertical gain. Two months later, they repeated the trip to retrieve the camera. For this, Jim and his team won FSPW’s 2011 “Bad Ass” award.
Jim has been a steady and valuable FSPW volunteer, managing merchandise for FSPW for the last 12 years. Since 2005, he has led hikes summer and winter into the Scotchmans, as well as for Idaho Conservation League and Montana Wilderness Association. Perhaps most significantly, he provides mentorship and inspiration to the next generation of local adventurers and volunteers.