One of the nation's most exclusive clubs just received a new member.
Actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarznegger was named a honorary ranger by the U.S. Forest Service this week. The 66-year-old received the designation for his continued leadership on climate change. He joins actress Betty White and MNN co-founder and Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell as the only other honorary rangers in the agency's history.
"Thanks to Governor Schwarzenegger, California is now well on its way to meetings its targets through a ground-breaking mix of measures, including a low carbon fuel standard, a renewable energy portfolio, and a cap-and-trade program," the release states. "Governor Schwarzenegger also approved tough new vehicle fuel economy standards that have since been adopted at the national level."
The Forest Service also honored Schwarzenegger's achievements after public office, including the co-founding the non-profit R20 Regions of Climate Change - which "helps governments develop projects to lower carbon emissions and to make forests and other ecosystems more resilient—more able to recover from the impacts of climate change.
Thomas Tidwell (L) and Hank Kashdan (R) of the U.S. Forest Service pose for a photo with Betty White who was named an honorary Forest Ranger at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on November 9, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
The idea for honorary rangers in the U.S. Forest Service is a relatively new one. When Betty White was asked during an interview what she might have pursued if not for acting, she immediately responded with forest ranger. Unfortunately, the agency did not hire women during her time. Nonetheless, a bright mind in the Forest Service communications department read White's comment and thought the title of honorary ranger would both a great way to grant the actress's wish and also bring more attention to the agency.
Upon receiving the honor in 2010, White said: "Wilderness is harder and harder to find these days on this beautiful planet, and we're abusing our planet to the point of almost no return. In my heart I've been a forest ranger all my life, but now I'm official."
Last year, Leavell became the second honorary ranger in recognition of his contributions to conservation (Leavell co-owns a 2,500-acre pine tree plantation in central Georgia) as well as continued leadership and environemental activism through efforts like the Mother Nature Network.
“Trees and forests are the lifeblood of our country. They give us so much,” Leavell said. “We have many challenges to keep our American forests healthy…and yet the forests have proven to be exceptionally resilient, it’s up to us to keep it that way.”
You can watch Leavell accepting the award below.