Volunteer – Wilderness Rangers
CONSIDER BECOMING A VOLUNTEER WILDERNESS RANGER As an an all-volunteer organization, we depend for support entirely on lovers of wilderness like you! We offer two boots on the ground volunteer opportunities - Volunteer Wilderness Ranger (this page) and Trail Projects
1. Help others – become a Volunteer Wilderness Ranger (VWR) and meet hikers in the Wilderness, teaching them Leave No Trace principles.
2. Be involved in the community – more than sixty local residents make up our energetic and friendly team of VWRs and Trail Crews.
3. Contribute to a cause – public lands are facing historic threats; join our Advocacy Team to fight for the cause of Wilderness.
4. Develop new skills & have new experiences – our Trail Crews will teach you to use Pulaskis, Coronas, McLeods, Mattocks, and more in repairing damaged trails.
5. Use your skills in a productive way – we will match your skills – from trail maintenance to marketing – to fit your personal desire to help.
6. Stay fit – get out there in the most protected public land in North America
We might add number 7: Have fun! And we do.
* D.R. Heyman, Nonprofit Management 101, Jossy-Bass, 2011.
VWRs are on-the-trail multi-taskers, representatives of the United States Forest Service, meeting the public. They commit to a one-day training program, and at least four half-day trips in the field. To see the application, click here or scroll down.
Four Volunteer Rangers with one REAL USFS Ranger (second from left)
WHAT DO VOLUNTEER WILDERNESS RANGERS DO? ON THE TRAIL: Answer questions for hikers, especially pertaining to trail distance, condition, elevation and time required to reach destination. Educate hikers regarding rules for wilderness use, "Leave no trace" wilderness ethics, the danger of falling trees, what to do when encountering moose, bears, mountain lions or mountain goats, where campsites and campfires are allowed and not allowed and why dogs should be kept on a leash. Inform interested hikers about our Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness organization, how and why we help the Forest Service and provide them with information on how to get involved with us if they wish to do so. Keep a record of Number of hikers and campers encountered (and group sizes), Number of dogs on & off leash, Condition of trail, Trees across trail, Miles hiked, Time spent on the hike, and Campsite conditions (including campfires). AFTERWARDS: Fill out a short online report with all the information recorded above, in addition to date, name of trail, time of hike, condition of trail signs, horses or big game seen and interesting, novel, fun, or scary encounters with people or animals.
Learn the 7 Leave No Trace principles with seven F-wordsROLLOVER HEREThe 7 LNT principles in 7 F-words: 1. FUTURE: Plan Ahead and Prepare. Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit. Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use. Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups. Repackage food to minimize waste. Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging. 2. FOOTING: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow. Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams. Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary. In popular areas: Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites; walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy; keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent. In pristine areas: Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails; avoid places where impacts are just beginning. 3. FILTH: Dispose of Waste Properly. Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter. Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished. Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products. To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater. 4. FLORA: Leave What You Find. Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them. Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches. 5. FIRE: Minimize Campfire Impacts. Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes. 6. FAUNA: Respect Wildlife. Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them. Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely. Control pets at all times, or leave them at home. Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter. 7. FRIENDS: Be Considerate of Other Visitors. Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail. Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock. Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors. Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
Mandatory training for new volunteers is held on a Saturday in early June, at a venue TBD. Have shoes and clothing for a practice ranger hike in the afternoon.
ESWA and the USFS request a commitment of at least four half-days between mid-May and mid-October that you will be available as a Wilderness Volunteer. (We may request that one day be in a specific area.)
Questions? Contact Mike Mayrer or Ken Harper
Photo galleries HERE and HERE.