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Outdoor rewards for volunteer vacationers.

Joining in at parks and forests around the West

PEOPLE USUALLY LEAVE knowing they've done some hard work but feeling pretty gratified," says Mike Van Dame of Mendocino National Forest.

The hard work? It comes from spending 10 days hacking trails through the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness Area, in the Yolla Bolly Mountains north of San Francisco. The gratification? Well, that comes from having learned trail building, mule-packing, and other wilderness skills from experts, and from getting the kind of workout that a week at the gym is never going to give you.

Mendocino National Forest's trail-building program is only one of hundreds of outdoor volunteer programs being run in the West this summer. In these tough economic times, national parks, national forests, state parks, and other public lands depend more than ever on the goodwill and hard work of volunteers. If instead of swinging a tennis racket you'd like to swing a Pulaski, if you're an outdoors enthusiast who would like to add a sense of purpose to your vacation, one of these programs might be for you.

Not all the volunteer experiences are as physically demanding as trail building. Many national forests need campground hosts to help campers get settled, to answer questions, and to collect fees.

Some programs run only in summer (and may already be filled), but others run year-round. In some programs, meals and lodging--and occasionally even a small stipend--are provided. In others, your altruism must be its own reward.


Most national forests, national parks, and state parks have some kind of volunteer program, as do the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You can get started by simply calling the park or forest office nearest you. A number of regional offices can also steer you in the right direction. For example, the U.S. Forest Service Intermountain Region office has a 72-page directory of volunteer opportunities in eastern California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming; for a free copy, write or call the Regional Volunteer Coordinator, U.S. Forest Service, 324 25th St., Ogden, Utah 84401; (801) 625-5175.

If you're interested in volunteering in any of the 41 units of the National Park Service's Rocky Mountain Region, you can write or call Douglas Caldwell, National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Region, 12795 W. Alameda Parkway, Denver 80225; (303) 969-2630.

A comprehensive volunteer guide is put out by the American Hiking Society. The 1992 edition of Helping Out in the Outdoors lists more than 2,000 volunteer jobs throughout the country. For a copy, send $5 to AHS Helping Out, Box 20160, Washington, D.C. 20041.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:forest and park service volunteers
Author:Fish, Peter
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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