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State Park Volunteer Tradition

Today’s California State Park volunteers follow a proud tradition of direct citizen support for public parks that dates back to the mid-19th century. Volunteer support for public parks began in the 1860s when concerned citizens helped to establish Yosemite, the first park managed by the State of California. Since then, California’s volunteer forces have never wavered from serving the needs of all Californians.

Volunteers were the driving force behind the creation of our modern system of State Parks. In 1928, a massive statewide volunteer program was organized to survey all of California for potential State Park sites. This volunteer program helped define the ongoing mission of California State Parks and created the foundation upon which our modern system of 280 State Park units rest.

The mission of the California Department of Parks and Recreation is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the State’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valuable natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.

Wilderness Patrol Volunteer Roles

Wilderness Patrol Volunteers follow the chain of command and ultimately report to the Supervising Ranger. Guidelines are established in the Volunteers in Parks Program Manual. The majority of correspondence will go through the California State Parks Wilderness Patrol Volunteer Coordinator.
Wilderness Patrol Volunteers are engaged in the changing conditions of the Parks in where they volunteer and have three main areas of expertise: interpretation, trail/maintenance assessment and providing information to visitors.
WP Volunteers interpret the natural, cultural and recreational resources within the Park(s) where they have completed training.
Trail/Maintenance Assessment:
Wilderness Patrol reports are filed after each shift. These reports include photos and descriptions of trail conditions and maintenance needs. Certain tasks are completed by volunteer onsite.
Rules and Regulations:
Volunteers do not enforce the law, but provide information for visitors.
Other responsibilities may include: maintaining and cleaning State Parks facilities, opening/closing/operating visitor centers, handling money, working alongside State Parks staff to complete projects, facilitating monthly/annual events and leading school groups.
Wilderness Patrol Volunteers are non-paid state employees, subject to employment benefits and coverage. All service is on a strictly voluntary basis. Volunteers cannot be required by any of the park staff or anyone else to do any work that they do not wish to do. Volunteers do not receive pay or other goods for work performed and may not establish management or operations policies.
Volunteers are State Parks representatives, with whom visitors are most likely to have contact. Wilderness Patrol Volunteers are public relations ambassadors, especially with visitors in the backcountry. It is imperative that you are professional, communicative when necessary and understand that you represent California State Parks both in and out of uniform.

The Santa Cruz District Wilderness Patrol program is seeking new volunteers! Volunteer responsibilities include roving interpretation, basic trail maintenance, visitor services (rules and regulations), and resource conservation (eg. invasive plant mitigation and interpretation of prescribed burns and areas impacted by wildfire). Wilderness Patrol Volunteers can patrol in Wilder Ranch, Henry Cowell, Nisene Marks, Portola, Castle Rock, or Big Basin State Parks, and are expected to work an average of at least 5 hours per month and should be able to hike at least 3 miles over varied terrain.Training begins May of 2022! To apply, please submit this form: