Volunteers wanted to help protect Desolation | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Volunteers wanted to help protect Desolation

Gregory Crofton

It’s a dream job for people who want to help protect Desolation Wilderness, more than 63,000 acres of meadows, lakes and streams near the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe.

The U.S. Forest Service is looking for volunteers to help teach visitors and remind residents about the “leave-no-trace rules” – no fires, bury human waste, pack out garbage – that apply to the wilderness area.

Anyone interested in applying to become a volunteer should attend a meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the supervisor’s office of the Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. The office is in South Lake Tahoe at 35 College Drive.

Four different types of volunteer jobs are offered.

— Selling the wilderness permits at Taylor Creek or in Pollock Pines. Permits allow people to spend a night in Desolation and give the Forest Service a chance to educate campers about the rules.

— Serving as a naturalist educator. Volunteers are posted at trailheads to talk to people about the special area they are about to enter.

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— Doing research within Desolation for the Forest Service.

— Helping rangers patrol the wilderness. Volunteers wear Forest Service uniforms.

This summer will be the third year the agency has organized the volunteer program, which starts with an eight-hour training session in May and runs through September.

Each year the program has expanded. The first year eight people participated; last year 12 did; and this year the agency aims to take on up to 17 volunteers.

Last year volunteers worked 575 hours and made 600 contacts with the public, said Suzy Lancaster, wilderness and dispersed recreation manager for the Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

“We’re very flexible,” Lancaster said. “There are opportunities for every age group and physical ability.”

The volunteer program is not unique in the state. Of the 52 wilderness areas in California, 17 of them have similar programs, Lancaster said.

Tim Longo, 33, a video game designer who lives in Coloma, volunteered last year as a ranger and plans to do it again this year.

“It’s sort of giving something back to Desolation,” Longo said. “The commitment was only six days for the whole season, which I did basically on the weekends. Last season I was living in the Bay Area so it was harder, but I was always going up there to hike anyway.”

For more information about the program, Lancaster can be reached at (530) 543-2600.