What are the duties of a wilderness steward?
The primary duty of a wilderness steward is to educate hikers about Leave No Trace on popular wilderness trails in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Your role is education, not enforcement. Stewards also answer questions about trails, campsites, and hike recommendations, in addition to picking up natural restoration and special projects. Stewards also help out with special projects such as campsite surveys.
What training will I receive?
There is a day-long training every spring that covers map and compass skills, radio use, safety, Leave No Trace, Authority of the Resource, data collection, and communication tips. After that you will do a minimum of three hikes with mentors where you will receive additional training and guidance in the field. You will also have the opportunity to attend fun group events where you can continue to learn and ask questions.
What does a typical shift look like?
You sign up ahead of time to hike a trail on a day when you’re available. On that day you pick up a radio and other supplies from the Zigzag Ranger Station, check in with dispatch, and head to the trail. As you hike you will interact with visitors, talking about Leave No Trace, answering questions, and serving as a friendly face of the Forest Service. After your hike you will check out and return your gear to the ranger station.
Can I hike with friends?
Once your training is complete, you have the option of hiking by yourself, or you are welcome to hike with another wilderness steward or with a friend or family member. Just remember: your duty as a Wilderness Steward is to actively share the LNT message with other hikers on the trail.
Can I bring my dog while volunteering?
It’s a good idea to leave your dog at home so you can focus on interacting with hikers and avoid any conflicts with other dogs on the trail.
What makes a good wilderness steward?
An ideal candidate is someone who cares about protecting and preserving wilderness, has good communication skills, and is comfortable hiking and talking to people. Familiarity with the Mt. Hood area is also helpful.
Are there group events?
Yes, there are 4-5 group events every summer. These typically involve some stewards stationing themselves at a trailhead while other stewards head out on the trail to talk to hikers, clean up campfire rings, etc.
How do I become a wilderness steward?
Download an application, fill it out, and send it to us. While we only hold one training day each spring, you can join us mid-season for mentoring and finish up your training the following year.
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